Cutting through the noise at Goodwood Festival of Speed 2017

August 2, 2017
Charli Burden

A four day assault on the senses. That’s probably the most succinct way to describe one of our client’s flagship events, the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2017.

Picture a seething mass of 200,000 visitors pouring onto a sun-baked estate in a rural corner of West Sussex. The wall of heat generated by rows of eager fans pressed against the hay bales lining the 1.16 mile hill climb, the sense only heightened by the ear-splitting wail of a V12 engine flying past. The acrid smell of a 50 year old classic engine being fired into life or the eye-watering cloud of smoke drifting across the crowd from shed tyre rubber. The unmistakable pop of a champagne cork, the roar of the Red Arrows and the constant indistinguishable low level buzz of excited chatter.

And with 25 manufacturers in attendance and an extensive list of car unveils and first glances during the weekend, the challenge faced by all was how to stand out amongst the drama, heat and excitement of the world’s largest automotive garden party. Here’s our round-up of those that managed to cut through the sensory overload.

In the midst of the madness was one place of total serenity. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars made its highly-anticipated return to FoS to launch the Rolls-Royce Dawn Black Badge, the third model in the darker and edgier line. The stand on Laundry Green was exquisite; refined and elegant with a dark twist. Based on a traditional English rose garden, the stand featured the full Black Badge line up as well as 3D printed busts of famous risk-takers and rule-breakers, such as Muhammad Ali and Thomas A. Edison. The centrepiece was the new alter ego of the Spirit of Ecstasy rising from an eye-catching black oil fountain. It was a statement of intent from Rolls-Royce and certainly not one to miss.

At the other end of the spectrum, Ferrari celebrated its 70th anniversary with a lot of noise, daytime fireworks and many, many Prancing Horses. 70 historic, iconic and championship-winning Ferrari cars wowed the crowds with a very red Hillclimb run dedicated entirely to Ferrari’s sublime sports car and single-seaters. The parade was led by the 1947 125 S, the first car to sport the Ferrari badge, and Maranello’s latest model, the very limited edition LaFerrari Aperta. The cars came together on the lawn of Goodwood House for a unique ‘Ferrari Moment’; a true celebration of the marque’s prestigious motor racing and manufacturing history.

But beyond the screeching engines and clouds of tyre smoke, there were two attractions that really cut through the noise at this year’s Festival of Speed.

The first was a tech fan’s playground. This year’s Festival saw the inaugural FoS Future Lab installation, a showcase of cutting-edge technology from the automotive and aviation sectors. With three different flying car concepts, first person view drone racing, a live 3D printer creating shootout trophies and a Facebook Live 360 lounge, there was plenty to draw in the crowds. With near-constant queues at both entrances, an estimated 5,000 visitors crossed the threshold during the weekend as well as swathes of media (which our very own Mr Bothwell credits for giving him several grey hairs!). The FoS Future Lab brought a new tech focus to the traditionally automotive celebration and generated a lot of conversation during the weekend.

The Festival of Speed typically honours one marque annually but this year offered something slightly different with the celebration of an individual for the very first time. Bernie Ecclestone took the spotlight this year, as Goodwood celebrated his influence on motorsport. A 35 metre central feature presided over the four-day festival, honouring the ‘Five Ages of Ecclestone’ as driver, manager, team owner, impresario and legend. The climax happened on Sunday afternoon as current F1 champion Nico Rosberg delighted the crowds in his winning Mercedes. All attention soon turned to Goodwood House as two huge banners reading the ‘Five Ages of Ecclestone’ were unfurled down the sides of the historic building and Mr Ecclestone took to the balcony for his moment. Former F1 driver Mark Webber was tasked with interviewing the man himself. In typical fashion, very little was given away but it was successful in drawing all eyes on the Goodwood estate.

But the final story to come out of this year’s Festival of Speed proves there is one guaranteed way to achieve cut through. Workers tasked with dismantling stands after the Festival found four abandoned kittens under one of the larger displays. The cats were named Bentley, Lotus, Ferrari and Subaru and the story generated thousands of headlines online.

So will Goodwood Festival of Speed 2018 see the first hill climb piloted by a pet? Possibly!


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