As if sensing the magnitude of the occasion, nature joined forces with Goodwood at the unveiling of the Festival of Speed sculpture last night, lightning striking the estate as the fireworks exploded round Gerry Judah's vast celebration of BMW.
JUN 23rd 2016
Dramatic pyrotechnics launch the biggest ever FOS sculpture
But even the brief torrential downpour couldn't mask the scale of the awe-inspiring steel structure, one imposing monocoque featuring three cars from BMW's first hundred years perched perilously at the ends of steel spikes launching over Goodwood House's roof.
BMW is the festival's featured marque this year, with a huge presence this weekend to celebrate its centenary. Everything from a presentation of M-badged cars on the cricket pitch, to the famous art cars in the stableyard, is there for the public to see.
But the relationship between the BMW Group, which owns Mini and Rolls-Royce as well as BMW itself, and Goodwood goes beyond that between the estate and many past featured marques at the festival.
As Lord March told assembled guests at the sculpture's unveiling: "It began for me in about 1970 when my father traded in his Ford Corsair and got a 2000 Deluxe BMW that weighed about two tonnes... The brand from then on was in my mind as an interesting brand."
BMW Group has played a big part in the revitalisation of the estate, with Rolls-Royce establishing its home here. "It's a very special relationship", said Lord March, who watched the sculpture being built outside his office window at Goodwood House over six weeks. "The sculpture is one of the best we've ever done", he told guests. "It feels a bit risky and a bit dangerous. It's by far the biggest in terms of square footage and in terms of engineering it's very critical. The tolerances are literally millimetres."
Wherever visitors are in the park over the weekend, they should be able to get a good look at the incredible sculpture, which rightly dominates the Sussex skyline.
Photography by Pete Summers and Tom Shaxson