THE ENGLISH FESTIVAL HAS A STELLAR CAST FOR ITS CELEBRATION OF MOTORSPORT
At least four New Zealanders are scheduled to be in action at the high-profile Goodwood Festival of Speed in southern England this weekend.
The summer festival — now in its 23rd year — is a multi-faceted celebration of modern and historic motor racing and motorcycling, along with a display of performance road vehicles, and will be attended by about 150,000 enthusiasts over its three days.
It draws inspiration from an incredibly diverse range of motorsport disciplines and could be described as part competitive hillclimb, part motor show and part English garden party.
The Kiwis on the 2015 entry list are Porsche Le Mans racer Brendon Hartley, motorcycle racing star Bruce Anstey, drifting ace “Mad Mike” Whiddett and former rally driver and Pikes Peak hillclimb winner Rod Millen.
Last year Hartley drove a variety of current and historic Porsches up the 1.86km hillclimb course and he will be joined by Le Mans and World Endurance Championship team-mate Mark Webber.
Rod Millen attacks the Goodwood hillclimb in his Toyota Celica.
It’s expected a GT-LM racing commitment with Porsche North America at the Six Hours of Watkins Glen will keep New Zealand’s Le Mans winner Earl Bamber from being part of the Goodwood action.
Among the cars on the Porsche display roster this year is the 1973 Penske/Sunoco 917/30 Can-Am machine, the most extreme example of Porsche’s legendary 917 racing car series.
Whiddett is making a second Goodwood appearance with his quad-rotor “Madbul” Mazda RX7 drift machine. His spectacular driving introduced Goodwood crowds to one more branch of motorsport in 2014 and this year a new “Catch My Drift” segment will feature Whiddett and a number of top European and US drifters.
'Mad' Mike Whiddett in action at last year's Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Whiddett actually plays a dual role at the festival because Mazda will be the featured marque at this year’s event. Some of Mazda’s unique rotary engine racing machinery — including the 1991 Mazda 787B endurance racer, the only Japanese car to win at Le Mans — will be demonstrated at Goodwood.
Millen has been a Festival of Speed regular over the years and the event is part of the inspiration for his own Leadfoot Festival staged biennially at his Hahei property. This year Millen is taking the Pikes Peak-winning Toyota Celica up the driveway of the English stately home.
Anstey is part of a line-up of motorcycle racing stars and machines every bit as mouth-watering as that for the four-wheel categories.
He’ll be aboard his Isle of Man Superbike TT-winning Padgett’s Honda CBR 1000RR in the company of TT rival John McGuinness and bike racing legends Giacomo Agostini, Freddie Spencer, Kenny Roberts, Casey Stoner, John Surtees and Phil Read. MotoGP star Valentino Rossi is scheduled to make a Sunday appearance following the Assen TT MotoGP on Saturday and the scope of two-wheel talent is widened further by three-time speedway world champion Greg Hancock and moto trials star Dougie Lampkin.
The Goodwood venue also has a forest rally stage where headliners include former world champion and two-time Rally of New Zealand winner Hannu Mikkola driving an Audi Quattro S2. Current WRC stars Kris Meeke and Elfyn Evans are also in action. A notable anniversary this year will see British F1 great Sir Stirling Moss, 85, reunited with his 1955 Mille Miglia winning No722 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR.
There’s always a strong American FOS presence with 2015 headliners being drag-racing pioneer “Big Daddy” Don Garlits and his Swamp Rat I dragster and Nascar “King” Richard Petty making another appearance, in the 1970 Plymouth Superbird. This year’s line-up includes current Formula 1 drivers Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button and Felipe Massa, while Le Mans winners Porsche and rivals Audi and Toyota will send their LMP1 Hybrid prototypes up the hillclimb.
■All of the action from this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed will be available on a livestream which can be found at the website: www.grrc.goodwood.com