Goodwood Festival of Speed 2017

Peaks of performance, Motorsports Game-Changers was the tag line for this year’s FOS… As always the event didn’t disappoint.
Every year the Goodwood Festival Of Speed becomes more and more a multi-facetted spectacle. This year’s offering delivered in spades.
You want Formula One, you got Formula One.
You want Ferrari, you got Ferrari’s.
You want drifting, you got drifting.
You want Rally cars, you got Rally cars.
You want Stars, you got stars.
Bikes? Yup
History? By the bucket load!
Le Mans? Yes sir.
Super Cars? Oh yes!
Style? Hell yeah.
Luxury and opulence? Of course…
And so, so much more besides.
I arrived on site on Thursday afternoon and it was immediately obvious that this was going to be a bit special, the atmosphere was electric. I had decided that the way forward to get the full Goodwood experience would be to stay on site for the weekend, so tent pitched, I settled in to what proved to be an unforgettable weekend.
Friday morning at around 6 am I made my way down to the focal point of every FOS, the carriage circle feature, once again Gerry Judah’s imagination visioned an epic structure, a tribute to the career of one Bernard Charles Ecclestone. A steel ring standing 35 meters tall, weighing in at 65 tonnes, was built on site taking six weeks to install, adorned with five priceless Formula One jewels. The very Connaught type B-Alta, BCE entered in to the 1958 Monaco and British Grand Prix. A Lotus 72 representing his time as a driver manager, one of his most famous charges being F1’s only posthumous World Champion Jochen Rindt. A Brabham BT49 from his own collection, a nod to his years as team owner of the Brabham team, during his fifteen years ownership the team yielded 22 wins and two world championships, the other two cars, a Ferrari and a Mercedes Benz signify Ecclestone’s years as the Chief executive of F1. What can be said about this man that hasn’t already been said? He was quite a handy driver in the 50’s but his forte has always been a wheeler dealer and his rise to the main man in F1 is well documented. BCE was in attendance for the entire weekend, on top form too, Even at the age of 86 there seems no sign of Bernie slowing down.
I made my way to the lawn of the Cartier Style et Luxe, the concours of the festival. With the gates yet to open I had the entire mouth-watering selection of fabulous cars to myself! As I rounded the hedge I was greeted with the sight of a Pagani Zonda, a McLaren F1, a Porsche Carrera GT and a Bugatti Veyron! And that was just for starters. After the judging, the overall winner, well it had to be really, as one of the many Goodwood ‘moments’ celibrated Ferrari’s 70th anniversary, was a beautiful Ferrari 250 GT Pininfarina Cabriolet series 1.
As if this was not enough Bugatti put on a mindboggling display of Veyron’s and Chiron’s, I simply cannot imagine just how much the collection cost! Rolls Royce displayed the Black Badge range next door and in the stables BMW promoted the new 8 series range.
Of course the big draw of the festival is the hill climb, seeing the cars and bikes being demonstrated, hooned, drifted or timed up the narrow ribbon of tarmac that forms the world famous hill climb is what many of the spectators come to see.
The drift boys were in full effect right across the weekend, it’s not hard to see why this form of motorsport is one of the fastest growing disciplines currently. Popular New Zealander Mad Mike Whiddett was back in action with his MX5 based ‘RADBUL’ with two honking great turbos the quad rotor machine had over a 1000 horse’s with which to destroy rear tyres with, which it did with plumes of tyre smoke on every run. He was joined by reigning Formula Drift Champion Chris Forsberg and his V8 turbo Nissan 370Z, fellow American Vaugh Gittin Jr and his RTR Mustang, Irish Drift stars James Deane and Dean ‘Karnage’ Kearney with their tyre shredding RX-7 and Viper engined Toyota Chaser, finally Steve ‘Baggsy’ Biagioni with his v8 engined Nissan GT-R. These guys really wowed the crowds over the weekend.
There were various ‘moments’ celebrated over the weekend, I mentioned Ferrari’s 70 years anniversary earlier, Ferrari’s on track moment was complimented by the cars gathering in front of the house and the Italian National Anthem being played along with fireworks.
Poignantly, there was an emmotional daily on track parade to celebrate the life of John Surtees, who left us in March this year, John was a long time supporter and patron of the Festival of Speed and in a fitting tribute a selection of the machinery he drove was driven or rode up the hill.
On Sunday, in the collecting area a gathering of nine iconic Williams Grand Prix machines were lined up for a photo call, along with a veritable whose, who of Williams personnel and drivers past and present, on hand to mark forty years of participation in Formula One. Williams is the only F1 team still in private ownership, Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams and her partner, the team’s Senior Performance Engineer, Andrew Murdoch, Patrick Head, the teams formidable designer and Franks partner for many years, Paddy Lowe, the design genius who returned to the Williams fold this year. Former Williams drivers Damon Hill, Nico Rosberg, Mark Webber and Valtteri Bottas and current Heritage driver, Karun Chandhok all helped to celebrate the great team that Williams is, long may the team continue.
Tom Kristensen, a Bona fide Le Mans legend. winner of the great race a record nine times was honoured with his own class and drove his 2000 Le Mans winning Audi R8, one of eight cars in the class that represented milestones in the Dane’s incredible career. Another man on top form signing countless autographs during the weekend.
Nico Rosberg, Reigning Formula One World Champion, was in high demand on Sunday, looking as fit as a fiddle, took the Mercedes Benz F1 W05 hybrid up the hill twice doing some lawn shredding doughnuts in front of the house and also happily signed autographs and posed for photos and selfies for the duration of his visit to the festival.
For many the focal point of the weekend is the timed shoot out on Sunday afternoon. Not all cars are timed, contemporary F1 cars are no longer allowed to participate, since a young Nick Heidfeld blitzed the Hill in 41.6 seconds in a McLaren Mercedes back in 1999, it was decided that the F1 teams should do demo runs only. Since then many have tried to beat this time, rumour has it that Alan McNish eclipsed Heidfeld’s time in a Toyota F1 car but because officially his run was not timed it has become one of Goodwood’s ‘urban legends’.
This year the battle to be fastest on the hill was no less intense, That man Justin Law triumphed again in a Jaguar XJR12D clocking an impressive 46.13, beating Jeremy Smith’s Penske Chevrolet PC22 Indy car, which clocked an equally impressive 46.22, both left the rest of the competitors trailing, with Mark Higgins coming home third in his Subaru WRX STI in 48.25. Another Goodwood specialist Anthony Reid come home fourth in the very impressive Arrinera Hussarya GT3 just 0.2 seconds behind. Full results are available on the Goodwood Festival of Speed web page.
The Festival of Speed gets bigger and better year on year, I’ve used this word many times over the last few days but in this observers humble opinion the 2017 FOS was EPIC. See you at the Revival.
Graham Dalley
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