The Goodwood Festival Of Speed 2015: A Celebration Of Cars, Watches, And Beauty
by Simon Cudd
The Goodwood Festival of Speed is an automotive pilgrimage; it is to cars what Glastonbury is to music. The Goodwood Festival of Speed, now running since 1993, was founded by Charles Gordon-Lennox, Earl of March and Kinrara (Lord March), though motor sporting events at the Goodwood Estate were begun by his grandfather, Freddie Richmond.
The Goodwood Estate, which has been the March family home for more than 300 years, is situated just outside Chichester in West Sussex, and it houses what is arguably the best automotive gathering of historic and current race cars as well as famous race drivers. At the 2015 event, these included contemporary drivers like Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, and Jenson Button and extended to legends like Sir Stirling Moss, Sir Jackie Stewart, and Sir John Surtees.
Now in its twenty-second year, my father and I have often made the journey from our respective homes in Sussex and Oxfordshire to meet on the Friday, the opening day of the festival, to see the amazing spectacle that takes place at this hill climb. A hill climb, for those who may not know, is one of the oldest branches of motorsports; competitors strive to complete an uphill course faster than the other drivers.
Lord March, a race fanatic and lover of all things automotive, wished to bring motor racing back to the masses across three spectacular days of racing “up the hill.”
Video above: in 1999, Nick Heidfeld in a McLaren MP4/13 Formula One car set the record of 41.6 seconds for the Goodwood hill climb that still stands today.
Every year, one manufacturer displays cars from an era or a theme outside Goodwood House; the 2015 edition of the Goodwood Festival of Speed saw Mazda display two cars celebrating 95 years in the automotive arena. Mazda showed off its 1991 Le Mans-winning, rotary-engine Mazda 787B Group C car.
Renowned sculptor Jerry Judah has put his artistic and creative flair to great use over the years, and this year was no exception as he showed off the cars in spectacular architectural and structural manner.
It is also quite normal for cars to make a U.K. debut at the Festival of Speed after having been shown at the Geneva Motor Show earlier in the year. Various manufacturers also push the boat out with their own displays, showing rare automobiles or indeed dusting off museum cars and wheeling them out for the public to admire.
In 2015, spectator numbers hit more than 250,000 visitors, making it one of the most visited automotive shows, with fans from all over the world making that very same automotive pilgrimage.
Timing sponsor TAG Heuer
TAG Heuer has been the official timing partner since 2010, showcasing its watches at an impressive stand and the sponsored Drivers’ Club as well as presence around the track. This year the Swiss brand also introduced several timepieces to commemorate its bond with the famous festival and former home to the Grand Prix races of old.
On show, too, were new limited edition TAG Heuer pieces shown at Baselworld 2015, including the new Formula 1 McLaren watches (for excellent information on this watch, please read First Look: TAG Heuer Formula 1 McLaren Limited Edition).
The TAG Heuer Monaco is a true icon in the world of racing when it comes to chronographs, especially since Steve McQueen wore one in his 1970 film Le Mans. It is now a firm favorite across the motor racing circuit. For more information on that, read Watchspotting At The 24 Hours Of Le Mans 2015 Starring Chopard, Rolex, TAG Heuer, Rebellion, and Franck Muller.
I tried on and indeed photographed the newest Calibre 12 incarnation as well as the Calibre 17 Carrera 41 mm in stunning silver and blue livery released last year at Baselworld and also available in a stunning 2015 Calibre 18 39 mm edition.
There was a small display of some of actor, car fanatic, and icon of cool Steve McQueen’s cars outside the Drivers’ Club, including a version of the famous green Mustang that he drove in the 1968 classic Bullitt (one surviving car was sold to an employee after the filming ended). Not only did McQueen do his own driving stunts, but the movie also contained a record for the longest drive chase without any dialogue.
Also on display was a beautiful Porsche 356 cabriolet, one of my all time favorite cars, along with a Mini Cooper 1275, a Jaguar, and several stunning Ferrari models belonging to the McQueen estate.
Chopard and Porsche
Chopard and Porsche were at the Festival of Speed in their usual Porsche Cafe position by the bridge over the track and next to Goodwood House. They had brought along the 919 Porsche Hybrid number 19 with which Nico Hülkenberg and co-drivers Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy drove to victory at the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans (see Porsche Wins 24 Hours Of Le Mans 2015 And Chopard Presents Superfast Chrono Porsche 919 Jacky Ickx Edition). The display formed a lovely addition for the cafe’s guests to sit amongst.
Porsche’s win at Le Mans this year was its first since 1998 in a GT1-98. The manufacturer’s dominance throughout the 1970s and ҆80s is legendary.
Parmigiani and Bugatti
The Cartier Concours Style de Luxe, now in its twentieth year, features on one of the many specially prepared lawns where exceptional cars from all eras and walks of life appear in magical splendor. This year, there were some exceptional supercars from the 1980s including a Ferrari F40, a Lamborghini Countach, a Jaguar XJ220 (amongst more recent examples), and the unique 2006 Ferrari P4/5 designed by Italian car designers Pininfarina.
The Goodwood Festival of Speed is a truly spectacular show, and I strongly urge you – especially if you love racing, motor racing history, the smell of rubber, and nostalgia – to pay it a visit from wherever in the world you might be based.
Quick Facts TAG Heuer Formula 1 McLaren
Case: stainless steel, 42 mm, engraved with the likeness of a 1985 McLaren and “30 years of partnership anniversary”
Movement: quartz Caliber Ronda 5040D
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, chronograph
Price: 1,450 Swiss francs