Feel the need for speed at Goodwood

THIS weekend’s Festival of Speed at Goodwood is one of the highlights of the motoring year for petrolheads the world over, with an alluring mix of some of the finest racing machines ever to take to the track and appearances by many of the men and women who drove them.

Feel the need for speed at Goodwood

Held in the grounds of the beautiful — and historic — Goodwood House which nestles in the beautiful South Downs area of Sussex, the festival provides the startling sight of racing cars charging through its bucolic grounds, the house’s driveway turned into a dramatic, challenging and rather beautiful hillclimb venue.

Racing cars and Goodwood have been synonymous for decades, the first motorsport event occurring in 1936 when the ninth Duke of Richmond organised a hillclimb through the house’s grounds. World War 2 brought this pursuit to a close, but also saw the construction of a nearby airfield whose perimeter road would eventually be turned into the famous Goodwood circuit.

The first race was held in 1948 and the last in 1966, and when Charles Gordon-Lennox, the current Earl of March and a major car enthusiast was prevented from reviving races at the circuit, he decided to stage his own festival of speed in the grounds of Goodwood House. The first event attracted just 30,000 visitors, but this weekend it is expected to draw some 180,000.

Besides the hillclimb there is also a concours d’elegance, a pavilion of concept cars and technical exhibits of the future, an air display, events for younger visitors and much more. A highlight of the event remains the paddock, where fans can stand inches from some of the most famous racing cars in history and better still, meet their drivers.

Among the names there this weekend will be 2007 Formula 1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen who will be the sixth confirmed F1 title winner at this year’s event, joining John Surtees, Emerson Fittipaldi, Jenson Button, Jackie Stewart and Damon Hill.

Le Mans 24 Hours winners Emanuele Pirro, Andre Lotterer, Henri Pescarolo and Jackie Oliver will all appear, as will World Rally champions Sebastien Loeb, Bjorn Waldegard and Didier Auriol.

Richard Petty, the most successful NASCAR driver of all time with seven titles in the top ‘Cup’ category, is joined by fellow legends of US racing, including Indy 500 winners Al Unser, Kenny Brack, Gil de Ferran and Dario Franchitti and two-time Daytona 500 victor Michael Waltrip in one of his own Toyota Camry NASCARs.

On two wheels, 15-time grand prix world champion Giacomo Agostini — the most successful driver in history — will be joined by fellow world champions Freddie Spencer, Wayne Gardner, Chaz Davies and Dougie Lampkin.

However, away from the stars and the cars several motor companies will use this weekend to launch a variety of new cars such as the new Ford Focus ST which made its global debut there yesterday.

Ford’s new performance model headlines the First Glance category, with professional drivers showcasing its abilities on the world-famous hill climb on all three days.

Benefiting from the technology and quality improvements revealed earlier this year, the new Focus ST — available for the first time in diesel-powered version — will also be displayed on the Ford stand at Goodwood.

First launched in 2002, Ford has now sold more than 140,000 Focus ST models in over 40 countries.

Also starring at Goodwood will be the all-new Ford Mustang that makes its first UK appearance. A 5.0-litre V-8 Fastback will take part in the Supercar Class. Ford also will display a Mustang convertible.

For its part Renault will come to Goodwood with a wide-ranging array of competition cars of extraordinary variety, and a series of concept cars that shine a light on the brand’s future.

Among the highlights will be a celebration of Renault’s 37-year long commitment to Formula 1, highlights of Alpine’s mighty motorsport history, as well as an impressive display of concept cars.

Renault’s creative drive is amply demonstrated by landmark vehicles from its sporting 115-year history, including the sensational 1978 Le Mans-winning Alpine A442B, the 1977 Groupe 5 Alpine A310 rally car, the enormous and extraordinary-looking 1926 Renault 40CV ‘des records’, a 1902 Renault Type K that was one of the world’s earliest racing cars, four Formula 1 show cars and the Formula E Spark-Renault SRT_01E. The F1 cars include Alain Prost’s carbonfibre RE40, which won four times during the 1983 season and nearly won him the world championship that year.

The creative force around Renault right now is showcased with an arresting array of concept vehicles and the production models that have sprung from them.

They include the Twin Run concept and the exciting, all-new rear-engined Twingo that it inspired, which makes its first UK appearance at the festival. Also displayed are the DeZir and the Clio that grew from it and the Captur crossover in both its concept and production forms.

Goodwood will also host the UK debut of the new Mégane Renaultsport 275 Trophy-R driven by Laurent Hurgon who set the record lap time for a production front wheel drive car at the Nürburgring Nordschleife in just 7.54.36 in May with this car.

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