Goodwood Festival of Speed 2018 – A Day with the Duke of Richmond
Often copied but never duplicated, The Goodwood Festival of Speed (FOS) is perhaps one of the most amazing events on the motorsports calendar. This year the FOS celebrated its Silver Anniversary and we were there for the party.
The Festival occurs every summer on the grounds of The Duke of Richmond’s ancestral home 100 miles south west of London, England. The event is centered around a timed hill climb up the Duke’s 1.16-mile drive.
The long-standing record for the run is 41.6 seconds set in 1999 by Nick Heidfeld driving a McLaren MP4/13 Formula One car. His average speed was 100.385 mph. Nick’s record remains unbroken as they no longer allow F1 cars timed runs for safety reasons. However, some newcomers are biting at Nick’s shirttails.
The hill climb which is by invitation only, sees an eclectic field of racecars. We went as a guest of American’s Ernie and Elaine Nagamatsu who had been invited to run their historic Max Balchowsky road-racing special that was raced in the 60s by Dan Gurney, Carroll Shelby and others. Old Yeller is powered by a nailhead Buick with six Stromberg 97s. Unfortunately, a fuel problem and then a mechanical issue sidelined Ernie after his first day on the hill.
Besides of all the gas guzzlers there’s an obvious and growing technological shift toward electric and even autonomous cars with no drivers. Call me old fashioned but driver-less cars to me means slot car racing and while skill is involved I just wonder if when you remove the driver you remove the point. It would be like climbing Mount Everest using virtual reality—who cares.
Ironically, this year’s fastest time was set by the Volkswagen ID R electric car that recently won the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Driver Romain Dumas scorched up the driveway in 43.86 seconds, only 2 seconds shy of the record. Close on his heels was the NIO EP9 electric supercar (read street car) that covered the distance in just 44.32 seconds.
The FOS’s accessibility to the cars and the drivers, particularly if you are a Formula One fan is amazing in this day and age of restricted access. You can get within a few inches of the cars, check them out, hear them run and meet and greet the mechanics and the drivers. I don’t know of anywhere else you can do that in such a casual atmosphere.
Goodwood Festival of Speed is an amazing experience which you can somewhat feel through these images. But trust us, there is nothing, I mean nothing like being there to take it all in.