‘Addicted to Winning – The Unbeatable Champions of Motorsport’ was the theme for the 22nd edition of the ever expanding Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Fittingly, the main sculpture was dedicated to Mercedes-Benz, who celebrate 120 years of motorsport in 2014.
Equally steeped in racing pedigree is Maserati, who almost exclusively built competition cars before the War and celebrates their centenary this year. It was also not surprising that Mercedes, Mercedes-Benz and Maserati competition cars featured strongly ‘on the hill.’
In addition to these celebrations, the Festival of Speed also marked the 50th anniversary of John Surtees winning the F1 World Championship. Other machines in action over the weekend ranged from some of the earliest ‘Pioneering Giants’ to the three of the four class winners of the most recent 24 Hours of Le Mans, including the Audi that grabbed the outright victory.
While the hill climb remains the main event of the Festival of Speed, there are many more side numbers, which include the Moving Motor Show, the de facto British Motor Show, the Cartier Style et Luxe Concours d’Elegance and the annual Bonhams Festival of Speed sale.
Bonhams Festival of Speed sale:
Following a record shattering sale in 2013, Bonhams had a lot to live up this year. The British auctioneer’s staff had certainly worked hard to make sure they did, with a well stocked line-up for the sale Friday as a result.
Headlining the sale was the mighty Ferrari 375 Plus, similar to the car that won Le Mans almost exactly sixty years ago to the date. Although it has had an interesting life, the fact that one is not likely to come at auction or on sale for that matter, prompted a spirited bidding war, which ended just shy of GBP 11 million ($18.8 million USD).
Other top sellers included a very early De Dietrich from the Michael Banfield Collection (GBP 1 million/$1.7 million USD), while a first generation Lamborghini Countach was sold for a record-breaking GBP 953,500 ($1.6 million USD).
One of our favorites in the sale, the ex-Graham Hill Lotus 49B Cosworth, found a new owner for a somewhat more modest GBP 673,500 ($1.1 million USD). Sadly, failing to attract bids over the pre-sale reserve, were the two major Aston Martins in the auction, the Ulster competition car and the company-saving Atom. At the end of the four-hour bidding frenzy, the sale totalled GBP 22.6 million ($38.7 million USD).
Cartier Style et Luxe Concours d’Elegance:
Held for the 20th time in conjunction with the Festival of Speed was the concours d’elegance sponsored by luxury brand Cartier.
As on the hill, the Mercedes-Benzes and Maseratis also featured strongly in the concours d’elegance, which included special classes for the supercharged Mercedes-Benz of the 1920s and 1930s and for the coach-built Maseratis of the 1950s.
They formed part of rather eclectic mix of machines lined up, which ranged from delicate Amilcars and Bugattis to American pony cars and very rare mid-engined machinery like the rotary-engined Mazda RX500 show car. Our eye was particularly caught by the ‘Best Foot Forward’ class dedicated to recent front-engined super cars. This featured rare beasts like the Lister Storm and the TVR Cerbera Speed 12.
The cars were judged by an equally eclectic panel, which included noted collected collector Anthony Lord Bamford and also six-time Olympic champion cyclist turned racer Sir Chris Hoy. After picking the individual class winners, they very deservedly tabbed Egon Zweimuller’s striking Maserati A6GCS/53 Pinin Farina Coupe as ‘Best of Show.’
120 years of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
Although perhaps not quite as tall as his earlier creations, the central feature designed by Jerry Judah was nonetheless very impressive. Running over Goodwood House for the first time, it represented two roads where the past and present met in the form of the 1934 Mercedes-Benz W25 and the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix winning Mercedes-Benz W04 respectively.
Perhaps an even more awe-inspiring sight was that of the three surviving Mercedes racers built for the 1914 French Grand Prix. With tensions already very high across the continent, a proxy war was fought in what was labelled at the time as the ‘Race of the Century.’ Among the cars here at Goodwood was the actual winner of the last race held before the Great War, brought from the United States by collector George Wingard.
