Goodwood Festival of Speed.
With Mercedes-Benz Classic at the
biggest motorsport party in the world.
When Charles Henry Gordon-Lennox, better known as the Earl of March and Kinrara – or simply Lord March – opens the gates of his lordly seat in West Sussex in the summer, the peace and quiet in this rural picture-book idyll are over. More than one hundred thousand visitors from all over the world stream in for a long weekend at Goodwood, just under two hours' drive south of London, halfway between Southampton and Brighton. Here, where normally cows and sheep graze peacefully on lush pastures, you can hear the unmistakeable roar of racing engines from afar. Nobody minds – quite the reverse, in fact, because it is part of the long tradition of this noble family.
Lord March’s grandfather, the 9th Duke of Richmond, held the first private hillclimb in 1936 alongside majestic Goodwood House, and since 1993 the Festival of Speed has steadily become the biggest motorsport party in the world.
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Mercedes-Benz at the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2012
The calm before the storm.
At seven in the morning, when the working day starts for the Mercedes-Benz Classic mechanics, the first visitors are dismayed neither by the early hour nor by the changeable weather.
In excited anticipation, innumerable car enthusiasts soon gather in the pit lane where the historic treasures are waiting in draughty marquees and protected by tarpaulins.
Kissed into life.
The anticipation is palpable, so it's time for the five Silver Arrows to show themselves. The wish is heard, and as the covers fall the dream of many fans comes true: to get right close up to the Mercedes-Benz "stars" just once in their lives. Where else but Goodwood could you get the chance to get so close to the mighty 1930s W125, two of the rare 300 SL gullwing cars (W194), Juan Manuel Fangio's legendary 300 SLR and the relatively young CLK GTR from the late 1990s. The preparations for the start of the races are as varied as the exhibits themselves: but whether brought to life by computerised or mechanical means, they all have the same effect – goose pimples!
Carefully and gently coaxed up to running temperature, the innumerable unique models wait for their turn and their pilots.
Warm up and go!
Gentlemen drivers together.
The challenge of mastering this course - 1.86 km long and in parts very narrow, with rough asphalt, including nine bends and bales of straw marking the edges – with classic four-wheelers is something for real champions.
Jochen Mass, Bernd Schneider and Paul Stewart – the son of Sir Jackie Stewart – enjoy themselves on their show runs uphill to the finish of the traditional hill- climb.
Father and son.
Father Jackie Stewart wanted to be in on the fun and adventure too, so on the third day of the Festival of Speed he took the dainty wooden steering wheel of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL himself, after his son Paul had piloted this original vehicle, with chassis number 5, which was a contestant in the 1952 Carrera Panamericana. The unique atmosphere of racing in Lord March’s park with modern and old horsepower giants attracted other living legends, including Damon Hill, Alain Prost and Emerson Fittipaldi. For many fans it was a special highlight to see Sir Stirling Moss drive once again – who ended his career in 1962 after an accident on the neighbouring circuit to Goodwood. Nico Rosberg of MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS, current world champion Sebastian Vettel, Marc Webber, and the two McLaren Mercedes pilots Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton in their current Formula 1 cars, all paid him their sincere respects.