The centrepiece of the motoring summer for many – fans, cars and famous racing faces alike Words Jack Phillips. Photography James Mann.
GOODWOOD FESTIVAL OF SPEED
WHERE THE STARS MEET
The Goodwood Festival of Speed, taking over the Duke of Richmond’s expansive garden from 4-7 July, had just about everything: sun, supercars, stars and showers.
Gone was the Moving Motor Show of Thursday, organisers preferring instead to stretch out the main event for four full days. And as ever with the Festival of Speed, such is its sheer size, it’s impossible to see everything and all too easy to get lost in searching for that car you’ve glimpsed and not remembered where. It’s best to focus out and absorb the sights, sounds and smells almost by osmosis.
The hillclimb has become a reined-in, safety-first jaunt for many, more show than speed, but this year things were different – for one car at least. Romain Dumas and the Volkswagen ID.R electric prototype toppled from the throne Nick Heidfeld and the McLaren MP4/13 by 1.6 secs with a time of 39.9 secs. It’s almost as though, exactly 20 years since Quick Nick’s hair-raising F1 run, it was planned. Heidfeld’s time remains the fastest set in the Supercar Shootout, the final of sorts, thanks to Sunday’s rain.
More important than the timing screen was the celebration of Sir Jackie Stewart, for recently turning 80 and becoming World Champion for the first time 50 years ago. If the sight of his tartan-banded white helmet poking from his title-winning Matra – being followed by the similar ones of his two sons in similarly title-winning Tyrrells 003 and 006 – wasn’t emotional enough, his pause for an affectionate moment with his wife capped it.
Standing waiting for the rarest machinery to power up the hill is the best way to miss the best of the event – better to wander among the huge crowds of people and cars of the main paddock to get up close to the special offerings.
And it was quite a welcome to the tent-filled Tarmac, with Porsche 917s lined up including all manner of variants to celebrate the model’s 50th anniversary. Among them was an ex-Vic Elford and Gérard Larousse Martini-liveried Langheck, a trio of Gulf cars, and even the open-top Audi-engined 917-PA from Can-Am and the roadgoing ex-Count Rossi car.
Just as special was the 908/03, while the mad one-off 909 Bergspyder hillclimber was afforded its UK debut. Meanwhile, the sight of Richard Attwood contorting his 79-year-old frame into a red-and-white- liveried 917 will never cease to amaze, likewise Brian Redman peering over the PA’s ’screen on his way loudly to the hill. It is at this Goodwood excels like no other. There were celebrations aplenty, though the overall theme was ‘Speed Kings – Motorsport’s Record Breakers’. Among the Land Speed and speed-record cars was ‘Babs’, the fire-breathing ‘Beast of Turin’ and earlier Fiat S74, plus the monstrously large Hotchkiss AM 80 that dwarfed the pair of Bugatti T35s (B and C) standing opposite.
The ‘Razorblade’ Aston Martin, driven in period by pre-war luminaries such as Bertie Kensington Moir, Frank Halford and George Eyston, straddled the two key themes, because this year’s central feature thrust high ‘the’ Aston Martin DBR1 that won Le Mans in 1959 to mark 70 years of the marque racing at Goodwood.
Slightly contrived, given the overwhelming number of more conventional milestones in 2019, but Goodwood does as it pleases, and generally suceeds in doing so. An Aston Martin first competed at the Sussex circuit in 1949 courtesy of WG Bingley, finishing an underwhelming ninth in the Lavant Cup, but that was excuse enough to bring together DP212, 214 and 215 and all manner of other important Astons – including the one adorning this month’s cover. One of the two remaining DB3/5 works racers, this one the Goodwood Nine Hours winner courtesy of Peter Collins, lined up along with the ex-Dick Seaman ‘Red Dragon’ and Count Zborowski’s ‘Green Pea’. Even the Nimrod Group C car joined the collection, better received now than its results would have suggested in period.
The list of Grand Prix cars on display included a special Michael Schumacher celebration, featuring each of his title-winners to mark 25 years since his maiden Championship. The Jordan in which he made his Grand Prix debut, thanks to Bertrand Gachot’s misdemeanour in a London Black Cab, was perhaps the prettiest beside his old Formula Ford Van Diemen.
Damon Hill even dropped into an ex-Schumacher Benetton to tackle the hill, his answer to the question of driving a Schumi car now very different to what it would have been in the mid-1990s… McLaren chose to plant the dominant Can-Am M8D next to its resurgent F1 car, while Renault opted to dust off a 21 Turbo and the unique and recently restored Riffard ‘Tank’ record car.
Most varied might have been the March celebration – another half century – with Grand Prix cars, vast wide-fronted Can-Ams, and even an early ex-Ronnie Peterson F3 car. Yet more anniversary collections included the 110th birthday of the Indy 500, including the wonderful Ballot that Jean Assange took to seventh place in 1920 and in which Jules Goux won the first Italian Grand Prix, plus the Cooper T54 that began the rear-engined revolution.
