Goodwood Festival of Speed 2022

I’m sure I’m not on my own when I say that very high up on my motoring ‘bucket list’ is to visit the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Held annually around the time of the British F1 Grand Prix, but not on the same weekend, the Goodwood Festival of Speed features modern and historic vehicles and was first held in 1993 at the 12,000-acre Goodwood Estate in Chichester, West Sussex about 90 kms southwest of London.

The Estate itself is home to the Goodwood Motor Circuit, Goodwood Horse Racecourse, a 4,000-acre organic farm, two eighteen-hole golf courses, Goodwood Aerodrome with Flying School, a 91-bedroom hotel and the headquarters of Rolls Royce Motor Cars.

The owner of the Goodwood Estate and founder of both the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Goodwood Revival (held annually in September) is 67-year-old Charles Gordon-Lennox, who amongst other titles is the Duke of Richmond and Earl of March.

The estate’s association with motorsport started in 1948 when the Gordon-Lennox’s grandfather opened the Goodwood Motor Circuit and hosted regular race meetings until it was closed in 1966. Shortly after taking over the estate in the early 1990s, Lord March wanted to bring back motor racing to the Goodwood Circuit, but it didn’t have the necessary permit to host a race meeting there, so instead in 1993 he hosted an event on his own grounds.

With a small group of invited historical vehicles, that first one-day event saw a crowd of 25,000 attend the inaugural Goodwood Festival of Speed in 1993, which increased to a record crowd of 158,000 over the three days in 2003 and now adays it’s an advance-ticket-only-admission policy capped at 150,000 per day over the four-day event.

Features of the Goodwood Festival of Speed are:

The Hillclimb is central to the action at Goodwood, running on an 1890 metre track that climbs 92.7 metres and featuring a whole range of different types of new and old classic cars. Over the years the weekend’s fastest times have been held by the likes of Martin Brundle in a McLaren-Peugeot, Jonathon Palmer in a Williams-Ford Cosworth, Nick Heidfield in a McLaren Mercedes, Rod Millen in a Toyota Celica Pikes Peak, Sebastian Loeb in a Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak and Justin Law in a Jaguar XJR-12D

This year the fastest hill climb time and also setting a new track record of 39.081 seconds was former F1 and IndyCar driver Max Chilton, driving an electric McMurtry Speirling. The record time for a Formula 1 car is 41.6 seconds set by Nick Heidfield in 1999 driving a McLaren MP4/13 and for safety reasons Formula 1 cars no longer do official timed runs but do demonstration runs.

The Forest Rally Stage was initially a timed stage but in 2005 it became a demonstration opportunity for rally cars on a purpose built 2.5-kilometre forest stage designed by Finnish rally champion Hannu Mikkola.

The Michelin Supercar Paddock features road-going supercars where specialty car manufacturers show off their latest sports model, including newly released mass-produced sports models and working concept models. These cars generally take part in the timed Hillclimb as well.  

The Arena showcases drifting and stunt driving on a large tarmac area incorporating two barrel donuts and two wall rides with a large viewing area just above the drift paddock.

The Cartier Style et Luxe is an auto show held next to the main house and is similar to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, but unlike most concours shows, the Cartier Style et Luxe is judged by a panel of selected judges consisting of international celebrities to car designers

Although The Soapbox Challenge, a downhill race for gravity-powered cars, or to the layman, expensive billycarts, only ran from 2000 to 2004 and I reckon it warrants a mention. It ran from the hill-climb finish line to the front of the main house and included entries from Cosworth and Prodrive with some famous drivers like Barry Sheene behind the wheels. But even back then, the modern-day motorsport curse came into play with safety concerns due to frequent accidents and despite an official cap on the cost of cars, the unofficial costs were becoming too high, so it didn’t return.

The Goodwood Festival of Speed really is an amazing event and now with the world starting to open up again, it’s definitely back on the agenda for me. If you’d like to know more, here’s the website and to whet your appetite even more, here are the final day highlights from this year’s event:

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2022 – Sunday Highlights

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *