Although much of the FoS is centred around the various four and two wheeled aspects, there is a winged presence both in the air and on the ground. The ‘Aviation Exhibition’ included Goodwood Aviation’s Harvard (with friends!), Ultimate High’s Extra 300 and Bulldog, Tracey Curtis-Taylor’s Stearman as well as a number of showroom examples from Bell, Cessna and Beechcraft, and various sales tents and features such as the ICON sculpture illustrated below. The area was sponsored by Midair (in association with Air BP and Textron) whose Canberra and Hunter would also take part in the air displays. Other aircraft seen in the air were the RAF’s Red Arrows and Typhoon and Avro Vulcan XH558.
On completion of their display on the Sunday the Midair Hunter and Canberra pulled back around to run at speed along the display line parallel with the hill climb. A Midair press release fills in the details:
‘The Goodwood Festival of Speed air display took a new turn on Sunday, as the Midair Squadron Hawker Hunter XL577 set a flown time of 9.98 seconds across the notorious Goodwood Hillclimb in front of Goodwood House. As the first and only attempt of this kind, the Hunter, piloted by Squadron Leader Dave Piper (retired) reached a top speed 361 knots (415 mph), as he weaved his way to the top of the course.
The driven record is held by Nick Heidfeld in a time of 41.6 seconds set in 1999 in a McLaren MP4-13-Mercedes Benz with an average speed of 104 mph, meaning the Midair Squadron’s time shaved 32 seconds off Heidfeld’s time – admittedly in a jet!
Midair Squadron leader Mike Davis said: “It was an opportunity we couldn’t resist. After setting the world air speed record in 1953, the Hunter has continued to be acknowledged as one of the fastest and most agile fighter jets ever built. This new way of timing the Goodwood Hill Climb brings a whole new dimension to the Festival of Speed and we look forward to a challenge in 2015; regardless of any future outcome, this is a wonderful tribute to British engineering and the piloting skill of the Midair Squadron.” ‘
The Hunter entering the time zone:
Every year of the FoS is marked by the construction of a central feature, or sculpture, positioned in front of Goodwood House. For 2014 it was the turn of Mercedes-Benz to celebrate 120 years in motor sport with the unveiling of the largest feature to date, which for the first time arched right over the house and required that it was evacuated for safety whilst assembly took place using a number of heavy lift cranes. Designed by Gerry Judah with structural engineering by Capita and Littlehampton Welding, the sculpture measures 45 metres in length, rises 26 metres in the air and weighs 160 tonnes.
The two cars that appear to be passing each other over the house are a replica of a 1934 Mercedes-Benz W 25 Silver Arrow, and a Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 W04 – the same chassis raced by Lewis Hamilton in fifteen Grands Prix in 2013. Together, the W25 and the F1 W04 show the first – and currently last – of the eight-cylinder Silver Arrows Grand Prix racers, spanning eighty years of motor racing. The roof and balcony of Goodwood House also make perfect vantage points for the airshow commentary and control personnel.
The Goodwood Festival of Speed is an annual hill climb and celebration of all things motorised held in the grounds of Goodwood House, West Sussex.The event was founded in 1993 by Lord March in order to bring motor racing back to the Goodwood estate — a location steeped in British motor racing history. Shortly after taking over the estate in the early 1990s, Charles Henry Gordon-Lennox, Earl of March and Kinrar (or Lord March, as he is formally known) wanted to bring motor racing back to the Goodwood Circuit, but did not have the necessary permit to host a race there. Therefore, he instead hosted it on his own grounds. With a small selection of entrants made up of invited historic vehicles, the first event that took place on Sunday 13 June proved to be a success, taking in a crowd of 25,000 despite a date clash with the 24 Hours of Le Mans that year. For the following year, the event expanded to two days, and in 1996 added one extra day on Friday. The extremely hot and sunny four day 2013 FoS attracted a record total audience of over 196,000!
The event is scheduled to fit into the motor racing calendar to avoid a date clash with the Formula One season, enabling not just fans but many teams involved in current motor racing championships to attend. Visitors can expect to see cars and motorbikes from over 100 years of worldwide motor racing history climb the hill, including many of the latest F1 machines.
Aside from the machines, the event attracts a host of names from the past and present of motor racing, offering a rare chance to see world-famous names driving a wide range of cars at close hand.
