FoS: Motoring hosts are fans of ‘quintessentially English’ event

Jonny Needell and Tiff Needell
Jonny Needell and Tiff Needell
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Two TV presenters have praised the Festival of Speed before filming part of their new show at the event.

Former racing driver Tiff Needell, and his co-host Jonny Smith, were at Goodwood to produce the first part of Forbidden Drives, their upcoming series, for MotorTrend On Demand.

Tiff said: “Where better to come to on a sunny day at the Goodwood Festival? It’s just a magnificent place.”

Jonny elborated, adding: “I think it’s also, for American viewers, quintessentially English isn’t it? I mean luckily it’s not raining but it doesn’t get more British for the majority of American viewers and people from outside of Britain who haven’t been to it, and it’s held in very high regard in Britain as well. In one place and one British stately home, you’ve got more expensive metal, race cars and road cars than anywhere in the world really apart from Pebble Beach and those sorts of places.”

The pair presented together on Fifth Gear, Channel 5’s hit motoring television, and are reunited for Forbidden Drives.

When asked to described the show, Jonny said: “The show, Forbidden Drives, is essentially... because Motor Trend is an American brand, although it’s globally accessible, this is all about the cars that we can get in Britain - past and present - that you could never get in America.

“So they could be complete new different cars or they could be a derivative of a model that you can’t get in America and really it’s like to say to Americans ‘it’s such a shame that you couldn’t get this because it’s great’.”

“To give you an example like Renault; you can’t buy a Renault in America so you can’t buy any of the sporty Clios, Meganes, any of those cool things and the previous generation Ford Focus RS, Americans couldn’t get and there was a bit of an uproar about that because you could get all of the Focuses apart from the hot one.”

Tiff, who also presented Top Gear in its first series, said: “We’re actually just delving in to this now, this is new to us as well. This is all happened about the last month.

“It’s entertaining us you know? Just beginning to think. It could be an off-roader, it could be a small sports car, it could be a hot hatch, it could be a big saloon car...

“We don’t actually know yet what you can’t get in America so until we’ve actually looked more at what you can’t get in America we’ll be able to find things out.”

The Festival of Speed is the perfect place for the duo to explore the scores of vehicles on display and for an ex-pro like Tiff it’s a chance to relive his youth with the cars that drew him in to the sport.

“The paddock up that hill just has all the dream cars that I watched as a kid. Goodwood was the first track I came to - I was about a three-year-old - and this is where my love of motorsport began. I’m a huge race fan. I used to watch Jim Clark, Stirling Moss race around Goodwood and now I can get to the paddock and see all the very cars that I watched 40 years ago.”

:: Forbidden Drives will be available for streaming in September on MotorTrend On Demand