The Goodwood brand of wet weather, it seemed to all who attended the 2007 Festival of Speed, must simply be better than the ordinary kind.
Though all three days of this year’s programme – which over the weekend was run on a record-breakers’ "Spark of Genius" theme – was often affected by thunderstorms and driving rain, practically every one of the promised great cars ran up the hill or appeared on static display (see gallery), and the usual sell-out crowd thronged Lord March’s Chichester estate.
As promised, a remarkably eclectic collection of stars and celebrities turned up, wowed the crowd, and departed (like the rest of us) with smiles on their faces.
Visitors were treated to flat-chat displays from the likes of the Bugatti Veyron, Maserati GranTurismo, Caparo T1, Aston Martin DBS, Gumpert Apollo, KTM X-Bow, even Mercedes’ new SLR McLaren Roadster, in the supercar run. Formula One cars past and present included Tyrrell’s awesome six-wheeler P34 from 1977, Honda’s RA301 (star of that TV ad), and Williams' 1987 championship-winning FW11.
The festival’s line-up of land speed record-breakers included the Napier-Railton Special, as driven recently by Steve Cropley, the Delage V12 driven to a world first 143mph in 1924, and one of Mercedes’ infamous ‘Blitzen Benzes’.
Pre-war Brooklands racers, Indy 500 racers, international sports car racers, contemporary world rally cars, TT racing motorbikes, classic CanAm cars, international racing saloons, Pikes Peak rally cars and Group B rally cars also roared up the hill.
Lewis Hamilton may have been centre of attention at the festival after his first two wins in F1, but he was joined by all three other current British F1 drivers, and all four were duly mobbed.
Those with an eye for the slightly less well known automotive celebrity may have bumped into rallying legend Michele Mouton and WTCC champion Andy Priaulx. More venerable stars like Stirling Moss, Jackie Stewart, Jochen Mass, Derek Bell and John Surtees also starred, while WRC rallying heroes Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae won the knowledgeable crowd’s deep admiration.
Autocar at the wheel
Those at the festival over the weekend may also have seen various Autocar staffers and contributors getting a drive up the hill. Editor-in-chief Steve Cropley drove Jaguar’s XJ13 sports car racer and features editor Mike Duff the Roush Ford GT 600 RE.
News editor Dan Stevens, on the other hand, was taken for a ride in the Maserati GranTurismo by Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, and Chris Harris took a ride in Caparo’s 1000bhp-per-tonne T1. Our man Colin Goodwin even got a passenger ride on the back of a Ducati 999 MotoGP superbike.