A Festival Of Speed At GoodWood House
” When you love what you do, you convey that feeling, that attitude, that resolve, that love too all around you” Ayrton Senna.
The sprawling grounds of Goodwood country estate in West Sussex play host to an annual display of motor sport royalty. The Festival of Speed is an extraordinary automotive event that has been celebrating the automotive industry since 1993. Steeped in a rich history and created with a true love for cars this is a fast track extravaganza that never fails to pull in the crowds.
Frederick Charles Gordon-Lennox the 9th Duke of Richmond set hearts racing back in 1936 when he decided to race his buddy and race car driver Freddie March up the drive way of GoodWood Estate on a glorious sunny day. This was the birth of the relationship between fast cars and idyllic english country side.
However it took another 12 years for the Duke to set up a racetrack around the grounds of the estate. The first official race was hosted in 1948 shortly after world war two and included a 2.4 mile track. As popularity and word spread this scenic and tranquil racetrack saw some of the the world’s best drivers initiate themselves into this fast paced and titillating world of motorsport, including the sensational Sir Stirling Moss who has always held Goodwood and The Festival of Speed close to his heart.
This exciting time was short lived when financial strain resulted in the Duke of Richmond having to end the regular race meetings and in 1966 the track closed. It took nearly another thirty years before the roar of engines were heard again.
In 1992 the eleventh Duke of Richmond formerly Lord March took over the running of the estate from his father. A year later that love and passion for motor sport sparked an Idea for the now Festival of Speed or Disney Land for adults!
The first event cost £100,000 and a mere 3000 people were expected, but in total amazement 25,000 people turned up and so the historical journey began in this majestic location. Now tens of thousands of people flock to the estate to participate in the three day automotive event with the famous hill climb differentiating this motor event from any other around the world.
It is quite overwhelming to think about about the amount of work that goes into the organisation of this spectacular event. In fact planning starts eighteen months in advance!
Each year new and spectacular displays are put on for all to enjoy and an impressive line up of international exhibitors seem to grow as more and more companies want to be apart of this legendary event. This is also an unmissable for drivers and manufacturers past, present and future and you will be sure to find legends from Sir Stirling Moss to Lewis Hamilton roaming the grounds.
Formula E, NASCAR, British touring cars, and not forgetting experimental prototypes, supercars and Formula one beauties are a few examples of the cars that will bombard your senses and ultimately compete for the best time around the 1.16 mile hill-climb track.
This event appeals to all and all have the opportunity to be children and play, touch and smell the divine mechanical masterpieces. It is total involvement, thrilling sounds and on my visit I was of course impressed with the stunning Veuve Cliquot summer garden complete with white picket fence over looking the track.
My first experience at The Festival of Speed was in 2004 and I recall gawking at all of these incredible machines, but it was the incredible buzz in the air that hooked me. This was also the year of the utterly amazing display from a Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet.
Each year the Red Arrows perform a breath taking show, but this particular year this beast of a plane flew not far above tree level and at a mere 100MPH without stalling! To say it was spectacular is a complete understatement and this experience has stayed with me all these years later.
Every autumn I start booking ahead for The Festival of Speed and Glorious Goodwood – two events that I cannot miss. However I was frenzied with excitement when I was received my press invitation for 2018.
Now over the past decade I have experienced the festival in a manner of ways from cold and windy, to colour coordinated wellies, yet this year in our 2018 heat wave I was so happy to being experiencing The Festival of Speeds fantastic hospitality and all from the Clark Pavillion right on the track and with seats below and a balcony above to soak up all views and without the hustle and bustle and endless queue for Pimms. I truly felt honoured and maybe a little spoilt.
This year Land Rover were celebrating their 70th anniversary with an eye catching and grand display complete with a toy remote controlled track for children to play and an adult track for enthusiasts to experience the extreme conditions Land Rover can perform in. I have to say I never thought I would be so excited to learn about suspension and gear differentials. I do indeed have a whole new love and respect for these iconic British cars.
The Donut challenge was thrilling and the British touring and world rally cars were crowd pleasing and full of energy. I attempted the hill-climb, but there were so many interesting things to see and do on the way I kept getting side tracked. I even jumped inside a Lewis Hamilton race simulator which I would not suggest doing after lunch.
The sculpture in front of the Goodwood house is a focal point and since 1997 has been commissioned by Gerry Judah. This year celebrated seventy years of Porsche. Judah’s range gives the central feature a burst of burst of excitement and anticipation for annual event goers as he collaborates with car manufactures to wow guests.
The Festival of Speed promises every year to be louder and faster despite the burst of the new and exciting electric age. I have always loved the unmistakable and very loud roar of the V-8 engine.
I recently noticed an ad by Ford for the new Mustang which says ‘Don’t Go Quietly’. The thrilling sounds that these machines make is all apart of this epic experience and I certainly hope with the evolution of cars we do not lose this.
This world-renowned celebration of the motor vehicle is continuing to inject new and spectacular elements. Come rain or shine The Festival of Speed goes from strength to strength and Sussex should be proud. It’s hard to believe this stunning event all started with one man, a love of cars and a race on his driveway.
The Festival of Speed takes place in late June or early July and being just as fast paced as the cars, you will see tickets go on sale immediately as one year comes to a close. There is no time to waste and with demand being so high I would suggest getting into pole position and booking while you have the chance!