Goodwood Festival of Speed, Fuel Curve

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.

Goodwood Festival of Speed, Fuel Curve

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.

Goodwood Festival of Speed, Fuel Curve

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.

Goodwood Festival of Speed, Fuel Curve

Goodwood Festival of Speed, Fuel Curve

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.

Goodwood Festival of Speed, Fuel CurveGoodwood Festival of Speed, Fuel Curve

Unlike most big-time events, the FOS pits are open to everybody and you can walk around, get up-close-and-personal with the cars and talk to the mechanics, owners and drivers: I bumped into a wide range of drivers from multi-time Le Mans winner Derek Bell and his son Justin to Pikes Peak winners Ron Millen and his son Rhys. Others in attendance included Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason driving his 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, Indy Car driver Johnny Rutherford driving a 1980 Chaparral-Cosworth 2K and drifter Vaughn Gittin Jr. In his Mustang RTR. Indeed, there are so many and so much to see, your head hurts.

Goodwood Festival of Speed, Fuel Curve

Amazingly, one of the crowd’s all-time favorites is Duncan Pittaway’s fire-belching, 28.5-liter 1911 Fiat – “The Beast of Turin.” Duncan also brought along his 1963 aluminum-bodied Cheetah that was the very first and became the prototype for all the fiberglass Cheetahs to follow. With an injected Chevy, it sounded awesome among all the high-revving Euro racers.

Goodwood Festival of Speed, Fuel Curve

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.Goodwood Festival of Speed, Fuel Curve

Goodwood Festival of Speed, Fuel CurveGoodwood Festival of Speed, Fuel Curve

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.

Goodwood Festival of Speed, Fuel Curve

It’s also a sign of the times that the fields of Goodwood were littered with supercars. Everywhere you looked there were lines of Lambos, Ferraris, Aston Martins and McLarens, et al. There was a time when they were a rarity on British roads but no longer.

Goodwood Festival of Speed, Fuel Curve

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.

Besides the summer FOS, Goodwood hosts the fall Revival, which took place September 7-9. The Revival is held on the old Goodwood Grand Prix circuit that is also on the Duke’s estate. It was used as an airfield during World War II.

Goodwood Festival of Speed, Fuel Curve

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.

Goodwood Festival of Speed Photo Extra!

Photos by the author, Jason Fong and Drew Gibson

Born in England, Tony grew up loving automobiles and after many years as a journalist transitioned into marketing roles for several companies including SEMA, Boyd Coddington and the SO-CAL Speed Shop. His friendship with NHRA founder Wally Parks led to a role as executive director of the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum. That, in turn, landed him in Portland, Oregon, where, as executive director, he was instrumental in the build of a new type of educational museum: World of Speed. Sort-of-retired, Tony now enjoys the three Rs: Reading, ’Riting and Racing with Ron Hope’s Rat Trap AA/FA.

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