Racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart fulfils a dream at Goodwood

Sir Jackie Stewart
Sir Jackie Stewart

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Motor racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart achieved a long-held amibition today when he got to drive a 1954 Mercedes W196 grand prix car at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

The Silver Arrows car was raced in period by Stewart’s hero Juan Manuel Fangio - and a similar machine broke the world record for a car sold at public auction on Friday when it went under the hammer at Bonhams at the festival for £19.6m.

Sir Jackie said: ‘It’s a great thrill to be here and to drive this car. I think it’s even more valuable than the other one because it won more grands prix.’

He added: ‘I’ve been to every one of the Festival of Speeds and it’s a tremendous event. There’s nothing else like it in the world.’

Other famous faces making an appearance today include contemporary F1 stars Nico Rosberg, Sergio Perez, Romain Grosjean and Max Chilton, plus past masters Alain Prost, John Surtees, Nelson Piquet, Emerson Fittipaldi and Damon Hill.

A touch of Hollywood also came to Goodwood when film icon Peter Fonda took to the track this morning.

He waved to the big crowds soaking up the sunshine as he went up the hillclimb course on a Harley Davidson chopper similar to the one he rode in the classic film Easy Rider.

Yesterday home-grown Formula One world champions Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were besieged by autograph-hunters when they got behind the wheel.

Button drove a McLaren-Chevrolet M8D Can Am car from 1970 - the same model in which Bruce McLaren sadly lost his life in a testing accident at Goodwood motor circuit.

He said: ‘It’s a great experience and a real privilege to drive this car. It is such a handful and not very comfortable, but it’s been great fun.

‘I couldn’t go too fast because there was a fuel pick-up problem, but this is one of those cars where if you blip the throttle the whole body rocks.’

Hamilton went up the famous Goodwood hillclimb course in a 2011 Mercedes F1 car and thrilled the huge crowds with a spectacular display of doughnuts and tyre-burning acceleration.

This is the 20th anniversary of the festival and a special parade of vehicles took to the track - complete with horse-drawn Roman chariots and Nick Heidfeld in the McLaren that he drove to a Goodwood hill record of 41.6 seconds back in 1999.

There were long tailbacks on the A27 this morning as tens of thousands of fans flocked to the festival. But when they finally reached the car parks, they were rewarded with an amazing array of racing cars and bikes roaring past Goodwood House. While some were only doing demonstration runs, others were competing against the clock.

Formula One teams including Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes and McLaren have brought cars and fans surrounded their garages in the paddock as they took the chance to get up close to machines they normally only see on TV.

Spectators are being greeted by an amazing sculpture soaring above Goodwood House, consisting of three Porsche 911s suspended atop thin metal spikes. It has been created to celebrate 50 years of the legendary 911.

Rally drivers are kicking up dust in a special forest stage, there’s an aviation exhibition and the FoS-TECH pavilion is providing a glimpse into motoring of the future.

Some of the world’s best BMX and trials bike riders are pulling off impressive aerial stunts in the Goodwood Action Sports arena, while the supercar paddock is packed with roadgoing exotica that most people can only dream of owning.

In the Cartier ‘Style et Luxe’ area, visitors can wander around a selection of beautiful vehicles that are being judged today by a panel including pop star Simon Le Bon and designer Sir Terence Conran. Meanwhile children are being entertained by meeting real-life versions of characters and cars from the TV cartoon Wacky Racers.

In the air, a Typhoon jet gave a ground-shaking display and the Red Arrows were due to bring the festival to a memorable close after a televised shootout for fastest time on the hill featuring the top 20 cars.

A total crowd of more than 180,000 was expected at this year’s festival, which has a ‘greatest hits’ theme featuring some of the most memorable motoring moments from the past two decades.

Don’t miss The News tomorrow for reports and pictures from the festival, plus today on Twitter using the hashtag #newsfos