I have always wondered, what the Goodwood FOS (Festival of Speed) was all about. Was it a race, a hill-climb, a demonstration of old race cars, or a car show? Well, I had the opportunity to find out this year. In this feature, a ‘First Timers’ view of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, I can safely say that it is all of those things, and more!
This year, a group of us got together to attend: myself, Bernhard Bihr (CEO of Bosch Electronics Group); Mike Mansuetti (President of Bosch USA), Keith Andrews (Regional President Bosch Electronics USA), Wolfgang Hustedt (Bosch Racing USA consultant), Wölfram Gocken (Director of Power Train Projects Bosch Electronics Group), and my brother Mark Raffauf (Senior Director of IMSA). We based ourselves in Portsmouth, England, and drove out to the Goodwood estate each day.
Held yearly, every July, on the estate of the Duke of Richmond (formerly Lord March) in southern England, it encompasses a complete spectrum of racing vehicles in all disciplines. There are Formula 1 cars, old and new from 1920’s to current day; Indianapolis cars; NASCAR stock cars and trucks; DTM (Deutsche Touren Wagen Meistershaft) cars; Rallye Cars; Sports cars of every era; British Touring Cars; Drift cars; Specialty Hill climb cars; Super cars; Even Motorcycles of all types. If you cannot find anything here to meet your fancy, then you are not interested in motorsport, or cars (or bikes)!
The FOS in 2018 promised to be a little special for any Porsche aficionado, as it featured a special tribute to Porsche, as this year is the 70th anniversary of the company. A large contingent of cars came from the factory, and many privately-owned Porsches were also invited. This was also the Silver Jubilee being the 25th year of the event, and as such, the crowds were massive. Reportedly there were record crowds of some 200,000 over the four-day event. Early morning arrivals were required to beat the traffic and parking scrambles. The estate is not near any real highway, so a cell phone with a very good map app was key to finding your way. This years’ event was blessed with fine weather, warm and sunny although we were told this is not always the case. It was clear that the infrastructure of south central England is stretched to the limit with this event as hotel rooms were not to be had, and traffic was heavy. The 20-mile drive from Portsmouth took up to 45 minutes.
The circuit itself is quite basic, it is a hill-climb course run on a single lane road, starting at the Goodwood Hotel area, and winding up the hill past the Goodwood House to the top of the hill. It is 1.16 miles in length with an average gradient of 4.9%. The fastest time ever was set by Nick Heidfeld a few years ago in an F1 car at 41.6 seconds. The cars are grouped by types and are released at intervals, one at a time, from the start-line. There is even a special Rallye course for the Rallye cars at the top of the hill, and a mini Rallye is held for them.
Many car manufacturers set up massive display pavilions to present their latest cars and technologies. This year included Ford, Lamborghini, Porsche, Audi, BMW, Lexus, Honda, Alfa Romeo, Toyota, Tesla, and others. Several of the manufacturers had set up driving Experiences where fans could actually drive their cars. There were many shops and vendors, even a British Military display area.
Martini & Rossi had an interesting display in the paddock of just Martini & Rossi sponsored cars, which included some of the Porsches below, as well as various Lancia’s and Lancia rallye cars.
Some of the entrants race up the hill to set a time and try and “win the hill-climb.” Others cruise up at a more leisurely pace, no doubt hesitant to push some of the cars that hard, as they are very valuable. Some are real showmen, and do donuts, spins, bike wheelies etc, and while some entrants drive their own cars, others hire pros to come in and drive. Porsche had brought in many of their former drivers to drive, such as John Fitzpatrick, Manfred Schurti, Derek Bell, etc.
Practically everyone who is anybody in racing shows up for this. From a historical stand-point, several cars and drivers stood out for me:
- Jackie and Paul Stewart driving two pristine Tyrrell Fords
- Richard Petty driving his 1972 STP Dodge Charger
- Giacomo Agostini racing up the hill on his MV Agusta
- Hans Stuck driving the 16-cylinder Auto Union Type C
- Nic Minassian driving Nick Mason’s Ferrari 250 GTO
- Johnnie Rutherford driving his 1980 Chaparral Cosworth 2K Indy Winner
- Rene Arnoux driving his Renault RS01 F1 car
- Valteri Bottas driving the Mercedes W07 F1 car
For the Porsche enthusiast, it was a cornucopia of history to choose from. Early street cars and race cars all the way up to the 919 Hybrid, and all in between. Some highlights:
- A factory Gulf, as well as David Piper’s 917K
- The 917-30 of Penske/Donohue
- The Moby Dick 1978 935 driven by both John Fitzpatrick and Manfred Schurti
- The 1979 935 driven by Paul Newman at Le Mans, now owned by Adam Carolla in Los Angeles
- The 1987 Le Mans winning 962C (or parts of it anyway) driven by Derek Bell
- An IROC RSR as driven by Peter Revson
- A 1973 RSR that won Sebring that year driven by Hurley Haywood, one of the drivers in 1973
- The 2018 Le Mans winning 911 RSR with the pink pig paint job
- 1998 Le Mans GT1
- 904 GTS
- Rothmans 959
- 1973 Martini RS
- A private 908-02
- The 919 Hybrid
You got the feeling that you were always missing something, as there was so much going on, non-stop. While the Rallye cars ran the Rallye course, the F1 cars went up the hill, so you just could not see it all. There were a few moments of excitement on the track for sure. On Sunday, as Derek Bell finished the course in the 1987 962C, he slowed and was promptly rammed from behind by a 911 GT3 Cup car. It was an embarrassing moment for Porsche for sure, but the damage did not look too bad. Someone commented, well maybe now they will put the correct 1987 tail on the 962 instead of the 1988 version that was on there. On the first run Sunday, Romain Dumas in the VW Pikes Peak car (complete electric) took off quickly, and lost control at the first corner shortly after the start. He did some dirt running but managed to keep it out of the hay bales. His comment at the end was, “well now I have found the limit.” He got it sorted out by the afternoon and ended up setting the fastest time at 43.6 or so, and won the hill climb.
All in all, we felt it was a great event to showcase motor racing history and technology. Given the amount of people on hand for this, I must say the Duke (of Richmond) and his staff do a remarkable job of organising and running this world class event. Indeed, I felt fortunate to come away with a poster of the event. By mid-day Saturday much of the Goodwood “swag” was already gone – sold out!
Written by: Martin Raffauf
Images by: Martin Raffauf