Supercars. Hypercars. Racing cars. All types of things that go fast!
One of the motoring center pieces of the British summer, arriving hot on the heels of the British Grand Prix, the Goodwood Festival of Speed offers fans the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the most exquisite and exotic of motorsport machinery and some of the finest drivers in the world.
30th Anniversary Of The Festival Of Speed
Celebrating 75 years of racing at Goodwood, and 30 years since the first Festival of Speed, the popularity and acclaim for this summer spectacular has grown and grown over the years, with a continued focus to evolve and grow, driven by the hardworking and forward thinking team at Goodwood. Organizing an event which draws global megastars such as Sebastian Vettel, Francesco Bagnaia, Tom Kristensen and Jenson Button, and with colossal manufacturer involvement year on year is no mean feat, but the Festival of Speed is executed with such precision that the draw, year-on-year continues to attract the highest pedigree of participants.
The Festival of Speed is noted for its celebration of other notable landmark centenaries, and in 2023 there were many to choose from. The 75th anniversary of Porsche was the main focus, with the huge installation in front of Goodwood House paying tribute to the phenomenal success of the Stuttgart based manufacturer. A grid comprised of the Le Mans winning Porsches, including the 919 Hybrid, 917K and 911 GT1-98 amongst many others, was added to by a grid celebrating 60 years of the 911, with a diverse array of the many forms that the 911 has taken throughout the world of motorsport.
Other celebrations saw a superb collection of Le Mans prototypes, to celebrate 100 years since the first running of the 24h du Mans, 60 years of McLaren, where alongside a stunning field of their many successful Formula One cars, CanAm, Sportscars and a McLaren Indycar all took trips up the Goodwood Hillclimb. In a nostalgia soaked session, 75 years of Lotus was celebrated with a superb array of the earlier British Racing Green cars, and a number of the iconic black and gold Cosworth powered cars from the 1970s. NASCAR was well represented, in the field paying tribute to the 75th anniversary, with a splendid selection of stock cars, including the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 which ran at Le Mans under the Garage 56 regulations.
As always, rallying played a huge role in the Festival of Speed, with 50 years of the WRC being celebrated with a great grid of cars tackling the Goodwood Hill, and an eclectic array plying their trade on the specially designed woodland rally stage.
McLaren Solus GT Sets The Pace
With such a huge focus on the Festival of Speed over the weekend, it has become customary to expect a number of manufacturers unveiling their new machinery at the event, whether static or dynamic. This year was no exception, with the largest number of debuts at the Festival of Speed in its history. With Alpine, Bentley, BMW, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Renault and McLaren all bringing their latest and greatest to the party, it was the McLaren Solus which perhaps stole the thunder.
A car which saw its inception in the virtual world of Gran Turismo, the V10 engined hypercar was entered into the Goodwood Shootout, where top drivers in a wide-ranging selection of cars race to complete the 1.17 mile hillclimb course in record time. The course record was broken in 2022 by the phenomenally quick McMurtry Speirling, setting an unprecedented time of 39.08s.
While no cars broke the 40s barrier in 2023, the pace was still very hot, with Michael Lyons claiming third in a McLaren Cosworth M26, with a time of 46.89. The drastic Subaru GL Family Huckster in the hands of Travis Pastrana took second place with a time of 46.37, but it was McLaren factory driver Marvin Kirchhofer, who took the all-new McLaren Solus GT to the top of the timesheets with a thrilling run up the hill in a mere 45.34s. A great coup by McLaren and a fitting way to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the brand.
Formula One Highlights
Following on from a hugely successful Formula One career, multiple world champion Sebastian Vettel made an appearance on Sunday, bringing two of his own personal collection of Formula One cars, the ex-Ayrton Senna McLaren MP4/8, and the ex-Nigel Mansell Williams FW14B. In promotion of his recently established ‘Race Without Trace’ sustainable fuel campaign, Vettel took trips up the hill in both cars, while promoting the adoption of sustainable fuel in both motorsport and everyday motoring.
In a moving moment, ex-Haas F1 driver, and current Mercedes AMG F1 reserve driver Mick Schumacher piloted the Mercedes AMG F1 W02, famously driven by his father Michael in 2011. To witness the indistinguishable bright red helmet behind the wheel of the silver Mercedes brought the memories flooding back in a poignant and touching demonstration run.
Cartier & Bonhams Offer An Air Of Refinement
In sharp contrast to the tyre smoking, rev-limiter bouncing action on the Hill, there was a more sedate, but no less compelling side to the Festival of Speed around the huge site. Over 200 sensational cars went under the hammer on Friday at the Bonham Cars Auction, with highlights including the 1964 Aston Martin DB5, Koenigsegg CCGT GT1 Competition Coupe and Mercedes Benz McLaren SLR some of the notable features.
As ever, the Cartier Style et Luxe Concours d’Elegance offered respite from the frantic paddocks and track action. A superb assortment of delectable cars, as always were assembled on the lawn, for judging by a panel composed of Ramla Ali, Adam Badaiwi, Emma Corrin, Nick Foulkes, Sir Jonathan Ive, Flavio Manzoni, Marc Newson and Jordan Rand. Winning the overall honor for the Best in Show, was a sublime Bentley 4 1.4 Liter Rothschild Sedanca Coupe by Gurney Nuttin, a fitting winner for a concours noted for celebrating incredible automotive design and elegance.
While the best efforts of the British weather caused Saturday to be canceled, the first cancellation in the history of the Festival of Speed, the event continues to demonstrate why it is so highly regarded on the world stage. A superb showcase for the finer elements in the motorsport and automotive worlds.