Motoring: Don't write off the older models just yet...

Now in its seventh year, the Festival of Speed is gathering momentum. By John Simister

SUMMER, LORD March's front garden, Goodwood House, Sussex. People picnicking, sipping white wine, soaking up the sun. A Formula One McLaren- Mercedes hurtles past in a bid to be fastest from one end of a Goodwood drive to the other. Incongruous?

Not at all, because this is the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Now poised for its seventh outing, the festival is, over its three days, probably the most popular motor-sport event in Britain. Yet there are no car races, just blasts up what is described as a "hillclimb", although it's not exactly steep.

It's what goes up the hill that's important, historic racing-cars driven by historic racing-drivers. Stirling Moss will be there in a 1950s W196 Mercedes Grand Prix car. Sir Jack Brabham will drive a 1966 Brabham-Honda Formula Two car. Jackie Oliver will drive the Ford GT40 that won the Le Mans 24 Hours twice, the second time in 1969 when he and Jacky Ickx, who'll also be there, shared victory.

It's a grand reunion for wheelmen from all over the world. We'll see Phil Hill (world champion in 1961), David Coulthard, Tony Brooks, Rubens Barrichello, John Surtees, and Mika Salo. Rene Arnoux and Patrick Tambay will be reunited with Renault's pioneering turbocharged Formula One cars, including the first F1 turbocar from 1977, while McLaren test-driver Nick Heidfeld will be in the 1998 championship-winning McLaren MP4/13.

Actually, it hasn't quite been a summer idyll these last two years. In 1997 it poured, causing lawns to turn to mud and expensively shod spectators to squelch along in bare feet. Last year was more clement, but there were still some showers. So, by the law of averages, this year should be sunny.

The course doesn't look challenging, but from the driving seat it takes on a different tone. I drove it in a Lamborghini Diablo SV last year, as part of the road-going supercars class, and the start-line marshal warned me that an earlier runner had dropped oil on the first, damp, bend. So I just eased off to save embarrassment in front of thousands of spectators. More character-building was The Wall, further up the track, where many spectators can't quite see. The track has a vicious downhill kink at this point, and if you enter the kink too fast the wall is what you hit.

The proper drivers will have had practice runs, of course, and also far outscore me in bravery and skill. But the most spectacular drivers of the day will almost certainly be two kings and one queen of the rallying world. Colin McRae will attempt the day's fastest run in his Ford Focus rally car, Richard Burns will do the same in his rival Subaru Impreza Turbo, as will Michele Mouton, the only woman to win a world championship rally (San Remo, 1985), in her 600bhp Audi Quattro S1. Will they be quicker than the McLaren? Goodwood is a great leveller.

This is a festival of anniversaries. Honda is celebrating its half-century, and has emptied its museum to bring along some of its 1960s Formula One cars, including the RA300 in which John Surtees won the 1967 Italian Grand Prix. He'll drive it again at the festival. America's Indianapolis 500 race is 90 years old, and there'll be a fine gathering of historic "Indy" cars flown over, plus their drivers.

It's 50 years since the Le Mans 24 Hours restarted after the Second World War, and around half the 180-car entry is made up of Le Mans racers from the 1920s onwards, including around 25 past-winners. And Audi has several milestones to mark, including 90 years of the Audi name, and 100 years since August Horch began one of the companies that later made up the Auto Union (whose cars were renamed Audi in the mid-1960s).

The festival's theme is so wide-ranging it almost isn't a theme at all. But "Year One to Formula One: a millennium of horsepower" is a good excuse to cover practically everything. So we'll see races for recreated Roman chariots, early steam cars and bicycles, and examples of fast cars and motorcycles through this century.

There will also be the Cartier design competition for old and beautiful cars, to be judged by a panel including Sir Norman Foster, Muriel Gray and Robbie Coltrane.

Friday 18 to Sunday 20 June, at Goodwood House, near Chichester. Tickets on the day cost pounds 10 for Friday, pounds 20 for Saturday. Sunday must be pre- booked, and costs pounds 25. You can also pre-book the other days at a discount, or buy a complete weekend ticket for pounds 40. Call 01243 755055 or fax 01243 755058

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Middleweight Designer

    £25000 - £26500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The On-Site division of the UK'...

    Sauce Recruitment: Financial Accountant -Home Entertainment

    £200 - £250 per day: Sauce Recruitment: 6 month contract (Initially)A global e...

    Sauce Recruitment: Financial Accountant -Home Entertainment

    £200 - £250 per day: Sauce Recruitment: 6 month contract (Initially)A global e...

    Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager

    £24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A new opportunity has arisen fo...

    Day In a Page

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project