When Charles Lord March, the Duke of Richmond & Gordon, opened his Goodwood estate for the first Festival of Speed back in 1993, he expected that no more than 5,000 enthusiasts would accept his open invitation. When over 20,000 ventured to beautiful West Sussex in the south of England, he and his minimal staff were more than a little overwhelmed. The Festival of Speed hit the ground running and has today grown out to be one of the biggest events of its type in the world, now attracting close to 200,000 spectators. With the addition of the Moving Motor Show on Thursday, the Festival of Speed has also become the de facto
British Motor Show. However what has really set the event apart from the start was the fantastic array of historic and contemporary racing cars and bikes that are assembled, often gunned up the hill in front of Goodwood House by the original drivers and riders. Nowhere else can spectators get so close to the world's finest machinery and drivers than at the Festival of Speed. To mark the 20th anniversary of the event, Lord March this year invited back some of the greatest cars of the first 20 years of the Festival of Speed. Among the other celebrations were the 50th anniversaries of the Porsche 911 and McLaren Racing.
Under clear blue skies and braving sub-tropic temperatures, our photographers spent the better of four days at Goodwood to capture all the highlights. The result is this mouth-watering 350-shot gallery
A founding sponsor, Bonhams did more than their part to ensure the 20th anniversary Festival of Speed was one to remember by staging Europe's highest grossing car auction ever, with a sales total of just over GBP 36 million. The main contributor to this superb result was the Mercedes-Benz W196 on offer, which changed hands for a world record-smashing GBP 19.6 million. The only one in private hands, this example was used by Juan Manuel Fangio to score two wins during the 1954 Formula 1 World Championship. Mercedes-Benz may need to adjust their insurance policy as they own no fewer than six of the other nine examples still in existence. Understandably, the buyer, who was not in the room, wishes to remain anonymous. Also setting a new world record was the Maserati 300S on offer, which, at just over GBP 4 million became the most expensive Maserati ever sold at auction. Still sporting the early short-nose body, this particular example was predominantly raced in period in North America. Further highlights included an Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 (GBP 1.9 million) and an Austin Healey 100 Special Test Car / Works Racer (GBP 785,000).
The first 20 years
During the past 20 years, the Goodwood Festival of Speed has welcomed more than its fair share of memorable machines. A few of these were invited back to celebrate the event's 20th anniversary. Among them were the unique Milliken MX1 'Camber Car', which had never been seen in public before its Festival of Speed debut and Bob Riggle's Plymouth 'Hemi Under Glass' Barracuda wheel-stand car. This truly spectacular show car has a 1,500 bhp Hemi engine mounted under the rear window (hence the name), which allows it to stand on its rear wheels with remarkable ease. To give the driver an idea where he is going, a small window has been made in the floor. Also back by popular demand was legendary actor Peter Fonda on his Captain America chopper from the Hollywood motion picture 'Easy Rider'. On Saturday and Sunday a special parade was held to celebrate the 20th anniversary, which also included Sir Stirling Moss in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR, a Chaparral 2E, which was also driven by Lord March himself and a selection of dragsters including the Marshall Funny Car; at 8,000 bhp, the most powerful racing car ever to appear at the Festival of Speed.
Among this year's feature celebrations was the 50th anniversary of the Porsche 911. Originally introduced as the 901 back in 1963, the six-cylinder engine machine has gradually developed over the years but the design of the current, seventh generation model is still unmistakable. At the Festival of Speed, the 911 literally took centre stage with three iconic examples mounted high on top of Jerry Judah's latest sculpture placed on the lawn in front of Goodwood House. Additionally, there was a separate 911 class, which boasted some of the earliest models all the way through to the latest GT3 launched earlier this year at the Geneva Motor Show. Among the cars in the special class was the Typ 953
, which had been developed specifically for the 1984 Paris-Dakar rally and was the first 911 to feature four-wheel drive. Some of the other classes featured even more extreme versions of the 911; the 935/78 'Moby Dick' and the 1998 24 Hours of Le Mans winning 911 GT1 '98. The even rarer road legal version of the latter was also brought along for the 911 Class in the Cartier Style & Luxe Concours d'Elegance.
McLaren Racing at 50
Established in 1963, McLaren Racing certainly has a special relationship with Goodwood. Although only a few McLarens raced at Goodwood, many of the new cars were tested at the Motor Circuit and during one of these tests, in 1970, company founder Bruce McLaren fatally crashed the at the time latest M8D Can-Am machine. McLaren has also been an avid supporter of the Festival of Speed and the current record on the hill climb was set by Nick Heidfeld in the 1998 World Championship winning McLaren MP4/13. So in many more ways than one, it was most fitting that McLaren used Goodwood to celebrate their 50th anniversary. A fleet of successful McLarens were brought out including the 1970 Can-Am Challenge Cup winning M8D, Johnny Rutherford's 1974 Indy 500 winning M16, the 1995 Le Mans winning F1 GTR and the F1 World Championship winning M23, MP4/4, MP4/13 and MP4/23. On a special display additional important McLarens were displayed including an M8F, a Longtail F1 GTR and the F1 LM prototype. The company's road car department was also out in force showcasing the latest P1 supercar and the MP4-12C GT Sprint track-day special.
Not all cars that went up the hill climb were timed but those that were put on a fantastic show. Among the contenders was record holder Nick Heidfeld with his Lola B12/60 Toyota Le Mans car but also Gregory Guilvert in the Peugeot 208 T16, which Sebastien Loeb had just smashed the Pikes Peak track record with a fortnight earlier. In the Top 20 Shout-Out, broadcast live on British national television, it was Goodwood-regular Justin Law, who clocked the fastest time with Jaguar XJR8/9 Group C racer. In the aforementioned Cartier Style & Luxe Concours d'Elegance a fabulous Lancia Aurelia B24 Spider took top honours, beating the likes of a Bugatti Type 41 Royale and a Jaguar XKSS. As always, the Festival of Speed also attracted a large array of legendary drivers and riders, which this year included the likes of Bobby Unser, Alain Prost, Nelson Piquet, Sir Jackie Stewart, John Surtees, Freddie Spencer and Giacomo Agostini.
With the help of the weather gods, Lord March and his staff put on more than a worthy 20th anniversary celebration for the capacity crowd. Although a majority of the cars had been at the Festival of Speed before, it is certainly no punishment to get a second look at machinery like a Ferrari 250 GTO, a Porsche 917 or more obscure racers like the 1921 French Grand Prix winning Duesenberg, the Miller Golden Submarine or the ultra-low Shadow Mk1 Can-Am racer. All these and many, many more star in our exclusive 350-shot gallery
. We certainly look forward to the next 20 years of Festival of Speed.