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2009 Goodwood Festival of Speed
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True Grit – Epic Feats of Endurance
A very appropriate theme was chosen for this year's edition of Lord March's annual petrol-soaked garden party; 'True Grit – Epic Feats of Endurance.' It describes perfectly what makes motorsport so compelling to watch and read about. This is further underlined by the official program that was packed with heroic tales of years past. Tales of drivers overcoming injuries, adversity and the odds to clinch victory on the world's most daunting tracks. The Goodwood Festival of Speed adds an extra dimension to motorsport's rich history by bringing together many of the great drivers and the machines they achieved their epic feats with for a run up the 1.16 mile hill climb in front of the Gooodwood House. As always, a wide variety of anniversaries were celebrated, this year headlined by Audi's 100th.
The Festival of Speed not only looks back but also offers spectators a look at the present and even the future. With several world and national debuts, the Festival has pretty much taken over from the defunct British Motor Show. Further off-track activities include a concours d'elegance and the annual Bonhams auction.
We were on the hill for all three days to capture all the activities both on and off the hill. Our findings have been compiled in a comprehensive report and a spectacular 280 shot gallery.

Bonhams Auction
British auctioneer Bonhams was one of the founding partners of the Festival of Speed and traditionally hosts an auction during the weekend; this year was no exception. Headlining the auction was one of the fastest GT40s in the world. Raced with great success in historic events in recent years, it was estimated to sell for a seven figure price. That perhaps was a bit optimistic as the car has no contemporary history and sports some rather controversial performance upgrades, and ultimately failed to sell. That was the only disappointment of the auction. Our pre-sale favorite, the 1922 Sunbeam Grand Prix car, did find a new owner. It set a new record for the type by selling for £463,500, which was well north of the £300,000 – 400,000 estimate. Another strong seller was a beautifully restored Lamborghini Miura P400S that changed hands for £359,000. Also included in the sale was a 2008 MINI One that was sold on behalf of the British Forces Foundation's 'Lap of Honour' campaign. Covered by autographs of British celebrities, it exceeded expectations by selling for £33,350.
Bonhams also looked ahead at this September's Goodwood Revival meeting by displaying an exquisite Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 'Testa Fissa' that will be offered.

Cartier 'Style et Luxe' Concours d'Elegance
Each year the lawn next to the Goodwood House is graced by an extraordinary collection of unusual and often unique cars entered in the Cartier 'Style et Luxe' concours d'elegance. With different classes every year and a 'style council' picking the class and outright winners, it stands out from most other concours. This year the 'Style et Luxe' consisted of total of eight classes, including the spectacular '100 Years of Bugatti' and 'Serious Wedge' classes. The former was reserved exclusively to Type 57 Bugattis. Included were the unique Type 57 S Corsica Roadster provided by Nigel Corner and the Petersen Automotive Museum Vanvooren Cabriolet that was originally gifted to the Shah of Persia by the French government. The 'father' of all wedges, Bertone's Alfa Romeo Carabo headlined the wedge class. Originally unveiled in Paris in the fall of 1968, it paved the way for the design trend that would dominate the 1970s.
Although they weren't experts on the subject, the 'style council' did pick a well deserved 'Best in Show' winner; Peter Mullin's unique Hispano Suiza H6C Xenia. Built in 1938, it combines Andre Dubonnet's experimental independent suspension with a Jean Andreau-penned aerodynamic shape.