These cars starred in the ‘Pioneering Greats’ class alongside a slightly earlier 1908 Mercedes Grand Prix car, while other notable competition cars from the German company were found in many more classes. Among them was the 1939 Tripoli Grand Prix winning W165, driven by Sir Jackie Stewart and the 1954 W196, reunited with original driver Sir Stirling Moss.
Perhaps as compensation for not being featured on the main sculpture, Maserati’s centenary was marked with by a separate class.
A remarkably large number of pre-War cars were present, which included the ex-Tazio Nuvolari Belgian Grand Prix winning 8CM, one of just four V8-engined V8RIs produced in 1935 and the 8CTF driven to victory in the Indy 500 in 1939 and 1940.
Of the post-War cars, the most outstanding car was most certainly Lukas Huni’s 250F, which was used by Juan Manuel Fangio to score his final and greatest Grand Prix victory, at the Nurburgring in 1957 to clinch his fifth World Championship. Representing the Italian company’s more recent competition successes were no fewer than three of the all-conquering MC12s.
A familiar sight were the works liveried ‘long-tail’ example used to score the factory’s first international win for many decades at Oschersleben in 2004, and the Vitaphone backed machine driven to two outright wins in the Spa 24 Hours.
The third example, resplendent in the Maserati Centenary logo was a brand new car, built on a spare chassis. This was driven up the hill with great verve by owner and most prolific MC12 exponent Michael Bartels … but more about that later.
Only at Goodwood:
One of the strengths of Goodwood is that it manages to attract not only the famous and successful pieces of motorsport history but also some of its most unusual. This was typified better in 2014 by no other car than the Maki AF101 Grand Prix car.
Built in England in 1974 with Japanese backing, the project was shrouded in mystery at the time and even the driver name on the cockpit shroud was fictitious. Seen in Europe for the first time since 1974, the car at Goodwood was the prototype and as such it still features the futuristic body, which was never used in anger.
Another 1970s Cosworth-engined F1 car of note was the recently resurrected LEC CRP1, used by privateer David Purley in 1977. He famously survived a monumental accident at Silverstone, generating a record breaking 179.8 g. It was this car that was rebuilt around a new tub that was seen in action for the first time since the accident. The owners also have the second LEC and plan to race them side by side for the first time in the near future.
Among the many other highlights in action were the unique Porsche 935 JLP-4, a very early Toyota Group C car and the 1978 Indy 500 winning Lola, reunited with its original driver Al Unser Sr. Another evocative sight was a pair of Lotus 79 Cosworths running nose to tail with the drivers wearing replica helmets of Mario Andretti and Ronnie Peterson.
Gunning for it:
While many cars are run as demonstration only, several are always timed and, this year, this included the supercars for the first time as well. Embodying the ‘Addicted to Winning’ ethos, we spoke to several of the professional drivers in the non-timed cars, who admitted to using their own watches or phones to time their runs as well.
Expected to be a showdown between the Ferrari LaFerrari, the Porsche 918 Spyder and the McLaren P1, it was actually a spirited drive from young Jan Mardenborough in the latest Nismo Nissan GT-R that topped the tables.
It was not all good news for Nissan as Sir Chris Hoy crashed ‘his’ GT-R heavily at Molecomb during the timed session. For the historic cars, a new qualifying session was held on Saturday afternoon to establish the running order during the shoot-out. Driving a heavily modified Aston Martin V8 Vantage, the seasoned Festival of Speed participant Anthony Reid had a major off during this qualifying session, throwing oil all over the top section of the track. This sadly halted all activities on Saturday, forcing three of the six afternoon batches to be scratched.
There were no such issues for Sebastien Loeb who, in only his second run of the weekend, set the fastest time on Sunday in his Pikes Peak winning Peugeot. Second, with a 1.2-second deficit, was a very determined Bartels with the centenary MC12.
Event host, Charles Lord March, has a lot of friends in high places but he used his most influential one to prove weather forecasters wrong for three straight days.
Instead of the thunderstorms predicted, we were actually treated to beautiful sunny spells while the odd drop of rain did nothing to dampen the spirits. As always, the Festival of Speed provided a unique spectacle that, despite all the exciting new additions, was once again headlined by the historic and more recent competition and road cars that took to the hill.
Click HERE to view a 340-image gallery from the event.