We’re seasoned Goodwood veterans at this stage. GTspirit has covered the Festival of Speed for as long as I can remember. Quite possibly the greatest celebration of performance machinery in Europe, if not the world, it never gets old. This year’s event was themed “Speed Kings”. It was all about celebrating the biggest names in motorsport; the record breakers.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Goodwood setup, let us enlighten you. Goodwood Circuit (which is not where the Festival of Speed is held) began life as the perimeter track of RAF Westhampnett airfield. When World War II was over, the circuit began to be used extensively for motor racing. Some of the biggest names raced there between 1948 and 1966 when it officially closed.
The Festival of Speed takes place less than a mile away from the Goodwood Circuit. It was founded in 1993 by Lord March and plays on the heritage of the Circuit on a less competitive level. The centrepiece is a hill climb which winds its way from the front of the house to the top of the hill. The course is 1.86 km long and is shared by a huge variety of vehicles, Formula 1 racers, Le Mans cars, Drift cars and Rally cars.
What’s more, the event incorporates a Concours, a Forest Rally Stage and the release of brand new machinery!
This year’s event saw some notable new releases. Mercedes-AMG took the opportunity to launch the Mercedes-AMG A 45. Ford released a new track-only version of the Ford GT. De Tomaso stole the show with a stunning new concept car.
Alongside the new releases, we also got an opportunity to see some of the most iconic race cars. Our unanimous favourite? The V10 engined Ferrari Formula 1 cars driven by Michael Schumacher, one of the best known “Speed Kings”. Goodwood dedicated an entire category to the 50-year-old racer. Cars such as his Formula Ford 1600, Van-Diemen-Ford RF88, his Jordan-Ford 191 and his Benetton-Ford B191; the cars he cut his teeth on before moving to the prancing horse.
Schumacher wasn’t the only person to receive a celebration. March Engineering turned 50 this year, it had its own category, Mercedes celebrated 125 years in competition and it was Bentley’s centenary year. Then there was Aston Martin. Celebrating 70 years since its Goodwood Circuit debut, the British company paid for the centrepiece which sat at the front of the house.
One of the most popular categories was dedicated to the Porsche 917. It first raced 50 years ago. Goodwood’s collection of 12 examples represents one of the largest 917 gatherings in history. We even saw the famous Porsche 917K chassis 030 which was converted for road use by the infamous Count Gregorio Rossi di Montelera.
Away from the hill climb, the Concours d’Elegance drew big crowds. Seven categories displayed some of the most iconic cars of all time. Two categories stuck out. The “Cent Ans d’Avant Garde”, celebrating Avions Voisin’s 100th anniversary with a collection of quirky pre-war cars. The second was the “Like Father, Like Son” category celebrating “The Genius of Jean Bugatti”.
The former category was won by the stunning 1936 C28 Aerosport, while the latter won by the 1937 Type 57 SC Atalante. The overall winner of Best in Show was an Abarth 250 Monza.
The biggest news over the course of the weekend came from Volkswagen. The German brand had re-geared its Volkswagen ID.R race car specifically for the event. It made no secret of the fact that it wished to take the hill climb record. The time it had to beat was a 41.1 second run set 20 years ago by Nick Heidfeld in a McLaren MP4/13. Romain Dumas shaved 1.7 seconds, setting a new record time of 39.9 seconds. There was a feeling it could have gone faster but for the rain which disrupted Sunday’s timed shoot out.