For car enthusiasts, June in England means that Lord March’s front lawn gets ripped up by hundreds of thousands of visitors and some of the world’s finest road and racing cars at the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed.
This year has been no exception, although heavy rain over the last week and some storms across the weekend meant there was quite a bit of mud around as well. But even a combination of huge storms, Euro 2016 football and the EU referendum failed to stop the punters turning up in droves.
And once again, the vehicles on offer were amazing. Bugatti brought along its all-new Chiron for a few runs up the hill, Mercedes-AMG unveiled its fire-breathing GT R flagship, and Aston Martin had the long-awaited DB11. BMW was celebrating its centenary and shipped over two Art Cars from its museum, along with 26 other classic Bavarian machines. Chevrolet had a huge stand full of Corvettes and Camaros, even though the company officially exited Europe a year ago (insert referendum joke here…). The Style et Luxe concourse section was full of Rolls-Royce Phantom IIIs and assorted Lamborghinis and Lancias. There were more ’80s Brabham F1 cars in one place than I have ever seen.
As usual, the car manufacturers turned out again in force, with ever-more elaborate multi-level stands and displays. London might have tried to re-start its motor show last month, but UK car fans know that Goodwood is where the best cars from all the big players are on display. Bugatti chose not to locate its stand with all the others, preferring its own location near the concourse section. A large quote from Ettore Bugatti on the wall of the stand proclaimed that Bugattis are not comparable to other cars…
A new sponsor for the Festival of Speed this year was Visit Florida, who invited me along and are using the event to promote tourism in Florida to showgoers. For motorsport fans, they have the Daytona 500 (definitely on my motorsport bucket list) and Rolex 24 At Daytona, plus Indycars, bikes, more NASCAR, IMSA and so on throughout the year. The Visit Florida Corvette Daytona Prototype also made an appearance on the Goodwood hill after finishing third in the Rolex 24 At Daytona back in January.
Once again, several F1 teams had a presence at Goodwood, along with a number of drivers. Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton both appeared for Mercedes-AMG, driving the 2014 championship-winning car up the hill. This was the first car from F1’s new hybrid era to tackle the Festival of Speed, as other teams continued to bring along 2.4-litre V8 cars from 2013 and earlier. Williams, McLaren and Renault also brought some classic F1 cars from their heritage fleets to thrill the crowds, sometimes with ‘heritage’ F1 drivers as well. René Arnoux got himself reacquainted with an early Renault F1 machine, and Riccardo Patrese slid back behind the wheel of some Williams and Brabham models he used to race back in the 1980s.
Fresh from victories at Le Mans only a week before, Porsche and Signatech-Alpine brought their race-winning LMP1 and LMP2 cars, respectively, along with some of their winning drivers. Indeed, the Signatech-Alpine was still covered in 24 hours’ worth of grime from the race just a few days beforehand.
As always at Goodwood, there is an enormous amount on offer to cater for whatever type of car enthusiast you happen to be. You could go along on all four days and still not get around to see everything in detail. The weather offered a little bit of everything as well – I got very wet on Thursday and sunburnt on Sunday.
And suddenly, it’s all over for another year. I wonder what happens to all the Gerry Judah-designed central features each year after the Festival of Speed is over? Do they just get scrapped? If I was running BMW, I would be trying to get planning approval to install this year’s spectacular effort at HQ in Munich.
Stuart attended the 2016 Goodwood Festival of Speed as a guest of Visit Florida.