Goodwood Festival of Speed 2023
A Glimpse into the Future, a nod to the past and a race through automotive excellence
The Goodwood festivals have long been hailed as the epitome of automotive excellence when it comes to motor shows. While the weather may not be quite as reliable, Festival of Speed (FoS) remains a fantastic event to attend, wherever your passion for motoring lies. Here is a place where history meets innovation amidst the green grandeur of the Goodwood Estate in West Sussex.
In 2023, the Festival continued its tradition of uniting automotive enthusiasts from around the world. It provides a unique platform for manufacturers to showcase their latest creations, celebrate motoring heritage, and push the boundaries of automotive technology.
Walking into the the roar of thoroughbred engines, inhaling the heady mix of oil and petrol, amid the magnificence of the rolling English countryside may seem a contradiction for the senses. However, in glorious warm sunshine, it’s a step into the warm comfort of nostalgia; that favourite article of clothing that always fits you, dresses you in confidence and relaxes you in good humour. There is the air of tingling excitement, the fragrance past success and the promise of entertainment and marvel. This is an event that epitomises the evolving landscape of the automotive world, the pushing of technical and styling boundaries, to celebrate well oiled glories of the past to the cutting edge of the electric age.
Innovation Takes the Wheel
Manufacturers use the event to unveil their latest projects and groundbreaking technologies. These will undoubtedly shape the future of the motoring industry. Electric vehicles (EVs) play a central role, underlining the growing shift towards sustainable mobility.
A view of ‘Porsche: The Art of Dreams ‘Dream Big’’ – Matt Alexander/PA Wire.
The headline-grabbing debut was the Tesla Roadster 2.0. Tesla’s latest creation promised an astonishing 0-60 mph time of under 1.5 seconds, taking electric performance to an entirely new level. In engineering, it figures like these that people marvel at, as well as the Roadster’s sleek design, cutting-edge technology and Tesla’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of electric power.
However, Tesla was not the only company making waves in the EV space. Rivian showcased its R1T electric pickup, highlighting the growing popularity of SUV styling and electric power trains.
Meanwhile, MG who have failed so far to live up to their sporting British heritage under Chinese ownership, showcased what will definitely bring fans of the marque, old and new, behind the wheel. The MG Cyberster is an electric two-door, two-seater sports car recalling the brand’s tradition, drawing a number of styling cues from the classic MGB Roadster. Hi-tech, a range of 500 miles and 0-62mph in less than three seconds. It even has interactive ‘Magic Eye’ headlights that open when switched on.
On the supercar front, McLaren introduced the McLaren Elva Roadster. Boasting a 804-horsepower V8 engine and a design that embodies nerdy automotive artistry and engineering prowess. It’s a reminder that the pursuit of speed and power remain a driving force in the automotive world.
Celebrating the historic
While the Festival of Speed is always forward-looking, it also pays homage to the rich history of motoring. Classic cars (and bikes) from different eras graced the Goodwood hill climb, providing a vivid reminder of how far the automotive industry has come. The sight of vintage Formula 1 cars, roaring along the same track as their modern counterparts, was a powerful testament to the enduring passion for motorsport. After all, it is the likes of F1 that delivers so much of the technological advancements the save lives on the roads and even charge up our electric future.
Pic: The Duke of Richmond races the hill climb in classic Jaguar D-type – Matt Alexander/PA Wire.
Goodwood’s unparalleled mix of classic road, race and rally cars continues to provide refuge to those enthusiasts for whom there will simply never be any substitute for the raw sensory appeal of unburned four-star and unfiltered exhaust notes.
Porsche chose Sussex to host its 75th birthday party, and the Le Mans legends, dune-bashing Dakar dominators and streamlined mid-century sports cars it had shipped over from Stuttgart provided a deafening and enthralling festival highlight. That’s to say nothing of the huge array of vintage racers, ultra-exclusive supercars, Formula 1 stars and Group B heroes that continue to provide endless entertainment for fans of all ages throughout the festival.
Living on the edge
There were moments it seemed the Festival of Speed’s 30th running might be memorable for altogether different reasons. An uneasy 15 minutes on the opening Thursday afternoon had crowds waiting with bated breath to see if two spectators hit by the detached wheel of a fast-moving classic Jaguar were seriously injured. Relief was palpable when they got to their feet after a brief recuperation.
