GLIDING into view outside Goodwood House, there was plenty of fanfare surrounding the entrance of McLaren’s stunning new supercar, The MP4-12C.
The luxury motor, whose engine is being assembled by West Sussex firm Ricardo, proved a hit with press from around the world who are already hailing the car, which arrives on our streets this May, as a world-beater.
It struck just the right high-revving note for the joint launch of the Festival of Speed and Revival events at the famous motoring venue which is planning its most ambitious feasts for the eyes yet.
With nine F1 teams expected to attend including the winning Red Bull team, it’s certainly expected to be thrill-packed.
So it is not at all hard to understand why the likes of Pagham-born former F1 racer Derek Bell rates it among his favourite motorsports events. In an interview he gave me recently, he revealed he has enjoyed it more than ever- which is a common reaction from the huge crowds who attend these very special gatherings.
The launch day was given added glamour with the appearance of model Yasmin Le Bon, who looked perfectly at ease alongside the Jaguar E type.
This legendary car celebrates its 50th anniversary at the Festival of Speed which takes place at the end of June. The marque’s sleek new latest entrant the Jaguar XK RS was on display to contrast the half a century’s design development.
One particularly eye-catching vehicle on show was a Benz ‘Patent Motorwagen’ which is widely accepted as the world’s first ever motorcar, dating from the late 1890s.
Quite what drivers of that age would have made of the vast array of rapier-like sports cars being put through their paces round the circuit is anyone’s guess. But they would doubtless at the very least approve of the wealth of ambitious motorsports designs that have emerged down the decades.
The eye-watering list of vehicles which will visitors will have the chance to get up close to this summer and autumn spanned everything from a Grand Prix winning 50’s Maserati 250F, to brand new supercars. These included the distinctive Ferarri 458, Lotus Evora S, Caparo T1. There was also a UK first viewing of Morgan’s three wheeler car, whose quirky design invited plenty of approving nods.
Amid the wealth of national media, celebrities including golfer Nick Faldo and comedian Ross Noble mingled with a number of drivers such as former F1 racer Mika Hakkinen.
Since his retirement from the top tier of motorsports the Finnish ace continues to be an ambassador for Johnnie Walker’s anti- drink driving campaign.
He said: “I’ve been with Johnnie Walker for four years now and travelled the world on our campaign which has been great. I’d like to thank Goodwood for having us here- I’ve been here three or four times and it has been unbelievable and we’ll be looking forward to this year’s events.”
Gary Axon, PR manager for Goodwood said demand for tickets had already surpassed expectations. With previous years being a sell-out, he said the venue is ‘not resting on its laurels,’ but was quietly confident 2011 would be just as successful.
He said: “We’ve a great line up of cars for the festival of Speed and the Revival events. On display we’ve had a row of Indy cars representing 100 years of Indy 500 racing in America, which is the biggest event over there and our celebration will be the biggest outside of the USA.
“We will also be marking the 50th anniversary of the E type jaguar which is the most iconic British racing car and modern F1 with 9 teams here. There will be rally cars and current world rally teams. These are going to be great motorsports festivals.”
He explained the theme of this year’s Festival of Speed event would be the development of motorsports engineering and design through the ages.
Offering his traditional speech, Lord March, who is a life-long racing devotee, was equally optimistic that despite the ongoing recession, the 2011 season would be one to remember.
He said: “When I was a boy I often dreamt of these cars and now after doing this for 20 years it’s great to say that I’ve either been in them or driven most of them.
“I think this year’s events have a lot of potential and we’ll have the greatest collection of cars in the world at any one time here.”
The Festival of speed takes place from June 30-July 3 and Goodwood Revival is on September 16-18. To order advance 2011 Festival of Speed tickets, please contact the Ticket Hotline: 01243 755055 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.goodwood.com