Video: 9 high-octane highlights from the Goodwood Festival of Speed

by Antony Ingram
6 July 2021 4 min read
Video: 9 high-octane highlights from the Goodwood Festival of Speed

The 2021 Goodwood Festival of Speed is – quite appropriately – fast approaching. After last year’s forced hiatus the appetite for such an event has likely never been higher, and while this year’s Festival will perhaps still be a little different from previous years, we’re sure to see a few special moments even so.

After all, precedent has been set by nearly every Festival of Speed that’s come before. From the very first event in 1993 to the most recent in 2019, the motorsport spectacular has hosted some of the world’s most incredible vehicles and drivers. We’ve seen records set and records fall, and listened to virtually every combination of pistons and valves it’s possible to hear.

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We’ve picked nine moments that have defined the Festival in previous years – and we only stopped at nine because listing them all would take so long we’d miss the 2021 Festival itself when it opens on 8 July…

The first Festival: 1993

The Duke of Richmond had been a fan of motorsport since he was a child, and the chance to bring racing back to the estate was too great to pass up. The Motor Circuit was the primary goal, but red tape and resistance forced the Duke’s hand into exploring other avenues. Lord March and Rob Widdows realised a hill climb would be possible using the park entrance road, and by inviting friends with historic cars and motorcycles, a grid was quickly formed. While the scale and profile of the event has changed over the years, the template remains much as it was in that very first Festival back in 1993.

Nick Heidfeld’s record: 1999

There’s little more fascinating than putting an F1 car in places it was never designed to go. Who wouldn’t want to see a modern Grand Prix machine tackle the fearsome Nordschleife, or indulge in a spot of ice racing? We’ve seen several on the Goodwood hill before, but rarely in timed runs – which made the 41.6-second record set by Nick Heidfeld in a McLaren MP4/13 in 1999 so special. Arguably too special, as such timed attempts from F1 cars have since been outlawed. Looking at the 140mph-plus speeds and chaotic darting of a car clearly not suited to Goodwood’s narrow, bumpy driveway, it’s probably for the best.

The rally stage: 2006

The hill is entertaining enough, but it’s not what you might call a natural environment for many of the Festival’s attending vehicles. Particularly the rally cars, which is why Goodwood set up a rally course in 2005. That was enhanced further in 2006, with a new forest stage designed by 1983 WRC champion Hannu Mikkola (who sadly died earlier this year). Since then, competition on the stage has been nearly as fierce as on the hill, and attracts similarly incredible cars and drivers.

Dougie Lampkin rides on top of the house: 2008

Give multiple trials riding champion Dougie Lampkin a platform, and he’ll probably climb it. Sadly trials has never really gained the profile it deserves in the UK media, but for those in the know, Lampkin is a British motorsport hero – and at Goodwood in 2008, Lord March invited Lamkin to… well, ride through the house. Then up onto the roof, where he was greeted by a butler with a glass of champagne. He’s been back several times, one year surprising the Duke’s dinner guests by riding along the dinner table, smashing the specially-placed sugar glass dining ware…

Valentino Rossi: 2015

Valentino Rossi hasn’t won a MotoGP race since 2017, and hasn’t taken a title since 2009 – but that hasn’t stopped him being wildly popular. Rossi fever was still at its peak back in 2015 and the Italian was still a front-runner, so it’s no surprise that the ground in front of Goodwood House was a sea of yellow when he appeared as a guest on Lord March’s balcony. Not only that, but he had plenty of seat time at the event too – perhaps most spectacularly at the wheel of Mazda’s Le Mans-winning 787B.

The Beast of Turin: 2015

It’s amazing to think that the Fiat S76, or the “Beast of Turin”, has been a Goodwood regular now for more than five years. Duncan Pittaway’s remarkable restoration of the 111-year-old, 28.5-litre monster made its debut at the Festival of Speed in 2015 and its blood-red, flame-spitting form makes it one of the most recognisable Edwardian cars on the planet. Pittaway drives it like a demon too, so while its first appearance was undoubtedly its most shocking, there should be plenty of opportunities to watch it in action at events in the future.

Justin Law in an XJR-12D: 2017

Despite its title, the Festival of Speed isn’t all about getting to the top of the hill first – but some of the Festival’s best moments have been its most competitive, and between cars of such wildly different disciplines. In 2017 Justin Law snatched a nail-biting fastest time in a Jaguar XJR-12D, less than a tenth of a second ahead of Jeremy Smith in a 1993 Penske Indycar.

Volkswagen ID.R: 2019

F1 cars may no longer be timed at Goodwood, but the established rules say nothing of purpose-built prototypes. Volkswagen’s electric ID.R holds record times at five courses globally, including an outright time at Pikes Peak, and an EV record at the Nürburgring Nordschleife. And in 2019, with Romain Dumas at the wheel, it set a time at Goodwood that might be tricky to beat, at just 39.9 seconds. Not as evocative as Heidfeld’s screaming F1 car, but an incredible feat for electric power.

Senna’s McLaren: 2019

Some of the best Goodwood moments are capable of evoking powerful memories. The motorsport community will never forget Ayrton Senna, but entire generations have grown up since his death so it’s public appearances of his old cars, like Takuma Sato’s run in a McLaren MP4/4, that keep the legend alive for many. Sato wasn’t pressing for any new records, but sometimes just the sights and sounds of a car are enough.

Also read

Opinion: It’s good to be back at the Festival of Speed
Meet the unsung heroes of Goodwood SpeedWeek
The Goodwood effect

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