From the inaugural event to the present day, the Goodwood Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard has become known for its ever more creative and daring central features.
VOTE: What’s your favourite Festival of Speed Central Feature?
What started as a singular pre-production Aston Martin DB7 atop a plinth in 1993 has evolved into something far more spectacular, and in 2019 it comes full circle, with the iconic British marque once again taking over the Duke of Richmond’s front lawn. Something tells me, however, that this year’s display will be far more grandiose than the original…
But let’s not forget the intervening quarter century, during which everything from the Porsche 917 Pink Pig to Mazda’s 787B have precariously balanced atop intricate, and often razor-thin, sculptures.
Since 1997, celebrated designer Gerry Judah has taken the reigns on the centrepiece, collaborating with a different manufacturer each year to celebrate their greatest achievements through art.
And with the 2019 Festival just a week away, fans await with baited breath the centrepiece’s grand unveil. While we can’t yet show you this year’s Aston Martin masterpiece, we can look back at what has come before.
We’ve picked eight of our favourites for you to narrow down to the all-time favourite… So, cast your vote and scroll down to read more about our picks!
What’s your favourite Festival of Speed Central Feature?
1997: Ferrari 50 years
Gerry Judah’s debut centrepiece, the 1997 Ferrari Roman Arch was markedly different from its predecessors. For the first time, the vehicle went airborne, tangled in an eye-catching oeuvre and starting a trend that has only seen the features get bigger and the cars get mounted higher.
The Ferrari design featured a huge prancing horse atop an authentic looking roman archway. Under gilded gold ‘Ferrari 50 years’ hung the 1997 F310B Formula 1 car, while the manufacturer’s successes were listed on plaques on either side.
1998: Porsche 50 years
The second of Judah’s designs was yet more daring than the first. Working with Porsche on a piece to celebrate the manufacturer’s 50th anniversary, he created a gangly sculpture, which featured five Le Mans cars fanned out on giant steel spikes. The prestigious, albeit unconventional line-up, featured ‘the Jules car’ Porsche 936/81, ‘the Pink Pig’ 917/20, the Martini 917 LH, Rothmans 956 and the 911 GT1.
2003: Ford centenary
Fast forward to 2003, and Judah’s creations were only getting more extreme. In celebration of Ford’s centenary, he designed a tribute to the manufacturer’s 1966 1-2-3 Le Mans finish, with three 7.0-litre Ford GT Mark IIs positioned in their formation finish on a gleaming section of track, complete with rooster tails of water spray mimicking the damp track conditions during the race. Where the real cars had been mounted on the sculpture in previous years, these were replicas, with the real models running up the hill over the Festival weekend.
2005: Honda, 40 years of GP success
In 2005 it was Honda’s turn. 40 years of the manufacturer’s success in Formula 1 were marked with a dynamic sculpture, on which six F1 cars rocked back and forth on cantilevered arms. The models featured were the Honda RA272 and RA300, and the Honda-powered Lotus 99T, Williams FW11B, McLaren MP4/4 and BAR 007.
2011: Jaguar, E-Type's 50th birthday
In a departure from convention, no actual cars featured in Jaguar’s 2011 centrepiece. Celebrating the E-Type’s 50th birthday, the sculpture depicted the iconic sportscar balanced on its nose and was constructed from half a kilometre of 6mm thick steel tubes weighing over 175 tonnes.
2014: Mercedes-Benz, 120 years in Motorsport
2014 marked 120 years of Mercedes-Benz in motorsport – by far the biggest anniversary ever to grace the Goodwood House carriage circle. Something special was required, and Judah pulled out all the stops to create a breathtaking 160 tonne arch, soaring some 85 feet over Goodwood House. Two cars spanning 80 years sat atop the arch – a replica of the 1934 Mercedes-Benz W25, the automaker’s first Silver Arrow, and a 2013 Mercedes AMG W04 Formula 1 car.
2017: Bernie Ecclestone
2017 was the first year to honour an individual rather than a carmaker, with an intricate circular sculpture dedicated to Bernie Ecclestone. Standing 35m tall, it featured five F1 cars – the Connaught which he drove in two 1958 F1 races, the championship-winning Brabham from when he owned the team, plus a Lotus, Ferrari and Mercedes, reflecting his time in Formula 1 management.
2018: Porsche 70 years
Resembling some form of car-adorned wind turbine, last year’s Porsche centrepiece celebrated the manufacturer’s 70th anniversary. Standing 52 metres tall, all but one of its white spikes wore a Porsche instrumental in the brand’s history, from the barn-built 356, to the 917, 918 Spyder, 959 Dakar, 919 Hybrid and finally the 911 R.
Photography by David Hodges, John Davidson, John Colley, Andy Smerdon, Jeff Bloxham, Drew Gibson, Steven Stringer and Nicole Hains.
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