The show that won't stand still
Almost 60 years after our Founder Editor made a plea for a ‘Motoring Garden Party’, it’s uncanny how close the new rolling motor show takes the Festival of Speed to WB’s dream
By Rob Widdows
Motor Sport, November 1952. Bill Boddy writes…
“Practically every form of motoring competition and social now has its following and it is exceedingly difficult for organisers to think up anything original. We want to put in another plea for a Motoring Garden Party. The Guild of Motoring Writers Motor Show Test Day at Goodwood points the way. The plot would be to find a venue with grass lawns, refreshment tents and band and so on (Goodwood circuit would do very well) and then away with speed, noise, excitement, to parade interesting cars individually before onlookers, while a knowledgeable and talented commentator described their (the cars not the onlookers) purpose in life. The success of the thing would probably depend on striking a balance between too few or too many cars. The ‘groupings’ could be varied from party to party. Thus it is not difficult to visualise a simple ‘Veteran-Edwardian-Vintage-Moderns’ parade, later varied by one-make ‘evolution’ parades, or again, groups of ‘age-cum-size’, perhaps later to branch out into purely one-make, or one-type (vintage-light cars, vintage-heavy cars, open cars, town carriages etc) meets. After the formal parades members could no doubt sample each other’s vehicles and, naturally, there would be a bar. For the ladies, fashion parades from summer frocks to bathing costumes could be incorporated and we feel many manufacturers would gladly send their latest models to the bigger parties. Any takers?”
Well, Mr Boddy, there was a taker, even if it took some 40 years to respond to your plea. His name, of course, is Charles, Earl of March, grandson of Goodwood motor circuit founder Freddie March. In the summer of 1993 he launched the ultimate motoring garden party, calling it the Festival of Speed, and this year the 18th incarnation will yet more closely resemble what Bill Boddy and the Guild of Motoring Writers had in mind.
The 2010 Festival of Speed will extend over four days to include the ‘Moving Motor Show’ on Thursday July 1. This new attraction will showcase the latest road cars, with more than 20 manufacturers present, including Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Ford, Volvo, Nissan, Mercedes, Jaguar, Honda, Audi and BMW. New car buyers and enthusiasts will get to see the latest models in action and there will be chances to ride in the cars on an evaluation route that takes in the hillclimb course before diving behind Goodwood House. Tickets to the Moving Motor Show may be bought separately from the Festival itself.
“We are reacting directly to the continued enthusiasm and demand from manufacturers and the car-buying public for a proper annual motor show in this country,” says Lord March. “Recently the British motor show has been held every two years and this year the show has been cancelled altogether, so we wanted to give the manufacturers a chance to demonstrate their new models in a new kind of motor show that we hope will become a popular part of an extended Festival of Speed.”
So, if we are now into a fourth day at Goodwood in July, what about a Speed Week? Lord March is always looking to surprise and entertain the huge crowds who visit his home in Sussex every summer. Would he be keen on such an extravaganza?
“No, I don’t think so – we have more than enough to cope with right now,” he says. “The addition of an extra day for the motor show is very much in response to the car manufacturers, who have been fantastically loyal and supportive since we started the festival. Even through the bad times, the recession, they have brought so much to the event and I hope that everybody will enjoy seeing a wonderful collection of cars out on the track instead of simply being on display.
“I love to see Jenson and Lewis racing past my front door, and racing cars in the park are still so exhilarating, still the core attraction for the fans, but we need to keep refreshing it. This new motor show will add another dimension, giving people a really great day out.”
Cars you'll love to see
1) Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Le Mans
This is Alfa’s fantastic entry for Les Vingt-Quatre Heures in 1938, driven by Raymond Sommer and Clemente Biondetti. This sensational aerodyne was the class of the field, setting fastest lap at 97mph and leading until it blew a tyre on the Mulsanne and retired after 219 laps. One of a magnificent collection of Alfa Romeos to celebrate the company’s centenary this year.
2) Ford Falcon XC
The Falcon won the 1977 ‘Great Race’ at Bathurst in Australia. The works cars ran the last lap side by side, Allan Moffat and Jacky Ickx leading home Colin Bond and Alan Hamilton in a triumphant 1-2 victory for Ford in this demanding race. The XC is a part of the rich history of Bathurst.
