Last year was the first year I went to the Goodwood Festival of Speed, and it was so good I thought I would come back this year as well, for their 20th anniversary.
This will be the first of two blog posts about the event, with my thoughts and photos here, with the other blog post looking at the graphic design associated with the event, such as promotional programmes/leaflets.
So what is the Goodwood Festival of Speed? Well below I have taken a quote from their website, as I felt it explains the essence of the event rather well:
“The Festival of Speed is the largest motoring garden party in the world – a unique summer weekend that brings together an impossibly heady mix of cars, stars and motor sport ‘royalty’ to create the largest car culture event in the world. Held in the immaculate grounds of Goodwood House, this annual Hillclimb event is a true celebration of motor sport and all things automotive.”
Of course the event starts in the car park if you’re a proper enthusiast! The first sight was a BMW M3 (E30) which was in fantastic condition for the age of the car (just under 25 years I believe) and is widely revered amongst classic car enthusiasts as being one of the best driving, purest BMW’s ever made.
It was very hard as well to avoid a bright green Ford Focus RS as well. Not just any RS though, as the small badge underneath the RS one shows this to have a Mountune performance package, giving significantly more power.
I was also rather delighted to come across a Land Rover Discovery 3 G4 Challenge vehicle as they are extremely rare. The Tangiers Orange paintwork really helps this car to stand out amongst the rest, handy in a car park as large as this one!
The star of this car park though surely must be this Ferrari Scuderia Spider 16M, of which just 499 were produced to celebrate the Formula 1 team winning the 2008 Constructor’s Championship.
It took about a 20 minute walk to get into the Festival, which seemed to take forever thanks to the excessive heat of the day, which really slowed me down… I hate this heat, as I burn easily and seem to melt under the sun’s rays. Thankfully I avoided burning this year… although not melting…
Thankfully, the Cathedral Paddock, one of the many paddocks home to cars (in this case classics) that make up the Festival, had an area under which shade could be sought. It also is where the cars that run up the hillclimb all day go and wait for their turn. And I just so happened to be there when all the supercars rumbled in… wow!
First up was the gleaming new McLaren P1 hybrid supercar, which was extremely impressive, and looks every bit how a supercar should. Some accused the 12C, the first McLaren road car launched last year of looking ‘boring’ (not a view I subscribe to) but you can’t say that about this. The technology is astonishing, with a 727bhp 3.8 V8 merged with a 177bhp electric motor allowing the car to reach 0-60mph in under 3 seconds, 124mph in under 7.0 seconds, with an electronically controlled top speed of 217mph.
There was also a Jaguar C-X75 prototype present for the Supercar Run, which I was very lucky to see when I visited the Jaguar Land Rover Design and Engineering tour at Gaydon a few months ago. Seeing it up-close for the first time though was a very exciting moment as it looks stunning. Such a pity Jaguar will not produce this car beyond the few prototypes it has made, as I think it would have been a great halo car for them with the aesthetics and the technology on show, such as the 1.6 four-cylinder engine and twin electric motors that produce an overall power figure of around 850bhp. The Jaguar Project 7 is a design study based on an F-Type roadster. As well as being beautiful, the engineers have had their input and the Project 7 features engine and chassis enhancements. The aesthetic of the car builds on the famous Le Mans 24h D-Types raced in the 1950’s. The final Jaguar present for the Supercar Run was a XKR-S GT, designed mainly for use at track days and fun driving, definitely the ultimate version of the regular XK coupe. The Supercar Run was also the public dynamic debut for the Porsche 918 Spyder and new 911 GT3. The 918 is a highly radical hybrid supercar that merges a race-bred V8 engine with two electric motors (one front, one rear) to produce 887bhp, more than was originally expected, probably because originally the output was significantly less than the rivalling LaFerrari and the McLaren P1. Over the next few minutes, supercars just kept appearing, until visitors were left with a stunning view of many of the world’s best supercars!
Once I had a great look at the supercars, I decided to wander around the rest of the Cathedral Paddock to take in the sight of some of the best classic cars in the world, such as the Maserati 250F that was raced in Formula 1 during the 1950’s.
