Overview of Goodwood SpeedWeek 2020 - Muscle Car

Overview of Goodwood SpeedWeek 2020



Written by Elise

27th October 2020

Overview of Goodwood SpeedWeek 2020
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Overview of Goodwood SpeedWeek 2020

By Chris Williams

The way I prefer to watch motorsport is contrary to the way I prefer to watch rugby. My sofa, craft beer of my choice, superb camerawork, and some mates to argue the rules with makes for a tremendous rugby experience. However, thunderous engines demonstrating the Doppler Effect and giving headaches to earthworms is something I usually elect to experience in-person.

Thus, it was unfortunate that this year’s Goodwood SpeedWeek was a broadcast event but the counterfactual is that it would have been even more unfortunate had SpeedWeek not happened at all. So in that regard, hats off to Goodwood for keeping their fly alive when so many others have been dropping.

For those of you who missed the show (even though the streamed coverage is still available to watch), here is Muscle Car UK’s recap of SpeedWeek. Over the course of all three days, I did my utmost to catch as much as possible, so included here are my personal highlights and nadirs.

What was SpeedWeek?

With the Goodwood Revival and Festival of Speed both cancelled this year, bits of both were squeezed together into one, loud weekend almost entirely at the Goodwood circuit.

The programme was certainly tasty: a celebration of seventy years of Formula One, the Shootout for the fastest lap of the Goodwood Circuit, a tribute to Sir Stirling Moss, drifting, new road cars, lots of side stories, and fourteen delicious races.

There was such a vast offering of content that there were two streams available: Track Stream—where I spent most of my time—and Speedweek Stream, which was for other stories such as the Future of Mobility, the Story of Gazoo Racing, and Women in Motorsport (which our recent article on badass female racers expands upon).

Day 1 of Goodwood SpeedWeek – Friday 16th October

On Friday 16th October, SpeedWeek presented a history day of sorts, featuring the History of Lotus, forty years of the Audi Quattro, the history of NASCAR, half a century of the Range Rover, and covering seventy years of Formula One.

The first race of the weekend was part one of the SF Edge Trophy for the pre-1923 racing cars, which is usually a Goodwood Member’s Meeting event. Following that was the Goodwood Trophy for 1930-1951 Grand Prix and Voiturette cars. Great though these machines are, I was hanging out for the 1960s-1980s saloon car, and GT races. One of the great bonuses of course with historic car racing is having race marshals and pit crew in tweed and flat caps.   

For a different flavour on day one was the Rally Challenge. The line-up was superb with Subaru Imprezas, Toyota Celicas, the Lancia Stratos, and notorious Group B cars. However, the Rally Challenge was not much of a spectator event—the rally stage set around and on the Goodwood Circuit was extremely narrow and tree-lined, which forced the drivers to take an un-rally-like tentative approach to the course. It was understandable the drivers not wanting to ruin those priceless cars.  

Shortly following the Rally Challenge was a brief but impressive homage to the Battle of Britain, merging live shots of World War Two aircraft over Goodwood circuit with archived footage.

It was great seeing the showcase of new road models have a quick lap around the track. There was, of course, a multitude of high-end gear such as the McLaren Elva, new Rolls Royce Ghost, and Lotus’ electric supercar the Evija. 

But the ones that caught my eye were at the more affordable end of the market. 

Exhibit A: the new Ford Mustang Mach 1 in bright yellow. Supposedly with a price tag of around £50,000—lunch money in the relative company—the Mach 1 was still one of the most outgoing and charismatic cars there, not to mention the additional attraction of its updated dynamic abilities. 

Making up for the lack of excitement in the Rally Challenge was the new four-wheel drive, turbocharged Toyota GR Yaris. I was pleased to see that even with its relatively puny power the little GR Yaris zipped around the track at an extremely respectable speed. One of my 2020 favourites.  

Day 2 of Goodwood SpeedWeek – Saturday 17th October

Saturday’s races were far more up my street. 

Race four was the Glover Trophy for 1.5 litre, 1961-65 Grand Prix cars and race five, the Whitsun Trophy, was for unlimited sports prototypes raced up to 1966. But race six (part one of St Mary’s Trophy) was the best combination of what makes an entertaining spectacle: a brief twenty-minute race for 1960-66 saloon cars. The ideal recipe for a showcase of power versus lightness!

