25th Festival of Speed: Prepare for a shiny Jubilee
“Speed provides the one genuinely modern pleasure.” This quote from Aldous Huxley sounds like the perfect reason for the Duke of Richmond’s decision to put that pleasure at the center of a festival. The Festival of Speed was born some 25 years ago. What was especially quirky about his decision, though, was the fact that he didn’t choose the historic Goodwood racetrack as the event location, but rather a short, bumpy road that goes from Goodwood House up the hill and into the forest.
Today, the event attracts 180,000 visitors each year. It seems there’s something to that initial idea, something that has resonated with the petrolheads, speed junkies, and motorsport fans out there. For the classic car collector community, such a raucous celebration seemed an untypical place to be. But right from the start, the audience enthusiastically applauded the legendary race cars driving up the hill, whether the vehicles were from pre-war times or last year’s F1 season, and whether they were a Group B rally car or a famous GT. In addition to all this, there’s a car show, a small rally course through the woods around Goodwood House, and lots of other performances.
As the classic car community has embraced more recent race cars such as the Group C prototypes or formula race cars, the Festival of Speed has become a highlight for collectors in this respect, rivaling Goodwood’s other event classics such as the Members’ Meeting and the Revival. These younger race cars are real thoroughbreds that find a logical habitat at the event.
Super-fast: Nick’s memorable performance
Drivers at the Festival of Speed usually trade the full speed experience for the unique atmosphere and the opportunity to show their gems to a crowd that’s both knowledgeable and enthusiastic. As the course is a narrow, curvy road and spectators line up relatively near to it, this seems to be a safe choice. Nevertheless, some knowledgeable race drivers have used their skills to master the 1.16-mile drive with breathtaking speed. First and foremost, it was a young and talented McLaren test driver who set a memorable record in 1999: Nick Heidfeld has very fond memories of those spectacular 41.6 seconds. Each change of gear was answered by a wildly shaking car, thanks to the slippery road surface.
Super-monster: The Beast of Turin
Just as spectacular, but several times slower, was the performance of The Beast of Turin in 2015. After being brought back to life by Duncan Pittaway, the monstrous 1911 Fiat S76 celebrated a noisy appearance at the Festival of Speed. The sound of this spectacular example of automobile technology in the Brass Era was as impressive as the flames coming out of the exhaust pipes of the 24.8-liter engine—and yes, that number is real.
Up until now, it has been said that the Fiat is the car with the biggest engine ever built; interestingly enough, its vast capacity is split into just four cylinders. In any case, Lord March has enjoyed the ride with it: “What a fantastic thing!” No wonder The Beast has returned to more events at Goodwood. At the 75th Members’ Meeting last year, the Fiat even competed for the S.F. Edge Trophy.
FOS 2018: “Everything fast,” presented by pros and celebrities
In general, the cars climbing up the hill are “everything fast,” from souped-up hatchbacks of the last decades to race cars such as prototypes and formula models. Behind their steering wheels is an armada of pro racers and celebrities. Formula 1 driver Valtteri Bottas, for example, will drive the 2016 Mercedes-Benz F1 W07 Hybrid. Model and TV host Jodie Kidd—we’ve already spotted her driving the Mille Miglia Jaguar—will choose a BMW supercar for going up the hill. British Le Mans winner Martin Brundle will go uphill in a ’50s Formula 2 car, a Cooper T43, and an Eagle-Weslake T1G. The latter is a Formula 1 car from the ’60s, developed for Dan Gurney’s team and equipped with a Westlake V12 engine. Speaking of Le Mans, the British have a very special relationship with the French race: maybe this is the reason why so many Le Mans winners have been invited to the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Triple-winner Klaus Ludwig will join the event in a legendary Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR. Seeing this Mille Miglia icon, known from Stirling Moss’s record-breaking performance, in motion is always spectacular—although at the Festival of Speed, regular visitors will remember the drive by Stirling Moss with his Mille Miglia co-driver Denis Jenkinson in the 300 SLR. To wet your appetite, here’s a pic from the memorable 300 SLR armada from 2015 Festival of Speed:
There are even more Le Mans winners; however, there’s only one Mr. Le Mans. The person in question is Danish race driver Tom Kristensen, who has won Le Mans nine times. He’s a frequent Goodwood resident and will have his hands on the wheel of two cars: one is an Audi R8, a Spyder race car from “Audi Tradition” that he already used in 2017. The second car—quite a difference!—is a Ford Escort Twin Cam, a model that had been successful both in formula and rally competitions in the late sixties and early seventies. 2000 NASCAR winner Bobby Labonte will also drive a model that’s been successful both on the racetrack and in rallying, the Lancia 037. In contrast to this, Brazilian Formula 1 and Indy 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi will bring back memories from the seventies to the Festival of Speed. He’ll put the McLaren M23, the iconic F1 racer he drove back in the day, to the test.
The sound of the future at Festival of Speed
At the 2018 Festival of Speed, you can trade in the sound of the combustion engine for the buzzing of an EV. The Chinese electric vehicle NIO EP2 will come to Goodwood, the electric car that broke the Nordschleife record in a breathtaking performance, leaving the conventionally powered supercar community behind. Its buzz won’t be as impressive as the growling of a top-of-the-line Lamborghini, but the acceleration and looks of the car are breathtaking. Marketing wise, the quest for the Nürburgring record, however, follows an old pattern of the automobile industry: “Win on Sundays, sell on Mondays.”
