Roaring Up the Hill Again at the Festival of Speed
Story and Photography by Peter Aylward
The Goodwood Festival of Speed is a little different from your average motor racing event. Founded in 1993 by Lord March the event has grown substantially from a 25,000-strong crowd, one-day event to an expected 200,000 over the weekend (capped to 150,000 per day). It is a celebration of racing in the form of a hill climb held on the grounds of Goodwood House, West Sussex, England. Winding past the front door of the manor house, the hill climb is just over a mile long. It is a place where historic classic racers and modern day supercars are pitched against each other in timed runs. And it remains the only public event outside the F1 calendar that attracts both current teams and drivers, who bring along very recent machines for the run up the hill. Unfortunately though, the F1 cars no longer compete in timed events. And as a result the hill climb record set by Mr. Nick Heidfeld of 41.6 seconds in a McLaren MP4-13 has stood since 1999.
Access to this amazing machinery is not restricted, however, as the open-paddock format allows visitors to get up close, providing a rare glimpse and the chance to hear the wonderful, old (and more modern) racers. Often without any kind of noise restrictions and with the teams’ goal firmly fixed on absolute power, you can feel the sound energy hit you square in the chest as the burbling V8’s and raspy V12’s fire up.
Within the very same paddock are a multitude of incredible machines ranging from 1930s Grand Prix racers to this year’s Le Mans-winning Audi R18 e-tron Quattro. One of the most notable cars in attendance this year was the Audi 90 Quattro IMSA GTO from 1989. With its menacing wide exterior, this turbocharged 720bhp five cylinder brute ran in the International Motor Sports Association’s GTO class races covering 200 to 500km.
This year’s event included not one but two McLaren F1 GTRs: the #06R ’95 Le Mans podium finishing F1 GTR in the original Harrods livery, which has since been converted to street-legal. The other, and the first of the ‘Long Tail’ versions designed in ’97 to increase downforce, was #19R in the original presentation livery.
Every year features a sculpture on the main lawn celebrating a milestone in automotive history, this year it marked the celebration of 120 years of Mercedes-Benz in motorsport.