2016 Festival of Speed

Goodwood, Sussex, England. I think it is fair to assume that if you like cars, you may have been made aware of this little part of the world already but I’ll give you a quick rundown to catch you up. The Goodwood Motor Circuit, located just outside Chichester on the south coast, began life as the perimeter road to RAF Westhampnett which was built during World War II as a relief airfield. Following the war, a race meeting was first held here in 1948 and over the years it has been graced with famous names from Mike Hawthorn, Graham Hill, Roger Penske and Jim Clark. The accident that Stirling Moss had here ended his career in 1962 and Bruce McLaren died aged just 32 in his Can-Am car. The owners didn’t want to modify the track and so, in 1966, it held its last race meeting for the next thirty years.

Roll forward to the early nineties and the current Earl of March wanted to re-open the circuit for competitive racing. By now, local councils in high-visibility health and safety gear had taken over local government and blocked his requests for racing events unless the circuit was modified to meet safety guidelines and noise pollution levels. How twee. Fortunately, being resident in Goodwood House, the Earl made a decision to invite some friends over with their cars for a little hill climb up his driveway. And so, in 1993, the Festival of Speed was born. Roll forward to 2016 and, had you been fortunate enough to attend that first meeting, today, it is almost unrecognisable. 

With a theme at this years event celebrating BMW’s centenary, the majestic central artwork by Gerry Judah in front of the house adorned with a few of their cars, namely the Le Mans winning V12 LMR, the 328 Mille Miglia Roadster and Brabham-BMW BT52, was quite the greeting to the 200,000 strong crowds coming in. 

Away from the hill itself, which saw all manner of cars from 1903 Mercedes 60HP and the fire snorting ‘Beast of Turin’ Fiat S76 through to the all singing, wallet emptying Bugatti Chiron. There is the Goodwood Action Sports (GAS) arena where all manner of stunts are constantly performed to make you gasp in awe, the paddocks where you are free to roam, the latest from all manner of manufacturers including an amazing off-road driving experience from Land Rover, a Bonhams auction with some truly wonderful examples under the hammer, music, entertainment, famous faces at every turn and a sprinkling of current F1 drivers to boot. Venture up the hill, which by the way is steeper than you think, and you can take in all nature of classic and modern rally cars on the special stage as well as the Off-Road Arena. Told you it was a lot to take in.

All this, frankly, means that unless you run around with your program ticking everything off, you may miss things so if you’re going to in 2017, make a plan! Fortunately, my plan had already been made as I was there to shadow and cover Freddie and Tom Hunt, sons’ of 1976 Formula One World Champion, James Hunt, and their celebration of the 40th anniversary of one of the most eagerly contested battles in the sport.

While it meant that I had to miss some of the action around the Festival, I did get to be a witness to the long standing, emotional mark that has been left on racing fans by James. Throughout the event, people came up to the boys with stories, anecdotes and autograph requests, with one fan coming to a signing with a James Hunt magazine from 1976 that their father had signed for him as a small boy. This is the things about Goodwood, the unifying love of racing.

So, while you have no doubt seen a massive amount of imagery from the event either from this year or from previous years, here is a selection of images from the 40th celebration of the Hunt Foundation, James’ cars and one or two that you may not have seen. I hope that you enjoy them and, more importantly, if you ever get the opportunity, I urge you to go. 

You will not regret it.

Alex Lawrence leaves us awestruck with every email. In his hands, every machine comes alive, even sitting still. He is based in Great Britain. His work and contact information can be found at The Whitewall.

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