This year, the Goodwood Festival of Speed is celebrating 25 years since the Duke of Richmond threw open the gates to his humble pad in the Sussex countryside. The event has gone from zero to global extravaganza in no time at all, which is why we’re marking the jubilee with 25 photos from a quarter of century of fast cars going very fast up a hill.
The first Goodwood Festival of Speed
It all began in 1993, when the Goodwood Festival of Speed was held on a single day. The British Automobile Racing Club (BARC) told the team to expect 5,000 people to attend the inaugural day, but such was the appetite for an event of this kind, around five times that number actually turned up. Things have certainly changed – this year, the Roborace will be attempting the first fully autonomous race car hillclimb.
The first F1 cars at the Goodwood Festival of Speed
In 1994, Formula One cars featured at the Festival of Speed for the first time, with McLaren-Peugeot sending its then-current F1 car for Martin Brundle to drive. The event was hugely successful for both Goodwood and McLaren, but not before team boss Ron Dennis threatened to leave for being parked alongside the public toilets.
The Silver Arrows
“Having a Silver Arrow at the Festival of Speed was obviously something very, very high on our wishlist,” said the Duke of Richmond. In the second year, the organisers managed to convince Mercedes-Benz to send a W125, one of the most powerful F1 cars in history. This, combined with the appearance of a current F1 car, was instrumental in putting the Festival on the automotive map.
The first Cartier Style et Luxe
For one weekend every year, the lawn outside Goodwood House plays host to some of the rarest and most expensive classic cars in the world. The Cartier Style et Luxe allows visitors to get up close and personal with the exhibits, which are judged by a panel of automotive experts and celebrities.
Mille Miglia celebration
To mark the 40th anniversary of their success at the Mille Miglia, Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson were invited to the 1995 Festival of Speed to tackle the Goodwood hillclimb in the Mercedes-Benz SLR number 722. Seeing the pair at the wheel of the famous Mercedes was one of the most emotional spectacles of the event.
In 1996, the organisers convinced the Ferrari F1 team to take part in the Goodwood Festival of Speed, with Eddie Irvine on hand to wow the crowds. Head to YouTube to see the Ferrari F1 car twitching as it gets off the line, leaving a trail of tyre smoke as it heads up the track.
The Silver Arrows and Auto Union
The Duke of Richmond said he and his team were “on it all of the time” to get an Auto Union to the Festival of Speed, and he finally got his wish in 1997. The six-wheeled, supercharged V16 Auto Union was a big deal for the organisers. The car had so much torque, it could lap the Monaco Grand Prix circuit in one gear.
Dan Gurney makes his debut
American legend Dan Gurney made his Festival of Speed in debut in 1997, taking to the Hill in the Eagle Weslake Grand Prix car. To mark the occasion, motorsport historian Doug Nye arranged to have ‘Viva Gurney’ painted on the track, a reference to the BARC painting the same thing on the Brands Hatch circuit in the late 60s.
Nick Heidfeld sets the fastest time
Nick Heidfeld holds the Goodwood hillclimb record after finishing in 41.6 seconds in 1999. Since then, the rules have changed to prevent F1 cars from setting official times, so the McLaren MP4/13 is likely hold the record for a little while longer yet.
Other quick times
Nick Heidfeld’s time was blisteringly quick, but other drivers have come close to breaking the German’s record. In 2003, Graeme Wright Jr crossed the line in 42.9 seconds, while Justin Law finished with a 44.19 in 2004 and 44.4 in 2005, both at the wheel of a Jaguar XJR8/9 (pictured). Sebastien Loeb was similarly quick, but more on this later.
Honda was one of the first sponsors of the Festival of Speed in 1993, and six years later the Japanese company put on a magnificent display. To mark its 50th anniversary in 1998, Honda had started restoring its historic collection, which presented the ideal opportunity for a display at the 1999 Festival of Speed. The line-up of motorcycles and cars was said to be worth between £30 million and £50 million.
