From relatively humble beginnings 25 years ago, the Goodwood Festival of Speed, held on the grounds of Goodwood House (in the south of England) every July, has mushroomed into arguably the single biggest event on the automotive calendar — pulling crowds of 50,000-plus on each of its four days.
It’s a motorsport event, motor show and massive garden party for petrolheads all rolled into one. Unlike static motor shows, the FoS is a living, breathing showcase of new and old machinery, with the centrepiece of the event being the hillclimb up the 1.86km driveway of the sprawling estate.
To commemorate its silver jubilee, this year’s instalment featured the Duke of Richmond’s favourite moments from the first 25 editions of the event, and the cars and drivers that featured in them were the cornerstones of this year’s FoS. It’s a big year for Porsche, too, as the Zuffenhausen brand recently chalked up its 70th birthday, and it celebrated the milestone at the Goodwood Festival by rolling out a tasty selection of classic road cars and racers borrowed from the Porsche Museum.
Towering over the event was sculptor Gerry Judah’s massive Porsche-themed central display featuring the all-conquering 919 Le Mans racer, the formidable Gulf-liveried 917, a 959 Dakar special, a 356 coupe, 991 Series 911 R and a 918 Spyder. Yes, these were the real articles, mounted 50m above terra firma.
There were so many highlights from this year’s Festival of Speed that picking the most notable ones is an almost impossible task, such was the smorgasbord of new and old Formula 1 cars, Grand Prix bikes, rally cars, Formula Drift builds, NASCARs, Pikes Peak specials, tin-top racers and supercars taking part in the iconic hillclimb.
Romain Dumas piloted the Pikes Peak record-setting VW ID R to victory in the hillclimb shootout, as the battery-powered rocketship whistled and whined its way to the finish line in just 43.86sec. Second place was nailed down by another electric vehicle, namely the Nio EP9, which set a time of 44.32sec in the hands of accomplished GT racer Peter Dumbreck.
Meanwhile, the Roborace robo-car became the first vehicle to complete the Goodwood hillclimb — lined by hay bales and flint walls — without a human at the wheel. At the opposite spectrum of the scale was Aston Martin’s kooky, one-off Cygnet V8 — a miniscule Toyota iQ-based hatchback stuffed with the 430bhp 4.7-litre V8 from a Vantage S. It got plenty of cheers, as did debutants such as the new Toyota Supra and the Polestar 1 prototype, a svelte coupe turned out by Volvo’s now standalone Polestar performance arm.
Maserati also had a notable presence at Goodwood in the form of a large hospitality pavilion featuring the marque's model line-up. In addition, the brand-new Levante GTS made its first world appearance via a series of runs in the hillclimb. The trident brand also unleashed the fearsome MC12 and GranTurismo for blasts up the hill.
Other fan favourites included Steve McQueen’s legendary Ford Mustang Bullitt (one of two original cars used in the 1968 car-chase blockbuster), making its first appearance outside the US alongside Ford’s all-new special-edition Mustang Bullitt.
The FoS wasn’t just about wheeled contraptions as one of the star attractions was David Mayman’s JB11 jetpack, which lifted off over the lawn in front of Goodwood House and completed its first ever European flight. The FoS Future Lab, with its interactive installations focusing on space, autonomous vehicles, personal flight and robotics also showcased the direction transport may be heading.