by Henry Lundt
Goodwood Festival Of Speed 2017 – The Most Intense Car Event In The World!
You cannot describe Goodwood Festival of Speed in just one sentence it deserves numerous paragraphs filled with superlatives. That’s why I explain what the makers of FOS mean by the claim: “Motorsport’s ultimate summer garden party”:
We arrived on early Friday morning with most of the festival visitors at the estate of this weekend’s host Lord March. Besides camping vans exotic cars from DB9s, Huracans, 356 Speedsters, Pre-War Bentleys and multiple other “I would love to drive you now” cars filled the lines of the car park – it was already looking to be a great day. While strolling through the (one of two) Golf courses – guess what: part of Lord March’s estate – we already heard the Formula 1 and touring car engines fire up in the paddocks which were about half a mile away – it sounded already to become a great day.
As soon as we entered the festival itself there is something for everyone: Whether it be the paddock where you can literally touch the cars, multiple booths/experience centers of manufacturers, the beautiful Goodwood House with the “Central Feature” in front, the Concorso d’Eleganza” like Cartier style et luxe, the rally stage in the woods, the stunt show area, the Royal Air Force introducing the supercar class or just fancy food and drinks. Every petrolhead from fans of two to four wheels from vintage, motorsport to future car enthusiasts will have a great time during the weekend.
All of these things to be seen are aligned to the focus of the weekend – The Goodwood Hillclimb: the 1.16-mile street into the woods of the estate is where the action takes place. In special batches (e.g. pre-war, motorcycles, F1, GT, Super Cars, Drift Cars) race for the fastest time (or the best show). First initiated back in 1936 Lord March’s granddad started the Goodwood Hillclimb on one of the few pavement roads. Due to the expanding of racing activities, he decided to build a racetrack on the former airfield which was out of service so the Hillclimb was soon out of focus. However in 1993 Lord March reinvented racing at Goodwood with the classic approach inviting most of his racing friends (e.g. Stirling Moss, John Surtees) leading “FOS” to a massive success: in the first year, they expected 3.000 visitors at the end 25.000 showed up. Now the capacity with about 200.000 people during the weekend is at maximum – filled camping sites and people at the entrance asking for spare tickets is the proof for the quality of the event.
Back to the cars: As this event is one of the most prestigious in automotive industry all collectors and manufacturers bring their finest hardware (from vintage to “First Glance Cars”) to this weekend so every year you will witness the finest cars on the planet all gathered at Goodwood and moving (often very loudly) up the hill. Beyond this fact these machines are not driven by some unknown test drivers but true motorsport celebrities, may it be icons such as Jacky Ickx, Derek Bell, “Strietzel Stuck” or current F1 Champions and Le Mans heroes. The best part: not one of them is locked in VIP paddocks but rather walking through the pits – interacting directly with enthusiasts.
Another great thing about “FOS” is the gathering of cars before they line up for driving to the start. Cars with team and driver are coming directly from the paddock rolling through the masses of spectators. All cars gather into a batch all organized in chronological order – a number (sticker) on every car (often in homage to the model – guess what number the 911 RSR had…) helps the Marshals in their nice vintage overalls to identify what car is next. While waiting for their run drivers and team members stand around the car and talk, some of them give autographs and take pictures with fans. As soon as the batch is filled and the hill climb road is ready all cars start their engines at once – truly an amazing feeling when you have F1 cars from overall 5 decades or Le Mans winning Ferraris to current supercars.
An additional highlight is the so-called “Central Feature” in front of Goodwood House since ‘97 done by multi-talented artist Gerry Judah. This is basically a sculpture in tribute to the main topic of the event often featuring at least two true sized vehicles. In this year’s edition, five F1 were featured in spectacular height and order representing the five eras of Bernie Ecclestone from “Driver” to “Legend”. Check out previous editions of the spectacular “Central Features” truly amazing year by year.
Also in front of Goodwood House, one of the most impressive gatherings of this weekend took place: Ferrari celebrated their 70th anniversary in style featuring their most memorable and desirable milestones from the early 125 Sport via F1s, GTs to the latest FXX editions and the LaFerrari Aperta. First parked in a circle around the “Central Feature” they were standing for about 30 minutes while no other car was driving up the hill – it remained silent in sunny Goodwood which furthermore framed the solemn atmosphere.
Although this was my second time at Goodwood it still gives me thrills (and goosebumps…) thinking and talking about it. I could go on to write about further impressions I gained in only 12 hours of “FOS” but as you just read through this text you see how versatile and fun Goodwood is. Truly an experience every petrolhead should make!
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