6 Jul 2011

Goodwood Festival of Speed...Glorious Goodwood!!!

The Festival of Speed kicked off on Thursday with the second running of the Moving Motor Show where invited guests and lucky members of the public could get behind the wheels of the latest models from the major motor manufacturers and actually take them for a spin up Lord March’s famous hillclimb.

It’s a great opportunity for people to closely examine the cars and see and hear them running. Mercedes, Porsche, Ferrari, Rolls Royce, BMW, Chevrolet, Abarth, Ford, Honda, Jaguar, Morgan, Alfa Romeo, Audi, Volvo, Seat, MG, Peugeot, Skoda, Toyota and Citroen all had stands and judging by the crowds, were probably glad they had. Folk also had chance to mooch about the many merchandise stalls and additional manufacturers stands on the infield, or take a free ride on the Honda big wheel which gave a spectacular birds eye view of the event.

Friday was the start of the Festival of Speed proper, this year themed “Racing Revolutions”. The featured marque was Jaguar and in celebration of 50 years of the iconic E Type, a huge tubular sculpture of an E Type was erected on the lawn in front of Goodwood House.

A flick through the programme and entry list showed that the cursor had moved a little forward this year with a greater emphasis on modern cars than previously. The Supercar class was absolutely bulging with exotica which included Ferrari’s 458, California and new four seater FF, the Koenigsegg Agera R, the hard core Hulme Can Am Spyder and Ariel Atom V8, the glitzy and unpronounceable Pagani Huayra, the whacky six wheeled Covini C6W, the understated McLaren MP4-12C and AMG SLS and the futuristic Citroen Survolt, plus the latest Lambos, Bugattis, Maseratis, Porsches, BMWs, Bentleys, Nobles, Teslas, Spykers, Alfas, Astons, Chevrolets, Corvettes and Jaguars. With two runs a day each, the drivers and their lucky passengers had a ball.

More moderns included the latest crop of Touring cars and Endurance racers. The 2011 Peugeot and Audi Le Mans racers looked fantastic and such are their aerodynamics that even driving slowly in the paddock, their undertrays acted like hoovers, sucking up the dirt and leaves off the ground and blowing it all out the back in a great cloud of dust. This was something innovator Jim Hall understood well back in 1970 when he built his Chaparral Chevrolet 2J which used a secondary snowmobile engine to suck air out from the underside of the car to stick it to the ground. This year it was demonstrated by it’s great driver, Vic Elford. Hall was also a pioneer of high winged cars, with his 1966 Chaparral 2E which was also at Goodwood. When the Formula One brigade tried to copy him, they made the wings too fragile and dangerous failures soon led to their ban.

Many of this year’s Formula One teams were out to play along with their star drivers. Red Bull’s Mark Webber, McLaren’s Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, Vitaly Petrov and Bruno Senna from Lotus Renault, Ferrari’s Marc Gene, Nico Rosberg from Mercedes and Karun Chandhok from Team Lotus all signed hundred of autographs, had a good thrash and did a few burnouts and doughnuts. However, my vote for King of the smokey doughnuts was this year split between Kris Meeke in his red Mini WRC rally car and wild man Ken Block in his “Monster” Ford Fiesta gymkhana car. Both were really spectacular and wowed the crowds with their unbelievable car control. Also smoking up the place in red white and blue were the fabulous Red Arrows who performed three days running while on Sunday, the menacing Vulcan swooped low in the blue skies across Goodwood House.

On the infield, the GAS trick cycle and motorcycle displays were a big hit with the youngsters especially, while on track, ace motorcycle stunt rider Mattie Griffin tied his BMW in knots and ran rings around the marshals, while Terry Grant broke a new world record by driving his Nissan Juke the entire length of the hillclimb course on two wheels.

From the pre-war era, stand outs included a brace of fabulous supercharged rear engined Auto Unions and the 1939 Mercedes Benz W165 “Tripoli” car, driven by John Surtees.

Surtees, the only man to have won premier class world championships on two wheels and four, also had a ride on the ex Georg Meier 1939 TT winning BMW Kompressor to celebrate 100 years of the Isle of Man TT. Himself a six time TT winner, he was joined by 17 time TT winner John McGuiness, Ian Hutchinson, who in 2010 became the only man to win five TTs in a single week, Stuart Graham and many more TT winners and stars.

The highlight of the Festival was a celebration of 100 years of the Indianapolis 500, arguably the most famous race in the world. Lord March laid on a theatrical recreation of the build up to the start of an Indy 500 race with marching bands, cheerleaders, a fantastic array of Indy cars from throughout it’s history and fifteen Indianapolis 500 winning drivers, namely Bobby Unser, Al Unser Jnr, Johnny Rutherford, Emerson Fittipaldi, Arie Luyendyk, Parnelli Jones, Bobby Rahal, Eddie Cheever, Danny Sullivan, Gil de Ferran, Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Kenny Brack, Dario Franchitti and fresh from this years win, Dan Wheldon. Rock legend Brian May belted out the music while multi coloured streamers were sent shooting high into the air as the order was given “Gentlemen, start your engines”. Just wonderful.

Sunday afternoon climaxed with the Top Ten Shootout when the weekend’s ten fastest cars in the competition class battled it out for overall honours. Dan Collins drove superbly in his 1981 Lotus Cosworth 88B to come out top dog with a time of 48.52 seconds, fending off the purpose built Toyota Celica Sprint Special of Johnny Milner who was 0.47 seconds behind. Michael Bartels in his glorious Maserati MC 12 FIA GT car was third with 49.09. Over on the more sedate Cartier Style et Luxe concours lawn, a 1951 Ferrari 340 America was judged winner.

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