The annual Goodwood Press Preview day for the Festival of Speed was held at
Goodwood House on Wednesday 21 March, when Lord March and his team announced
their plans for the festival weekend between 22 – 24 June.
“A Spark of Genius – Breaking Records, Pushing Boundaries” is the main theme of
this year’s gathering, being a celebration of the pioneers, racers and engineering
visionaries who pushed the envelope in their own specific ways in the quest for victory,
sometimes making the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of their goal. From those who
bounced around the banking at places like Brooklands, through Motorcycle TT racers
who have challenged the unforgiving roads on the Isle of Man, land speed record
breakers, off road challengers to current F1 stars, who have been excelled in their quest
for victory. But it will not only be the people who participated, but also the machines that
pushed the rules and boundaries of engineering endeavour, like the Chaparral 2J
“Sucker Car” and the Howmet TX Turbine sports racing car, together with those which
took motor racing heroes like Nuvolari, Fangio, Clark, Senna and Schumacher to a
multitude of victories.
“From The Flats to The Peaks” continues the record breaking theme, with plans to turn
the cricket pitch at Goodwood House into a miniature Bonneville Salt Flats, with a display
of world land speed record breaking cars including the Spirit of 76, the fastest piston
engined car to drive across the hallowed Utah ground, The Blue Flame, a jet car which
set a record speed of 630.478mph (1008.765kph) in 1970 that stood for 13 years, and
the JCB DieselMax which set new records for diesel powered cars in 2006. The runs up
the hill will include a class for those intrepid Pikes Peak challengers, the daunting
mountain climb “to the sky” in Colorado, which is frightening enough with its unguarded
turns, even at gingerly approached slow tourist speeds. The people who take up this
challenge are either very brave or completely crazy!
“Royale” The Bugatti Type 41 Royale is an icon, even though only six examples were
built, it represented, and still does, engineering excellence, opulence and excess. Built
as a no expense spared exercise for Royalty and Heads of State, the leviathan featured a
12.8 litre engine producing 300bhp, and in period it cost twice as much as a Rolls Royce.
It is planned that the Cartier “Style et Luxe” Concours will feature two thirds of the
production run, along with an eclectic selection of other fine automobiles, including
bespoke GT cars from the fifties, and a variety of cars that featured the Ford V8 flathead
engine, from “Woodies” to hot rods.
“Anniversaries” Naturally significant anniversaries will also be celebrated, including
Ferrari’s 60th, despite the company’s own celebrations in Maranello having a date clash.
Toyota will celebrate their 70th anniversary plus their fifty years in motor sport, and an as
yet secret edifice will be erected in front of Goodwood House during the festival in
celebration of this dual anniversary, it is promised to be one of the biggest and most
exciting sculptures ever featured at the event!
“Stars” The preview day saw a group of the motor racing icons who will feature among
the wide range of those who will attend the Festival of Speed in June, including 1996
World Champion Damon Hill, Derek Bell, Riccardo Patrese, Jochen Mass, Colin McRae
and Michelle Mouton. There were also “star” cars including a Kellener bodied Bugatti
Royale, Porsche 956 and 962, a BMW 3.0 CSL “Batmobile”, a pair of Ferrari 250 GTOs,
and a McLaren F1 GTR, which enthralled Riccardo Patrese so much during his run up
the hill, that he offered to drive it back to London for owner David Clark. One of the
greatest spectacles provided for the scribes entertainment was a Corvette dragster,
which pulled impressive “Wheelies” and ran for arounf 300 metres on its rear wheels
with skid plates showering sparks, whilst the Penske-Ilmor PC-26 was true to its
Marlboro livery as it was engulfed in a cloud of smoke from its rear tyres as it “smoked”
off the line.
From this preview the Festival of Speed promises to maintain, or maybe even exceed, the
high standard set in previous runnings, definitely something for any motor sport
enthusiast, whatever their particular bent.