We’ve seen plenty of car versus aeroplane challenges before, but never one that took place off-road. The idea was simple enough – race a Spitfire against a Range Rover Sport along a mile of Goodwood grass.
The car – an all-new Range Rover Sport powered by Land Rover’s 503bhp 5.0-litre supercharged V8 engine and driven by Jaguar Land Rover’s Chief Vehicle Integrity Engineer Mike Cross.
The aeroplane – a 1945 Vickers Supermarine Spitfire owned by Steve Boultbee-Brooks, which is powered by a 1750hp supercharged Merlin 266 engine and was flown by pilot Matt Jones.
The challenge involved a straight drag race down the bumpy grass airfield and back again, punctuated by a nimble U-turn on the slippery wet grass. The Spitfire avoided the grassy U-turn, but had to figure out a way of turning round in the tightest arc.
Obviously the Spitfire was significantly slower off the line than the Range Rover Sport, but made up for that handicap with its 400mph maximum airspeed.
Despite the bumpy grass, Cross still managed to clock a top speed of 130 mph before braking for the mid-race turn.
The showdown was repeated several times, all with the same result, leaving the old stager trailing (very slightly) in the Range Rover Sport’s dust (or should that be grass?)
Both FortyOneSix and Boultbee Flight Academy are based in the grounds of Goodwood Motor Racing Circuit, making this a perfect spectacle to kick off the Festival week.