Goodwood Festival of Speed: The dream of an English lord 

The 2019 edition of The Goodwood Festival of Speed takes place next weekend in West Sussex, England. For four days motorsports’ fans will gather to enjoy an array of automobile-racing related activities (exhibitions, presentations, competitions).

As this year’s title explains: Speed Kings – Motorsport’s Record Breakers; the 27th edition of the festival will pay tribute to those machines and drivers that have accomplished legendary achievements across a range of different motorsport specialities. 

The event will pay homage to some memorable speed records, victories, pole positions, and many other milestones of the world of motorsports. The main course of the festivities, as it has been since 1993, will be the Hill Climb

The famous Hill Climb is a fantastic race against the clock within the grounds of the festival’s founder and host, Charles Henry Gordon-Lennox 11th Duke of Richmond, Lennox and Aubigny and 6th Duke of Gordon. This good-humoured, 64-year-old petrolhead, however, is fondly known as Lord March. Currently, F1 cars can not compete, although they can run on the track for safety reasons.

Legends of the Formula 1, Rally world (WRC), endurance (WEC) and even from the Dakar will come head to head against the 1.860 meters of the circuit that laps around Lord March’s estate. All of the participants are eager to try their luck at breaking the record set by Nick Heidfeld, who climbed the hill in 41,6 seconds on board a McLaren MP4/13 in 1999. Nobody has come close since. Actually, F1 cars no

A quarter of a million visitors are expected to attend the festival, attracted by the exciting schedule of activities, and the promise of plenty of doughnuts and the scent of burnt rubber in the air. The Goodwood Festival of Speed is one of the most important events in the United Kingdom and as such, it attracts numerous racing stars

Celebrities such as Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel (Formula1,Valentino Rossi (MotoGPor the multifaceted Ken Blockhave all taken part in the event in the past.  

The birth of the Goodwood Festival of Speed

The Goodwood Festival of Speed has become one of the most important events in the British motorsports’ calendar since its inception as a car-loving aristocrats’ dream. But how did it come to be?

Lord March’s immense state can be found in a picturesque corner of the southern English countryside in the locality of Chichester, West Sussex. His festival project was to disturb for a long weekend a year the idyllic tranquillity his estate. The sweet scent of the garden flowers would be replaced by that of the high-octane fuel.

The birdsong would be silenced by the symphonies of the V-12sThe mechanical beasts would be free to roam the nobleman’s dominium. On top of that, thousands of motorsport loving plebeians would descend onto the Lord’s lands. But it didn’t matter, a dream is a dream, and this dream started with a prohibition

Lord March’s property includes an imposing mansion surrounded by some far-reaching forests, a horse racing track and a circuit. Yes, a real-size racing circuit which had served to host many races between 1948 and 1966. 

The motorsport regulatory body of the time, however, dictated that, for the track to be used in competitions, its safety had to be improved with the addition of some chicanes. The family refused to modify the circuit and thus this was only used for training from then on. Bruce McLaren, founder of the Woking team, famously lost his life at the track in 1970, as he tested a CanAm vehicle. 

A few years later, Lord March started to feel nostalgic about the old competition days at his estate and so he devised a fabulous motorsport gathering. Only the most famous and successful vehicles from Formula 1, Rallies, NASCAR and those who had won legendary races such as the Dakar or the 24 Hours of Le Mans would be invited. Also welcomed were the owners of the most exclusive sports cars in the world, who would display their rolling works of art at the Goodwood vanity fair.


To make the event even more attractive, Lord March brought some both active and retired legends of the most important motorsport disciplines. Finally, and as it was to be expected from an English Lord, he invited the whole of the British nobility and gentry

The first edition of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, which took place on the 19th of June 1993, was a resounding success, breaking all expectations with over 20.000 attendees. That figure has since increased tenfold. 

Images of ‘Goodwood Festival of Speed’: Goodwood.

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