Neill Barston reports on the launch of the 2011 Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Goodwood Revival.
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, which will be released this summer and has its engine assembled by West Sussex firm Ricardo, proved a hit with motorsports press who are already hailing the car as a world-beater.
It struck just the right high-revving note for the joint launch of the Festival of Speed and the Revival events at the famous motoring venue which is planning its most ambitious meetings yet.
With nine F1 teams expected to attend including winners Red Bull, Goodwood’s programme will offer plenty of high-octane thrills for its legion of race fans.
Clearly, it’s not 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’s 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 a touch of added glamour with the appearance of model Yasmin Le Bon, who looked perfectly at ease alongside the Jaguar E-type, which celebrates its 50th anniversary at the Festival of Speed this 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 car, dating from the late 1890s.
The eye-watering list of vehicles which visitors will have the chance to get up close to this summer and autumn spanned everything from a Grand Prix winning 1950s Maserati 250F, to brand-new supercars including the distinctive Ferarri 458, Lotus Evora S and 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 including 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 was ‘not resting on its laurels’, but was quietly confident 2011 would be just as successful.
He explained the theme of this year’s Festival of Speed event would be the development of motorsports engineering and design through the ages.
Mr Axon 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 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 sports car, and modern F1 with nine teams here.
“There will be rally cars and current world rally teams and this is going to be a great motorsports festival.”
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.
“I am really looking forward to having so many great cars and drivers at the Festival Of Speed to celebrate our ‘racing revolutions theme.’
“For me it is always magical to see so many of the world’s greatest drivers, riders and machines in action.”
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
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