The Goodwood Festival of Speed is the undisputed highlight of the British automotive calendar. It attracts the biggest launches, the most valuable displays and the biggest crowds. This year’s event was no different with the show building upon the success of previous years’.
The 23rd Festival of Speed took place on the iconic 1.16 mile hill climb course outside the Earl of March’s private residence in East Sussex. If you got through the traffic, an eclectic spread of paddocks and displays await including a central sculpture, this year sponsored by BMW with four spines supporting a BMW 328 Mille Miglia Roadster, Brabham-BMW BT52 and BMW V12 LMR.
This year’s event was a soggy affair for the first few days which meant that the cars weren’t able to run at full blast. Thankfully, the rain relented for most of Saturday which allowed for a series of clear runs up the hill. By Sunday, the rain had subsided completely and with the track reasonably dry, the cars were free to run at full speed.
The theme for this year was “full throttle – the endless pursuit of power”. Maximum horsepower is what the organisers promised to deliver. Maximum horsepower is what we got!
Of most interest to us was the Michelin Supercar Paddock. Year on year, this category gets more and more interest from mainstream manufacturers. The Goodwood Festival of Speed 2016 saw the release of the Mercedes-AMG GT-R and a sneak preview of the new V8-powered Bristol. We also saw dynamic debuts for the new Ferrari 458 MM and the Aston Martin DB11 running for the first time. We also saw the Bugatti Chiron after its dynamic debut at the Nurburgring 24 Hours and the Le Mans 24 Hours in the weeks and months before.
Our highlights from the supercar hill climb included the Bugatti Chiron which blasted up the hill all too quickly! The Aston Martin Vulcan was also pretty special with an atmospheric V12 powerplant and an imposing look. Similarly, the McLaren P1 GTR’s ultra aggressive bodywork made it difficult to ignore. The road-legal McLaren P1 LM was on display but was inexplicably grouped with the endurance cars. It set a staggering record for the fastest road-legal car on the hill climb.
The modern supercars are a mere side show for the real event though. The Goodwood Festival of Speed 2016 brought together iconic race cars from all disciplines. Le Mans 24 Hour winners sat alongside drift cars and top fuel dragsters. Formula 1 cars were joined by historic lands speed record cars. It is a truly unique spectacle.
Among our favourite displays this year included the Kamaz T4 Dakar rally truck, driven on to its limits by Airat Mardeev. We enjoyed watching the drift cars take to the hill as well, Vaught Gittin Jr had his first experience of the hill climb with his Ford Mustang RTR. From the endurance racing world, we saw the reigning 24 Hours of Le Mans champion, the Porsche 919 Spyder together with the controversial Ford LM GTE.
There is a competitive element to the Festival of Speed too. The Supercars set their fastest times on the Saturday with Porsche Supercup driver Paul Rees setting the fastest time in a Porsche 911 Turbo S (57.63 with a finish speed of 108.5 mph). The competition was even more extreme for the race car categories on the Sunday. Eventually, a Subaru Impreza, built for Time Attack and piloted by Olly Clark took the top spot (46.29 seconds with a 140.2 mph finish speed), closely followed by Kenny Brack in the McLaren P1 LM (47.07 seconds and 134.9 mph finish speed).
The Festival of Speed also caters to the traditional motor show crowd; those that want an up-close look at the latest machinery. Positioned on the outfield side of the track, manufacturer pavilions offer show-goers the opportunity to step inside select models and talk to product specialists.
Another highlight is the Concours display outside the house. Sponsored by Cartier, it usually attracts the very best from the world of show cars. This year was no different with best in show going to a 1971 Lamborghini Miura SV. Class wins also went to an Astura Pinin Farina Cabriolet ‘Bocca’ and a 1967 AC428 fastback.
Disappointments were few and far between. Most notable was the Sauber F1 Drift Car, the program suggested it would run up the hill but it never once left the paddock (as far as we can tell).
The fact that the Goodwood Festival of Speed continues to attract increased attention year-on-year from both manufacturers and the general public is as good an indicator as any that the Festival of Speed is here to stay. My suggestion? Book your tickets for next year and get over to Chichester to watch one of the best automotive events in the world!