When Lord March started opening the rather expensive doors into the race track and hill climb in his back garden, I’m not sure that even he envisaged the impact that he would have on the average horse racing fan and petrolhead. For a good few years now, his estate has opened its doors to the public for the Festival of Speed, the Revival and a week of horse racing known as “Glorious Goodwood”. These pull in 100,000s of people every year and have become a regular feature in the lives of many. So as a fan of motorsport, I think we should do our bit to appreciate the work of Lord March even more, and instil a sense of pilgrimage among attending the Festival of Speed or the Revival each year.
For those of you that don’t know already, these celebrations of aviation and motorsport (Revival and Festival of Speed) are often spread over a weekend and held annually at the Goodwood Estate, in West Sussex. It presents a rare opportunity to the average petrolhead to see and bask in the glory of the World’s best and most memorable automobiles.
The Festival of Speed is pretty much exactly what it says on the tin. Teams from across the World of motorsport and your average car companies come to Goodwood and essentially show off their creations over the course of three days each year. Formula 1, WRC, Superbikes, Le Mans Prototypes and many more showcase their creations, old and modern, by doing timed “runs” up the famous Goodwood Hill Climb course. Recently, a bespoke Rally Stage has been built for all of the old and new rally cars to revel in. This is also a time for motorsport fans to meet their heroes without quite the same price tag of going to the circuit itself. Many F1 drivers show their faces out and about across the site, and often without advertising. Last year, I stumbled upon Stirling Moss doing a book signing in a deep, dark corner of the stalls, and happened to find myself in the front row of a talk at the BMW stand, fronted by BBC Formula One Presenter Jake Humphrey, and the commentating legend that is Murray Walker. Both of their autographs now sit proudly above my bed. Probably down to luck of course, but I’m not going to complain!
Another exciting feature is having completely free access to the “Supercar Paddock”. This is where the World’s fastest production cars stand dormant before their next assault at the Hill Climb. This’ll mean nothing to some but it’s a real feeling of butterflies to see TWO Bugatti Veyrons right next to each other, and even seeing a Nissan GT-R with its bonnet up is something quite special. Such is the cornucopia of available sights at the Festival of Speed, most F1 and WRC teams have their own garage area, where they showcase past competitors, from Williams F1 bringing out Nigel Mansell’s Championship-Winning FW-14 from 1992, and Ayrton Senna’s 1988 McLaren, to today’s Champion, the Red Bull RB7. I think that the effort that motorsport teams put in to the event is a true point of pride to how successful and important the event has been to teams and fans alike since its inception in 1994.
The Revival runs every September and it brings out all of the true classic cars to the Goodwood circuit from motorsport years gone by. For fans of automobiles and aviation from the glory days, look no further. This is your own version of Shangri-La. Since the event began in 1998, it has evolved into the World’s largest historic car festival, and it is based around only using cars from the “Golden Era” of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Racing drivers from the era itself and of a more modern ilk have been known to take to the circuit for the classic races around the fabled tarmac. Sir Jack Brabham, John Surtees, Phil Hill, David Coulthard, and even Gerhard Berger have tested their skills over the years.
The wonders of Goodwood have been present for a while now as previously mentioned, but if you haven’t been already, where have you been? If you want a few days to see the best of today’s modern machinery or the gems of a bygone era, even if you go on a bit of a celebrity hunt, make sure you’re free for it because it is an all-consuming yet incredibly satisfying experience that I would recommend to anyone.