Grand Prix Racing
Since the very first French Grand Prix in 1906, the Grands Prix have represented the absolute pinnacle of motorsport. The open-wheel discipline played a central role in this edition's celebrations; from Bugatti's 100th anniversary, through 75 years of the Silver Arrows and Sir Frank Williams 40 years in Formula 1 racing. Originally founded 100 years ago by Ettore Bugatti, the legendary French manufacturer built the very first customer Grand Prix car in the 1920s; the Type 35, which remains the winningest racing car ever built. The marque was represented at Goodwood by the full range of its Grand Prix machinery from the very early Type 16 and 23 all the way through to the Type 59 that scored Bugatti's final Grand Prix win in 1934.
That same year the single seater scene changed dramatically with the arrival of the German 'Silver Arrows' built by Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union. Relatively few of these all-conquering machines remain but Lord March nevertheless managed to assemble the largest collection Silver Arrows seen together since the 1930s. A particular highlight was to hear the W25 Mercedes-Benz run with its howling supercharger. Current World Championship leader Jenson Button drove the car on Sunday.
Sir Frank Williams epitomizes 'True Grit' as he fought the better part of ten years to establish himself in Formula 1. He first entered a car back in 1969 but it would take until 1979 before the first victory was scored. It was the start of a golden era that saw the likes of Alan Jones, Keke Rosberg, Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve clinch the World Championship. Both Jones and Hill were reunited with their victorious machinery. Highly successful designer Adrian Newey also piloted one of his Williams designs up the hill.
Several individual feats from legendary drivers were also celebrated. Recent Le Mans winner David Brabham drove one of his father's old Coopers used in the 1959 season. That year Sir Jack clinched the World Championship by pushing his stricken Cooper across the line at Sebring. A similar 'super human' achievement was Sir Jackie Stewart's win at a rain soaked Nürburging in 1968. Despite driving with a broken wrist he managed to pull out a lead of over four minutes from his closest rival. He was reunited with the victorious Matra MS10 at Goodwood.
The former Honda F1 Grand Prix team also demonstrated that 'True Grit' is not something reserved for motor racing's past. Despite living in uncertainty over the team's future during the first months of the year, they stuck together and persevered. They finally emerged under the Brawn GP banner and saw their grit rewarded with six F1 victories so far this season. Although his Mercedes engined BGP001 was at present in the paddock, Brawn's lead driver Button was not allowed to drive it up the hill. Doing so would be a violation of F1's restrictive testing ban ...

American invasion
America's Independence Day was celebrated in great style at Goodwood. Grabbing most of the attention was chopper-builder Jesse James with his outrageous Trophy Truck. He not only drove up the hill in one go also traversed the rally stage and the Bowler off-road track. With some massive jumps he displayed why his truck has 30 inch suspension travel. Surrounded by so many fellow enthusiasts, James explained that for once he did not feel like a “freak.” At the end of the weekend he received the 'Goodwood Special Award' for his antics.
An interesting collection of six NASCARs was assembled to mark 50 years of the Daytona International Speedway. Among them was a 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket that is believed to be the oldest existing NASCAR racer in the world. It started its career on the beaches of Daytona and subsequently served for many years on the paved speedways. It was not retired until the mid-1960s. Legendary NASCAR racer Rusty Wallace made his first appearance at the Festival with the Dodge Charger he raced in his final race back in 2005. Taylor Earnhardt drove the #3 Chevrolet that was used by her late father Dale Earnhardt to achieve his 76th and final victory at Talladega in 2000.
Even more impressive were the six 'Iconic Indycars.' The Henry Ford Museum brought their Lotus 38 that was the first mid-engined machine to score a win at Indy back in 1965. It was a static display but rumor has it that it will be handed to Classic Team Lotus for a full restoration. Completing the class were three further Indy winners; Johnny Rutherford's 1974 McLaren M16C, Al Unser's 1978 Chaparral entered Lola T500 and Bobby Rahal's 1986 March. Rutherford and Unser both took to the wheel of their old cars. Unser also drove the Indianapolis Hall of Fame's 1909 Buick, which is believed to be the winner of the very first race at Indy in the hands of Louis Chevrolet.
Hollywood actor Peter Fonda relived history by driving the 'Captain America' chopper that was used in the legendary 1969 motion picture 'Easy Rider.' It was Fonda's first visit to the Festival and he declared it would certainly not be his last.

