Events: Kings Of The Hill: Our Favorite Racers, Restomods, And The Rest From The 2022 Goodwood Festival Of Speed

Kings Of The Hill: Our Favorite Racers, Restomods, And The Rest From The 2022 Goodwood Festival Of Speed

By Robb Pritchard
June 26, 2022
5 comments

Photography by Robb Pritchard

The high-performance car extravaganza that is the Goodwood Festival of Speed never disappoints—predictable as it may be, the incessant stream of amazing cars charging up the hill is something to look forward to each year. It’s predictable, but in the best sense: you know without a doubt that some of the rarest, fastest, and most significant cars in the world will be gathered together for a long weekend.

The paddocks are lined with the canonized, lionized racing machines from nearly every era and discipline. The hay bales and fences outside the short hillclimb/long driveway are lined with forward-leaning people, looking excitedly beyond the marshals waving the next  vehicle into position. NASCARs display their super shallow of steering lock, doing five-point turns to get out of their bays. Nearby you might get lucky and catch the warmup routine of a Mercedes 300 SLR. Contrast is everywhere, but the calibre of car is consistent. For a motorsport enthusiast there is an opportunity for self-induced whiplash every few meters. From the hundreds of stunning cars that collectively make up the Festival of Speed, we picked a few of our favorites from this year’s crop. 

In F1, radical designs don’t always work, as Mercedes is experiencing this season. Some are ambitious beyond their abilities, but outliers exist at the top as well as the bottom of the grid. Like the Brabham BT52 “Arrow” car. At the end of the previous season, ground effect cars had been banned so for 1982 Brabham needed something new. Designed by Gordon Murray, and built in an incredible six-week crunch, the BT52 design places 70% of the weight over the rear wheels to provide more grip, and did away with traditional side pods. It won on its debut, and went on to take Nelson Piquet to his second drivers’ championship title. After the 1983 season, this car was given to the company that powered it, BMW, whose four-cylinder turbo motors could provide Piquet with upwards of 1000 horsepower in qualifying trim—whatever the true figure, it remains one of the most powerful racing motors ever built for the sport.

In 2013, ready for the 30th anniversary of the drivers’ championship win, the BMW-powered Brabham was given a full restoration and seeing as it was going to be driven at speed, some safety changes were made. A new fuel cell was installed, and new suspension components had to be remade (at some shows it was displayed at over the years, some people thought it would be acceptable to stand on the wishbones). New dog rings are in the gearbox now as well, and it has a replacement rear wing as the old one was damaged. Other than that, the rest is what Piquet raced 39 years ago. 

Very few high level racing series have even been dominated as much as Audi did in the DTM in first few years of the 1990s. On paper the Audi 200-based V8 Quattro should have been far too big to be competitive against BMW’s nimble E30 M3 and Mercedes’ 190Es, but just as the Ingolstadt mark had re-written the rules of rallying a few years previously, so they did with the DTM. Present at Festival this year was the 1990 championship-winning car driven by Hans-Joachim Stuck, normally part of the Audi Tradition display in the museum. 

Speaking to one of the engineers in charge of the car, he told me “When you go slow in it, yes, it drives like a limousine. But when you start to push it, it turns into a real race car.” Despite its noticeably large exterior dimensions, this dichotomy is nowhere more evident than the cockpit, with the roll cage and bracing cutting rudely through the sedate veneers and staid door panels. As per regulations, some parts inside had to be from the road car, which explains the leftover wooden trim pieces. 

Under the hood, the engine is far from standard. “We turn the revs down so it will last, and because it’s reliable like this there is not a lot of maintenance to be done,” the engineer explains, “But the engine is capable of revving very highly, and if you were to race it properly it would need a lot of looking after.” Better to run at all than languish into old age. And speaking of old age…

A hundred and ten years ago, this massive Fiat S76 got up to a majorly impressive 136MPH, making it the fastest car in the world at the time. Who needs exhaust pipes when you can have open exits to spit the flames out of the side right from the source. It’s one of the most spectacular looking and sounding cars going up the hill, and a  deserved crowd favorite every year. 

Goodwood’s main theme for 2022 was the celebration of half a century of BMW’s Motorsport and M division, which the Munich marque celebrated by arriving with a whole flotilla of cars, covering most of the wide breadth of the company’s motorsport participation in the last 50 years: there was an early 3.0 CSL, the one that started it all, an E30 M3 of course, its 635CSI Group A precursor, along with Elio de Angelis’ M1 Procar, the Sauber-built Group 5 M1R, (which we featured here a couple of years ago), the Le Mans-winning V12 LMR, and McLaren F1 GTR, along with a few other Bimmers heading up the hill. 

The new M3 Touring was drawing some attention, but one of the best looking Bavarians in my opinion was the Qvick Motorsports 320 Turbo. These bewinged monsters raced in the DRM during the silhouette era. The car shown here is a replica of the 1978 title-winning car driven by Harald Ertl, which was raced the following year by Manfred Winkelhock in these Rodenstock Wurth colors. It’s not simply a nice looking copy though, it’s pretty much a perfect clone seeing as the father and son Qvicks own the original car and spent over three years reverse-engineering it into this exacting copy. They have a few more are in the works, so we should be seeing some more of these amazing BMWs in the near future at historic motorsport events. 

Some cars look fast parked. Some cars don’t. But with enough work, apparently the latter can become the former, as evidenced by this Subaru GL Wagon. Although it’s ostensibly been built from the ground up as a stunt car for Travis Pastrana to use in his Gymkhana films, it does retain some of the the decidedly un-sporty dimensions of the GL Wagon. 

