2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed: Simply Incomparable
When most people plan a summer trip to Europe, they plan to visit famous capitals such as Paris, London, and Rome. A few weeks ago, Sub5Zero skipped across the big pond, but not to one of these famed cities. Instead, we rented a car at London’s Heathrow airport, and headed down the M3 towards the beautiful coastal town of Bournesmouth, passing Stonehenge along the way. What’s in Bournesmouth you ask? Well, nothing really, it actually reminds us of the Jersey Shore a bit, but thankfully without The Situation, Snooki, or the rest of the gang.
Why would we travel more than 15 hours to a city that seems like a lower budget version of the Shore? Well, it was the closest town to Chichester, home of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where we could find an open hotel to stay. Goowood Festival of Speed, or FOS as it is commonly known, celebrated its 20th year this summer, and Sub5Zero, along with 180,000+ of our closest friends were there to celebrate.
For those of you who may not have heard of Goodwood FOS, we shall provide you with a quick overview. The event takes place in the Goodwood Estate, which belongs to the heirs of the Duke of Richmond. Goodwood has a long history in motorsports with its Racecourse featuring numerous car races between 1948 to 1966.
After 1966, the Racecourse remained closed for decades. Once Lord March took over the Estate from his father, he set off in the pursuit to bring racing back to Goodwood. While battling to reopen the Racecourse, Lord March got the idea for another way to bring motorsports back to Goodwood.Working with friends such as famed British F1 and motorcyle racing champion John Surtees, they created something incredibly unique.
The premise of the event is simple. Invite collectors and owners to bring famous race cars of years past, then work to bring the drivers who actually drove them in their period. Put some hay bails around the 1.16 “driveway” that cuts through the middle of the Estate. And then wait for the fans to come – and they did. What started as a small event in 1993, with about 25 thousand fans, has grown into one of the most spectacular motorsports events in the world. This year, the event’s 20th, brought more than 180 thousand fans to Goodwood. It’s no wonder our drive in on Saturday took close to 2.5 hours to cover the last 15 miles to the Estate.
With hundreds of cars and motorcycles divided into more than 40 Classes, this year’s Goodwood FOS had something for every racing fan. So you may be thinking, out of all the incredible machines at this year’s event, why show a photo of a Ford Transit van? Well, for those of you who are Top Gear UK fans, you may already know the answer. This isn’t just ANY Transit van, it is quite more than that. This 1989 Ford was actually purchased by Jaguar to be used as a test mule for the running gear of its XJ220 supercar. It has a 545 HP twin turbo V6, which takes the van from 0 to 60 in less than 5 seconds. That gives you an idea of the variety of cars at this year’s FOS.
As we mentioned, Goodwood FOS is more than just about the cars. The event also brings together more than 100 racing drivers both current and past. At this year’s event, we ran into everyone from F1 World Champion Alain Prost, to Pink Floyd drummer and car collector Nick Mason. But the highlight of our time at Goodwood was the 20 minutes spent chatting with a true motorsports legend – Sir Stirling Moss.
Some of you may have heard of Sir Stirling’s famous “722” Mercedes Benz 300 SLR. This was the car in which he set the record average of speed of 97.96 mph over the 992 miles of the famous Mille Miglia race. That record still stands today, as the event officially ended 2 years later, with that speed average still standing.
The car in the photo above, was the sister car to Stirling’s 722, driven by Juan Manuel Fangio (722 is actually the starting time for Moss the morning of the race). Fangio only arrived a few minutes after Moss in that record setting year. But as his race number states – 658 – he had actually started the race 24 minutes earlier than Moss in the 722.
For many fans, one of the key highlights of each year’s Festival of Speed is being able to see both modern and historic Formula 1 cars up close. This year’s FOS featured 7 current Formula 1 teams, including many top drivers such as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Roseberg. For the first time in over 10 years, 3-time Formula 1 World Champion Nelson Piquet drove his Brabham-BMW BT52 up the Goodwood hill. This was the car that took Piquet to his second World Championship in 1983, the first turbocharged F1 car to do so.
As you can imagine, 2 days at Goodwood was simply not enough. Everywhere you look, there was something incredible to see. There were dozens of OEM booths featuring many new cars, some making their World Debuts, that we didn’t even get a chance to see. Sadly we also didn’t make it to the Forest Rally Stage where dozens of incredible off-road machines were charging through the trees. There simply isn’t another motorsports event in the world that quite compares to this. Goodwood is special – no words or photos can truly capture exactly what it is like to be only a hay bail away from some of the most incredible race cars ever built.