2009 Goodwood Festival of Speed

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A personal guide by the Earl of March

As you read this, there are five weeks to go until the 2009 Festival of Speed. It seems only last week that we did the last one. But it always seems to feel like that as we move relentlessly through the years, especially now that we have the Revival in September as well. Hard work for everyone.

But it’s all worth it when the first day of the Festival dawns. I’m up and about early, making sure everything is exactly as it should be, and looking after my guests. We always have drivers staying in Goodwood House and this year I’m particularly looking forward to seeing Dan and Evi Gurney back again. They came a few years ago and we’ve been trying to get them back ever since. Partly because we like them so much, and partly because the fans love to see Dan in his Eagle or on his Alligator motorcycle. He’s a hero.

What else am I looking forward to in July? Well, everything really, apart from the late nights and early mornings. Most of my time is spent with the drivers, motorcycle riders and the sponsors. None of it could happen without our sponsors and, despite this appalling global slowdown, they have remained enormously loyal to Goodwood. Like all good companies, they are being more careful, but our two motor sport events are a bit different from anything else and I think they like that about us.

I’m excited about our tribute to Frank Williams. We are celebrating the history of his Grand Prix team this year and it will be a great attraction for the British fans. Frank is a long-time supporter of the Festival, always sending his cars, and this summer he will be here with us to see a great collection of the F1 cars that have brought him so many accolades.

I can’t wait to see the reaction to our central display outside the front of Goodwood House.

I don’t want to give away too much because I think the element of surprise is important when people first walk into the park and see what we’ve created. This year the sculpture will celebrate Audi’s centenary and I can tell you that Audi has really pushed the boat out with this one. If they win Le Mans again this year, they’ve promised to bring the R15 for a blast up Goodwood hill. You’ll just have to wait and see what we’ve created for them in the park, and I feel sure you won’t be disappointed. The idea is to try and go one better every year.

The Forest Rally Stage is one of my favourite parts of the Festival. It’s become so popular and you can see why when you get up to the top of the hill and see all these amazing cars sliding, jumping, popping and banging their way between the trees. Just like a rally, it’s either a mudbath or a dust bowl. But these guys never complain, they just get on with it, and I think
the rally stage gets better all the time. I will certainly be making the trip to the woods.

Motorcycles are a passion of mine and I still dash about on one when I can. I do like the bikers, or motorcyclists as John Surtees tells me I must call them – they’re such a fun bunch of people and this year I’m really looking forward to seeing Mick Doohan again. What a great guy, and what a rider. The Superbikes will be back too and I know the crowd loves to see them do their wheelies up the hill. Good stuff.

Of course I love seeing – and hearing – the modern Grand Prix cars. I never get bored of the sheer speed and the noise as they scream away from the startline and launch themselves up the avenue of lime trees to the first corner. Most of the teams will be coming this summer including, we hope, Hamilton and Button. Whatever else may be going on in the sport, the fans like Lewis and Jenson, and they both work hard for their home crowd. So yes, I look forward to the F1 cars and I’m so impressed by the technology and the presentation – and I do like the fact that they allow the fans to get so close to the cars in the paddock. The Ferrari mechanics always let children sit in the cars, and that’s very special.

So, we are looking forward to seeing you all at Goodwood House on July 3-5. I hope you have a great time.

Lotus-Ford 38

This is the car in which Jim Clark won the Indianapolis 500 in 1965. It was parked after the race and has not moved a wheel since, and this will be its first appearance outside the United States. The car belongs to the Henry Ford Museum and there is a plan for its complete restoration, possibly at Classic Team Lotus. If the restoration does go ahead, then this famous Lotus could be a runner on the hill next year. It’s fantastic to have the car here this year anyway. Look out for it in the Iconic Indycars Class.

Auto Union Type C

Jacky Ickx will be driving the Type C from 1936, which is one of 12 cars in an absolutely sensational collection of Silver Arrows machines at this year’s Festival. We think we may achieve a world record for getting all these cars in one place at one time, and the Type C, owned by Audi Tradition, can be seen in the 75 Years of Silver Arrows class.

A truly fantastic group of Grand Prix cars.

WIlliams-Ford FW08

The FW08 is one of many cars gathered together to celebrate 40 years of the Williams F1 team. This is the car in which Keke Rosberg won the World Championship in 1982, and I am still hoping that we can persuade Keke to make his first visit to the Festival this year to support our tribute to Williams. Both Frank Williams and Patrick Head will be with us, as well as many of their drivers including Alan Jones, Jacques Laffite, Damon Hill and David Coulthard. You can see FW08 in the 40 Years of Williams in F1 Class.

Suzuki XR14 RG500

The RG500 is the motorcycle I’ve chosen this year because it was raced, in 1975, by Barry Sheene who played such an important – and dramatic – part in the early Goodwood Revival events. Barry became a great friend and we miss him so much at the Revival, especially as he gave Wayne Gardner such a good run for his money. I could just as easily have chosen the MV Augusta which will be ridden by John Surtees, who is a patron of the Festival. It’s a great year for bikes, with Mick Doohan appearing and a terrific collection of machinery. You can see the Suzuki and the MV in the 60 Years of Motorcycle Grands Prix Class.

Oldsmobile Rocket

This is my favourite car in the 50 Years of the Daytona International Speedway Class because the Rocket raced in 1949, when the races were held on the beach, and in 1959 when the event moved to the newly-built Speedway. I adore these big, old American racing cars and this year I went to the Daytona 500, where I had a wonderful time. They really know how to entertain the spectators, and I always enjoy going racing in the USA.

Porsche 917K

This Porsche is a favourite because it’s just such a breathtaking racing car, and I will be driving one on the hill at the Festival which is a great privilege. This 917K is in the famous Gulf livery and I can think of no more iconic racing car to be invited to drive. Perhaps I should ask Jackie Oliver for a few tips before setting forth in a 917. This will be one of 11 examples in the 40 Years of the Porsche 917 Class. Should be a truly spectacular display.

McLaren-Honda MP4/4

The MP4/4 in which the great Ayrton Senna won the 1988 World Championship is one of the most successful Grand Prix cars of all time. McLaren won 15 out of the 16 races in that season and this car has been specially prepared at Woking for this year’s Festival of Speed. The MP4/4 will be driven by Lewis Hamilton, who worshipped Senna when he was a small boy. You can see Lewis in the McLaren in the Evolution of the F1 Car Class.

Ferrari 312

This super-rare 1967 Ferrari is surely one of the iconic F1 cars of the decade. This one was raced by Chris Amon, and it’s one of my favourites because I just love the shape of these cars. You can see what is possibly one of the best-looking Ferraris ever in the Classic Grand Prix Cars Class.

Bugatti Type 59

The Type 59 was the car owned by King Leopold in 1933 and it is now brought to Goodwood by French owner Hubert Fabri. This is a very, very rare car and is in wonderfully original condition. One of the important survivors of the era of 1930s Grand Prix ‘Titans’, and one of the rarest, the Bugatti can be seen in the 100 Years of Bugatti Class at the Festival.

Aston Martin DBR1

This DBR1 completes my top 10 because it’s just such a beautiful car, with those timeless lines and lovely shapes.

And because this car won not only Le Mans with Roy Salvadori in 1959, but also the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood when my Grandfather was the driving force and inspiration behind the motor circuit. This is truly one of the all-time great historic sports cars. You can see the DBR1 in the Legends of Le Mans Class.