Cars

Goodwood: Pure Racing Heritage

If you have even a passing interest in cars, then chances are you’ll find something to inspire you at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. And even if the British summer weather is as unpredictable as usual, you’ll still be able to marvel at the sky thanks to a flypast from the Royal Air Force.

  • Text
    Michael Petersen
  • Foto
    Amy Shore
Where did the idea for the Festival of Speed come from?

In 1948, Frederick Gordon-Lennox, the 9th Duke of Richmond, had the racetrack built on a disused military airfield. His grandson, Charles Gordon-Lennox, Earl of March and Kinrara, remembers: “I was eleven years old back then. I have never forgotten the sound of the race cars, the smell of fuel and tyres and the weary look on the drivers’ faces. Way back then, I promised myself that someday I would bring racing back to Goodwood.” The founder’s grandson kept his word: in 1992, he inherited the Goodwood estate and just one year later hosted the first Festival of Speed.

How many spectators came to see the first Festival of Speed in 1993?

Nobody really knows, although some estimate 25,000. After the entry tickets had run out people just came in through the woods without paying at all! Today, the two main events each attract approximately 180,000 visitors.

Why are tickets only sold in advance?

This allows for excellent event planning. And it also means that people will attend regardless of the weather.

Why didn't they begin racing on the old circuit right away instead of the Hillclimb in front of Goodwood House?

It took a few years of planning and some tough battles with the authorities before the Earl of March was granted permission to race on the old circuit for five days of the year. But he wanted to get racing as soon as he took control of Goodwood in 1992. That’s why the first event held there was the Goodwood Hillclimb – also a tradition. In 1936, the Earl’s grandfather had held a hillclimb in the park, which he won at the wheel of a Lancia.

What makes Goodwood so successful?

The Goodwood name has always carried a high degree of prestige among British auto enthusiasts. It’s a brand that’s become synonymous with a proper garden party, as well as bringing valuable historic and modern cars together with iconic drivers. That’s what makes the festival so attractive.

Why are spectators, drivers and even mechanics wearing period clothing during the Goodwood Revival on the old circuit?

The Earl of March and his team – which nowadays boasts 600 full-time employees – specified the period dress code for the first Revival in 1998 to make the event even more special for everyone involved.

Why is there no dress code for the Festival of Speed?

The Goodwood Revival celebrates the specific racing period between 1948 and 1966, drawing cars and sometimes drivers from that period. The Festival of Speed, however, celebrates racing cars old and new, so wearing your normal clothes is more appropriate.

What does Goodwood have to offer besides motorsport?

Goodwood is first and foremost known for its racing car events, but the estate also hosts the Glorious Goodwood horse race, which has already achieved a comparable standing to Royal Ascot. They also run golfing and wellness programs, hotels, an air show and much more. Since 2011, the Festival of Speed also features one of the most important car shows in Britain, with an impressive array of car brand showing their latest models.

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