World's fastest garden party

Historic car events have now hit centre-stage around the world – witness the crowds at the Mille Miglia, Laguna Seca and May’s remarkable gathering on the Grand Prix circuit at Monaco. Goodwood’s Festival of Speed is one of these prime international events, and this year features an astonishing assembly of racing cats from years past. There are more historic cars racing today than ever before, thanks to surging interest, and as grids expand and paddocks run out of space, the sheer number of vehicles can be dazzling to the onlooker. In the following pages, therefore we have selected some of the machines which we regard as especially significant; some for their racing record, some for their rarity, some for their brave attempt to break the mould. They represent widely differing eras and types of competition, but all are dramatic examples of motor racing passion. Seek out these cars amongst the hundreds attending to see, and hear, an unparalleled spread of racing history in action

If the likes of Stirling Moss, Jackie Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi and Jody Scheckter make you want to go trackside, then head for Goodwood Park in Sussex between Friday, June 20 and Sunday, June 22.

The fifth Goodwood Festival of Speed is set to break all records for cars, drivers and spectators alike, and, for 1997, this brainchild of the Earl of March has a few surprises in store as well. If you’ve never been to the Festival before, then a little scene-setting is in order. In the beautiful surroundings of Goodwood House, the Earl invites the greatest motorsport machinery and finest drivers of this and past ages to tackle the 1.16-mile narrow, twisting driveway that passes by his ancestral home. The course record, set by Jonathan Palmer in a Williams FW08 last year, stands at just 45.0 seconds, but with last year’s championship-winning FW18 attacking the hill this time, the record could tumble yet further.

In previous years such notables as Moss and our own DSJ were reunited to climb the hill in their Mille Miglia-winning Mercedes, and this year, to commemorate Jenks’ achievements and contribution to our sport, Stirling will run again in a 300 SLR in DSJ’s honour.

Once again, the organisers have succeeded in arranging a tremendous cavalcade of cars and motorcycles for this year’s event, and top of the list will be the V16 Auto Unions, the amazing 24-litre Napier-Railton, a plethora of Formula One racers of all decades, and sports and rally cars as well.

Spread across three days, the Festival literally has something for everybody. It kicks off on June 19 with Enthusiasts’ Day. Ideal for a relaxed nose around the paddock, entrants start to arrive at 9am, and both cars and motorcycles have their first run on the hill in the afternoon’s free practice session. Friday is a great chance for autograph hunters and car buffs to get close to the action without the busier crowds of the weekend, and Brooks the auctioneers will be holding a sale of classic sports and racing cars at 2.30pm.

Saturday is Family Day and a wise choice if you want to avoid the huge Sunday crowds which can make getting to the park an event in itself. It is also official practice for all competitors, when nearly 160 cars and bikes will go against the clock for the first time. Former world champion John Surtees has gathered together a collection of championship motorcycles, so watch out for the likes of Barry Sheene and Giacomo Agostini as they hit the hill in anger on two wheels. And sometimes one.

For concours cars, there’s the prestigious Cartier ‘Style et Luxe’ competition for pre-war coach-built vehicles, which is previewed on Saturday. And at the other extreme, ‘mud-racing’ is all set for the redesigned rally-stage, which gets its debut the same day.

On Sunday, Goodwood plays hosts to the Garden Party of the Gods. This is the main day of the festival, and the crowds will reflect that. Gates open early — 630am — for those desperate for a good grandstand seat, and action starts at 9am. On Sunday the ‘Gods’ of motorsport will be out in force, so if you want to see history in motion follow the signs to Chichester.