Vintage Racers Smoke’m at Goodwood Festival of Speed

Words and Pics by Keith Harman (I only posted it for him!)

Vintage Race car - Goodwood Festival of Speed Ford GT40In just over ten short years, the Goodwood Festival of Speed has become a worldwide ‘must-see’ for car enthusiasts from every genre and hobby, there is quite simply, nothing like it anywhere else in the world. Held at the sprawling Goodwood Estate in Southern England the show is a mass celebration of speed in all its wheeled forms where famous racing drivers past and present rub shoulders with fans and celebrities alike and glorious racing machines from collections all over the world are fired up and run in anger up the long winding hill from outside the stately home.

Nascar - Smokey Burnout at goodwood-festival-of-speed

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No matter what your tastes in cars, there will always be something to marvel at. Held over three days, we managed to blag a couple of free tickets for this year’s event and went along on the Friday to have a look, I’d heard that this year’s American theme was NASCAR (it was Top Fuel dragsters last year and Bonneville beVintage Race car - Old Indy car at Goodwood-festival-of-speedfore that) and so with British fans having never seen these cars in action, I was interested to check it out. About half a dozen cars had been shipped over and the star for me was a 1949 Oldsmobile Rocket reputed to be the oldest surviving NASCAR racer, in fact it actually precedes NASCAR itself having raced on Daytona Beach before the NASCAR series was conceived. We were looking forward to seeing these cars make the traditional run up the hill past the grandstands and Goodwood House and the driver of the ’09 Red Bull Toyota Camry didn’t disappoint with a full smoky burnout up the first straight, the smoke fully engulfing the tables and umbrella’s of the V.I.P. area. The sound of these big V8’s on full song was loud enough to deserve the description ‘awesome’ and made us want to experience a full starting grid at a proper event sometime, one for the Bucket List methinks….

Although there were plenty of Concours d’elegance classics and high performance super-cars in attendance, there wasn’t as much representing true hot rodding at Goodwood this year, though we did find Les Howlett’s cool ’34 Coupe debuting on the Crazy Horse custom bike stand along with Les and builder Adrian Smith. The car was being admired by a tall American guy who looked vaguely familiar that we soon realised it was Californian car collector Bruce Meyer over for the event. Bruce is a real nice guy and knows his hot rods, and he was very taken with the Coupe, even more so that it had been built in the UK. Before he left I took the opportunity to swap business cards with Mr Meyer and a visit to his collection could be in the offing when we visit California at the end of the year, fingers crossed!

Hot Rod by Les Howlett 1934 Ford CoupeIt seems Bruce wasn’t the only American at Goodwood by far, we heard that Jay Leno was over as well, though we didn’t see him (probably smoked out in the VIP area by the NASCAR Camry!) as well as bike builder/TV celeb Jesse James and his wife actress Sandra Bullock. Jesse had brought over his monster Baja truck which stormed up the hill lurching all over the place, it then tore up the Rally stage somewhere up the hill.

Bikes, especially Choppers were a big theme at Goodwood this year with plenty on display including a tribute to the Easy Rider movie released 40 years ago. Who better to mark the event than Peter Fonda himself riding a repro of the Captain America Harley up Goodwood Hill while ‘Born to be Wild’ blasted from the PA system. There was a clone of the ‘Billy Bike’ also on display but sadly no Dennis Hopper or Jack Nicholson! (pictured down below)