Postcard from the Goodwood Festival of Speed

Classic cars Motorsport
Mercedes-Benz central feature at the 2014 Goodwood Festival of Speed

For more than 20 years, the Goodwood Festival of Speed at Lord March’s estate has been a highlight of the British summertime calendar, and has grown to become probably the world’s premier automotive event.  For 2014, I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the first day of Festival of Speed and the Moving Motor Show as a guest of Peugeot UK.

The Moving Motor Show is a fairly new innovation, added to the Festival of Speed weekend in 2010.  Held on the Thursday before the three days of the Festival proper, it has now grown to such an extent that it’s basically a full fourth day of action.

The main point of difference between Thursday and the rest of the weekend is the on-track activities.  Instead of racing cars from all eras and disciplines charging their way up the hill, the famous hillclimb track is opened to members of the public to drive the latest production vehicles from the many manufacturers displaying their wares.  The queues can be very lengthy if you roll up on the day and want to test drive something loud and fast, and many of the drives are pre-booked by the manufacturers for their existing and prospective customers.

Driving the famous Goodwood Hill

Peugeot RCZ-R at the 2014 Goodwood Festival of Speed and Moving Motor ShowA special treat this year was the chance to drive up the famous hill in the Peugeot RCZ-R, a 270hp sports car which is the hero model of Peugeot’s range. Accompanied by professional racing driver Bradley Philpot to guide and navigate, we fired up the track in pursuit of a Mazda MX-5 whilst being chased by an Aston Martin. Bradley was very enthusiastic in his encouragement to give the little Peugeot a good hammering, so I made sure to do so!

As we charged up the hill, it was a little surreal to see people cheering and waving all along the track.  There was a 50mph speed limit once you approach the large flint wall, as clearly Goodwood organisers don’t trust the general public to navigate their way through there at speed. After crossing the finish line, we followed a large loop around the Goodwood estate to eventually return to the paddock and reluctantly hand the car back for the next guest to take their turn.

The greatest automotive event in the world?

Over the years, the scale of the Festival of Speed has grown hugely, and it’s now virtually impossible to do it justice in just one day. In five years of attending since moving to the UK, I’ve still never managed to get up to the rally stage at the top of the hill as there is just too much to see at the bottom. I’ve also never managed to get around to all of the display paddocks each year, and usually get halfway home before I realise that I missed something that I really wanted to see.

Goodwood Festival of Speed central feature 2013 pic 1Each of the manufacturers has a large display stand which are essentially full-functioning showrooms and cafés. They each have the latest and greatest models on display, often accompanied by some concept cars or classic models from the past, and plenty of giveaways for everyone who stops by. Some even have exclusive “owners areas” if you flash your car keys, offering a good view of the track to watch the cars powering up the Hill.

What next for the Festival of Speed?

The Goodwood Festival of Speed continues to go from strength to strength, and now runs a full four days. Even then, the place is filled to capacity, with a record crowd of over 200,000 declared for 2014. Maybe before too long, Lord March will have to look at stretching the festival over two weekends to fit everything in? It would certainly help me try to get around to all of the displays for a change…

Stuart attended the Goodwood Festival of Speed and Moving Motor Show as a guest of Peugeot UK.

Stuart Masson

Stuart is the Editor of The Car Expert, which he founded in 2011, and our new sister site The Van Expert. Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the car industry for over thirty years. He spent a decade in automotive retail, and now works tirelessly to help car buyers by providing independent and impartial advice.

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