Roger Penske and Mario Andretti upstaged Tom Cruise as the true stars of the 2021 Goodwood Festival of Speed, as crowds surged back to the Duke of Richmond’s Sussex estate following the Covid-related hiatus of last year.
Like the British Grand Prix which took place the following weekend, the Festival of Speed was part of the UK government’s Events Research Programme that allowed thousands through the gates without face masks or social distancing restrictions. A sense of ‘business as usual’ was enhanced by a typical assortment of novelties, oddities, new features, greatest-hit classics and striking performances on the hillclimb.
Modern stars such as McLaren F1 aces Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo naturally drew attention, but this was clearly the year of the octogenarians. Penske, 84, returned to Goodwood for the first time since he raced a Ferrari 250 GTO in the 1963 Tourist Trophy and drove the Porsche RS Spyder his famous team took to Sebring 12 Hours glory in 2008.
Andretti, 81, revelled in being reunited with his F1 World Championship-winning Lotus 79 owned by Zak Brown, sampled a 1952 Ferrari 500 as raced by his childhood idol Alberto Ascari and caught up with old friends and rivals Sir Jackie Stewart, 82, and Emerson Fittipaldi –a slip of a lad at 74.
On the hill, McLaren factory GT driver Rob Bell stormed to fastest time of the weekend in the Sunday afternoon shootout, managing a dramatic run in 45.01sec in a moody 720S GT3X. But Jack Tetley offered a timely reminder how Goodwood’s narrow climb can bite when pushing on, dropping two wheels of his Chevrolet Camaro NASCAR on the grass on the run to the finish line. The car pinged between the straw bales, which contained the accident with welcome assurance. Liveried in the same Mello Yello colours run by Cole Trickle in Cruise’s 1990 popcorn flick Days of Thunder, Tetley’s dazed emergence confirmed it wasn’t actually Trickle himself behind the wheel.
Lotus took centre-stage with its new Emira sports car, which was displayed virtually via a new ‘multimedia’ take on the Goodwood House central sculpture which conspicuously lacked an actual car.
Moving tributes (in both a physical and emotional sense) were paid to Sir Stirling Moss, at the first Festival to take place since his death last year, to Murray Walker and Hannu Mikkola, while industrial designer Marc Newson’s striking blue 1974 Lancia Stratos HF was a popular winner of the Cartier Style et Luxe. The concours was judged this year by a panel that included design legend Gordon Murray, AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson, television presenter Dan Snow, Andretti United Extreme E racer Catie Munnings and influential designer, er, Marc Newson.