Goodwood Festival of Speed: Good to know!

Fit for the Goodwood Festival of Speed: After a hiatus last year, the most famous motorsport event of the summer returns. Our guide through Goodwood's history gives all newcomers the basic info, refreshes the expert knowledge of established visitors and offers a livestream.
Text Michael Petersen
Photo Amy Shore

How did the idea for the Festival of Speed originate?
In 1948, Frederick Gordon-Lennox, the 9th Duke of Richmond, had the racetrack built on a disused military airfield. His grandson, Charles Gordon-Lennox, Earl of March and Kinrara, remembers: “I was eleven years old back then. I have never forgotten the sound of the race cars, the smell of fuel and tyres and the weary look on the drivers’ faces. Way back then, I promised myself that someday I would bring racing back to Goodwood”. No sooner said than done: in 1992, the founder’s grandson took over Goodwood from his father and just one year later celebrated with the first Festival of Speed.

Why are tickets only sold in advance?
This allows for excellent event planning. People will attend regardless of the weather. Some complain about the rain, others about the heat.

How can I follow the Festival of Speed from home?
As in previous years, the organisers are offering a free livestream for the comeback. The action will be broadcast live on YouTube throughout the weekend, and there are also offers to follow the festival on other social networks. The commentary is only available in English.

Why didn’t they begin racing on the old circuit right away instead of the hillclimb in front of Goodwood House?
It took a few years of planning and some tough fights with the authorities before the Earl of March was granted permission to race on the old circuit for five days of the year. But he didn’t want to wait that long once he took control of Goodwood in 1992. That’s why the first event held there was the Goodwood Hillclimb. That in itself is a tradition, too. In 1936, the Earl’s grandfather had held a hillclimb in the park – which he won at the wheel of a Lancia.

What makes Goodwood so successful?
First of all, it’s the name Goodwood. British petrolheads have not forgotten the old tradition. Secondly, the Earl hosted a proper garden party. And last but not least, he brought valuable historic and modern cars together with drivers from both times gone by and today. That’s what makes the Festival so attractive.

Why are spectators, drivers and even mechanics wearing period clothing during the Goodwood Revival on the old circuit?
The Earl of March and his team – which nowadays comprises of 600 full-time employees – requested the historic attire for the first Revival in 1998 to engage spectators in the event. Anyone wearing a modern baseball cap will feel out-of-place.

Why is there no dress code for the Festival of Speed?
The Goodwood Revival celebrates the races held between 1948 and 1966, drawing cars and sometimes drivers from that period. The Festival of Speed, however, spotlights cars ranging from 100 years old to new. Wearing historic clothing styles would not be in keeping with the event.

What does Goodwood have to offer besides motorsport?
Goodwood organizes three motorsport events: the Members’ Meeting, Festival of Speed and Goodwood Revival. They also hold the Glorious Goodwood horse race, which has already achieved a standing comparable to Ascot. In addition are golfing and wellness programs, hotels, an air show and much more. Since 2011, the Festival of Speed also features a large display of new cars, often called the most important car show in Britain; almost all car manufacturers show their current model line-up

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