First held in 1993, the Goodwood Festival of Speed is the world’s largest automotive garden party which is held at the spectacular Goodwood House in West Sussex, UK. Over 600 famous cars and motorcycles from motoring and motorsport history take part along with legendary drivers from the automotive world. Highlights include the Future Lab Exhibition, the Electric Avenue, the Hillclimb Rally, the Supercar Paddock, the Supercar Run, the F1 Pit Lane, the Drivers’ Club, the Action Sports and Offroad Arena, the Concours d’Elegance, the Aviation Exhibition and the Bonhams Auction.
The Festival is located at the Goodwood Estate which features a country house and estate covering 4,900 hectares in Westhampnett, Chichester, West Sussex, England. It is the home of the Duke of Richmond. The house was built in about 1600.
Goodwood is located about 2 hours South-West of London. Parking is free on the lawn but you'll struggle to find accommodation around the countryside. On a positive note, there is a camping area available at Goodwood which can be booked separately.
The Central Feature
This year's central feature and impressive sculpture paid homage to the BMW Motorsport division. Since the inception of the Central Feature in 1997, the iconic sculpture has become synonymous with the extraordinary achievements of a different manufacturer or milestone. Porsche received the honour of the Central Feature in 2018 with the brand's 70th anniversary. Last year, Lotus was the Central Feature. The 2017 feature was a Giant 35m wheel which was studded with Formula 1 cars to celebrate Bernie Ecclestone’s five decades of involvement in Grand Prix racing.
The famous Goodwood Hill Climb is just over a mile long with cars and motorbikes going up in batches. Since 1993 the 1.16-mile course lets all kinds of racing vehicles compete with each other. The 1890 m track climbs up 92.7 metres and has an average inclination of 4.9%. The fastest time of 39.08 seconds was set by former F1 driver Max Chilton with the McMurtry Spéirling. The last record was achieved by in 2019 by Romain Dumas in his fully electric Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak racing car, although the time was recorded on Saturday Qualifying run and didn't officially count. The record time for a F1 car was 41.6 seconds by Nick Heidfeld in 1999 in a McLaren MP4/13. For safety reasons, F1 cars can no longer do official timed runs and instead perform demonstrations.
The Supercar Paddock
Since 2000, there has been a supercar paddock for road-going supercars. Since 2014 cars could compete to do a timed run. It is now expected for speciality car manufacturers to show off their latest sports models, including newly released mass-produced sports models and working concept models. Last year's premiere featured the Glickenhaus SCG 004S, Aston Martin V12 Speedster, and the Lotus Evija. This year, the Paddock showcased the Radford Type 62-2, Kalmar 7-97, Hispano-Suiza Carmen, GMA T.50, e Porsche 911 Sport Classic and the Ford Ranger Raptor.
The Future Lab
This is the official future science and technology pavilion at the Festival since 2017. Several major global reveals have debuted as part of this exhibition, including autonomous trucks by Einride, prototype flying cars like Airspeeder and autonomous delivery vehicles.
The Cartier Style et Luxe - Concours d' Elegance
This auto display is similar to the format of Concours of Elegance shows and it takes place to the west of the house. Like most Concours shows, the Cartier Style et Luxe is judged by a panel of 13 selected people consisting of celebrities from the world of art, design, sport or media. The Luxe lawn features a highly diverse selection of classic cars ranging from prewar vehicles to youngtimers. As with traditional Concours events, cars are categorised into classes which consist of a handful of similar vehicles. The cars are then given points by the judges for things like condition, originality and history. For 2021’s event the overall winner was a 1974 Lancia Stratos.
There are several Paddocks on the premises where you can get up close to all the cars. The team and mechanics are working on the cars and preparing them for the Hillclimb. But be aware that during the Festival days the Paddocks are extremely popular and will be crowded. It's best to arrive early in the morning at 7 am when the gates are opening and head straight to the Paddocks to get some quiet time with the cars to take photos. It's also possible to talk to the teams in the morning as they will have a few spare minutes for a chat. In the Paddocks, you can also see the cars coming and leaving from the Hillclimb which gives an opportunity to hear the engines roaring.
The Rally Stage
Up North of Goodwood house exists a massive rally stage which goes through the woods. It's about a 40-minute walk to the rally track. There are also Tractor shuttles available but the queue can be quite long, especially on weekend days. The rally stage features its own paddock with several cool and unique rally cars. Also, the Hillclimb finishing line ends at the rally stages' start and end line. In the forest, there are many really cool spots where you can watch the rally cars flying by. It is a great activity to escape the masses and the buzzing festival.
The Festival of Speed is enormous and this article just gave a glimpse into this exciting event. If you want to see everything you would need to attend the full 4 days and it would still not be enough time to discover every detail of it. There are hundreds of trade stands, a plethora of food options, a BMX stage, driving experiences, a drift and offroad track, and several official car brand displays such as Porsche, Koenigsegg, BMW, Lotus, etc.
Tickets & Days
Goodwood Festival of Speed is always popular and the weekend tickets almost always sell out well before the event. This year's event was jam-packed as ever and according to their website, all tickets have been sold out. Prices start at £47 for the Thursday entry and can cost +£300 for the 4-day admission with grandstand access. Thursday is the quietest day, Friday busier, Saturday & Sunday are very busy as it's the weekend. These 2 days also have the most going on in terms of Cars, Drivers, Celebrities and Hillclimb driving action.
Nils is a Swiss-German engineer who is obsessed with old cars and engines. He is the author of "The Ultimate Classic Car Guide - How to Buy, Maintain & Repair Classic Cars" and the founder of EVC. My passion has always been with old cars and everything that has wheels and an engine.