3) Huron Cosworth 4A
The Dutch manufacturer DAF built this car to prove the effectiveness of its Variomatic transmission and it topped the 1972 Belgian Hillclimb Championship. On the Goodwood hill this will be a sight worth seeing and hearing, with the engine consistently wailing at maximum revs.
4) AVS Shadow Chevrolet
This unique and quirky Can-Am prototype was touted as the most radical racing car ever made and was the brainchild of Trevor Harris in 1970. The idea behind the extremely low design, using tiny Firestone tyres, was to reduce the frontal dimensions by as much as 14 inches in places compared to rival McLaren. But the idea proved to be just too radical out on the track.
5) Ferrari 250 TR59/60
This car won Le Mans in 1960, driven by Belgian pairing Olivier Gendebien and Paul Frère, and the Buenos Aires 1000Kms in the hands of Phil Hill and Cliff Allison. One of the great sports cars from Ferrari and now extremely valuable. A racing car with many stories to tell.
6) Ghia Gilda X Coupe
You’ll find this car in the Cartier Style et Luxe design competition on the lawn outside the Goodwood stables. Designed and built in 1955 at the request of Chrysler executive Virgil Exner, the Gilda is an exquisite exercise in extreme styling and ambitious performance. An extraordinary and daring piece of automobile design.
7) Ferrari 158
This gorgeous Grand Prix Ferrari, one of the prettiest F1 cars to emerge from Maranello, is the car that took John Surtees to his World Championship in 1964, giving him the unique achievement of being the only man to have won world titles on two and four wheels. Surtees will be back at the festival this summer.
8) Marcos Mantis XP
Wild styling and a wooden chassis make this one of the wackiest Le Mans cars ever. Under its perspex doors and roof the plywood monocoque cradled an F1 Repco-Brabham V8, but after one unsuccessful outing in the 1968 Spa 1000Kms Marcos boss Jem Marsh installed a 3.5-litre Buick V8 and used it on the road. Look out for the tiny luggage locker in the nose.
9) Porsche 550 CoupE
One of two coupés built in 1953 for races including Le Mans and the Carrera Panamericana, winning their class in both events. This one is Chassis 1 and thus is effectively the first ever purpose-built racing car that Porsche produced. A rare and significant car in both the history of motor racing and the story of Porsche.
10) Alfa Romeo Tipo 159 Alfetta
Successful in pre-war racing, competing in Tipo 158 specification in the Voiturette GP category, the Alfetta went on to become a Grand Prix winner when racing resumed after the war. Both Giuseppe Farina and Juan Manuel Fangio used the Tipo 159 to win the first two World Championships in 1950 and ’51.
Themes and special features
‘Viva Veloce! The Passion for Speed!’
That is the theme for the 2010 Goodwood Festival of Speed. And you can imagine what it involves – lots of wonderful red racing cars and lots of red-blooded racing drivers.
More precisely, the festival will celebrate the centenary of Alfa Romeo, focusing on the cars from Milan, and will illustrate Italy’s global influence on motor sport as well as the country’s all-consuming passion for anything on wheels.
There is always something new and surprising about the Festival of Speed and this year is no exception. ‘Stars, Cars and Guitars’ will satisfy celebrity spotters, petrol-heads and rockers alike. Among those with guitars will be Jeff Beck, Chris Rea, Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top and American blues player Jimmy Vaughan. Alongside them will be cars such as Mustang Sally and Little Red Corvette.
A big attraction is always the Formula 1brigade, this year starring our two World Champions Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button (above), both in McLarens and celebrating 60 years of the GP World Championship. An increasingly big draw is the Forest Rally Stage, this year homing in on 50 years of the RAC Rally, with multiple World Champion Sebastien Loeb in his Citroën C4. If you like them big, noisy and heavy then Michael Waltrip will be there with the NASCAR boys, while bike racing fans will welcome American hero Kevin Schwantz on his festival debut, alongside legendary Italian Giacomo Agostini on an MV Augusta.
For the first time aeroplanes will join the party, a new ‘Aviation Show’ adding to the ever-expanding list of attractions, featuring aircraft both on the ground and in the air.
This year’s festival supports the head injuries charity Headway in memory of Henry Surtees, whose father John is one of the Goodwood event’s founding patrons.