Spread over the vast estate the Festival of Speed now also includes a forest rally stage, off-road all-wheel drive experiences, BMX and Moto-cross displays, various static displays of automobile excellence and history, a Bonhams auction of classic cars, an aviation exhibition with helicopter flights, air displays and showroom exhibits by all of the major motor companies – some of which unveiled new designs exclusively at the show.
This review covers the Friday and Saturday of what, in its twentieth year, is now a four day event, and only scratches at the surface of the mind-blowing scale of activities spread over the estate. Centre of course to each day is the near-continuous hill climb runs, most of which are purely demonstrations of historic machinery and contemporary Formula One, sports and production cars with a few timed runs to add to the excitement.
The record time for the hillclimb was set in 1999 when Nick Heidfeld (seen here at this year’s event) drove a McLaren MP4/13 Formula One car up the 1.16 miles of the hill in 41.6 seconds (100.385 mph).
For safety reasons Formula One cars are no longer allowed to do official timed runs, and will often focus on demonstrations that are spectacular rather than fast. Lewis Hamilton’s run this year in the Mercedes included several ‘doughnuts’ and tyre-smoking pauses in front of the appreciative crowds. In 2006 Heikki Kovalainen completed the course in a Renault R25 F1 car and was unofficially timed below 40 seconds.
Other current drivers appearing in 2013 included Jenson Button, Sebastian Buemi, Sergio Perez, Marc Gene, Romain Grosjean and Nico Rosberg, joined by famous names from the past such as Jackie Ickx, Hannu Mikkola, Jochen Mass, Martin Brundle, Carlos Sainz, Bobby Unser, Damon Hill, Eddie Cheever, Jackie Stewart, John Surtees, Emerson Fittipaldi, Rene Arnoux, Nelson Piquet, Alain Prost, and of course the great Sir Stirling Moss. A number of celebrities could also be spotted such as ‘Easy Rider’ Peter Fonda, Nick Mason, and Olympian Chris Hoy.
There are one or two flying displays on each day of the event, with that on the Friday seeing the Red Arrows arriving over Goodwood House into their display and departing in a flypast over the circuit.
On the Saturday Vulcan XH558 displayed behind the trees, which divested their population of birds – thankfully not taking up the same area of sky! The RAF’s display Typhoon made a single pass later in the day – fast and loud, as befits the event.
A signature of each FoS since 1997 has been a spectacular temporary ‘sculpture’ erected in front of Goodwood House and designed by Gerry Judah. This year’s structure commemorated fifty years of the iconic Porsche 911 with three significant design stages gracing the top of the sculpture – a 1963 original, a 1973 Carrera RS 2.7 and a current Carrera 4. The new Porsche 911 GT3 was one of the cars making its UK debut at the event, and very many other examples were to be seen on show and in motion. McLaren were also celebrating their 50th anniversary and displayed an impressive array of machinery in a dedicated area and in a cavalcade up the hill, with Jenson Button heavily involved.
Bonhams achieved a vehicle auction sales record of £19.6million for the Mercedes-Benz W196 in its stunning £36million sale, which also including a new Maserati auction price record of over £4million for a 1955 300 S. Considered by many as the greatest F1 driver ever, Juan Manuel Fangio raced the W196 Mercedes in 1954, the year he won his second World Championship. This amazing piece of racing history was one of two produced at Fangio’s request without covered wheels so he could position the car more accurately on the track while driving. This record beat the 2011 sale price of a Ferrari by £9.6M.
The Sunday Shootout competition was won by Festival favourite Justin Law in his Jaguar XJR8/9. Law posted a blistering time of 45.95 seconds up the 1.16-mile Hillclimb course. In second place (47.32 secs) was the spectacular Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak car driven by Gregory Guilvert, who just pipped third place Jonny Cocker in the unconventional yet technically impressive Lola-Drayson (47.34 secs). Closing in was fourth place Alex Buncombe who also reached a sub-48 time of 47.79 seconds in a Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3. One of the fastest times posted on the Friday was that by Gary Ward in the Lotus-Renault 98T once raced by the great Ayrton Senna. On the Saturday however he caught the hay bales marking the edge of the circuit at speed causing heavy damage to one corner of the car. Thankfully there were few other accidents over the weekend.
There is little that compares with the Festival of Speed for both quality and quantity. It brings together a vast array of the historical and modern – and even the future – of motor extravagance and performance. It is totally, utterly unique.