Rod Millen in a Toyota Celica
The Toyota Celica Pikes Peak would be more at home on gravel than the smooth surfaces of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, but when Rod Millen is at the wheel, you should expect the unexpected. The Kiwi recorded the fastest time in 2002, finishing in 47.4 seconds. Between 1994 and 1997, Rod Millen won the Pikes Peak hillclimb three times in the Celica.
After many failed attempts to get Richard Petty to attend the Festival of Speed, the Duke of Richmond finally got his man in 2006. Nine years later, Richard Petty took to the hill in the iconic Superbird.
Dougie Lampkin rides through Goodwood House
In 2008, Dougie Lampkin emerged from the back of a van, rode up the gravel driveway and in through the front door of Goodwood House. He rode through pretty much every room in the house, up and down the stairs, before finishing on the roof to enjoy a glass of champagne. As publicity stunts go, this one was pretty special.
Moving Motor Show
In 2010, Goodwood launched the Moving Motor Show, giving car buyers the opportunity to test-drive new cars on the famous hillclimb. “It’s a moving motor show, a preview day where manufacturers show off their latest and most exceptional products. We will be putting their guests into these cars and they will experience the hill for themselves. It’s a dynamic experience: we are keen to be the British motor show and we believe the Festival of Speed can take that position,” said the Duke of Richmond at the time.
Jaguar E-Type central feature
Gerry Judah has been creating the central feature for the Goodwood Festival of Speed since 1997, with each one erected on the lawn outside Goodwood House. In 2011, this sculpture honoured 50 years of the Jaguar E-Type.
The Goodwood hillclimb in Gran Turismo 6
From looking back to moving forward… In 2013, Goodwood’s famous hillclimb was immortalised in Gran Turismo 6, with gamers given the opportunity to beat Nick Heidfeld’s record time. Kazunori Yamauchi, creator of Gran Turismo, said: “Goodwood represents every type of motoring and motor sport, which very much mirrors what we aim to achieve with Gran Turismo and so it is very special that we have forged this partnership.”
Return of the Soapbox
Following a nine-year hiatus, Soapbox racing returned to the Festival of Speed in 2013, with the gravity racers making their way down the hillclimb.
Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak
In 2014, Sebastien Loeb set the fastest time of the decade, with his Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak crossing the line in 44.6 seconds. A year earlier, the 3.2-litre twin-turbocharged 208 set the fastest time at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.
The Beast of Turin
The Goodwood Festival of Speed was the first public outing of the Fiat S76 ‘Beast of Turin’ since its restoration. The flame-spitting land speed record breaker made its Festival debut in 2015, which marked its first public appearance in over 100 years.
Aston Martin Vulcan
As Britain’s unofficial motor show, many manufacturers have wised up to the potential of launching a new car at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The Polestar 1 will make its first dynamic appearance at this year’s event, while the Aston Martin Vulcan did the same in 2015.
McLaren P1 GTR Bruno Senna
Not one, but two McLaren P1 GTRs took to the track in 2016. The first was finished in a special livery inspired by James Hunt’s race helmet, in honour of the 40th anniversary of his F1 championship win. The second was an extensively modified version of the original created by McLaren Street Operations (MSO), with the aim of setting a fastest time. It was unsuccessful, with Olly Clark finishing top in ‘Gobstopper II’.
The Brawn GP car
This was a big moment for the Festival of Speed, Ross Brawn and Martin Brundle. The Brawn GP car hadn’t been run in any form since the end of the 2009 season, so this was the first opportunity for Ross to put his title-winning car on public display. Sadly, Jenson Button was unable to drive car, so that honour was left to Martin Brundle.
Bernie Ecclestone display
In 2017, the central feature honoured an individual and not a manufacturer, with the sculpture celebrating the life of Bernie Ecclestone. Needless to say, it wasn’t a giant statue of the former F1 supremo. This year, the central feature will celebrate 70 years of Porsche.