Once a year, car connoisseurs and speed freaks gather together at Goodwood House, Essex, to witness the fast, the furious and the utterly fantastic. This year’s 17th Festival of Speed held last weekend was no exception. A crowd of over 150,000 saw the fastest man on earth drive Jaguar’s fastest, Renault’s zero emission concept, Ferrari climb the hill in under a minute, Audi celebrate 100 years, Maserati’s newest, and Porsche set a new world record…on foot.
The theme of this year’s event was “True Grit – Epic Feats of Endurance”, but the festival wasn’t at all difficult to endure. In fact, one of the great things about Goodwood is that, thanks to the beautiful locale and being separated from the track only by straw bales, it’s actually very intimate and welcoming, allowing visitors to see cars and drivers at close quarters. And what cars those were…
Wing Commander Andy Green was the first person to break the sound barrier on land when he recorded 763.035mph in the Thrust SuperSonic Car in 1997. On Sunday at Goodwood, he took it a little slower in Jaguar’s XFR prototype which, nonetheless, reached 225.675mph on the Bonneville Flats last year.
Jaguar also showcased a pumped-up XKR, with the 5.0-litre V8 engine supercharged from 625Nm to 700Nm, and capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 in about 4.2 seconds. Impressive performance, although the lime green paint job might not have been to everyone’s taste.
Questionable colors seemed to have been a bit of a theme, with the Renault Z.E. (Zero Emission) Concept’s acid green windows and roof-mounted solar panels catching a lot of eyes. The GBP2 million, hand-built concept car, based on a Kangoo three-door, seems to have taken “being green” very literally.
A lucky crowd got to experience the distinctive growl of three new Ferraris during the Supercar Runs at Goodwood: the innovative Ferrari California, the remarkable 599 GTB Fiorano, and the limited edition Scuderia Spider 16M.
The Scuderia Spider 16M underlined its agility and power by completing the 1.16 mile hillclimb in the very impressive time of 59 seconds.
Audi celebrated its centenary – the company began July 16, 1909 – in style at Goodwood, bringing along some of its rarest and most historically significant motorsport collection, including ultra-rare Auto Union Grand Prix cars, all-wheel-drive Audi quattro rally and touring cars, plus the latest diesel-engined Le Mans sportscars.
And the drivers were an equally awe-inspiring group: former World Rally Champions Walter Röhrl, Stig Blomqvist and Hannu Mikkola; Le Mans race legends Allan McNish, Frank Biela, Dindo Capello, Emanuele Pirro and Marco Werner; and, in a class of his own, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason.
Goodwood spectators were privileged to get a glimpse of not one, but two new Maseratis over the weekend. The new GranTurismo S Automatic made its first appearance on Friday, and features a 4.7 litre V8 which develops 440HP, 490Nm of torque and reaches 62mph from standstill in five seconds flat.
On Sunday, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason drove the new Quattroporte Sport GTS, a car Maserati dubs “a real driving machine in the guise of a luxury saloon” and that also boasts a V8 4.7 litre engine with an output of 440HP but with many of the refinements of a sedan.
File this one under “strange but true”. Staring Friday and ending Sunday, a team of athletes supported by Porsche set a new world record for the longest distance covered in 48 hours by 12 runners using a single treadmill. A very specific achievement, to be sure, but they managed to cover 539.86 miles, smashing the old record of 495.76 miles set in April, 2008.
Covering about 480,000 footsteps, and at an average constant speed of 11.3mph over the entire period, the effort was intended to emphasize Porsche’s race philosophy that “the most important component of the car is the driver.” There must be an easier way to make the point.
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