Once upon a time there was an English aristocrat with a passion for speed who wanted to make racing car engines sound again in a zone of influence for British motoring. He is known as Lord March and longed for the cars of Formula 1 and from other categories turn on an old nearby circuit, but since they denied it, he set up his party in the gardens of the estate located in Chichester, West Sussex County. The event is characterized by the maximum romanticism for motor sport and since 1993 it became the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the most important in the world of historic racing vehicles. This weekend its 29th edition takes place.
Goodwood Circuit was opened in 1948 and from 1949 to 1965 it had F1 races without World Championship points. The 3.8 kilometer track was the venue for the Glover Trophy and in 1952 José Froilán González won with a Ferrari 375, the model with which the previous year gave the Scuderia its first victory in the Máxima. Although since 1966, due to the refusal of March’s relatives to place chicanes on the track, the races were dropped. It was only used only for tests and in one of them Bruce McLaren passed away in 1970 with a Can Am prototype.
In 1990 Lord March wanted to revive racing there, but the local authorities refused. Far from being discouraged, he doubled the bet and legend has it that he would have said “I want the cars in the garden of my house”. On his estate, where there is an imposing castle, a racecourse and in the middle of great vegetation, a 1.8-kilometer circuit was set up, the return of which is known as Subida a la Colina or Hill Climb. It is a narrow track surrounded by bales and with the fans around.
But the enjoyment was not only for him, because this representative of the nobility opened its doors so that all the “rabble” can enjoy a unique show that became a classic and is today paradise on earth for lovers of motorsports and motorcycling. . It was the fairy tale with a happy ending for those with gasoline running through their veins.
In 1993 the gates of heaven opened and the Goodwood Festival of Speed was inaugurated. That first edition was on Sunday June 13 and coincided with the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but it did not prevent 25 thousand people from attending. Historical machines from F1, Le Mans, the World Rally Championship and MotoGP, among others, provided the framework for a meeting full of nostalgia. Over the years, jewels from IndyCar, NASCAR and even the Dakar Rally and various categories from around the world were added.
Lord March was unprejudiced. His only right of admission was getting drunk on gasoline and the smell of motors. Swim in a sea of retro emotions and with the magic of time travel by seeing relics circulating in perfect condition live and direct. The pleasure for the eyes and the enrichment of the soul spread from mouth to mouth and nobody wanted to miss it.
After the first event’s clash of dates, Lord March ensured that the event could never coincide with Le Mans or Formula 1 races. In 1994, Saturday was added, making it a weekend event. In 1996, Friday was added, making it a three-day event. In 2010 Thursday joined the Moving Motor Show. Every year around 200 thousand people attend in the sum of the four days.
The vehicles that participate are from competition teams and brands that keep their treasures in museums and from anonymous billionaires who indulged in buying cars and motorcycles from different eras. The impeccable maintenance allows the vehicles to turn as in their best times and are driven by the drivers who took hold of their steering wheels at the time as Sir Jackie Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi either Damon Hillas well as current figures who are encouraged by a vintage moment and experience first-hand what the races of other decades were like.
A timed test is usually done on the 1.8-kilometer track that went from being a mark for statistics to factories wanting to get involved and beat their chests to make history in a place full of it. For example, in 2019 the Volkswagen stomped with its electric ID.R driven by Romain Dumas and completed the lap in 41.6 seconds and beat Nick Heidfeld’s mark of 41.8 with a McLaren F1 in 1999.
In Goodwood, moreover, it is common for tributes to be paid to the most important personalities in the world of motor sport. An example was Frank Williams or the one done to Carlos Alberto Reutemann last year after his death. On that occasion, designer Gordon Murray drove the Brabham BT44 with which Lole won the 1975 German Grand Prix and the challenging Nordschleife, the 22.5-kilometre Nürburgring circuit. Another Argentine who paid tribute to him is Oreste Berta, since in 2010 his most emblematic car, the LR, circulated.
Celebrities don’t miss it either and among them in various editions were the guitarist of Queen Brian May or the actors Keanu Reeves Y henry cavill.
This year the star is an Ayrton Senna McLaren MP4/4 that was driven by Takuma Sato (former F1 and double winner of the Indianapolis 500). It is the most successful car in the history of F1 with 15 races out of 16 wins, in 1988, the year that the strongest duel of all time was born, the one between the remembered Brazilian and Alain Prost.
Except in 2020 at the worst moment of the COVID-19 pandemic when the event was cancelled, the engines have always been turned on at the Goodwood Festival, which today is one of the most important events on the international calendar. It is a time machine for four days of dreams for everyone who loves speed. A total ecstasy for passion in the earthly paradise of motorsport.
THE GOODWOOD FESTIVAL