Right from the drop of the flag, a red 1965 Ford-Lotus Cortina Mk1 driven by Andrew Jordan was battling with giants up front – a pair of Ford Galaxies and a Studebaker Lark Daytona 500. The Galaxies possessed a kind of hypnotic floppiness as they wafted around the circuit; the Cortinas buzzing and sliding only a few car lengths behind.

If you are a fan of drifting, then the Driftkhana events may have caught your attention. The best part about it was including not just drift cars but rally cars too.

Sir Stirling Moss (GBR), Ferguson Project 99.
Goodwood Festival of Speed, Goodwood House, Sussex, England, 1-3 July 2011.

Race seven was not all that exciting but was very special. The Stirling Moss Memorial Trophy, in honour of the sporting icon, was a one-hour, two-driver race for closed-cockpit GT cars up to 1963. 

This was preceded by a tribute to Sir Stirling Moss, the standout of which was a rendition of The Them for Local Hero, played live by Moss’ close friend and my favourite guitarist, Mark Knopfler. 

Race seven had a wonderful line-up of cars, but the only real drama was a three-way crash between a Jaguar E-type, a Lotus Elite, and a Ferrari 250 GT. That being said, the spectacle of GT cars from the fifties and sixties haring around Goodwood against an orange evening sky was pleasant enough in its own right.   

Day 3 of Goodwood SpeedWeek – Sunday 18th October

The final day was a triple hit.

Race eleven was the Gerry Marshall Sprint. Like race six, it was the perfect mix for great racing and watching: a fifteen-minute race for 1970-82 Group 1 saloons. Camaro Z28s and Boss 302 Mustangs, Rover SD1s, Ford Capris, Dolomite Sprints, and Mini 1275GTs. With all those engines revving on the grid waiting for the flag drop, it did sound a bit like a mechanical barnyard. 

And the racing did not disappoint. In the opening lap, it was a heavy three-way dual between a Capri, an SD1 and a Mini; but within a minute that Mini ended up on its roof! 

Following the interruption of the red flag and restart, one of Boss Mustangs and Z28 Camaros punched their way through the traffic, only to become embroiled in an American arm wrestle.

Later in the day came the final of the Shootout, which was the substitute for the annual hill-climb. 

Nick Padmore had the fastest time in an Arrows A11 Formula One car, but my favourite lap was Jake Hill in the R32 Calsonic Nissan Skyline. That blue Godzilla completely unhinged on the Goodwood Circuit was something to enjoy; four-wheel drifts and insane surges of turbo boost. The Skyline’s lap came in seventh on the leader board at 8.7 seconds behind the F1 car.

During the Shootout, I flicked over to SpeedWeek Stream to see what was happening on that side. It was a very short visit, after finding myself watching Rory Reid doing his utmost to make the McLaren car configurator a worthy piece of television. Although great for a boring afternoon at the office, even sticking a camera on a roundabout provides better television content than a car configurator.      

The final race of SpeedWeek, race fourteen, was the Royal Automobile Club TT Celebration. Similar to the Stirling Moss race, this was a one-hour, two-driver race for closed-cockpit GT cars prototypes in the spirit of the RAC TT races held from 1960-64. I thought this had a tastier grid too. In just the leading five on the grid there were two AC Cobras, a TVR Griffith 400, and a Lister-Jaguar Coupé. 

My favourite thing about this race was watching a TVR do what it does best, namely making mincemeat of already very fast cars. The TVR only came second to the Lister-Jaguar, having got stuck behind an AC Cobra (and not many cars can boast about that). 

Like several of the aforementioned races, it was wonderful to watch close-quarter battles and cars where a significant percentage of the steering was via the throttle.

Summary of Goodwood SpeedWeek 2020

A lot of us were thoroughly disappointed that, like many of the remaining car events in 2020, Goodwood was not open to the public this year. However, they did a top job of keeping Goodwood going with SpeedWeek and ensuring fans could still enjoy the action.

Many of the racing events were classic Goodwood: priceless machines being driven on to their limit, head to head. And the Shootout was a tremendous means of seeing how different racing machines compare with one another. 

Admittedly, the non-racing content was somewhat hit-and-miss. There were some interesting segments such as the psychological makeup of racing drivers but many, such as interviews with automotive business figures, were rather tedious.

SpeedWeek was the a great relief for stir crazy car fans, but no doubt we are all hoping that the Revival and Festival of Speed will re-emerge for the public to descend on next year.    

Author: Chris Williams

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