Underneath the semi-ironic bodywork, this is based on a copy of modern WRC Rally1-spec chassis, modified slightly to fit the boxer engine. The rest of the running gear is what Subaru America’s WRX cars use, which means it’s 4×4 and capable of 860bhp. Obviously there’s not much original GL Wagon in this DNA, as the body panels are made from lighter composite materials, and the body is wider than the original, so even the grill is a 3D-printed custom piece. Only the rear lights and instrument stalks come from a genuine GL, so I’m told. Apparently Travis thinks it’s crazy and says it’s one of the best handling competition-spec cars he’s ever driven. And if the body was more aerodynamic than the side of a house, it might be even quicker. That said, the original GL also didn’t have random parts of the bodywork popping up as air brakes.

Staying on the subject of Subaru, Prodrive chose Goodwood to debut a stunning new car, the Impreza-based Prodrive P25. In a nutshell, this is every Impreza lover’s dream build. A modern re-working of an iconic car by one of the world’s most accomplished motorsport preparation companies is always going to draw huge interest. We’ll have a full feature on this car very soon.  

The high-quality restomod trend owes a lot to Singer, and the company’s reimagined Porsche 911s are still at the forefront of the market. We were impressed by the renderings of the company’s sublime Turbo Study, and seeing the light turquoise sheen of the “reimagined” 930 in the metal and carbon lived up to the hype. It’s beautifully put together, thoughtfully modified, and one of the harder cars to get a clean people-free photo of!

Japanese motorsport enthusiasts needed no introduction to the iconic Calsonic livery on the Nissan R32 GTR Group A car. Famous for eating Cosworth Fords for breakfast, it earned its Godzilla nickname not in Japan, but in Australia, where it decimated its competition. Behind the wheel of this replica built by Ric Wood Motorsport, was ex-BTCC racer Andy Middlehurst. “We run it around 650 to 700bhp,” he says, “But we could get to 1000bhp if you really wind it up. And while it has a lot of boost, it handles very well. It’s well mannered… but still such a beast on Lord March’s drive.”

Hopping back to Germany, Mercedes came to Goodwood with four cars from disparate eras of their own storied motorsport history. A rare 190E 2.5-16 Evolution was displayed next to a Sauber-Mercedes C9, both from the 1989 season, the year that Mercedes decided to re-enter the world of motorsport, ending the self-imposed exile that began after the tragic 1955 Le Mans accident. 

Two extremes. One near production, albeit a homologation special, and the other an all-out prototype. The 190E DTM car had been in Mercedes’ collection for many years, but someone had swapped the livery at some point, so they didn’t know exactly which car it was for a long while. Some internet sleuthing discovered a single out-of-place technical inspection sticker, and from this identifier it was determined that this was Manuel Reuter’s car—who, coincidentally, won Le Mans in 1989 as part of the Sauber-Mercedes effort—and so it was put back into its original Jet livery. 

The first 190E Evolution model might not have been one of the most spectacular racing cars (the Evolution 2 was the championship-winner), but it had one of the most iconic German drivers at the wheel; Klaus Ludwig. “This car,” he said with a not-too-impressed shrug, “Back then the DTM had a constant process of testing and development. We never stopped. So two years later, when I won the championship, the car was much, much better than this.” Not the most sentimental of memories, then. Nigel Mansell had just been on the tannoy talking about how emotional it was to get back in a Ferrari F1 car for the first time in thirty years, so I put the same question to Ludwig; “It was not so emotional for me, like Nigel,” he said. “The last time I was in a DTM 190E was three weeks ago!” We pointed out that it’s not his name on the rear window. “I know. I complained about this!”

Mercedes have more or less retired their rally car collection of the glorious 500 SLs, but in their place they have instead made a 450 SL track car for auto journalists to enjoy. Not made to any period regulations, it is just for pure fun, and to see what an SL is capable of without risking any of the museum pieces. They are currently reaching out to Ken Block to drive this with the idea that he can bring a classic Mercedes to a younger audience. 

For the older generations, a car that has a special place in the heart of motorsport historians is the 300 SLR. This one was driven in the 1955 Mille Miglia by Hans Herman who was leading the race by the time they’d reached Rome, but crashed soon after, allowing Sterling Moss to take the famous win in the sister car. This SLR still has 100% all-original parts, and it takes six weeks for the team to get it ready for an event, so only a special driver can push it. Coaxing the lovely lady up the hill for the weekend was none other than Jochen Mass, one of the nicest people in the whole paddock. I caught him in between appointments and asked him what it was like to drive such a legendary car. “It has a steering wheel and four tires. It’s just a car…” he smiled cheekily. “But every car tells you what it likes and what it doesn’t like. It’s normal for me that you have to feel what the car wants from you, it tells you what it needs. You must never force a car, the car must always be driven within the parameters of how it was designed. If there is a secret, it is this.” And what does this car tell Mass? “She tells me she loves me!”

The Sunday afternoon Shootout event is a crowd favorite and a fitting cap to the weekend, and this year all eyes were on former F1 driver Max Chilton in the insane McMurtry Speirling. A set of fans create a massive two tons of downforce, dragging the less than 1000kg car down to the ground while the 1000bhp electric drivetrain propels it from 0-62 in 1.5 seconds. Neither Chilton nor the car disappointed when it was time for their run up the hill: 1.1 miles in 39.08 seconds, a new record. The VW ID.R’s time of 39.9 was done in practice, not the actual Shootout, so the official record has stood since 1999 when Nick Heidfeld went up in 41.6 second in a McLaren MP43/13. We’ll just have to wait until next year to see what can top that.

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