High octane thrills at Goodwood Festival of Speed

High octane thrills at Goodwood Festival of Speed

We have been to the Goodwood Festival of Speed before, but the excitement of attending what is probably the best motoring event in the world was no less this time round, even when we found the event was going to be devoted to former Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone.

It was only really an impressive sculpture and a few pictures that were dedicated to Ecclestone. Another major theme was Ferrari celebrating its 70th anniversary and there were numerous parades and a number of Maranello’s finest at the famous hill-climb event in the grounds of Lord March’s estate in southern England.

One thing that had definitely changed since the last time we were there was the size of the stands for many of the motor companies. Motor shows are a dying breed, with manufacturers opting to spend money at events such as Goodwood instead. And spend money they did. Jaguar Land Rover’s stand would dwarf most dealerships, with everything from the new Discovery and upcoming Velar on display to the mighty Jaguar XE SV Project 8.

A Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost

The stand covered multiple floors and outdoor areas too where there was not only a Land Rover off-road track but a dynamic track where visitors could drift a Jaguar F-Type.

Audi also had a vast stand on the side of the famous hill-climb track. One of the big crowd-pullers was the latest RS5 coupe which you can read about in next week’s issue. We were also intrigued by the Black Series versions of many of the models, which look superb. As far as we know, Audi SA has no plans to bring these to the country.

One aspect of Goodwood that holds major appeal is that little is fenced off. The Aston Martin Valkyrie was behind a low glass barrier at the Michelin stand and a few other concept cars were difficult to get close to, but it was possible to get close to everything else.

Supercars waiting to go up the hill

This included all the models in the concours display on the Cartier lawn outside Goodwood House. Iconic models included a McLaren F1, Ferrari 250 GTO, the original and most famous Rolls-Royce of them all, the Silver Ghost, and even a classic Aston Martin shooting brake that could be described as a Sport Turismo long before Porsche coined the phrase.

Then there were the paddocks. Here everything from concept cars to sports cars and Formula One cars from past and present were parked under canopies with their owners and drivers accessible to all.

We found early examples of Mercedes-Benz models next to Silver Arrows cars and German Touring Cars. There was a superb BMW Mille Miglia, the first car South African McLaren F1 designer Gordon Murray built back in Durban, the 1967 IGM-Ford and a few examples of the actual F1. Nascar entries belonging to famous names such as Dale Earnhardt were there, as well as a number of drift cars from the US taking part in the festival’s first drift challenge.

Ferrari 250 GTO

Le Mans cars were aplenty, including examples of every Audi driven by multiple winner Tom Kristensen. Kristensen was also there and drove many of the cars up the hill. This is another element that makes the festival a must-visit: you get the chance to see some of the greatest names in the automotive industry.

That is also the case if you venture to the top of the hill, where the Forest Rally Stage features some of the most famous rally cars of all time. We found 1960s Mini rally driver Rauno Aaltonen, who had just completed the stage in his car. We spotted Colin McRae’s Subaru Impreza as well as the Ford Focus of Carlos Sainz.

Nowhere in the world does so much automotive history and technology gather in one place and we couldn’t possibly fit everything in here so expect more on Goodwood in the days to come. – Mark Smyth (Pics: Mark Smyth and WordPress UK)