Nearly 150,000 spectators braved the weather to see another stunning collection of priceless and unique cars gathered from all corners of the globe. There must have been few people not wowed by Britain’s latest superstar, the prodigiously talented Lewis Hamilton, and nostalgia buffs were stirred by the sight of some of the older greats; Sir Stirling Moss, Sir Jackie Stewart, Paddy Hopkirk, Stig Blomquist et al.
With pre-event ticket sales boosted by the young Briton’s presence, the crowds turned out in force on what must have been one of the wettest Sundays ever at the Goodwood Festival, now in its 15th year. Modern Formula One races rarely offer hard-core enthusiasts the chance to meet their heroes, however Goodwood is just about the only opportunity for the ‘man on the Sunday sofa’ to get an autograph and even exchange a few words with the likes of Hamilton, Coulthard or Button. There were works teams of current F1 cars from Toyota (the 2007 Festival’s principal sponsor), Ferrari, McLaren-Mercedes, Honda, Red Bull-Renault, Spyker-Ferrari and Williams-Toyota, all ‘demonstrated’ with verve by either regular F1 drivers of the team’s testers.
And when the silver and orange McLaren hit the Hill on Sunday lunchtime there was only one noise louder than the Mercedes V8 - the sound of an appreciative crowd welcoming Hamilton home, just two weeks before the British Grand Prix.
The Goodwood Festival is, of course, about the celebration of motoring past and present so for many spectators a visit means the chance to see the rarest cars in the world, all carefully ‘themed’ by Lord March’s knowledgeable team of experts. The term ‘Classic Grand Prix Cars’ is a seemingly innocent one, yet in 2007 this included the very first in-house Ferrari GP car and the invincible 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 - a typical selection of the cars on show.
Go back a few years to the glamorous pre-War era, and ‘Rise of the Single Seater’ showcases the years when riding mechanics were no longer necessary, the days of the mighty ‘Silver Arrows’ Mercedes and Auto Union teams versus the Enzo Ferrari-run Alfas. Jochen Mass drove the 1937 Mercedes-Benz W125 in dire weather conditions on the hill, the great German grand prix and sports car driver exhibiting tremendous courage handling the 600bhp - quite literally ‘priceless’ - machine in standing water and driving rain.
Sports car fans were treated to the sight of Peter Hardman really trying in the Sporting & Historic Cars 1966 Ferrari P3, the car posting a 60.02 secs time on the Sunday (he did a 54.96 on Friday, and 52.93 on Saturday), an incredible achievement compared with the 58.86 of reigning FIA World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx in his works BMW 320i WTCC. Also in this class of cars were the Porsche 917, Alan Mann Ford F3L and an Alfa Romeo 33TT12 brought over by the Museo Storico Alfa Romeo, just one of many manufacturers supporting the event in a big way.
There is no car maker better known, nor more desirable, than Ferrari, and while the company’s 60th birthday celebrations continued apace in 38 deg C temperatures at Maranello, Ferrari GB assembled a selection of significant older, as well as current production cars in (appropriately) The Stables. Ferrari GB’s Motorsport Director Enrico Bertaggia drove the world’s most sought-after GT, the F599 GTB, up the hill as part of the ever-popular Supercar Run.
Other cars that featured in this year’s modern road-going supercar class included the debut of the Caparo T1, the 2007 Italdesign Ford Mustang study, the recently revised Morgan Aeromax and Aston Martin’s soon-to-be-launched DBS. Star of this class was, however, the Pininfarina special-bodied Ferrari Enzo P4/5 of James Glickenhaus that was even better ‘in the metal’ than in photographs. We took time out to talk to Glickenhaus about this extraordinarily beautiful car (and the other cars in his collection), and this conversation will form the basis of a feature on Classic Driver in weeks to come.
The weather did suit the rallying fraternity and in addition to the runs up the tarmaced hill many of the cars were shown on his Lordship’s own forest rally stage, vehicles such as the Audi Quattro A2 and Lancia Rallye 037, as well as modern WRC cars from Subaru, Ford and Peugeot.
The 2007 Cartier Style et Luxe concours took place in a quiet corner of the grounds, and this year the event was honoured with the presence of five Bugatti Royales, an amazing feat that Lord March described as ‘a bit like borrowing the Mona Lisa from the Louvre’, as two cars had been released by the French government from the Musée Nationale de L’Automobile in Mulhouse (the old Schlumpf collection). The Cartier Style et Luxe was won outright by Brian Classic’s 1938 Atalanta roadster, while the 1932 Kellner Coach Bugatti Royale won the model’s own sub-class.
And there were bikes (Superbikes, MotoGP and pedal), a display of land speed record cars on an especially-created ‘salt flat’ on the cricket pitch, a new technology pavilion, another bumper auction for Bonhams that you can read about elsewhere on Classic Driver , the incredible dragsters that still managed to raise two wheels to the sky despite the conditions, and the ever-popular Wacky Racers.
The Festival is not really about times, but for the record Rod Millen was fastest over the weekend, recording a time of 47.18-seconds in his Toyota Tacoma "Pikes Peak.
So raise a glass of champagne to the organisers for once again providing a superb spectacle, despite the weather, and let’s all look forward to an Indian Summer Goodwood Revival from August 31 to September 2, one the year’s unmissable events and one that is - like the Festival - advance booking only, with no ticket sales available on the gate.
Text: Steve Wakefield
Photos: Roger Dixon - all strictly copyright. For further information please visit www.rogerdixonphotography.com
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