Endurance racing
The legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans has seen more 'Epic Feats of Endurance' than any other race. Celebrating 60 years of of Post-War racing at Le Mans, Lord March invited an evocative collection of endurance racers including several actual winners. Continuing a tradition, Peugeot brought their 2009 winning 908 HDI FAP. Still covered in 24 hours worth of dirt and grime, it was displayed by all three of its drivers; David Brabham, Alexander Wurz and Marc Gene. Highlights among the other Le Mans winners present was the 1980 winning Rondeau and the glorious BMW V12 LMR that brought the German manufacturer's only outright success at Le Mans in 1999. Since then Audi has dominated the event and as part of the centenary celebrations they brought four of their recent endurance racers; the R8R, R8, R10 and brand new R15.
Introduced forty years ago, the Porsche 917 finally brought outright Le Mans success to the Stuttgart based manufacturer in 1970. The feat was repeated in 1971 with the magnesium framed 917 that still holds the record for the fastest ever Le Mans. Porsche brought a replica of their 1970 winning car as well as the Martini & Rossi liveried 1971 winner. They were part of the special '40 Years of the Porsche 917' class that featured a further 10 examples of the legendary machine in its various guises. Among them were a variety of Can-Am cars ranging from Jo Siffert's 1969 Porsche 917 PA all the way to Mark Donohue's spectacular 1973 Can-Am Challenge winning 917/30. That 1000+ bhp beast was driven up the hill by Derek Bell and a very brave Lord March himself. The rarest of the crop of 917's was Manfredo Rossi Di Montelera's road going example. Originally one of the Martini & Rossi sponsored machines, it was converted by Rossi's father for road use in 1970s. The European authorities refused to license it, so Count Rossi had the car licensed in the United States. Until appearing at Goodwood, it had not been seen in public for nearly 30 years.

The present and future
For many years the 'Sunday Times Supercar Run' has been an integral part of the Festival of Speed and this year the batch of modern cars was further expanded with the 'First Glance' and 'FOS-Tech' classes. As the name suggests, the Supercar Run features all sorts of exotic machinery that can usually only be admired from a distance.
Providing both a visual and aural spectacle was the Pagani Zonda R with its wild body-kit and howling V12 engine. Apparently only two will be built and it is priced at a modest €1.5 million before taxes. Matching the Zonda's striking appearance is Citroën's GT Concept, which was also expected to be part of the Run. Sadly a clutch problem prevented it from driving. The French manufacturer's representatives could only confirm to us that the car had an engine.
Again not surprisingly, the 'First Glance' class included a variety of national and international debuts. The most eagerly anticipated of these was no doubt Porsche's Panamera, which was officially released at the Beijing Motor Show earlier this year. Subject of much debate, Porsche's first four door sedan above all looked very big.
Looking even further ahead was the 'FOS-Tech' display, which featured many innovative concept and production cars. Many of these sported high-tech electric and/or hybrid drivetrains. A slightly different path was taken to build the 'WORLDF3ST' racing car. Using a Lola design, it is the world's first F3 car constructed solely from sustainable and renewable materials. Although not fitted to the car yet, cashew nut shell based brake pads are under development.

Further highlights
Amidst all the celebrations and demonstrations there also was a timed hill climb ongoing. Last year's top time was set by Justin Law in a 1988 Jaguar XJR-8. Even though the big and heavy Le Mans racer does not seem like the most obvious hill-climbers, it once again proved to be the fastest car out there. Law set a time of 44.4 seconds, which is less than three seconds off the outright record set by Nick Heidfeld in a contemporary McLaren Formula 1 car back in 1999. With a time of 44.64 seconds Gary Ward came achingly close in Patrick Morgan's Leyton House CG901. Peter Hardman was in good, sideways form in the 1959 Le Mans winning Aston Martin DBR1.
Our personal highlight of the weekend was to see the Life L190 in action and actually cross the finish line. Quite possibly the worst Formula 1 car ever built, it failed to prequalify for all 15 Grands Prix it entered in 1990. A big part of the problem was the highly unusual W12 engine that was very unreliable and well down on power when it did work. We can only thank current owner Lorenzo Prandina for preserving this unique piece of Formula 1 history.

Conclusion
Defying the current economic conditions, the Festival of Speed was once again sold out on Sunday. That's hardly surprising considering it probably provides better value for money than any other motorsport event. Sir Stirling Moss described it best: “At no other event you can get this close to a Jenson (Button) or a Lewis (Hamilton), let alone a Stirling.”

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Report by Wouter Melissen and images by Wouter Melissen and Pieter Melissen for Ultimatecarpage.com.