If only every earl with a mile-long driveway and 11,500 acres of woodsy countryside was as excited about motorsports as England’s Charles Gordon-Lennox—better known as Lord March. Where most British aristocrats would be calling out the hounds if a peasant so much as dared a backfire on their property, Lord March invites racing cars of all kinds to invade his driveway, run wild through the woods, and show off their histories on his Goodwood estate.
In 2015, none other than “Big Daddy” Don Garlits reported on the Goodwood Festival of Speed for us. If you missed that, click to find out how he fixed his dragster with a bit of soda can and tooth glue. For 2016 Gar stayed in Florida, so we sent photographer Alex Wong over the pond to show us the sights of vintage streamliners, Can-Am cars, and F1 legends running up the 1.16-mile hill that acts as Lord March’s driveway when it’s not lined by hay bales and wide-eyed spectators.
The most famous part of the festival is the hill climb. It’s not so much that it’s an especially technical course, but it’s narrow and usually very wet, this being England and all. It’s pretty nuts to see and hear cars that normally are in a museum revving up and shaking the spider webs free. Not all the cars are in competition, many just make exhibition runs, which means their drivers are free to smoke the tires and showboat all the way up the hill. You’d expect that from drifter Vaughn Gitten, maybe less so from the No. 66 Ford GT, fresh from 24 hours of adventure at Le Mans, but we saw tire clouds and long, windy, black lines behind everyone.
When the cars aren’t laying elevenses up some rich guy’s walkway, everything is on display. Show cars included American stockers like Richard Petty’s 1972 Dodge Charger—first year the king wasn’t in a Plymouth, and the No. 22 1963 Ford Galaxie driven by Fireball Roberts—yes, it really was campaigned in NASCAR in that lovely shade of lavender. The big muscle cars look extra brutish next to dainty European machines like the swoopy Renault “toile Filante,” a turbine-powered streamliner from the 1950s. If you really want something for your trivia night, look up the Dixon Cadillac Cheetah. The Cheetah was a briefly GM-sponsored attempt to compete with the Cobra in the early 1960s. Its creator, Bill Thomas made 11 before Chevrolet pulled support for the project.
The Goodwood event is called a festival for good reason. It’s far more than simply motorsports competition—not that we at HOT ROD need more than motorsports competition—but hey, we won’t turn down celebrity sightings, vintage racecars and a chance to do million-dollar burnouts in the rain, all with a backdrop of sky-scraping sculptures by artist Gerry Judah—who has been making a car-themed piece for the event since 1997. Scroll through the gallery and see for yourself, it’s all the fun of Goodwood and you won’t get your shoes wet.