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Goodwood, 08-11 July, 2021

After the 2020 hiatus due to the Covid pandemic, the easing of event restrictions in the England in June 2021 saw the Goodwood Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard return with a bang. Despite the ongoing travel restrictions, the Duke of Richmond & Gordon and his team managed to attract competitors, cars and motorcycles from many parts of the globe. Whilst public attendance numbers were limited as part of a government Events Research Programme, and one had to show proof of vaccination to gain access to the event, there were certainly more than enough paying public to create a garden party atmosphere over the course of the weekend, despite some light intermittent rain on the Saturday.

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The main theme for the 2021 edition was “The Maestros – Motorsport’s Greatest All-Rounders”, featuring the achievements of the likes of Mario Andretti, Jacky Ickx, Roger Penske, Sir Stirling Moss, along with other drivers who have been successful in different genres of motorsport. Equally there are manufacturers who have enjoyed success in different fields, like BMW (on both two and four wheels), Ferrari, Lotus, McLaren and Porsche, again to name but a few. There were also celebrations of the 30th anniversary of Ayrton Senna’s final F1 Drivers’ World Championship title, the 50th anniversary of Tyrrell Racing’s first F1 Constructors’ Championship title. There were also a tribute to the late Sir Stirling Moss, with his Mille Miglia winning Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR in a glass enclosure on the cricket pitch, surrounded by obelisks where visitors could post messages of condolence on the Goodwood website via an app. A further tribute was to the late Hannu Mikkola, the 1983 World Rally Champion, who designed the rally stage for the Festival of Speed, with an array of cars driven during his career on display.

There were four days of high octane entertainment encompassing the hillclimb, the rally stage, the off road course and in the action sports arena. Apart from all the various action in these localities there was the more gentile Cartier Style et Luxe Concours d’Elegance, the Future Lab, the First Glance display featuring a variety of concept cars, a new feature called Electric Avenue the Road to 2030 presented by Sky Zero, whilst BMW had their own Electric Boulevard in the stable yard. Then there was a Bonhams auction, all the various manufacturers stands, and of course the always popular expansive vendor area. The younger generation were also well catered for with the Thakeham Family Enclosure, where children had a wide variety of activities to enjoy, including using full size mechanical excavators in a treasure hunt.

In keeping with tradition, every year there is a central feature sculpture on the lawn fronting Goodwood House, and this year it was a celebration the Lotus Marque, with a design inspired by company founder Colin Chapman’s philosophy of simplicity and lightness. This year there were no cars in the display, solely a complex juxtapose of slim tubes reaching skyward to a design produced by Lotus and innovation specialists Unit 9.

The F1 paddock is always a centre of attention, as it gives attendees the rare opportunity to get close to not only classic F1 cars, but also recent examples from current F1 teams, which this year featured Aston Martin, Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull, and Williams There are always some “shows” on the hillclimb, whether it be cars or bikes, with clouds of acrid rubber smoke from the former, notably from the drift cars, and plenty of “wheelies” from the latter. Apart from the action on the ground there were also aerobatic displays from The Blades and the always spectacular Red Arrows, leaving their red, white and blue trails across the sky. The Sunday afternoon shoot-out for fastest time of the day, saw the laurels go to Rob Bell in a McLaren 720S GT3X, just ahead of Travis Pastrana in a Subaru WRX STI.

Despite the logistical difficulties posed by the pandemic, the gathering fully lived up to its name and the quality of its predecessors, providing a diverse array of machinery from almost the dawn of motoring to concept vehicles of the future, along with plenty of star names from the world of motorsport.

Keith Bluemel

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