The time is ripe for one of the motorsport events of the year – The Goodwood Festival of Speed. Now, before we start in earnest, it’s probably time for a confession – I, Benson Jammichello, am from West Sussex, home of the festival. Based on the Goodwood Estate just outside Chichester, many, many happy childhood days were spent going round the event with my Dad. However, before I break into a rousing chorus of ‘Sussex by the Sea‘, it’s probably best if we crack on.
The Goodwood estate is one of the most diverse in the country, hosting a Racecourse – the home of Glorious Goodwood, an airport, a motor racing circuit, a hotel, a golf course and, if that wasn’t enough, a Rolls Royce factory. Some places just have all the fun, don’t they?
The estate is the seat of the Duke of Richmond and was the site of the first Festival of Speed, held in 1993. The current Earl of March (The Duke of Richmond’s son and heir) sought to revive the spirit of earlier motorsport held in the Park, and his plan was to put together an event that would attract cars from all over the world. And, you know what, he’s succeeded. That went well.
His grandfather, the ninth Duke of Richmond, had laid the foundations for the modern event in 1948 when, along with his friend Tony Gaze, he opened a motor racing circuit based on the perimeter roads of RAF Westhampnett. This was a second world war airfield built as a location for emergency landings for fighter aircraft. See Badger, provides you with history lessons too. This ran as a working motor racing circuit until 1966, when new Formula 1 engine rules meant that the new cars were considered too fast.
This year’s theme is “Racing Revolutions – Quantum leaps that shaped motor sport”. To us, that seems a bit long, although any title that references Quantum Leap is due respect. We’re still wishing Sam Beckett found his way home. Anyone else? No?
Anyway, the method by which theme will manifest itself during the festival is that (and we’re quoting now) “racing innovations [will be] evident throughout, including developments to engine, aerodynamics, chassis construction, and much more.”
So now you know.
Why should you go?
Quite simply, variety. There’s so much…stuff. Blimey, that was descriptive, wasn’t it?
– For one, there’s the world-famous hill climb event. Run on a 1.16 mile course that takes in Goodwood House and then surges upwards towards the racecourse, it rises 300 feet from beginning to end. Some of the most famous drivers in the world have taken part and about 300 cars go up per day.
– The central display, right outside the house, is also well worth a look. Well, it’s very hard to avoid, so you can’t but help having a gander. Looking almost like an art installation, it’s often major manufacturers that are invited to put something natty together. See here for pictures.
– Another advantage of the festival is that you, as an ordinary punter, can can wander round and look at the cars in their garages before they go out. It’s a good opportunity to get close and give them a smell.
– There are also lots of shopping opportunities – over 200 stands are open every day selling clothes, models and any other number of motoring related stuff.
– The forest rally stage is also well worth a look. A 1.67 mile course at the top of the hill climb, it includes many old and new rally stars tonking round. As with all rallying, it’s seriously impressive.
– If the cars weren’t enough, there’s also a variety of air based fun to be had. The Red Arrows (is there any event they don’t go to?) and a wide selection of other aircraft, old and new, fly past all weekend.
– There’s a whole lot of other stuff to do and see as well, so feel free to add your own experiences in the comments below.
Who’s there this year?
A quick scan (there are loads of others – have a look) of the drivers in attendance reveals that it’s a strong field this year, with Badger’s favourite GP2 driver Sam Bird, BBC speaky man Martin Brundle, one-of-the-most-handsome-drivers-in-F1 Jenson Button, three time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves, definitely got a future in broadcasting Karun Chandhok, general racing legend Emerson Fittipaldi, married to Ashley Judd and also quite famous for racing in America Dario Franchitti, punching below his weight Timo Glock, will probably run someone off the hill climb Lewis Hamilton, recently departed from the BRDC Damon Hill, Finnish rally legend Juha Kankkunen, less of a Finnish legend although still good Heikki Kovalainen, former F1 driver Jochen Mass, no introduction needed Stirling Moss, design guru Adrian Newey, very pretty Nico Rosberg, related to greatness Bruno Senna, very square jawed Mark Webber, and 2005 Indycar champion and 2011 Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon. Phew!
When and where?
1st – 3rd July 2011 at Goodwood House, near Chichester, West Sussex.