Close by was a celebration of 125 years of road racing, where pre-war Fiats, a Cisitalia 202 MM and an Alfa Romeo 6C-2300 showcased just how rapidly car development moved in such short spaces of time. Dotted among were also Ferraris such as a 308GTB, 365GTB/4, plus 250s GTO, SWB and MM to mark 120 years of the Tour de France Automobile. Though most interesting was the 166MM that had nobbled its radiator somewhere and somehow. A car still to be used, it seems.
The latest products of the world’s biggest car manufacturers took over the usual centre fields, where Mini created a small cobbled square complete with John Cooper Works Garage (shielding the 1964 Monte- Carlo winner), sweet shop and Austin Se7en showroom stand amid not-so-mini BMWs. Honda placed its original tiddly Civic back to back with an original Insight to show off its innovation credentials, while Jaguar Land Rover displayed what will be the next to carry the flag for the Defender moniker – albeit hidden under camouflage. It’s busy, almost uncomfortably so with more than 200,000 people reportedly attending across the weekend, and impossible to take in fully, but traipsing round Goodwood each year never fails to deliver treat after treat.
From top: Hotchkiss record car had an eventful weekend, including a spin on the hill; Renault unveiled the restored ‘Tank’ record car – with Mille Migliawinning BMW behind; Schumacher’s Benetton B194 with Hill. Above: a century on from scoring pole at Indy in the hands of René Thomas in 1919, the 3-litre Ballot ventures up the hillclimb course. Right: Cartier Style et Luxe Best in Show-winning 1950 Abarth 250 Monza. Above: there were culthero Grand Prix cars aplenty, including the Leyton House CG901 designed by Adrian Newey – who even got behind the wheel during the event. Left: fans enjoy daytime fireworks and the DBR1. Clockwise from top: Sir JYS leads sons Mark and Paul for an emotional run; James Wood was fast in the Alfa Romeo 6C Don Lee Special; Aston Martins gather at the house as part of the 2019 theme; Stewart before one of many hillclimbs; 504 pickup tackles the rally stage.
ABARTH SCORES A GIANT-KILLING
The moment Nicolas Edel’s lithe Abarth 250 Monza appeared on the Cartier Style et Luxe lawn it was a hit. It featured in a fascinating Abarth tribute, which included several cars from the Möll Collection, and was an outsider for the win. Particularly against a beautiful set of Bugattis styled by Ettore’s talented son, Jean, and an Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato.
But, after passionate debate among the star judges, the one-of-three Abarth beat the Type 57SC Atalante of Friedhelm Loh. Marc Newsome, designer and Bugatti collector, voted for the Bugatti. “Its styling has everything – dramatic tension, voluptuous proportions, and engineering pedigree,” argued the Australian. “In comparison the Abarth is an Italian kit car.”
Though all the designers voted for the coachbuilt Molsheim beauty, the Abarth stole the heart of the majority of the panel. A big hit was the Voisin class, in which the sole remaining Voisin Aérosport was the star, transported exclusively to Goodwood together with the stunning Derby Bentley ‘Embiricos’ from the Keller Collection in California. MW
OUR FESTIVAL PICKS
Perhaps it’s because the Porsche 917 has been grabbing the headlines this year, perhaps it’s the fact that it holds so many stories of Sicilian roads, perhaps it’s because of the model I have seemingly always had; but the Porsche 908/03 is always a joy. Tiny beside 917s and the 935 – despite it being the 2.0 ‘baby’ 935! – it is a pure sports-racer that totally encapsulates ’70s sports car racing. JP
This is where it all began for Williams, yet most preferred the modern cars beside. More important, surely, than ‘Red Five’ that was breaking records at Bonhams (The marketplace). The talented Piers Courage claimed second place at Monaco in 1969 in this, the team’s second GP start. Dark blue with white nose fins and V8 poking subtly out of its tail, it looks as good as it went. JP
BENTLEY SPEED SIX
Making a rare outing from Germany to join the Bentleys that were displayed on the Cricket Pitch was the rakish 1930 Speed Six Gurney Nutting Weymann Sportman’s Coupé. ‘Bentley Boy’ Glen Kidston entered this in the Rallye Monte-Carlo but crashed it early in Scotland. After fixing the Speed Six, Kidston roared on, determined to set the fastest time to the Riviera. MW
The Voisin centenary class in the Cartier Style et Luxe concours presented a wonderful tribute to the maverick designer. Contrasting with the pre-war Gallic coachbuilt marvels was Philippe Ladure’s 1958 Biscooter prototype. This ingenious 125cc microcar features many brilliant details: magnetic bonnet catch, special cylinder head, tubular steering wheel and wicker seats. The perfect 21st-century city transport? MW
BUGATTI TYPE 53
In the search for more traction, Bugatti built the Type 53, a four-wheel-drive, supercharged 5-litre monster. Entered into the 1932 Monaco Grand Prix, big Albert Divo gave up in practice claiming it was undriveable and reverted to the T51 for the remainder of the event. The T53 did, however, win La Turbie hillclimb in 1934 in the hands of the experienced René Dreyfus but was retired shortly afterwards. JM