The new were vulnerable too, with Hyundai’s RN22e prototype making a high-speed exit from the Tarmac at Molecomb corner earlier in the day. Thank fully the painstakingly arranged hay bales proved thankfully impenetrable. But it also goes to show that Goodwood, both FoS and Revival, are about real cars, real racing and with that, real dangers. Even if the vehicles are often worth many millions of pounds, the owners come here to show their true present and historical capabilities – its a competitive business and what makes the Goodwood experiences so good; it’s the real thing.
But while incidents couldn’t dampen the Earl of Richmond’s annual garden party, the British summer weather could. With a Met Office weather warning in place for Saturday, organisers wisely deciding that combining thousands of spectators, an array of temporary grandstands, a 30-metre-high sculpture decorated with millions of pounds of classic Porsches, and 50mph winds would be unwise.
A Playground for Enthusiasts
One of the Festival’s unique qualities is its accessibility to enthusiasts of all ages. Whether you’re a lifelong petrolhead or just discovering a passion for cars, Goodwood has something to offer. The event’s diverse range of activities and attractions ensures that everyone finds their niche.
Beyond the hillclimb, the Festival of Speed offers a jaw-dropping display of automotive excellence. The “Cartier Style et Luxe” concours d’elegance brought together a collection of the most beautiful and rare automobiles from around the world. From classic Bugattis and Ferraris to modern masterpieces like the McLaren Speedtail, this event was a visual feast for those who appreciate automotive design.
The “Supercar Paddock” was another highlight, featuring a lineup of the latest and greatest supercars from manufacturers like Lamborghini, Ferrari, Porsche, and more. Seeing these cutting-edge machines up close and personal was a reminder of the incredible advances in automotive technology and performance.
But it wasn’t just about high-end supercars. The Festival of Speed also celebrated the grassroots motorsport scene with displays of rally cars, drift machines, and even vintage motorcycles. It’s a testament to the diversity of the automotive world, and it was refreshing to see all aspects of motorsport and car culture represented.
For those interested in more interactive experiences, the Goodwood Action Sports arena provided a heart-pounding spectacle of extreme stunts and motorsport demonstrations. From high-flying motocross tricks to precision driving displays, the arena offered non-stop entertainment for adrenaline junkies.
Meanwhile, Rallying was racing through the trees of the wooded area of the estate and dirt tracks. From giants of the past, to today’s winners. All were throwing up the dust and gravel as they drifted around bends, screamed down the the straights and snaked through the trees.
Festival goers attend the Future Lab – John Nguyen/PA Wire
Family friendly activities were also abundant, with the Future Lab offering a glimpse into the cutting-edge technologies that will shape the future of transportation. From autonomous vehicles to flying cars, it was a captivating journey into the world of tomorrow’s mobility. Space travel and the discovering the deepest depths of the Earth’s oceans also featured with breathtaking developments that will propel our future understanding. There were also plenty of robots, VirtualReality advances and the increasing popularity of drones on show.
Always a pleasure
Goodwood Festival of Speed remains a remarkable testament to the ever-evolving landscape of the automotive world. Celebrities are in abundance, not least from the world of motorsports, whether motorcycling, F1 or rally. One of the standout moments came when a group of Formula 1 legends, including Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, and Fernando Alonso, took to the hill in historic and contemporary F1 cars.
Rubbing shoulders with automotive legends and celebrities is a popular aspect of the experience. This year was no exception, with appearances by racing icons also included the likes Sir Jackie Stewart and Jenson Button, as well as famous faces from the world of entertainment.
On your marks….
Festival of Speed, like its sister event Revival (taking place this weekend – September 8-10), is a magical experience for anyone interested in motoring, history and technology. It’s not just about cars; it’s a celebration of human ingenuity, competiton, creativity and the unbridled passion that drives us forward. It’s a reminder that the world of automotive excellence is an ever-revolving wheel, and Goodwood is where it all comes full circle.
Festival of Speed 2024 will take place from Thursday 11-Sunday 14 July, with tickets due to go on sale on Monday 6 November. Find out more here.