Proper History Lessons – 2016 Goodwood FOS by Diego Merino
Amidst this moment in time, in which we search to recover the missing combination of noise, speed, color and of course, power, no better place to search and rediscover these elements than the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
As we have mentioned many times previously, even at top level motorsport, you have races and you have events, and attending the Festival of Speed had long been that event missing from our bucket list.
It was a difficult journey from Madrid to the FOS, beginning with a 04.40am wake up call, followed by a three-hour flight delay, consequence of French air traffic controllers strike, and worsened by British rail delays, result of heavy rain floods in southern England. By the time I got there I had spent the same amount of time one would spend while flying across to Asia.
Once finally in Chichester, closest town to the FOS, I began to sense the irresistible atmosphere generated by the event. Few motorsport fans are as knowledgeable and respectful for the sport’s heritage as the British fans. During the long travel delays, I enjoyed reading the latest issue of Motor Sport magazine, always time well spent and perfect for getting in tune for the uniqueness of the event ahead.
Thursday was only a preview day and I was impressed seeing the place packed already. Hundreds of fans gathered outside the train station holding umbrellas under the Sussex rain, waiting for the bus shuttle service to the Festival. Everybody was expectant to see how this year’s display in front of the Goodwood house was going to look like in person.
Upon our arrival into the Festivals premises, we were welcomed by the impressive sight of the Goodwood house and the Festival of Speed central sculpture designed by Gerry Judah. This year’s sculptured landmark was spectacular as ever and themed to honor the centenary of BMW.
Looking at the magnificent Goodwood House with its sculptured icon reminded me of that same feeling I had going to Spa-Francorchamps and encountering Eau Rouge for the first time. Sometimes big happenings in life require a little of our patience.
Adjacent to the estate I walked thru the Paddock, staging the most impressive display of machines I had ever seen assembled together. Beneath one of the tents, sitting in chronological order the full collection of Renault competition cars ever made. From the original A500 Turbo F1 test car from 1976, to the latest Formula E and between these, every Renault powered car, including Senna’s Estoril winning Renault Turbo powered Lotus 97T. Behind this French machinery, one could admire the full collection of Bernie Ecclestone owned Brabhams. If one make is not seen at Goodwood; it doesn’t exist.
In honoring these, the 2016 Festival of Speed was properly themed “Full Throttle – The Endless Pursuit of Power”. As every year since its beginnings in 1993, the Earl of March reunites legendary machinery with its original drivers. The paddock is full of proper names. Nobody in the world can gather more than 600 unique machines like Goodwood does every year; celebrating the history of the most important mechanical innovations created by mankind.
This year was no exception as the FOS gathered many parallel celebrations, such as the centenary of BMW; 50 years since of Ford’s assault to LeMans and birth of Can-Am championship; 40 years of James Hunts F1 World Tittle and 30 years since the Everest of Turbo power in Formula 1.
Nine current F1 teams made their presence in the Paddock; double world champions Mercedes-Benz making history by running the first hybrid car up the Goodwood hill; other current F1 teams included Red Bull, Ferrari, Williams, Renault and Force India.; the modern day Grand Prix field was completed by the 2009 World Championship Brawn GP, not seen running since its last race in Abu Dhabi that season.
Taking driving duties for the revival of the Brawn GP001 was British racing icon Martin Brundle, who made the delight of fans seeing the car running again. Although its championship winning driver Jenson Button was also present in Goodwood, driving Niki Lauda’s 1984 McLaren-Tag/Porsche MP4/2, unfortunately his current McLaren contract with its commercial obligations prevented him from reuniting with his beloved BGP001 chassis 02.
Past and present, the star of show was the recently restored 1911 Fiat S76, better known as the “Beast of Turin”. Having run on a parallel batch to modern F1 cars, it stood side by side next to a Hybrid Mercedes W05. All F1 engineers present at assembly area were amazed learning how this centenary machine could reach well over 200 Km/h. This spitting fire machine can be described as one of the meanest ever created by mankind.
Present as always was Jonathan Williams, overseeing its Heritage department together with Dickie Stanford. The legendary Williams mechanic having prepared two historic machines in time for the FOS; 1983 FW08C chassis 11 and 1990 FW13B chassis 08, same car in which Thierry Boutsen tamed Ayrton Senna to win that season Hungarian Grand Prix.
Speaking of the Williams team of 1990, also present at the FOS, was Riccardo Patrese, who took part in the celebrations of the BMW centenary. Thirty-three years after, the charismatic Italian was reunited with his 1983 Parmalat Brabham BMW Turbo BT52., original helmet design included.
During one of my tours admiring the machinery in the Paddock, I met my friend, and Technical Analyst, Craig Scarborough. During our walk seeing the cars there, we commented two important machines given their technical contribution to their generation during their period in F1.
One of these was 1987 Brabham BMW BT56, designed by Gordon Murray this machine was predecessor of his next car, the dominant 1988 McLaren Honda MP4/4 and featured many of the aerodynamic principles which contributed to the McLaren dominance of the late 80s. The second machine was the Skoal Bandit sponsored 1985 Ram-Hart 03. Designed by Austrian Gustav Brunner this green livered beauty pioneered aerodynamic packaging enclosing the rear end, introducing the term better known as “Coke Bottle” the rear section.
Although the weather was never Britain’s best and the overcast skies did not provide the best light for outdoor photography, the Goodwood Festival of Speed is not only the biggest automotive garden party; but the world’s greatest celebration of machinery and drivers, and without any question, the FOS is the truest motor sport history lesson in the world.