Get ready for Goodwood's 'Festival of Speed'

Forget the credit crunch and celebrate some of the best drivers and the finest vehicles from motor sport past and present

This weekend a collection of fast, rare and expensive cars will be gathered in the heart of the Sussex countryside for the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The festival started out as a bit of fairly informal fun, organised by the Earl of March. Now in its sixteenth year the festival is established as one of the key motoring events of the year.

Several manufacturers are taking the opportunity to launch new models at the festival. Members of the public will get their first glimpse look at new models such as the latest Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport, the Porsche Panamera S and Lotus’ latest model the Evora. At a slightly more attainable level Ford will show the acclaimed Focus RS and Vauxhall will launch the VXR version of its Insignia.

The latest road cars are not what draw the fans every year; it is the opportunity to see some of the great drivers, riders and vehicles of past and present. This year over 115 star drivers - a record breaking number - will be taking part. Those drivers include current F1 stars Lewis Hamilton and Jensen Button. Rallying has not been overlooked with Sebastien Loeb the World Rally Championship holder driving his Citroen C4 WRC car.

Yesterday’s heroes include Damon Hill, ex Jordan and Ferrari driver Eddie Irvine, John Surtees, Jackie Stewart and Sir Stirling Moss. Driving isn’t an exclusively male pursuit either. Fast ladies include Desire Wilson, the only female driver to win a Grand Prix race, who will drive a Porsche 356 and Taylor Earnhardt, daughter of NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, who will drive her father’s racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

Away from the track there is always a fine collection of display vehicles and an impressive large-scale sculpture outside Goodwood House. This year a 35-metre high installation will mark the centenary of Audi. There is also the Cartier Style et Luxe celebration of some of the most beautiful cars in the world and the FoS-TECH display showcasing some of the latest technology from the motoring world.

For those lucky enough to have tickets the Goodwood Festival of Speed promises to be three days of petrolhead heaven (from 3-5 July).