Honda celebrated the 40th anniversary of its first GP win with a remarkable aerial display in front of Lord March’s Goodwood House.
Photo: Keith Booker
The grounds of Goodwood House in Sussex once again shook to the sound of racing engines as “The Party of the Gods” took place June 24–26. The Festival of Speed has steadily grown since its inception in 1993 and was attended this year by more than 150,000 spectators over the three days. They witnessed a spectacular event that truly had something to interest everyone. The Earl of March and his team have built on their successful formula of presenting a living museum, where rare and priceless competition cars are not only displayed but also driven, often by their original drivers. Visitors have unrestricted access to the cars in the paddocks and the drivers do their best to make themselves accessible too. Goodwood is a photographer’s and autograph hunter’s dream!
Every year the Festival is built around an overall theme and in 2005 this was “Racing Colours—National Pride and Culture,” celebrating the essence of what makes the cars and motorcycles of different countries so typical of their makers’ cultures, passions and skills. Possibly the most significant anniversary being celebrated was the passing of 50 years since Stirling Moss won the Mille Miglia in the Mercedes 300SLR. Sir Stirling himself was present to drive the car on the 1.16-mile hillclimb and give presentations on a specially built ramp, similar to that at the start of the famous 1,000-mile race.
Among the festival debutants were 1990 and 1997 Indianapolis 500 victor Arie Luyendyk driving a 1990 Penske–Ilmor PC19, Gerard Larrousse in a Matra MS120 and nine-time Bathurst winner Peter Brock in a 1984 Holden Commodore. Alain Prost had been scheduled to appear for the first time but unfortunately he had other commitments elsewhere. An indication of the quality of the festival can be judged by some of the other driver/car combinations present. These included John Surtees/Honda RA272; Sir Stirling Moss/Mercedes 300SLR and Ferguson P99 fwd; Rene Arnoux/Renault RS01; Derek Bell/ Jaguar E, Porsche 962 and McLaren-Honda MP4/4; Emerson Fittipaldi/Lotus 49B and 72E; Damon Hill/Hill GH2; Ukyo Katayama/Toyota GT-One and Supra GT; Jacques Lafitte/Ligier JS12; Jochen Mass/Mercedes W196 (awarded Driver of the Day on Sunday); Sandro Munari/Lancia Stratos Group 5 making a rare appearance; Tony Brooks in a Connaught, celebrating 50 years since his Syracuse GP victory; Jean-Pierre Jaussaud/ in the newly restored Alpine-Renault A443; Johnny Ruther-ford/Chaparral “Pennzoil Special”; Danny Sullivan/March-Cosworth 86C “Kraco”; Bobby Unser/Audi Quattro S1 “Pikes Peak”; Al Unser Jr./Penske PC20; John Watson/Jaguar E lightweight and Brian Redman/Ferrari 312PB. The modern era was represented by Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and David Coulthard with their current mounts but they also drove older machinery, as well.
Drivers had the option to have their runs on the hill against the clock and Justin Law, in a 1990 Jaguar XJR12, recorded the fastest climb for the second year in succession, this time beating his previous best by more than 1 second at 47.96 seconds. Among the class winners were Peter Sachs with his Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Le Mans, Julia de Baldanza/Bugatti 35B, William Cottter/Scarab-Oldsmobile RA7, Burkhard von Schenk/Maserati 250F, John Delane/1972 Tyrrell 006 and Richard Dodkins/1970 March-Chevrolet 717. The Fastest Lady Driver of the Day award went to Sally Mason-Styrron with her ex–Derek Bell Ferrari 246 Tasman. Additionally, the new forest stage at the top of the hill brought together a good representation of rallying’s past, including Group B cars.
One of the largest collections of Matras ever assembled was joined in the Cathedral Paddock by a significant display of Alfa Romeos, many brought over from the factory museum in Milan. It has been 50 years since Chevrolet introduced the “small-block” V-8 and a range of cars was displayed. Seventy years have passed since the Offenhauser four-cylinder speedway racing engine first won the Indianapolis 500 and that achievement was marked by a good turnout of roadsters.
The central feature in front of Goodwood House was sponsored this year by Honda which marked 40 years since its first Grand Prix win with Richie Ginther in the RA272. Six Honda Grand Prix cars were featured in a cantilevered display. With the original RA272 and RA300 in the paddock—along with many others from the Honda Motegi motor museum—those in the display were excellent copies but the others were original cars. The disappointment for many spectators was that better use had not been made of the display area on the circular drive beneath the feature, as this has been a main attraction at previous festivals.
The next event at Goodwood is the Circuit Revival race meeting from September 16–18. This remains the only sporting event in the world set entirely to a period theme. Like the Festival of Speed, admission is by advance ticket only and these can be obtained via the Web site, www.goodwood.co.uk.