Late June traditionally sees Great Britain at its glorious best. The country basks in warm sunshine as happy event-goers mix strawberries and cream with sun burnt noses at local village fetes, classic car shows and major international gatherings such as Wimbledon and Glastonbury. And then there is every petrolhead’s favorite, the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed (FoS).
Sadly this year the summer sunshine at Goodwood gave way to torrents of rain, both preceding the event and during a couple of the FoS days, creating some spectacular, demanding car control moments on the slippery hillclimb, as well as in the soggy car parks!
Despite the rain though, the sell-out 200,000+ FoS crowd remained resilient. Buoyed by this year’s theme – ‘Full Throttle – The Endless Pursuit of Power’ – enthusiasts relished the sights and sounds of more than 500 competition cars, motorcycles and supercars attacking the challenging 1.16-mile Goodwood hillclimb, plus the tough Forest Rally Stage near the finish line.
The competition machinery included seven current Formula 1 teams with their Works drivers at the wheel, among them the current F1 World Championship points-leader Nico Rosberg in his Mercedes-Benz F1 W05 Hybrid. A number of previous Grand Prix World Champions, such as Sir Jackie Stewart, Jensen Button and Emerson Fittipaldi participated, too.
Virtually every other form of motor racing was also represented at FoS, from massive pre-war Grand Prix cars, iconic tin-top racers, endurance cars, legendary rally weapons, NASCAR, racing motorcycles and fearsome Can-Am cars, right through to modern drift cars and this season’s BTCC (British Touring Car Championship) racers.
Star cars in action at Goodwood – all reflecting the 2016 FoS theme – included a quartet of unusual but innovative 1920s Voisin speed record machines, a parade of F1 World Champion James Hunt’s competition cars, including his iconic Hesketh-Cosworth and McLaren-Cosworth M23 Grand Prix cars, plus the ear-splitting Chevrolet V-8-engined Widowmaker drag bike. A large number of supercars also made their dynamic debuts at FoS, including the sensational Bugatti Chiron, the beautiful Aston Martin DB11 and a sneak preview of a new Bristol, powered by a V-8, set to be ‘officially’ launched later this year.
Away from the with high-revving excitement of the FoS hillclimb and Forest Rally Stage action, an oasis of calm and tranquility could be found on the lawns of the Cartier ‘Style et Luxe’ concours. Seven Cartier vehicle classes, carefully selected to reflect significant motoring anniversaries, were represented by almost 50 beautiful and rarely seen cars, ranging from pioneering late 19th Century motor cars, through to a class of Marcello Gandini-designed Lamborghinis, via some coachbuilt 1920s Vauxhall 30/98s, 1930s Rolls-Royce Phantom IIIs, innovative Lancias, tiny Alpine-Renault sports cars and mid-1960s British GTs, powered by American V-8 engines. A stunning Lamborghini Miura SV was awarded the Cartier Best of Show award by a select panel of famous judges.
Thrusting over 130 feet into the cloudy skies over Goodwood House, the much-anticipated FoS ‘Central Feature’ installation this year celebrated 100 years since BMW was born. The Bavarian marque’s centennial was marked in daring style with a bold steel monocoque structure, onto which three race-winning and original competition BMWs were mounted; the 1938 class-winning 328 Mille Miglia roadster, the 1983 Brabham-BMW BT F1 car and the 1999 Le Mans-winning BMW V12 LM.
The lively and entertaining 2016 Goodwood event culminated in a stimulating timed shoot-out. Several top racers competed against the clock in assorted racecars for this year’s Festival of Speed quickest time up the hillclimb. A close-fought battle saw Olly Clark in his purposeful Subaru Impreza ‘Gobstopper’ beating second-placed Kenny Brack’s 986-hp McLaren P1 LM by less than half a second! The McLaren was the fastest road-legal car ever to climb Goodwood’s hill. It was a fittingly ‘full throttle’ end to a damp but thoroughly enjoyable 2016 Goodwood Festival of Speed.