Aston Martin’s 70-year relationship with Goodwood, the Duke of Richmond’s stately home in West Sussex, perfectly encapsulates its commitment to both beauty and speed, the two values that are celebrated throughout the year at this exquisite country estate. Both Goodwood and Aston Martin are luxury British brands with proud automotive heritages and both share a passionate commitment to motorsport and the road car. What greater way, then, to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Aston Martin’s first race at Goodwood’s world-famous motor circuit, than with a four-day celebration as the featured marque of the 2019 Festival of Speed?
The dynamic breadth of Aston Martin’s motorsport history and the depth of its commitment to luxury road cars were both on fearsome display for the 200,000-strong crowd this summer, with a host of fast machinery streaking up the hillclimb past the marquees and stands, past the flint wall of the estate’s driveway and the TV cameras relaying the event to a global audience. There were also plenty more examples of the line of beauty on display around the park, designed for the enthusiastic crowds of petrolheads and families on a hotly anticipated day out.
Dr Andy Palmer, President and Chief Executive Officer, Aston Martin Lagonda attended the event and spoke warmly of the “great honour to be celebrated at the Festival of Speed this year”. “Racing is a crucial component in Aston Martin’s DNA and it is something we have pursued since the inception of the company more than 100 years ago,” Palmer said. “We have raced all round the world, but the core passion and commitment that we’ve displayed has remained the same since our first race on Aston Hill.”
It was fitting, therefore, that the marque should celebrate its achievements on another hill, that formed by the Duke of Richmond’s drive, which is transformed into a timed climb during the Festival of Speed. The cars that shot past the crowds and house at speed on the single-track ribbon of tarmac — so deceptive with its double apexes and slippery grass verges — and the drivers behind the various wheels, serve as a vibrant reminder of Aston Martin’s strong heritage in motorsport. Jonny Adam, Factory Aston Martin driver, Le Mans winner and triple British GT champion, piloted the Vantage GTE race car up the hill in a perfect demonstration of colour, noise and style. Marek Reichman, Executive Vice President and Chief Creative Officer, Aston Martin Lagonda, stretched the elegant legs of the Aston Martin DBR1, the iconic 1950s race car that saw so much success at both Goodwood and Le Mans. Neatly showing how Aston Martin is constantly looking to the future as well as celebrating the past, the jaw-dropping Vulcan AMR Pro also delighted crowds as it roared up the hill climb. This incredible take on the Vulcan hypercar features even more downforce and shortened gear ratios and created one of the weekend’s magnificent aural highlights.
Those enthusiasts more interested in road cars than their racing brethren were not disappointed: this year’s Festival marked the global dynamic debuts of the Aston Martin Vantage AMR and DBS Superleggera Volante, the marque’s flagship V12 super-GT convertible. Chief Engineer, Aston Martin Lagonda Matt Becker drove the forthcoming Aston Martin DBX — the marque’s first SUV, still under camouflage — up the hill in front of a crowd eager to see the latest lifestyle-orientated addition to the company’s portfolio. The DBX will be built at Aston Martin’s factory in St Athan, Wales, in case anyone was wondering why the car featured a large dragon on its flank. There were also appearances from the Vanquish Zagato family, consisting of a Speedster, Coupe, Volante and Shooting Brake — a rare treat for lovers of the styling house.
Perhaps the most fitting display to grace the lawns, however, was that of six unique Vantages, specially commissioned and designed by Q by Aston Martin, the marque’s bespoke personalisation service. Each of the Heritage Racing Editions honoured a famous racing car from the company’s rich canon; Aston Martin’s current sports car, the Vantage, was a fitting model for the tribute. Significant race cars to which the six Vantages paid tribute included the Razor Blade — which set two class records in the 1500cc light car class at Brooklands in the 1920s — the famous pre-war racer the Ulster, the DBS3 from the David Brown era, Group C racer the AMR1, the DBR9 — which won the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race in its GT class in both 2007 and 2008 — and the modern day Vantage GTE, Aston Martin’s endurance track offering.
As the crowds finally thinned on the Sunday evening of the Festival and the cars departed the hill climb, leaving behind a pattern of black tyre marks, British artist Gerry Judah’s remarkable sculpture stood proud against the evening sky over Goodwood House. It was an extraordinary way to celebrate one marque’s extraordinary dominance of motorsport and the luxury road cars that legacy has produced over seven decades. Above it all, a single DBR1 perched at the top of the sculpture, its silent presence speaking more about the enduring quality of Aston Martin craftsmanship and engineering than any other moment all weekend.