BRITAIN’S BIGGEST and most lavish motoring event kicks off next weekend in the grounds of Goodwood House in West Sussex. Set in 12,500 acres of parkland, the Festival of Speed is billed as a cross between an English summer garden party and a high-octane motor show.
The event centres on a 1.16-mile hillclimb — essentially the driveway to Goodwood House. Over the course of the weekend hundreds of rare racing cars and exotic speedsters will accelerate past the ranks of spectators.
But it is not just the cars that they come to watch: some of the greatest drivers from the past and present will be getting behind the wheel. Loudest of the lot is likely to be Lewis Hamilton, who will be driving a 2012 Formula One Mercedes AMG grand prix car — poignant because it was the last F1 machine raced by the retired world champion Michael Schumacher, who is in recovery from a serious skiing accident that left him in a coma for almost six months.
Hamilton won’t be alone. Other star drivers include Sir Stirling Moss, winner of 16 grands prix, Dario Franchitti, a four-time champion of America’s IndyCar series, Kimi Raikkonen, John Surtees, Jenson Button, Sir Jackie Stewart and Emerson Fittipaldi.
Throughout the weekend, Audi will be running its R18, the winner of this year’s Le Mans 24-hour race. Porsche and Toyota will be driving their respective 919 and TS040 Le Mans cars up the hill, with drivers Mark Webber and Anthony Davidson. And Jota Sport, an unsung British team that won the LMP2 class with three Brits driving, will also be making an appearance.
Usually the world’s most exotic supercars are a rare sight. But at the Festival of Speed, visitors will be able to get close to 40 of them and watch as models including the McLaren P1, Porsche 918 Spyder and new Honda NSX are put through their paces. Throw into the mix rallying, air displays, motorbikes and a concours d’elégance classic car competition and the Festival of Speed weekend is so packed with action that there’ll be precious little time to stop for that picnic.
The 2014 Goodwood Festival of Speed takes place from Friday, June 27, to Sunday, June 29. General admission tickets cost £46 for Friday and £60 for Sunday. Saturday is sold out. For more information visit goodwood.com