Every July, Lord March opens the grounds to his stately home and tens of thousands of petrolheads and speed freaks make their way to Goodwood in West Sussex for The Festival of Speed – “the largest motoring garden party in the world”. Every major manufacturer brings what can only be described as a showroom to the grounds of Goodwood house, while everything from classic Rolls to current Formula 1 cars barrel up the famous hill climb.
This isn’t your typical track meet or car show though. Pimms and champagne glasses outnumber pints and there’s an air of sophistication. Think Henley Regatta and Ascot meets Top Gear!
If you’ve never been to the Festival of Speed before, the first thing to hit you is the sheer scale of it. However well you plan your day, even if you stay for the full 11 hours, you’ll be hard pressed to see everything. You could easily spend all day watching supercars and F1 drivers hoon up the hill but you’d miss out on so much. Between the start line and the bottom and the rally stage at the top lie the Cartier Concours D’Elegance, the supercar paddock, the F1 paddock, the GAS action sports arena and countless more manufacturers displays and traders than your typical shopping mall.
A record 185,000 people attended this year, but if you weren’t one one lucky ones, take a look at these images to give you a taste of what you missed.
Every year sees a different main sponsor and 2012 was Lotus’ turn to build a huge sculpture on the lawns of Goodwood House.
There’s a great mix of old and new, with Renault’s shiny new Alpine concept wowing visitors in Cathedral Paddock…
…while an immaculate classic RS2 drew crowds further up the site.
Everything is big at the Festival of Speed!
It’s not all big names though. Tuning shops come to Goodwood to show what they can do with production cars like this Range Rover Evoque
Speed is speed whether you have wheels or wings. The FoS is regularly visited by the Red Arrows and The Eurofighter typhoon.
The major marques use Goodwood as a chance to treat customers to a little VIP hospitality while tempting them with top of the line metal. R8 GT Sypder with your tea and scones?
All the big names in F1 are on site, with drivers signing autographs and posing for photos. It takes a real fan to get within 50 feet though!
Bentley took the opportunity to remind us all they do more than just make cars for Premiership footballers by bringing along a Speed 8.
The Audi pavilion is one of the larger stands and they filled it with everything from eco friendly E-Trons to the bonkers 256BHP A1 Quattro and the highly tuned TT RS Plus.
If you enter the site from the start line end, one of the first displays you come across is Ferrari – definitely a case of starting as you mean to go on.
Toyota’s new rear wheel drive GT86 didn’t look out of place next to such illustrious company.
Roll on next year!
Photography by Simon Pow