Goodwood Festival of Speed 2019: Formula 1 to Formula Drift

The Goodwood Central Feature, what we might call a sculpture, is different each year. This one commemorates the Aston Martin’s participation in the first races at Goodwood.

I submit that nowhere else on Earth – nowhere else (except maybe SEMA Ignited) – would you find a tribute to Formula 1 in the same show that included weekend-long demonstrations of Formula Drift. Yet there they were, roaring around various corners and up the main straight at the 27th annual Goodwood Festival of Speed, surely the most democratic of motorsports institutions.

“We continually strive to make our show bigger, better and more relevant,” said the show’s host, the Duke of Richmond, whom you had known for seemingly ever as Lord March, the guy to whom we must all send thank-you notes. “The line-up of cars and motorcycles on the Hill and the many great names from the sport who are supporting us is fantastic.”

One of Jackie Stewart’s championship-winning Tyrrells

That line-up includes the broadest range of motorsports ever assembled – 600 cars in all. At Goodwood, you would expect to see Formula 1, for instance. And Formula 1 was there in abundance. There was a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Jackie Stewart’s first Grand Prix championship, with Jackie himself driving the very Matra in which he won that title for Ken Tyrrell, followed by the two Tyrrells in which he won his second and third championships, those driven by sons Paul and Mark. There was a touching (and remarkably complete) tribute to Michael Schumacher on the 25th anniversary of his first title. And there was a wide range of Grand Prix cars tearing up the hill at Goodwood, from ancient rides on skinny tires to the fully modern  No. 77 AMG Petronas Mercedes F1 driven by Valtteri Bottas. In between were Red Bull Aston Martins, Infiniti-sponsored Renaults and Lando Norris doing donuts in a McLaren. As I’m typing this a Mercedes W125 just roared by, followed by a Bugatti Type 35C grand prix car and, a little later, a Winston-liveried NASCAR-spec Chevy Monte Carlo driven by touring car ace Emanuele Pirro.

Formula Drift at Goodwood

It all goes to show that even at the highest levels of this sport, the participants, no matter how highly paid or wildly successful, are at their core no different from you or me or the 200,000 attendees who came through the gates over Goodwood’s four-day run, we’re all just guys who like playing around in cars.

For proof, stroll around the grounds… until you feel at home. Over in its own paved proving ground was a collection of Formula D stars, including Vaughn Gitten Jr. in his Mustang RTR and James Deane in a BMW, sliding around barrels – and each other – in their usual highly controlled automotive ballet. Drifter Ryan Tuerck even tore up Goodwood’s main hill in his Ferrari-powered Toyota 86.

In another corner of the estate was the Goodwood Action Sports compound (GAS), a sort of X-Gamesish mini-demo area, with leaps, ramps and stunt zones for motorcycles and bicycles. Just past the shut-down area for the main hill climb was the Rally Stage, where great rally cars from the history of that sport were lined up and tearing through their own improvised special stage out in the Sussex countryside.

One class paid tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Porsche 917

There was a class for supercars so exotic that you may only have heard of half of them. There were classes for: 125 years of Mercedes, 60 years of Honda Motorcycles, 100 years of Bentley, 90 years of the Monaco Grand Prix, 50 years of the Porsche 917 and 50 years of March Engineering. There was a sort of Concours d’Elegance out on the grass just down from the big house that – alone – would have warranted a story. There was, in short, something for every automotive and a few motorcycle tastes. Indeed, there was simply way too much to see, let alone cover. So the solution is simply that you have to get to the Goodwood Festival of Speed sometime before you die. Get the four-day ticket and bring a bumbershoot.

Then make plans to attend the Goodwood Revival. We didn’t mention that? Yes, well, the Revival is even bigger and possibly better. Who’s to say?

 “The nature and spirit of the event remains the same today as it was when it began, but each year we have found ways to enhance the experience for our guests,” said The Duke. “The Goodwood staff, our partners and participants can all be incredibly proud of the way that the Festival of Speed has evolved to this point. The fact that we are still growing into new territory is enormously encouraging, that new brands want to be associated with the event and they in turn help keep the experience fresh for our visitors.”

So be a visitor. Start planning now. Flights are cheap. You have the cash. See you next year.

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