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Flashback: History of the Goodwood Festival of Speed


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Flashback: History of the Goodwood Festival of Speed

The Goodwood Festival of Speed starts this weekend so, at Sell Your Jamjar, we thought we would take a look back at its history and find out why it has become such a must-see event for anybody interested in cars.

Held at the Goodwood Motor Circuit at Goodwood House in Wessex House, the event is a hill climb race where drivers compete against clock which features many historic racing vehicles.

The Goodwood Festival of Speed was founded by aristocrat, Charles Gordon-Lennox, now 60, and otherwise known as Lord March or the Earl of March in 1993. He was keen to bring motor racing back to the historic Goodwood Motor Circuit, opened by his grandfather Freddie Richmond who staged its first race meeting in 1948.

However Lord March did not have the necessary permit to host a race at the circuit so he decided to use his own grounds instead. The first event attracted around 25,000 racing fans despite it clashing with the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Lord March ensured that the Festival of Speed never conflicted with Le Mans or Formula One in future.

The appeal of Goodwood is that spectators are only a few metres from the action and only separated by straw bales from the circuit. Visitors can also free to walk around the paddocks and see the drivers.

Former Formula One driver, Nick Heidfeld, who drove for Williams and BMW Sauber but never won a race, holds the record time for the hill climb. Set in 1999, the German powered his McLaren MP4/13 to 41.6 seconds at 100.385 mph. Now F1 cars are no longer allowed to carry official timed runs due to safety reasons.

In 1994, Lord March added a Saturday to the Festival of Speed which originally ran on a Sunday and two years later, it became a three-day event with Friday included and then Thursday too. At Sell Your Jamjar, we wondered if it might eventually become a week!

Since 2010, the Goodwood Festival of Speed added the Moving Motor Show as part of the weekend which gives buyers of new cars the chance to test new cars on the famous circuit.

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