The Ford GT40 became Ford’s first Le Mans 24h winner in 1966, with GT40’s occupying the entire podium, beating Ferrari comfortably. Nowadays it still one of the most siginificant cars in the history of Ford.
The Aston Martin Project 214, built in 1963, is a car that I had never come across before, but I think personally it is one of my favourite Aston Martin’s, with the classic proportions and detailing but in a less recognised shape than say the DB5 which gets all the publicity.
Also worthy of mentioning was a Ferrari 250GT SWB/C, a car that was built in 1961, featuring a 3.0 V12, with all of the classic aesthetics Ferrari used to have. I am very fond of the blue and white colour scheme, as it is tradition for many Ferrari’s to be red, which I feel now can be a bit cliché.This Ferrari 512S was built in 1969, designed to capture the World Sportscar Championship in 1970, finishing second in the championship to the extremely dominant Porsche 917. This car stood out to me with a highly exotic shape that can be seen to begin working with aerodynamics, something Ferrari never used to specialise in, possibly because of the views of its founder, Enzo Ferrari.
“Aerodynamics are for people who can’t build engines.”
The Coyote-Chevrolet Corvette Daytona Prototype is a class of motor racing I have never seen before beyond the TV screen, and with the merger of American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and Grand-Am (where DP’s race) it was interesting to see how they compared to the Le Mans Prototype (LMP) cars that is more widely used. The big difference is that DP’s have to be built from a an approved list of chassis and engines (spec racing) whereas LMP’s have more freedom, despite the equivalency regulations in place.
While in the Cathedral paddock, everyone was treated to an sensational display by a Eurofighter Typhoon jet fighter. Definitely one of those moments you don’t forget in a hurry!
Moving around the show, I came across the McLaren stand, as they were celebrating their 50th anniversary, and I was delighted to be able to see one of my favourite cars at Goodwood this year, the McLaren F1. So far I have never been in the right place at the right time to see one, but this year I have achieved an aim of mine! Below is the #41 Gulf Team Davidoff McLaren F1 GTR ‘long-tail’ version that raced at Le Mans in 1997, eventually finishing a highly respectable second overall. The other McLaren F1 on the McLaren stand was the ‘Papaya Orange’ LM XP1 prototype, of which only 5 were produced (not including this prototype) to celebrate a McLaren F1 winning the Le Mans 24h in 1995. The car was designed to be road-legal version of the Le Mans car, but without the restrictors on the engine that was necessary for the car to compete in endurance events on a fair level with other LM cars. As has been a tradition with the Goodwood Festival of Speed since 1997, there is a large sculpture placed in front of Goodwood House. It focuses on a particular theme every year, normally being the celebration of an anniversary, and this year it was the turn of Porsche to celebrate 50 years of the 911, the most famous car it has ever produced. The three cars that feature on the central sculpture are the 1963 original 911, a 1973 Carrera RS 2.7 and a 2013 911 Carrera 4.
Whilst in the process of collating everything to create this blog post, I came across a fascinating video about the sculpture on the Porsche YouTube channel. If you want to know more about this sculpture, then I really recommend you take a few minutes to watch the video, which I have embedded below.
One of the things I wanted to see the most while I was at Goodwood this year was the Land Speed Record section where there was a collection of vehicles that have held this record, such as the Blue Flame you can see below. Driven by Gary Gabelich, Blue Flame achieved an average speed over a measured mile of 622.407mph in 1970, still a totally astonishing figure today, courtesy of a natural gas powered rocket motor that could output 58,000bhp.
Since the Blue Flame, the record is held by the Thrust SSC, driven by Andy Green. It reached 763.035mph, becoming the first land speed record car to go supersonic. Of course all the Land Speed Record talk at Goodwood was helped by the presence of the Bloodhound SSC team being there. The team has the aim of setting a new land speed record with an exceptional target of over 1000mph. The ‘vehicle’ they are using has many amazing facts about it, which can be checked out on their website, such as the fact that a current Cosworth V8 Formula 1 engine that can rev to 17,500rpm is merely used a fuel pump to get the fuel into the rocket quickly enough!
