A ‘Grand Tour’ of Goodwood

This year’s Festival of Speed hosted McLaren cars, stars and the global dynamic debut of our new GT.

McLaren once again played a starring role at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. The annual event, now in its 26th year, takes place in the grounds of the Duke of Richmond’s country house in the south of England, and attracts fans from all around the world. 

McLaren’s stand, in its high-profile location alongside Goodwood House, was a magnet for enthusiasts for all four days of the event. Taking centre stage was the new McLaren GT, which was unveiled on the stand by Jamie Corstorphine, Global Marketing Director, and Formula 1 commentator Tom Clarkson. The live broadcast then joined TV presenter Nicki Shields in a second car. Nicki was expecting to take a passenger ride up the hillclimb course, but, to her surprise down on the startline, she was offered a chance to actually drive the new car. It was an opportunity she wasn’t going to miss: despite this being its dynamic debut and having to simultaneously broadcast live from the driver’s seat, Nicki admits she didn’t hesitate in accelerating hard from the off.

‘I couldn’t hold back!’ she said afterwards. ‘It’s not every day you get to drive a McLaren up the Hill, after all. But I absolutely loved the car: it’s really light and airy inside, with amazing visibility, and it’s not intimidating to drive, despite being so fast. The run up the Hill felt like it was over in a second.’ 

Joining the GT on the Hill for the rest of the weekend was a range of the latest McLarens, including the 720S Spider, 600LT Spider, the Senna and the brand new, track-focused Senna GTR. Driving the GTR was Bruno Senna, nephew of Formula 1 legend Ayrton, who inspired the car’s name. Bruno also found time to meet fans on the McLaren stand and try out the full-scale LEGO® Senna. Made from 467,854 component parts, the LEGO McLaren proved a big attraction for fans of all ages, who were encouraged, like Bruno, to climb in and try out the real driver’s seat of this extraordinary life-size model. 

 Another interactive element for 2019 was the new Mosaic Wall. This giant work of art offered guests the chance to get involved and engage first-hand with McLaren’s stand. Images hashtagged #McLarenFoS, taken on the stand and around the event, were printed and assembled to magically build up a picture of the new GT.  

And there was plenty to take pictures of on the McLaren stand: as well as the GT on the stage, the incredible McLaren Speedtail made its UK public debut at Goodwood, fresh from winning the ‘Best in Show’ award at the Chantilly Arts & Elegance concours event. A 720S Spider and a 600LT Spider were also on display, plus two significant Formula 1 cars. One remembered Niki Lauda, who sadly passed away in May. Niki drove for McLaren between 1982 and 1985, winning the 1984 World Championship with the team, and his MP4/2 was on show to celebrate that success; the other was the 1998 McLaren MP4/13 in which Nick Heidfeld set the official Goodwood hillclimb record in 1999, a reference to the ‘Speed Kings’ theme of the 2019 Festival. 

Another special car on show was the 720S by MSO, previously seen only in the VIP area at the Geneva International Motor Show. Guests were able to enjoy a close-up look at its remarkable tri-tone ‘Coriolis’ paint finish.  

The cameras were also out for some of the star drivers who visited the stand over the course of the weekend. As well as Bruno Senna, McLaren’s current Formula 1 drivers, Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris, both drove up the Hill, trading their 2019 McLaren MCL34 for a 1970 McLaren M8D Can-Am car. Instead of a modern 1.6-litre turbo V6, the M8D has a monstrous 7.6-litre V8. ‘Raw power,’ was how Carlos described it. Both drivers answered questions on the McLaren stand. 

Then, on Sunday, it was the turn of the former McLaren Grand Prix driver and double World Champion, Mika Häkkinen. Mika is returning to racing this August, driving a McLaren 720S GT3 car in the Suzuka 10 Hour race. He also answered questions on stage, before signing autographs and taking selfies with a crowd of fans. 

Getting up close to Formula 1 superstars and seeing supercars such as our new Speedtail Hyper GT is what Goodwood is all about. Altogether, it was another memorable Festival of Speed.