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“The right crowd and not too crowded.” Memories from the Goodwood Festival of Speed 1994 -2001

Submitted by on July 1, 2010

Seventeen years ago, back in 1993 Charles the Earl of March hosted the 1st Goodwood Festival of Speed in his back garden, the grounds Goodwood house. It was a laid back affair with a selection of racing cars making the charge up the drive. The venture proved to be an immediate success and the 1994 festival was put into planning before the dust had settled. I’m sad to say I missed that first festival but from 1994, I’ve been a regular attendee of the event, which has evolved from that informal first Festival to the summer’s premier motorsport event, attracting visitors from all over the globe.

My first Festival was the 1994 ‘100 Years of Motorsport’ event. It was for me an instant addiction, the atmosphere was electric, the drivers and cars were accessible on a level I’d never experienced and the other fans were all friendly and willing to give up a spot on the trackside so I could take a few photographs.

I’ve tried to do this at Goodwood over the years too, some spots you can’t use now as safety has become more paramount, for instance the run from the finish line through birdless grove to the top paddock used to be a brilliant spot as the spectator track used to run more or less parallel to it and only about 20 yards away in places with a grove of trees lining either side. I got some brilliant low shutter speed shots as the cars sped by. After the fatalities of 2000 when Australian John Dawson-Damer’s Lotus 63 crashed out of control into the finish gantry also tragically taking the life of Marshal Andrew Carpenter and seriously injuring Steve Tarrant, who lost his right leg as a result, the whole of the track has been lined with straw bales and the crowd line moved back to a safer distance. However Goodwood is still the best place to see vintage and contemporary racing cars and bikes together.

Here are few of my memories, from Adrian Newey in 1994 in the Hungarian GP winning Williams FW15 of Damon Hill getting Molecombe very wrong, to the wettest Festival, 1997 and Mario Andretti splashes toward the start line in the beautiful JPS Lotus 79. Gerry Judah’s spectacular Carriage circle displays are the centre piece of the festival, 1999 saw Audi’s turn, with this spectacular homage to the Avus banking. 1994’s by contrast was a somewhat less ostentatious affair celebrating 100 years of motorsport, 2000  and the Jaguar ‘cats cradle’ was an interactive work, while the 1998 Porsche fan remains one of my favourites. I captured the Lord himself in this Ecurie Ecosse E type Jaguar in 1994 and plenty more besides, I hope my small selection trigger some good memories of Festivals gone by and serve to whet your appetite for this year’s festival. If you’re going I might just see you there. Look out for the Motorsport Retro logo.

Graham Dalley

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