But there’s another spectacular performance scheduled that takes it even further: Robocar will enter the race up the hill at Goodwood as the first fully autonomous car. Think of it as a Batmobile without seats, and you get an idea of its dramatic looks. The inside, however, is packed with sensors, supercomputers, and four powerful electric motors. Spectators will be able to follow the race from a booth at Goodwood’s Future Lab for an immersive AI experience from multiple perspectives. While the car has already shown remarkable performance on official racetracks and airfields, the unusual characteristics of the Goodwood track seem to be quite a challenge for the engineers. But as the company’s business model is the development of intelligent solutions for production cars, this entry will not only be beneficial for the entertainment of the audience but also for the future of autonomous driving in general.
Stronger than ever: today’s world of hypercars
The world of automotive superlatives seems to have suffered an electric shock. Perhaps, but still, the Festival of Speed doesn’t lack superlatives for its celebration of the sheer power of traditional combustion engines. And for supercar manufacturers, the festival remains the place to be for presenting and promoting their products. The data shows that hypercars are not only objects of appetite for petrolheads, they’ve also started a career as collectables and investments. According to Adolfo Orsi in the market report “The Key—Top of the Classic Car World,” 15 of the 100 top sales at last season’s classic car auctions were so-called “instant classics” like the 2014 Ferrari Laferrari. And for the top range of an already highly exclusive market, more and more small brands provide a variety of concepts, rivaling Ferrari’s and Porsche’s highly exclusive creations. In 2018, for example, we’ll see the Lykan and Fenyr HyperSport from Dubai-based W Motors. Here are some impressions from W Motors:
In the eyes of its creators, the new four-door coupé of the tuning specialist and now car manufacturer AMG will also be an instant classic. In contrast to the refined Mercedes-Benz cars coming out of the AMG factory, the announced coupé is a new model with its own bodywork. It will be interesting to see whether the market will accept this bold move from the German manufacturer to step into four-seaters.
2018 Festival of Speed: Happy Birthday Porsche!
Just around the corner from the AMG workshops, Porsche celebrates its 70th birthday this year. Following last year’s Ferrari celebration, it’s now up to the German sports car manufacturer to show what it’s like to celebrate a Jubilee at the Festival of Speed. In the first place, Porsche will create the Festival of Speed statue in front of Goodwood House. In fact, Porsche is the first brand to have this honor for the third time. In addition to that, though, the Duke of Richmond has a very close relationship with the brand. He’s a Porsche Carrera GT owner and considers it one of the finest cars he owns. Turning to the focus racetrack, one of the Duke’s all-time favorites is the Porsche 908/3. “It’s so noisy when you’re sitting there with the engine right behind your head. It’s also tiny and perfect for the job of getting up the hill real quick.” In addition to these accolades, the Duke has conceded Porsche a dedicated batch in the hill climb. Maybe he’ll find the time to jump into one of those 908/3s and go up the hill once again? We’ll see, but Mark Higgins takes us up the hill in a Porsche 911 GT2 RS:
While last year’s show at Ferrari concentrated on the past, the Italian manufacturer will present the 812 Superfast and 488 Pista at the Jubilee. While the latter model is more or less a road-going race car, British competitor Brabham went a step further: its new BT62 is a pure track tool and was just unveiled in May 2018. As customers won’t be able to get behind the wheel of their new toy before early next year, it will be a welcome opportunity to see this naturally aspirated powerhouse in motion.
Bonhams: Stock up on the right FOS car
For those who are too impatient to wait for their 2019 Festival of Speed car, there’s a good chance of finding a great one at Bonhams’ auction—but don’t forget: you also need a racing license to be allowed to enter the hill climb. Bonhams’ Festival of Speed auction will be on July 13, and the headliner is a perfect blend of British sports car engineering and the Italian design and coachbuilding of Zagato: in other words, a 1961 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato. While Aston Martin has just built 20 pieces of the Zagato version, the vehicle on sale is one of two race cars that was campaigned in 1961 and 1962 by the works-backed Essex Racing Stable. It has been in the possession of the same person since 1971. Thanks to its sleek and light body, no other Aston Martin of the ’50s and ’60s looked as modern as the Zagato. And with the super-lightweight construction and aerodynamics, the already potent GT car performed even better. But back in the day, Aston Martin was most definitely in need of such a great sports car, as the Ferrari 250GTs and GTOs gave them a hard time on the racetrack. Bonhams hasn’t announced an estimate for the car, but according to Hagerty, for example, the model changes hands for US$8.4 million to US$10.6 million.
Another British racing icon on sale is a 1955 Austin-Healey 100S formerly owned by Healey collector Jerry Leonard. The 100S model was the racing version of the Healey. Its lighter alloy body, a more powerful engine, and some tune-ups turned the budget roadster into a successful race car. The car on sale was frequently used for club racing in the United States before becoming part of Leonard’s collection. In 1995, another Healey collector bought the car and took it to Switzerland. He has owned it ever since and even participated with it at the Mille Miglia. The estimate for this lot ranges from UK£580,000 to UK£640,000.
For those appreciating the golden time of pre-war Monoposto race cars, Bonhams offers a 1932–1934 Alfa Romeo Tipo B GP Monoposto. British driver Richard Shuttleworth bought the exact same car from Scuderia Ferrari for the 1935 racing season. Its racing history has been researched in depth by Simon Moore in his book The Magnificent Monopostos: for example, it won the Donington GP in 1935 and came in fourth at Brookland in the same year. The seasoned race car goes on sale at an estimated UK£4.5 million to UK£5 million.
For more information on the Festival of Speed auction, please visit the official website of Bonham’s 2018 FOS sale:
Festival of Speed
Chichester, West Sussex
All pics are courtesy of Julien Mahiels from 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed.