Three letters. One location. And anyone with even a drop of petrol in their veins knows that we are talking about a little garden party in West Sussex with a bit of a hillclimb and a few nice cars scattered about.
There isn't another event like Goodwood's annual tribute to all things fast, noisy, spectacular and beautiful and when we say that, we mean anywhere in the world. The eleventh Duke of Richmond and his team once again held the Festival of Speed after a 2 year absence across the 8-11 July and welcomed thousands of motoring enthusiasts to the grounds of the estate. The festival was held under the Events Research Programme (ERP), enabling it to safely go ahead.
You may think that “anywhere in the world” is an exaggeration but where else do you find Tom Cruise rubbing shoulders with Sebastian Loeb, watch Sir Jackie Stewart reunited with his world championship Tyrrell 003 (which his son and a certain Adrian Newey also drove at the event) or rising star Lando Norris pilot an ex-Senna McLaren MP4/5 up the famous hill?
And that is before you consider the unveiling of Lotus's final petrol powered car, Aston Martin's stunning hypercar or the thrill of watching some of the best drivers from across the world of motorsport attempting to be the fastest to cover the bumpy and twisting 1.16 mile climb through what is effectively the garden of Goodwood House.
Add to that the purpose-made rally course in the woods behind the house, the amazing centrepiece sculpture found directly in front (this year celebrating Lotus) and not forgetting Cartier's 'Style Et Luxe' paddock where you will find the most elegant examples of the motor car throughout the decades, and perhaps it is clear why this fantastic weekend is genuinely unique and really rather special.
Highlights for 2021, in no particular order, included:
Goodwood has become a platform for many manufacturers to showcase their latest wares, from cars for all of us through to the most exotic, fast and expensive that money can buy (and, occasionally, prototypes that even the wealthiest can't have just yet).
Choosing a star car is always difficult. We think that two cars share the honours this year and both are home grown.
Firstly Lotus's Emira. This very good looking small sports car was launched a few days prior to the Festival but this was the first chance the public got to see the car in the flesh. Available with either a Mercedes AMG 4 cylinder or Toyota V6 engine choice, the car is aimed at Alpine's A110 and Porsche's Cayman, with prices starting at around £60,000.
Three gearboxes will also be available, including a manual and Lotus will continue to offer an exposed gear shift mechanism, as with versions of the Elise, Exige and Evora models.
Pricing, performance and specifications appear to be on par with the nearest rivals and of particular note is the interior, where Lotus has created an environment capable of meeting the requirements which are by now expected in this sector, including touch screens with individual configuration functionality and even driver assistance options.
The now familiar bonded aluminium chassis, first seen in the Elise 25 years ago, forms the basis for the Emira but almost every other chassis component is new.
It will also be Lotus's final petrol powered motor car before the Norfolk-based manufacturer switches to a fully electric range. Lotus reported strong interest in the car during the festival and it isn't hard to see why as it really is a very attractive car, both inside and out.
Next, Aston Martin. When a car is designed by Adrian Newey and his team at Red Bull Racing, you know it's going to be good before you even see or hear it. When it's named Valkyrie, with its links to Norse mythology, then it simply has to live up to the sum of its parts and design.
The festival saw the Aston Martin Valkyrie take to the tarmac for its first official public demonstration and it's fair to say that it delivered. Featuring a wealth of technology taken directly from Formula One from chassis design, to suspension and brakes, it most noticeably eschews the use of large spoilers, instead using venture tunnels beneath the car to create significant downforce without additional drag.
Weight saving extends from the use of carbon throughout, to a thinner and lighter front badge and headlights, demonstrating an obsessive quest for lightness that is not dissimilar to the McLaren F1.
At the heart of the Valkyrie is a 6.5 litre V12 engine. No turbocharger or supercharger and yet it still manages to develop an eye watering 1,000bhp at an equally outrageous 10,500rpm making it the most powerfully normally aspirated engine ever produced for a road car. And that's before the KERS system, which adds a further 160bhp.
Only 150 will be made, with a further 25 AMR track-only cars and with a price expected to be up to £3,000,000.
Eclectic. Exotic. Staggering. Just a few of the superlatives that could be used to describe the variety of motor racing vehicles at Goodwood. From the very earliest racing cars right through to today's machinery, you can not only get up close but, in many cases, see them being demonstrated – at times in exactly the way their maker intended.
Due to testing rules, this year's F1 cars don't run up the hill but Mercedes managed to make up for that by bringing their 2019 championship winning car and, not to be outdone, Ferrari, William, McLaren and Red Bull all brought cars to the party too.
