The 2007 Goodwood Festival of Speed
Goodwood House was once again the centre of operations for the official launch of the Festival of Speed, with Lord March announcing another bumper programme of events at the world’s best-organised celebration of motoring's past, present and future.
As always there’s a theme for the three-day event, and this year it’s ‘Spark of Genius - Breaking Records, Pushing Boundaries’. In other words, the distillation of man’s desire to be fastest in outright straight-line speed, to cover the greatest distance in 24 hours, to accelerate over ¼ mile in the shortest possible time, and now, with a ‘green agenda’ on everyone’s lips, to achieve all of these feats using the smallest amount of fuel and causing the minimum damage to the planet.
Phew, a tall order for most of us, but thanks to the brilliance of human ingenuity over the last 100 years, all ‘unbeatable’ achievements that have been regularly surpassed just a few years later.
A ticket-only event as usual, the Festival will be held over the weekend of 22 - 24 June. In addition to the largest number of modern F1 cars seen outside the World Championship (the Festival as usual is planned for a ‘rest weekend’ in between races), you can expect to see a significant number of land speed record cars, ranging from some of the earliest, like Parry-Thomas’s famous ‘Babs’, and Craig Breedlove’s 1960s’ ‘Spirit of America’ jet car, to the very latest marvel from JCB, the Dieselmax that smashed the world land speed record for a diesel-powered car by well over 100 mph.
His Lordship’s groundsman may well have something to say about it, but the plan is to have all of these cars - and more - on a specially re-created ‘Bonneville Salt Flats’ on none other than the Goodwood cricket pitch. And neatly tying in with this theme of technological prowess will be a new-for-2007 Technology Pavilion where firms will be able to showcase their products, with particular emphasis on alternative power.
Pride of place outside Goodwood House will go to Toyota this year, so you can expect to see its modern F1 cars alongside the dramatic streamlined Le Mans sports prototypes and the many successful rally cars the Cologne-based team fielded in the 80s and 90s. Seen at Press Day was a static 1998 TS020 GT-One, the car that nearly won Le Mans in 1999, and an ex-works Toyota Team Europe WRC car.
Alongside the dramatic red and white sports car were examples of the sort of machinery visitors can expect come June. Aston Martin Racing had brought along a DBR9, while associated company Prodrive had its tuned and modified V8 Vantage (that Classic Driver will be testing next month) driven up the hill by no less than the company’s chairman and chief executive (as well as prime mover behind, and shareholder in, the recent purchase of Aston Martin) David Richards.
The car sounded superb - the adjustable exhaust clearly set to ‘sport’ - and looked very fast. As did, it had to be said, the red Ferrari 599 GTB, that will also be here in June, both cars as part of the ‘Supercar Run’, one of the most popular events at the Festival, that will also see the latest offerings from Maserati and Porsche, and specilaist manufacturers such as Mosler.
Talking Ferrari, there were no less than two original Ferrari 250 GTOs, as well as the ex-Maranello Concessionaires ‘Daytona’ Competizione, running up the hill, and the Italian company is planning on a big presence this summer - as last year - in the Stable Yard, as part of Ferrari’s 60th Anniversary. The Festival will coincide with the celebrations in Maranello that weekend, so you may well see some sort of live tie-up.
Group C cars will have their own feature, and Lord March intends to gather a very big ‘grid’ of the dramatic, wide, long and low sports cars that ran at all the world’s circuits throughout the 1980s. So expect to see several Silk Cut Jaguars, Rothmans and Shell Porsche 956/962s and the various prototypes produced without thought for cost by Japanese companies Toyota and Nissan.
An old favourite is American Bob Riggle’s Hemi Under Glass dragster, and this year it will be joined by the UK-based Ronnie Picardo and his similarly-unbalanced 1968 Chevrolet Corvette ‘The High Risk Wheelie Car’. From the, well it would be unfair to call them ‘ridiculous’, to the most certainly ‘sublime’ for the Cartier Style et Luxe Concours that this year may well have four, yes four, Bugatti Type 41 Royales and one of the most beautiful, the Kellner car, made a handy backdrop for Lord March and friends on Wednesday.
Bonhams will have their customary Friday afternoon auction and had the ex-David Black 1932 Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 Spider on display, as well as taking the opportunity to announce the sale of the Sir Henry Segrave Collection of trophies and automobilia at the Festival.
Dunhill will as usual be looking after the entrants and competitors in the famous Drivers Club, while the Royal Air Force Red Arrows, under constant defence budget review, will be making a visit high above the track.
Of course the Goodwood Festival is much more than machinery, it’s a chance to meet the legends of motor racing in person. Present at the press day were circuit racers Damon Hill, Derek Bell, Ricardo Patrese and Jochen Mass, ripping up the hill in cars as varied as the ex-Le Mans Harrods McLaren F1 and the very noisy 1977 Chevrolet Camaro IROC Z28, whilst on the rally stage, journalists were offered the authentic 'Forest' experience...
Rear-wheel drive, lots of power, and precious little grip: Charis Whitcombe discovers the thrill of a TR7 V8 rally car -
The Festival of Speed is never the same, from one year to the next. There are always new attractions, or new twists on old favourites. Take the loose-surface rally stage, which ducks and dives through the wooded area close to the hillclimb finish line. This was a hugely exciting development when first built in 2005 but with advice from former World Champion Hannu Mikkola, it has now been extended to create a very challenging high-speed rally circuit.
Colin McRae and Michèle Mouton were among the rally stars present at this week’s press launch, along with both historic and modern rally cars. I took a ride round the rally circuit with Steve Rockingham, owner and driver of the ex-Works, ex-Tony Pond 1978 Triumph TR7 V8. “That’s a real rally car,” muttered a bystander as I strapped myself into the passenger seat, “rear-wheel drive, far too much power and not enough grip”.
What an adrenalin kick it is, sliding through the oh-so narrow gap between trees. At times we seemed just inches from the bark, the driver twirling the wheel and working the pedals, the V8 engine bleating and barking while large chunks of stone hit the floor beneath our feet. It feels like the world’s most exhilarating fair ride. How do rally cars survive the punishment? Not to mention the drivers. It’s a must-see part of this year’s Festival of Speed – by which time a new brow on the fast back-straight should see most of the cars airborne!
So it's going to be another good one - get those tickets on order as soon as possible.
This year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed has adopted the Teenage Cancer Trust as its official charity. See www.teenagecancertrust.org .
As in 2006, all days of the Festival will be for advance ticket holders only - no tickets will be for sale on the gate. Numbers are limited so it is advisable to book early.
The Festival is held at Goodwood House over the weekend of 22 - 24 June, with the Goodwood Revival due to be held at the Motor Circuit over the weekend of 31 August - 2 September. More details on this, the best historic motor racing event in the world, to be announced nearer the time.
To book your tickets for the Festival, please either telephone the Booking Office on +44 1243 755055 or buy on-line by visiting the Online Shopping & Tickets section of www.goodwood.co.uk. You will also find the latest news and press releases for this and the later Revival race meeting at Goodwood Circuit.
Story: Steve Wakefield/Charis Whitcombe
Photos: Classic Driver
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