It all began in the summer of 1936, when the ninth Duke of Richmond, Lord Freddie March, organised a race for members of the Lancia Car Club on his Goodwood estate in the countryside south of London. It was the very first Goodwood motorsport event and consisted of driving as quickly as possible down the road from the Lord's residence to the top of the nearby hill - a total of 1.2 miles.
12 years later, on 18th September 1948, the Goodwood Motor Circuit opened to the public, and like many English circuits of the time it was established on the grounds of an airport. It was on this track, a narrow asphalt strip stretching 3.8 kilometres, with fast straights, chicanes and ups and downs, that the first post-war British car race took place, involving 85 drivers and over 15,000 spectators. The circuit was then closed to competition in 1966, after also hosting Formula 1 races, but it continued to be used for testing. Bruce McLaren, for instance, the founder of the British company, used it as a test track.
Fans had to wait until 1993 for the launch of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, which has become the largest outdoor motor show in the world. Indeed, it takes place in the Duke of Richmond's "garden". On the huge expanse of lawn in front of the manor, every year more than 600 cars and motorcycles (modern and classic, racing and road models) retrace the history of motoring and motorsport together with their star drivers and, more recently, have also begun to mark out the future. Parades, exhibitions, supercar and hypercar débuts, races... these are just some of the ingredients of a show-stopping, speed-packed event. One of the best-known events is the hill climb, where participants go the extra mile to set new records.
What the Festival of Speed also offers
There is a lot to choose from: from the Electric Avenue, a road dedicated to the mobility of the future where visitors can observe the most varied electric models up close, to the Forest Rally Stage, where fans sit in the trees to enjoy the most iconic rally cars racing down the dirt track just a few yards away. There's also the GAS Arena with daredevil jumps and stunts from the greatest motocross champions, as well as the Formula One Paddock. But it doesn't end there as the schedule also includes Concours d'Elegance, auctions, exhibition halls dedicated to innovation as well as the fantastic display by the “Red Arrows”.
There truly is something for everyone at Goodwood, making it a veritable festival which one simply must attend at least once in their lifetime.