Petrolheads converge on Goodwood as Festival of Speed roars off startline

Lewis Hamilton will thrill the Festival of Speed crowds
Lewis Hamilton will thrill the Festival of Speed crowds
Ching-He Huang

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It’s become a pilgrimage for petrolheads - and tens of thousands of people from around the world are today converging on Goodwood for their annual automotive fix.

Motorsport fans are enjoying the first day of the Festival of Speed after the event roared off the startline yesterday with the Moving Motor Show.

This gave potential buyers the chance to get behind the wheel of latest models from Fords to Ferraris and follow in the tyre tracks of legends during a test drive using the famous Goodwood hillclimb course.

Over the next three days a sell-out crowd of more than 175,000 are looking forward to plenty of track action and getting up close to supercars and superstars at Lord March’s West Sussex estate.

Topping the bill are three-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, who is leading the world championship after last weekend’s European Grand Prix at Baku, Azerbaijan.

Hamilton will fly in to take the wheel of a 2014 Mercedes F1 W05 Hybrid and meet fans tomorrow, with Rosberg driving the same new generation turbo on Sunday.

Lewis Hamilton will thrill the Festival of Speed crowds

Lewis Hamilton will thrill the Festival of Speed crowds

Expect plenty of tyre-smoking and doughnuts as they and other current F1 teams entertain the fans.

Meanwhile touring car stars such as Andrew Jordan, Sam Tordoff and Matt Neal will be going head to head in a shootout to see who is fastest up the 1.16-mile course.

Other famous faces joining the party over the weekend include Sir Stirling Moss, Sir Jackie Stewart, John Surtees, Emerson Fittipaldi, Jenson Button, Nico Hulkenberg, Mark Webber, TV chef and car nut James Martin and Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason.

Also expected are two-wheeled heroes such as Giacomo Agostini and Carl Fogarty and stunt driving legend Ken Block, who recently featured in the new Top Gear TV show racing around the streets of London.

This year’s featured marque is BMW, which is celebrating its centenary by bringing some of the greatest road and racing machinery from its past and present.

Other birthdays set to be celebrated are the 50th anniversaries of the Can-Am Series and of Sir Jack Brabham winning the F1 world championship - in a Brabham – plus the 40th anniversary of James Hunt’s F1 world title and the 100th Indianapolis 500 race.

Spectators will also be the first in the country to see the spectacular new £2m Bugatti Chiron in action as it will be going up the hillclimb each day.

Unveiled in Geneva just four months ago, the 1,500bhp Chiron’s 8.0-litre W16 engine has half as much power again as the Veyron. A special key is needed to unlock the top speed of 261mph.

There’s action in the sky too, with the Red Arrows returning to thrill festival-goers with a spectacular display at lunchtime today. Fingers will be crossed for better weather than yesterday, with low cloud cover forcing their appearance to be cancelled at late notice.

Meanwhile rally cars will be going sideways through a special forest stage and classic cars worth millions will be going under the hammer at the Bonhams auction this afternoon.

Keep up to date with festival action here and see more reports and pictures in The News on Saturday and Monday.