For rally fans, there was a true delight as Girardo & Co. brought a very special car to the festival – the Citroen C4 with which Sebastian Loeb won 4 rounds of the 2008 championship, helping secure the fourth of his nine WRC victories.
Max and his team didn't stop there either. They also brought cars including a pair of Subaru Impreza WRC's – one ex-McRae and the other, naturally, ex-Burns and a Citroen ZZ Rallye Raid; tall and ungainly but deeply wonderful at the same time.
Touring cars were well represented, with highlights including a glimpse at the 2022 BTCC hybrid Toyota Corolla and a hugely impressive run by current BTCC driver Jake Hill in a Group A Nissan Skyline GTR32; more on this later.
In recent years, the quintessentially English country garden setting of Goodwood has welcomed the drifters. We aren't talking about the R&B group either – these are the racing drivers who spend more time sideways than facing forward and who make cars do things which seem almost impossible. They are a great addition to the festival line-up and the crowds once again loved watching a variety of drivers making their cars dance.
Of particular note was the 1968 Dodge Charger piloted by Alexandre Claudin. The car features the huge rear wing from the famous Roadrunner model and is powered by a Chevrolet LS3 V8 engine and Claudin managed to successfully wreath the front of Goodwood House in clouds of atomized rubber.
Two wheeled motorsport always plays a part in any Goodwood event and the festival is no exception, with 2021 featuring Barry Sheen's first championship winning bike as part of a celebration of Suzuki's 50 years in motorcycle Grand Prix racing.
Dakar Rally winning bikes and stuntmen rounded out the motorcycle action, including Britain's first Dakar winner Sam Sunderland on his winning KTM.
We're gonna rock down to…
This year the festival included its widest display of EV's yet. Named Electric Avenue, cars as diverse as the 2,000hp Lotus Evija and Citroen eC4, the stand was designed to be a preview of motoring in the run-up to the 2030 ban on ICE powered new cars.
Personnel from manufacturers were on hand to guide guests through the EV process, from buying to running and, of course, the question of range and charging.
On the hill, EV's were represented by models such as the new Polestar 2 Experimental, Rimac Nevera and the aforementioned Evija – their swift but silent progress in stark contrast to the sounds of many litres of high octane petrol being burnt by their ICE powered siblings.
For many, the highlight of the festival is the shootout, where drivers attempt to pilot their machines up the bumpy, twisting and technically demanding 1.1 mile hillclimb as fast as possible, the goal being the time of 41 seconds, set by Nick Heidfeld driving a McLaren MP4/13 Formula One car in 1999, before changes to testing meant that F1 cars could no longer set official times.
Changeable weather throughout the weekend meant that times moved around and as Sunday afternoon approached, it was unclear who would claim this year's bragging rights. Long-time festival star Justin Law's Bud Light liveried Jaguar XKR-12D fell victim to the greasy conditions on the Friday, clipping the infamous flint wall and ending up in the bales. Law has previously been quickest up the hill and had already set a sub 47 second time. Happily, he emerged unscathed and will no doubt be back again to entertain crowds – piloting a Group C car on this course in a time close to a Formula One car is no mean feat.
The weather played a part again on Sunday. Jake Hill muscled the Skyline GTR across the finish line in an astonishing 48.96 seconds – the BTCC driver's first time at the festival. As his run ended, light rain was observed at points on the course and, over the next few attempts, it seemed that Hill would emerge as an unlikely (but very popular) victor as other drivers struggled with the conditions, which might have been described by Top Gear as 'mildly moist'.
GT driver Rob Bell, on the final run of the day, triumphed. Piloting the McLaren 720S GTX3, he stopped the clock at 45.01 seconds in the frankly amazingly menacing looking machine from Woking. Hill was relegated to a still credible fifth, with Travis Pastrana in a Subaru, Jeremy Smith in a Spice-Cosworth and Harry King driving a new Porsche 992 Cup finishing ahead.
There was also an appearance by former Indycar driver Sam Schmidt. After suffering paralysis from the shoulders down in an accident in 2000, he developed an autonomous car which is controlled by head movements. A truly inspirational figure, he began work on the vehicle with Arrow Electronics and made his festival debut this year.
So there you have it. Three letters doesn't do this amazing weekend justice and neither do a couple of thousand words. It has been said that you need a full weekend at the Festival of Speed to fully appreciate everything that it has to offer and we wholeheartedly agree. It really is a motorsport celebration like no other, anywhere in the world.
We can't wait for 2022!