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The Festival of Speed

FestivalofSpeed_feature The mightiest oak starts life as a humble acorn - all it takes is time and the right prevailing conditions. So when twenty years ago Charles Henry Gordon-Lennox, Earl of March and Kinrara, decided to bring motorsport back to the Goodwood Estate with a Festival of Speed, it is highly unlikely that he foresaw how the event would grow. In 1993 the Festival clashed with the Le Mans 24 Hours, a mistake not repeated, yet it managed to attract 25,000 spectators. This year over 185,000 tickets were sold to an enthusiastic mob who witnessed a celebration of premier motor sport and car culture, featuring more than 500 spectacular vehicles. The Goodwood Festival of Speed has a legitimate claim to be the greatest automotive event on the planet. Goodwood_Festival_of_Speed_2013_Sculpture_Porsche_44927 The setting is quite majestic - not only do you have the beautiful West Sussex countryside, but the hill climb zooms right past the front door of the Goodwood House. Over the past few years, the lawn has been dressed with Gerry Judah's automotive sculptures - becoming a trademark of the Festival. For 2013, Judah chose to honor the Porsche 911 with his work, fitting as Porsche is celebrating 50 sporting years. 2013 Festival of Speed In addition to the sculpture, there were a series of homages to the 911 at Goodwood, as befits this iconic machine. There were all sizes and colours on display, showing the distinguished career of this much loved sportscar - including this 911SC dating back to the 1987 East African Safari Rally. 2013 Festival of Speed Arguably the most extreme version of the 911 ever built was the 935-78, aka "Moby Dick", constructed for the 1978 season. It won on its début at Silverstone - but despite posting the top speed of 235 mph on the Mulsanne Straight in that year's Le Mans 24 Hours, it could only manage a disappointing 8th place overall. (Porsche had a bad Le Mans that year, being crushed by the enormous effort from Renault.) 2013 Festival of Speed But it is not just the front lawn that gets the treatment, Cartier: Style et Lux concours d'elegance is held at the side of the house, in front of the stables. This is a static exhibition of beautiful cars that are grouped into themes to be judged by a bunch of The Great and The Good. Leading designers like Sir Terence Conran and Gordon Murray share the judicial responsibilities with others such as Yasmin and Simon Le Bon, oh well, let's not go there. In the category "Streamlined Sophistication" fits the unique Phantom Corsair. From 1938 and based on a Cord 810 chassis and running gear, it was jointly designed by Rust Heinz, principal heir of the Heinz family that brought you "57 varieties", and Maurice Schwartz of the Bohman & Schwartz coachbuilding company. Only one car was completed before young Rust was killed in a automobile accident - but before his demise he had seen the futuristic car star in a movie, "The Young in Heart", starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Paulette Goddard. Rust Heinz' automotive legacy is striking and stands out even in this extraordinary company. 2013 Festival of Speed Another one off on the lawn, from 1967, is the OSI Silver Fox. Whatever advantages the Italians thought they would accrue from the twin hull arrangement is anyone's guess, but it does fit into the category "Show Stoppers" quite neatly. Although only powered by a four cylinder 1.0 litre Renault engine, it's claimed a top speed of 155 mph. The company went out of business shortly after completing the prototype, I cannot imagine why... Porsche_911_Turbo_SE_'Flatnose'_-_1987 (1)-Edit And in honor of the year of the 911, there was a small gathering of Porsches on the lawn, including this beautiful 1987 "Flatnose" 911 Turbo SE. Ferrari_F40-Edit And where Porsches play, Ferraris are usually to be found too. This mint F40 is a fine example of the brand. 2013 Festival of Speed Jaguar were also represented with this fabulous XK 120 "Supersonic", one of three reworked by Ghia in the early 50's. Jaguar_Project_7 (1) Behind the Cartier lawn, the "sheds" house the Supercar Gallery - featuring contemporary automotive dreams, such as this Jaguar Project 7. Produced to showcase the creativity of Jaguar’s design and engineering teams, this is not simply another static concept car.While not intended for production, Project 7 is a fully-functional, high-performance sports car that uses the F-TYPE as it its base. McLaren_P1 (2) Another local Supercar, one intended for production, the McLaren P1 made its dynamic début at this year's Festival. 