One of the biggest aims of the Bloodhound project is to inspire a new generation of people in STEM subjects (Science, Engineering, Technology, Mathematics) with a scheme that allows students to be taught about it and to get involved in various elements. More can be read about it here.
So where do you run a supersonic vehicle capable of achieving 1000mph? Well with the use of Geographical Information Systems which have mapped the surface of the Earth, a software program was created where values needed could be inputted to find land where the Bloodhound team can run. The end result was the Hakskeen Pan in South Africa.
Goodwood also has some random elements that are great to see, and none is more random than a small motor racing car made from driveway bricks! The creator of this is Arun Driveways, who were raffling this off, making money for the St Barnabas House Hospice charity, a great cause.
Another thing of interest was at the Volkswagen stand where Pop Bang Colour, aka Ian Cook, was creating some rather wonderful pieces of art about the new Golf GTi. He is famous for using remote controlled cars to make his highly skilled artwork. Definitely well worth checking out his website I’ve linked to above.
I was also interested to see the Force Protection Ocelot (also known as the Foxhound), which has become the new armoured vehicle for the British Army to use in the Helmand Province in Afghanistan. Hopefully it will be up to the standard required in war.
After looking around and very nearly completely melting in the heat, I needed some shade, and turned around to see the famous start line with a small crowd of people in the distance. Was it a mirage? Thankfully not, and a brief walk later, I stumbled across a great spot of shade, which allowed me to watch the cars and bikes start their journey up the hill.
Something I learnt was how cars run down the hill first, turn round, and then line up ready to start. This meant you could see the vehicles twice, which was great. Pity we couldn’t get right up to the straw bales… no doubt so as not to obstruct the view of the grandstands behind us, where another ticket is needed… just make the grandstands higher perhaps?
Below is an image of a lovely Rolls-Royce Ghost Alpine Centenary edition, which looks great I think with the blue paint and black wheels.
I also was delighted to see a Toyota GT-One (TS020) a Le Mans car that narrowly missed out on winning this prestigious race in 1999 due to a tyre failure in the last hour. The Festival of Speed also saw biking legends Randy Mamola, Kenny Roberts, Kevin Schwantz and Freddie Spencer all line up for a group photo. Seeing the Puma Gulf dragster bike was just incredible. With 1500bhp, running on nitromethane, it is unbelievably quick. And very noisy. In my opinion, it was just as noisy, if not noisier than a Formula 1 car, which is quite something in itself! Ian King, a six time European Top Fuel drag racing champion is the crazy rider who has the pleasure of riding this amazing piece of kit!
Then it was time for the F1 cars to go up the hill. It is widely regarded that the noise an F1 car makes is incredibly loud (110-120 decibels), (just watch the Sky F1 people in the pit-lane trying to present when a car fires up!) really representing the extreme nature of the engines and the cars they inhabit. Well they’re not wrong, although I was surprised at how quiet they are when idling coming down the hill.
Here is Brendon Hartley preparing to go up the hill in the 2011 Mercedes-Benz MGP W02. Charles Pic also went up the hill in the 2010 Caterham Cosworth T127, although it has a new livery, as back in 2010 when the tem first entered, they were known as Team Lotus before legal wranglings ensued over the use of the name. The 2013 Marussia MR-02 also ran up the hill, and as they were using this year’s car, they declared to the FIA they were using this as one of their allocated filming/promotion days as they are not allowed to test during the season (apart from the Young Driver test)
I was really impressed watching the cars and bikes go up the hill at the raw energy you really feel. I have always stated motorsport is best watched on TV and I still stand by that comment, as the camera angles, expert insight, and the amount of information available to the viewer is so great, but for the first time, I really understood why for some people, there is no substitute to actually attending an event.
It was a really great day overall, and I enjoyed my time at Goodwood, although I would appreciate there being more covered areas to keep the sun off (or rain!) Now, if they could just fix the dusty car parks as well… 😛 😀