What Is The Goodwood Festival of Speed?

The Goodwood Festival of Speed is an important event if you love everything about cars, from their rich history to modern technological marvels.

This annual motoring event attracts car collectors, motoring enthusiasts, journalists, and anyone who cares about automobiles.

While the main event is the hill climb vintage car race, other automobile stakeholders’ interest adds to the event’s spectacle and variety.

Attending the event allows you to witness more than the hill climb race. There is road rally racing, drifting, and off-road racing.

Additionally, car manufacturers take the opportunity to display their latest creations.

This article delves deep into the festival and shares everything you need to know about this annual event.

History Of The Goodwood Festival of Speed

The Goodwood Festival of Speed is an annual motoring event in the parkland surrounding the Goodwood House in West Sussex, England.

The first Goodwood Festival of Speed was held over the weekend of 19th and 20th June 1993 and presented by MasterCard. Lord March, who would later become the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, founded the event.

He initially wanted to use the prestigious and historically vibrant Goodwood Circuit but didn’t receive a permit. Instead, he hosted the event on his grounds.

The first event attracted over 25,000 spectators and proved successful despite happening on the same weekend as the Le Mans race.

It became an official weekend event to cater to the larger attending crowd and more race and car display entries.]

Who Owns Goodwood?

The Duke of Richmond and Gordon, Charles Henry Gordon-Lennox, owns the 12,000-acre Goodwood estate.

He is the chairman of the Goodwood Group of Companies, which comprises 29 businesses, and hosts the Festival of Speed.

The astute businessman runs the estate profitably, balancing its colossal upkeep fee with earnings from the festival.

Additionally, the grounds host the Rolls-Royce motor cars UK division.

For motoring enthusiasts, his efforts pay off beautifully each year during the festival. The event attracts an average of 200,000 visitors annually, ranking it among the biggest car events in the world.

Those who specifically love vintage cars attend the special three-day Goodwood Revival. They dress in vintage clothes and enjoy cars and motorcycles from 1948-1966.

What Are The Main Events?

The Hill Climb

Arguably the main event, the Hill Climb, affords viewers a closer look at motor racing. The name of this event perfectly captures its spirit as it involves racing up the scenic Goodwood hilly roads.

Viewers can watch the spectacle closely, separated from the raving machine by reinforced straw bales. No other motor racing event can afford such proximity.

The track’s elevation change of 92.7 meters tests the limits of most racing cars, further adding to the excitement.

The current record holder for the fastest climb is Nick Heidfelddrove, who went up the hill in a McLaren MP4/13 Formula One and crossed the line in 41.6 seconds.

Modern Formula One cars could beat that record but no longer participate in timed races for safety reasons.

The Forest Rally Stage

This event started in 2005 and demonstrates rally cars’ capabilities. The rally circuit goes through the forest and has a tarmac section.

Furthermore, the starting and finish line is at the hilltop and allows for some amazing views of the grounds.

Soapbox Challenge

The Soapbox Challenge involved racing gravity-powered cars down the hill.

However, it is no longer part of the festival. It ran from 2000 to 2004 before it became too expensive to maintain.

Additionally, there were too many accidents to justify its continued scheduling.

The Supercar Run

This event premiered in 2000 and quickly became one of the most popular. It showcases supercars from most manufacturers, a chance for enthusiasts and potential customers to ogle at those exotic beauties.

In 2014, timed runs became part of the spectacle, further marketing those expensive and powerful machines.

It is customary these days for supercar manufacturers to display their latest models, one-off specials, and bespoke creations on the Goodwood grounds.

Cartier Style et Luxe

This event began in 1995 and is an auto show. Manufacturers reserve slots to showcase their vehicles or are picked by invitation. There is a panel of judges comprising car designers and celebrities.

The Moving Motor Show

This event began in 2010 and is a chance for potential buyers to test new cars on the track. This makes the festival a central meeting point for car manufacturers and buyers.

Furthermore, a chance to test several models at the festival usually generates significant sales for car manufacturers over the weekend.

Tips On Attending The Goodwood Festival of Speed


You need to prepare well for the event if you’re to enjoy it fully. Here are several tips to help you navigate the festival if you’re a first-time visitor.

The large crowds and buzzing activities can take their toll on you if you are not adequately prepared.

1: Get Your Tickets Early

The festival is a globally popular event, which sees its tickets sell out fast.

Therefore, you need to buy yours as soon as ticket sales open. Additionally, you should consider buying weekend tickets.

Attending the event for one day isn’t enough to take in all it offers. You also need to consider attending from Thursday, if possible. This allows you to familiarize yourself with the grounds and the schedule.

You need to remember that Friday gets busy, with Saturday and Sunday being the busiest and most exciting.

2: Arrange For Appropriate Accommodation

Several accommodation options exist, but the most practical is camping and the bed and breakfasts around the grounds. Goodwood provides ample camping areas, which only need you to bring your camping gear.

Alternatively, you could hire camping tents or vehicles from reputable providers in the area.

However, you need to book early if you prefer the bed and breakfast option. Those get fully booked faster than tickets are sold out.

3: Arrange For Reliable Transportation

If you intend to drive to the festival, you need to book a car park ticket as early as possible. You have that option when purchasing the ticket. Also, leave early as traffic to the grounds tends to double or even triple.

If you’re going via train, arrange to alight at the Chester Train Station. There are normally free bus rides from that point to the grounds. Only those who live nearby should consider riding motorcycles.

There are chartered flights and helicopter taxis to and from the Goodwood Aerodrome if you can afford them. You’ll also enjoy shuttling services to and from the grounds.

4: Plan Your Time Well

While there’s so much activity during the festival, you can easily miss out on the main attractions.

Therefore, divide your time well between the main events for a complete experience.

Ensure you reserve time for the Hill Climb, Supercar Paddock, F1 Paddock, Goodwood Action Sports Arena, FOS Future Lab, Forest Rally Stage, and Top Paddock.

You can check the schedule to know the best time to visit each section and event.

5: Carry Cash

You’ll need to buy food, drinks, and snacks. The event takes a lot of energy to experience, so you need to replenish it.

Fortunately, plenty of catering services are on the grounds, keeping you well-fed and hydrated.

Conclusion

The Goodwood Festival of Speed is a spectacular annual automobile event. It celebrates vintage and modern cars, motor racing, technological innovation, and the global car community.

The festival is hosted on the Goodwood estate in West Sussex, England, and has been running since 1993.

Therefore, you’ll enjoy an amazing spectacle and a rich automobile history on display when you attend this festival.

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