Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011: Picnics and power slides

Days of Thunder meets a picnic in the countryside: as usual, the Festival of Speed was a glorious mix of high-octane motorsport, priceless automobiles, and a truly world-class garden party. From single-seater Ferraris to rally cars and modern F1 cars rocketing up the hill, 2011’s event was more daring, more varied, then ever.

You can’t help wondering whether the Festival will one day lose its sparkle; whether everyone will start to think “been there, done that” and look around for something new. Trouble is, there won’t be anything that stands the slightest chance of rivalling the sheer extravagance of the spectacle masterminded by Lord March. And so – far from being on the wane – the 2011 Festival of Speed saw not fewer but more people than ever before: a staggering 181,000 visitors, not to mention the star racing drivers and riders, the cars and the bikes. Describing even the highlights of this year’s three-day event is nigh-on impossible, so here are simply a few of the Classic Driver favourites…

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011: Picnics and power slides Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011: Picnics and power slides

Jaguar, of course, was the main 2011 sponsor in recognition of the E-type’s 50th birthday. Aside from the sculpture in front of Goodwood House, the crowds were treated to an outstanding variety of Jaguar ‘Le Mans Challengers’ in action on the hill, from Lightweight E-types to a JD Classics-entered Silk Cut XJR9. Regular Classic Driver contributor Tony Dron shared E2A with Norman Dewis, and a recreation of the strangely aerodynamic 1952 ‘Lowdrag’ C-type with preparer Chris Keith-Lucas. Meanwhile, John Simister – another Classic Driver regular – took a turn in the first mid-engined Jaguar, the 1965 XJ13 that was built to tackle the GT40s at Le Mans, but never raced. (We’ll be hearing more from John on that soon…)

Aston enthusiasts revelled in the opportunity to see the new V12 Zagato endurance racer at full revs up the hill, while transatlantic visitors appreciated – we hope – the strong American flavour to proceedings. The Festival promoted a tribute to the centenary of the Indy 500 race and no fewer than 42 significant Indianapolis cars were present, including – as a static display – the bizarre sight of the 1964 ‘Hurst Floor Shifter Special’ with its catamaran-like shell, whereby the driver sits in a pod alongside the main body. Other U.S. touches included guitarist Jeff Kollman playing the American national anthem up on the roof of Goodwood House.

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011: Picnics and power slides Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011: Picnics and power slides

Nor was there any lack of tyre smoke for spectators to inhale, with the pungent smell of burnt rubber emanating from bikes, F1 cars and, as pictured above, the 2007 Red Bull NASCAR Toyota Camry, built as a show car but – despite its 700bhp – street legal. Apparently.

F1 fans, of course, revel in the unparalleled access to the cars and drivers. Where else can you see modern F1 cars at such close quarters? Or enjoy the sight of Josh Hill driving a recreation of granddad Graham’s Lola-Ford T90 ‘Red Ball Special’ (the original was destroyed in an accident on the last lap of the 1967 Indy 500), the third generation of his illustrious family to take the wheel.

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011: Picnics and power slides Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011: Picnics and power slides

At the other end of the spectrum are the rally cars – both up the hill and on the purpose-built Forest Rally Stage – with such sights as Ken Block driving the modern Ford Fiesta RS WRC car entirely sideways, similar antics from the 2011 MINI John Cooper works car and, on a more classic note, Hannu Mikkola treating us to a full-on display in the 1985 Audi Quattro. You don’t have to be a committed rally fan to get a huge buzz from all this.

Among the countless other highlights was the sinister form of the Vulcan bomber, the always-breathtaking Red Arrows, stunt driver Terry Grant driving a Nissan Juke up the entire 1.16-mile Goodwood hillclimb on two wheels, and the Cartier Style et Luxe concours d’elegance, won this year by David Cottingham’s Touring-bodied 1951 Ferrari 340 America. And we mustn't forget a truly, er, unforgettable Bonhams auction on the Friday, either.

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011: Picnics and power slides Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011: Picnics and power slides

If you missed getting to the Festival this year, you must be feeling pretty glum by now. All we can suggest is that you log on to www.goodwood.co.uk and make sure you don’t miss the Goodwood Revival (16-18 September 2011) too.

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011: Picnics and power slides Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011: Picnics and power slides
Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011: Picnics and power slides Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011: Picnics and power slides
Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011: Picnics and power slides Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011: Picnics and power slides
Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011: Picnics and power slides Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011: Picnics and power slides
Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011: Picnics and power slides Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011: Picnics and power slides
Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011: Picnics and power slides Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011: Picnics and power slides
Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011: Picnics and power slides Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011: Picnics and power slides

Text: Steve Wakefield and Charis Whitcombe
Photos: Roger Dixon


ClassicInside - The Classic Driver Newsletter
Free Subscription!