Guide to the Goodwood Festival of Speed

June 23, 2015
Andy Bothwell

If you work in the motoring industry or are a fan of all things cars and motorsport, you can’t fail to know about the Goodwood Festival of Speed and its place in the automotive world.

But, for the uninitiated, it probably seems a bit strange. Every summer, thousands of people descend on a stately home in West Sussex to what appears to be a massive, typically English, garden party but with racing cars blatting periodically up and down the driveway.

A fuel-powered, terribly civilised orgy of all things motoring and motorised.

The event pulls in around quarter of a million people every year. So what makes it such a must-see on the automotive calendar?

Bring forth the Performance Communications guide to the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

What is it?

The Festival stretches across four days, beginning with the Moving Motor Show this Thursday, June 25 and continuing from Friday to Sunday (June 26-28) with the main Festival of Speed weekend.

It’s not really just another motoring event – hosted in the grounds of the picturesque Goodwood Estate of Lord March, the whole thing is packaged up in a quintessentially British wrapping with jazz trios around every corner and 10,000 cups of tea matching the free-flowing champagne pour for pour.

Even the Red Arrows put in an appearance so there’s something for everyone but, if you’re a petrolhead, it’s like Mecca.

Red Arrows over Citroen stand at Goodwood Festival of speed 2014

A celebration of just about anything that ever travelled on land with an engine in it, whether on two, three or four wheels, the Festival of Speed features rare and exotic cars and bikes from the worlds of motoring and motorsport being propelled up the 1.16-mile hillclimb that doubles as Lord March’s driveway.

Some are just on parade and tootle up the hill to adoring looks and coos from the crowd; others try and set the quickest time from start to finish, being driven at speed by professional drivers. The real nirvana is a rare, hugely expensive car that the owner has allowed a tame racing driver to drive ‘in anger’ despite the, presumably, enormous insurance risk.

Want to see a car fan salivate and wax lyrical? That’s your moment.

Why is it important to the automotive industry?

One of the reasons that the motoring world falls over itself about Goodwood is because, since the British / London Motor Show disappeared from the calendar, car makers in the UK have literally nowhere on home soil to show off their latest wares and models.

The last London Motor Show happened back in 2008 and, whilst manufacturers still make a big fuss over other international shows, like Geneva, Detroit, Paris and Frankfurt, the UK outposts of car makers are limited in how they can talk to the still important British audience of car buyers.

That’s where the Moving Motor Show comes in. Added to the Festival weekend for the first time in 2010, it is a day dedicated just to manufacturers of road cars, stripping back all of the motorsport glamour of the main Festival event.

Moving Motorshow at Goodwood

This is now where increasing numbers of new cars make their debut in the UK and, with Lord March’s driveway made available for prospective buyers to actually drive new models before they even go on sale, the MMS is a compelling proposition for car makers, over and above the ‘cars on carpet’ approach of the traditional motor show.

Take this year’s Moving Motor Show, for example – Thursday’s event will host UK, European and even global car unveils from the likes of Mazda, Ford, Aston Martin and Peugeot.

Moves are afoot to revive the London Motor Show from next year but, at the last count, none of the major manufacturers had committed to it. Doubtless they will, in time, and it’s probably a case of everyone watching everyone else, waiting to see who blinks first.

But, for now, Goodwood is certainly viewed by large chunks of the automotive industry as THE British motor show, albeit in more dynamic format.

Why should I go?

The noise, the cars and the very English atmosphere. The Festival always has a theme and, this year, it’s Flat out and Fearless: Racing on the Edge – naturally, this points towards the fact that there will be countless racing cars both modern and celebrating history, blasting up the hillclimb during the weekend. Everything from Formula 1 cars to the crazy, powerful sportscars of the ‘70s will be on display and in action.

If you’re on the hunt for a new car, you could do a lot worse than to check out Thursday’s Moving Motor Show too, as many new models will be not only on display but available for a rather special test drive up the hillclimb course.

The Moving Motor Show attracts somewhat less of a crowd (albeit still 34,000 people last year) so it’s also a great chance to get a ‘sneak preview’ of the rest of the Festival show, as all the stands and areas will already be in situ, ready for the weekend.

Top tips and things to look out for

There’s a vast amount on offer at the Festival to satisfy ears, eyes, nose and heart, but here’s our top tips on making the most of your Goodwood Festival of Speed experience.

[list type=”check”]
  • Goodwood is in a rural, West Sussex location, so the surrounding infrastructure isn’t great, meaning in turn that traffic at peak times around the event is nothing short of hellish. Leave plenty of time to get there, especially if you’re arriving first thing and leaving at the end of the day – you can get a shuttle bus from Chichester for just £6 per return, which might be worth looking at but the bus will only get stuck in the same jams and there’s plenty of parking at Goodwood – 70,000 odd spaces
  • Check out the main sculpture outside Goodwood House – the central sculpture is always a massive talking point, as well as a piece of modern art – this year’s will celebrate chief sponsor, Mazda and will be the tallest yet at 37 metres high
  • Get behind the wheel yourself – as well as test-driving cars so new they haven’t even gone on sale yet at the Moving Motor Show, the Festival offers opportunities for you to show off your prowess in the driving seat too, thanks to the new addition of the Ultimate Driving at Goodwood experience, powered by BMW and further driving experiences presented by Jaguar and Land Rover
  • For a more virtual driving experience, head to the Nissan stand, where you can try your hand at Gran Turismo in special gaming pods; there’s an incentive for doing this too, as Nissan will offer a Golden Ticket to three daily winners of the online game to take part in its Nissan GT Academy, an initiative which is proven to turn gamers into real racing drivers – Witness Brit Jann Mardenborough making his debut in the top class of the Le Mans 24 Hours this year; four years ago, he was just a spotty student playing computer games in his pants!
  • If you’re going with the family, head to the Vauxhall Family Experience area, designed with parents in mind; plenty here to keep the kids occupied – and the grown-ups too
  • Look out for Don Garlits’ Swamp Rat 1-B – an astonishing 1959 machine that has the honour of being the loudest car on the bill this year
  • Goodwood Monument 2009 by Audi

    Goodwood Monument 2009 by Audi

    As headline sponsor, Mazda will also be making noise of a non-engined variety, with its Raise the Roof initiative; this will be a four-day, open-air live music event held in the intimate setting of Goodwood House’s Stable Yard and featuring 20 innovative new artists

  • Dress up – the stately home setting and garden party atmosphere lend Goodwood a high society feel, especially with the presence of genteel string quartets and exotic cars; it’s not a pre-requisite for entry but it’s always nice to dress up, right? And it makes the scones, strawberries and champers taste so much better…

Full details on the event here:

No comments

Leave a Reply

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