2013 Festival of Speed One of the major developments the Festival of Speed has seen over the past few years is the huge increase in presence of car manufacturers. No longer a national motorshow in the UK, Goodwood has arguably filled that vacuum, with a mass display of temporary car showrooms - each aiming to out-impress visitors likely to be potential customers. 2013 Festival of Speed This lucrative revenue stream has led to the Festival being extended by an extra day, calling this portion the Moving Motor Show. Until this innovation, if someone said "let's go to the The British Motor Show," images of a 60s or 70s would have been conjured up. A vista of remote stands with cars and girls crammed into a concrete bunker in a dodgy part of town, probably a place that you would not visit if you didn't have to. The UK car industry is going well at present. Foreign ownership and British engineering have given rise to greater production, employee numbers, and most importantly, profits. The French motor industry, so long scornful of their British counterparts, can only look on wistfully as their problems multiply. The activity at Goodwood is a reflection of the strong base currently enjoyed in the UK. 2013 Festival of Speed Consumers these days expect better... so the car companies responded by seeking to set out their stalls in a much more agreeable setting. Lord March gave them the stage of Goodwood, at no small cost, but all parties seem pleased. Chatting last year to Charles Morgan, of the Morgan Car Company, he reckoned that the whole thing is expensive but that the potential interest and eventual sales make financial sense. The list of those involved with the Moving Motor Show is impressive: Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Caterham, Citroën, Dacia, Ferrari, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jaguar, Lexus, Lotus, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Nissan, Peugeot, Porsche, Renault, Rolls-Royce, SEAT, Skoda, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo. 2013 Festival of Speed Retail therapy was also on hand, much of it involving all manner of automobilia - but there were other distractions as well for those who'd come along having little interest in cars. But back from the sordid business of commerce... most folks focused on the cars. 2013 Festival of Speed One of the elements that makes Goodwood's Festival of Speed so appealing is the proximity of the audience and the performers. It is almost unheard of for ordinary folk to have any kind of access to cars and stars, especially when it comes to Formula One. While the cars may just be old 2012 spec ones - it still looks, sounds, and by all means IS a racecar (paranoid teams insist someone may take advantage of the test ban and experiment with something if the current year's cars were running). fos-2012-saturday-marcu-dodridge016 The public also gets some form of access to their heroes, who for the most part repay the devotion with autographs and a smile. Jenson Button, one of the good guys in F1, interacts with admirers. 716804_DSC_6829 Lewis Hamilton enjoys the banter.................. fos-2012-friday-john-colley001 And the warriors of yesterday enjoy their moment once again, Rene Arnoux and Nelson Piquet reminisce. 2013 Festival of Speed In the F1 Paddock the victorious Audi from the 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours was present, still showing it's battle scars. It was just one of many top level machines to be enjoyed close up. 2013 Festival of Speed Speaking of top level, Bentley revealed their new GT3 racer at the show. It was looking mean, moody and magnificent to use an old Hollywood cliche - not that anyone would confuse its driver, Guy Smith, with Jane Russell (Jack Russell more likely). The GT3 will most likely make its début late in the year in the Middle East and then stay out for a comprehensive test programme and perhaps the Dubai 24 Hours. 2013 Festival of Speed Down in the Cathedral Paddock was another collection of sporting wonders. A brace of Ferraris, typical of the quality of items on display, the 512S and the 250GTO both resplendent in rosso corsa. 