The Goodwood Festival of Speed has long been a popular fixture in the motorsport calendar, and with the advent of the Moving Motorshow – an opportunity for car makers to let the public drive their products up the famous hill – recent years have seen old and new metal become happy bedfellows.
This 20th running of the Festival saw historically significant machines rub shoulders with the latest new cars. Motorsport legends such as Derek Bell, Alain Prost and Jochen Mass shared a stage with the new guard such as Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.
In fact, after a quick glance at the entry list you’re soon wondering if there was anyone left who didn’t make the trip to Goodwood: Surtees, Ragnotti, Needell, Aaltonen, Cheever, Fitipaldi, Ickx, McNish, Moss, Soper, Waldegard to name but a few. Even if you’re not a paid-up motorsport anorak-wearer you’ll hopefully recognise a few names. And if that wasn’t impressive enough, the line-up of cars and bikes for 2012 was as mouthwatering as ever.
As is customary at Goodwood, each year a particular marque is celebrated for its contribution to racing history, with this year being the turn of Lotus. The related art installation outside the main house was simple but effective, and included significant Lotus racing cars hung at interesting angles.
Goodwood also played host to the 30th anniversary of Group C sportscars, which saw an impressive roll call of vehicles from Mercedes, Porsche, Nissan, Toyota, Lancia and not forgetting Jaguar. Generating such a cacophony of sound, if you closed your eyes you could’ve been at Le Mans.
Some racing cars could boast of being a little older than 30 years , though many more date back to the early 1900s. That’s the magic of the Festival of Speed; the depth and breath of machinery being driven up the hill is richer than you’ll find anywhere else, and it’s why so many of the racing stars of today and yesterday are drawn to the event.
And as the Festival has expanded, there’s more to it than just the centerpiece hill climb. If you make the trip to the top of the hill, you’ll find a challenging rally stage buzzing with cars old and new. From original Minis to the equally popular Datsun 240Z, Renault 5, legendary Ford Escort and Lancia Stratos to the fire-breathing Audi quattro, Metro 6R4 and various cars from the 1990s – Lancia Delta, Ford Escort Cosworth, Toyota Celica – to the present day with Citroen’s DS3 WRC and Skoda’s Fabia S2000, there’s something for everyone.
Interested in new technology? Goodwood is proud of its focus on all things hi-tech and, in partnership with BP, the FoS-Tech arena showcases innovative cars and technology destined to shape the future of motoring.
It’s hard to escape the past at the Festival though, what with the celebration of motorsport achievements through the decades. Road cars get a look in too, however. A staple of the four-day event is the Cartier sponsored ‘Style et Lux’ display, which showcases significant cars often with an equally significant backstory.
The Festival is now a four-day event thanks to the recent inclusion of the Auto Trader-sponsored Moving Motorshow on the Thursday of the extended weekend. As the name suggests, along with the traditional static displays of new cars, there’s also the ability to drive selected new models up the hill, although not at the same speeds as the likes of Jenson Button or Lewis Hamilton.
Such has been the popularity of the concept that, in the absence of a conventional static event it’s assumed the status of British Motor Show in the eyes of many. Certainly, the size and often-elaborate designs of the various manufacturer stands have all the look and feel of a glitzy motorshow.
Some new cars are reserved for the Supercar Run on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, which is hardly surprisingly when the line-up includes road cars and far-out concept cars from the likes of Lamborghini, Porsche, Nissan, BMW, Ferrari, Bugatti, Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo, Lotus, Pagani, McLaren, Jaguar and Morgan. Cue lots of noise, the occasional sideways moment and big crowds in the Supercar Paddock between runs.
Cementing the Festival’s status as the place to see and be seen, three manufacturers used Goodwood as a stage to debut their new cars. Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz and Renault unveiled their F-Type, CLS Shooting Brake and Renaultsport Clio models respectively. So new were these cars that they were still wearing camouflage – proof that there’s still a few surprises to come before they go on sale.
At the end of the final day the Festival’s competition roots were brought sharply back into focus with the conclusion of the timed hill runs and the announcement of a worthy winner: one-time Touring Car racer and Goodwood regular Anthony Reid. His time of 46.46 seconds, achieved piloting a Chevron GT3 racer, trumped the efforts of Gary Ward in his Leyton House F1 car and another Goodwood regular Justin Law in his Jaguar Le Mans racer.
When fearless racing drivers are prepared to attempt to cover 1.16 miles of twisting and challenging tarmac at such speed, it’s clear that the Festival of Speed remains an event willing to embrace everyone whatever their passion, be it new cars, thoroughbred racers or the simple act of partaking in a champagne picnic on the lawn.