Here we go to Goodwood again

by Rob Widdows on 20th February 2008

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This week I bring news of the 2008 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Might this be a little premature, I hear you murmur, and aren’t you a little biased in favour of said event?

OK, let me declare my interests. Very topical just now.

I have a seat on a committee called the Goodwood Motor Sports Creative Committee, a perch I cling to despite having resigned as the marketing director of the Festival and the Revival in the winter of 2005. So, that’s my interest. No cash, no questions.

I must say, first of all, that the Festival of Speed still holds my full attention and that’s not bad after 15 years immersed in the monster. It’s just such an eclectic happening, so much to see, and so many famous faces. And I think this is the secret of its longevity at, or near, the top of what is known as the English social and sporting calendar. There really is something for everyone, especially since the inclusion of the modern Grand Prix cars, the MotoGP bikes and the forest rally stage in among all the historic men and machinery.

This summer’s ‘theme’ is ‘Hawthorn to Hamilton – Britain’s love affair with World Motor Sport’. Bit of a mouthful, this one, not exactly a snappy headline, but you probably get the gist. Hawthorn to Hamilton, that’s fairly straightforward, and there will be cars and drivers from 1958 to 2008. Purists may say that Hamilton has no place alongside Mike Hawthorn – not yet, anyway – but it’s a most useful way of bracketing half a century of Grand Prix racing. Ticket sales are already way ahead of this time last year, almost certainly in the expectation of Lewis making another appearance in his McLaren. From what I hear, the signals from Woking are good.

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So, Britain’s love affair with World Motor Sport? What’s that all about? In brief, it gives Charles March and his crew another chance to cast their nets around the globe and haul in another glistening collection of wild cars and legendary racers, not to mention the rally boys and the motorcycle men. For starters, there will be 30 cars from the United States, including a sensational display of dragsters. Be prepared for NOISE! It’s a bit early to confirm the big star drivers, but there will be some big names this year. Nicolas Prost, son of the great Alain, is down to drive the Team France A1GP car, which means that Charles March may at last be able to persuade Alain himself to have a go on the Goodwood hill. Now that would be something. And big efforts are being made to tempt Richard Petty back to Goodwood, this time in the Plymouth Superbird from the Petty Museum.

I’d love to tell you about the central display outside the front of Goodwood House but the news is embargoed. I can tell you it will be highly spectacular and very different from years gone by.

Had I been writing this in my previous existence, I would have ended with, ‘Book now to avoid disappointment!’ Now, all I can say is that if you like the Festival, 2008 is going to be a good one. If you don’t, then there’s always the Revival in September.

More news after the next committee meeting. By that time Lloyd McNeill and his exceptional Goodwood team will have started to haul in their nets.

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