2013 Festival of Speed Campari anyone? More rosso corsa on the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 TT12. 2013 Festival of Speed One of the main themes for the 2013 Festival was that of Land Speed Legends. Most of these would form a static display on the cricket pitch, but one or two of the pioneers would take to the hill.  The noise of this 27 litre V12 aero engine being warmed up in 'Babs' has to be experienced to be believed. JG Parry-Thomas captured the Land Speed Record in 1926 at 171.02 mph in this. He was killed the following March on Pendine Sands, trying to retake the record. 'Babs' was buried in the sand at that time, where it remained until 1969 when it was resurrected and a restoration was started. 2013 Festival of Speed The cricket pitch was turned into a replica of Daytona Beach, courtesy of the Daytona International Speedway Museum, who supplied the Bluebird also (not sure who supplied the actors, perhaps the Walmington on Sea Theatrical Society). Their prop, the final LSR Bluebird of Sir Malcolm Campbell, eventually reached 301.129 mph in 1935 on the Bonneville Salt Flats. 2013 Festival of Speed Campbell's rival in the late 20s, for the records on both land and water, was Sir Henry O'Neil de Hane Segrave. Above are two of the cars that he broke the Land Speed Record in. Farthest, the red Sunbeam - with 1000bhp it took Sir Henry to 203.79 mph at Daytona Beach in 1927. It was powered by two, yes two, Sunbeam Matabele 22.4 litre V12 engines. The Golden Arrow was  purpose built for Segrave and was powered by a 925 hp, 23.9 litre naturally aspirated Napier Lion W12 aero engine. Sir Henry regained the LSR on Daytona Beach in March 1929 driving the Golden Arrow, raising the bar to 231.45 mph. Segrave was killed the following year after setting the water speed record. fos-2012-friday-john-colley028 While there is an understandable focus on the hillclimb and the Supercars, the Festival of Speed also has much to offer off-road. There is a rally course at the top of the hill, and like the circuit cars, there is a full range of both old and new vehicles. Mikko Hirvonen made the Citroën DS3 WRC fly. frifos13adamberesford17706 Beyond rallying, famous off-road events such as the Dakar Rally are represented, here by the Toyota Hilux driven by Giniel de Villiers. fos-2012-saturday-ianroxburgh004 And if that wasn't wild enough, there was always the Goodwood Action Sports (GAS), a bunch of nutters combining Flatland and Dirt Jumping BMX, Motorcycle and Mountain Bike Trials, and Freestyle Motocross. Why? I have no good answer...but possibly one of the younger ones could tell you. fos-2012-saturday-jochenvancauwenberge017 A similar reply would be forthcoming regarding this activity - but he is a crowd pleasing man, no doubt. fos-friday-matt-sills017 Arguably the most heart stopping moment of the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed took place in the hushed arena of the Bonhams Auction. GP von Europa auf dem Nürburgring, 1954 This Mercedes-Benz W196 R, seen here on the way to victory at the 1954 German Grand Prix, being driven by the great Juan Manuel Fangio, is the only post-war "Silver Arrow" in private ownership. The hammer fell at £17,500,000 – a record price for an auction car. The vehicle was sold to an anonymous telephone bidder who effectively pays £20,896,800 (about $31,600,000 million) including due premiums. What can one add to that? fos-2013-sunday-jochen-van-cauwenberge075 So is this the perfect motoring event? Well up to a point. Reading the forums there are grumbles of discontent about the crowds, the dust, the corporate expansion...and did I mention the crowds? Put simply the whole affair is a victim of its own success - it offers a selection of automobilia that simply cannot be found elsewhere, so it is little surprise that everyone wants to join in. fos-2012-saturday-jochen-van-cauwenberge001 "Give me Goodwood on a summer’s day and you can forget the rest of the world” is an expression attributed to Roy Salvadori, a top driver of the 50's who enjoyed much success in West Sussex. It would appear that the crowds who throng the Goodwood Estate each July would agree with that sentiment. Roll on next year... -John Brooks
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