Mercedes-Benz Classic Returns to Goodwood Festival of Speed 2011

Words Jim Davis | June 29, 2011
Mercedes-Benz Classic is presenting “125! years inventor of the automobile” exhibition, celebrating milestones of the brand’s history
Words Jim Davis June 29, 2011

What are the strengths of the Mercedes-Benz brand? Speed, power and style, visionary technology and an awareness of history and last but not least, least elegance and luxury.These are the qualities that are drawing thousands of visitors to the Festival of Speed 2011 and have been year after year. Mercedes-Benz Classic is a regular at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and will also be participating at this year’s event, which is scheduled to be held from July 1st to the 3rd, 2011 under the theme “Racing Revolutions – Quantum leaps that shaped motor sport”. Its line-up of landmark racing cars is set to negotiate the 1.86 kilometer (1.15 mile) long hillclimb circuit. And in 2011 Mercedes-Benz Classic will also be presenting the exhibition “125! years inventor of the automobile” which celebrates milestones of the brand’s history, right back to its origins with Carl Benz’s Patent Motor Car from 1886.

Motorsport revolutions

The concerted will to innovate embraced by Mercedes-Benz and the predecessor brands is thus reflected on the racetrack as well as in the exhibition. After all, Mercedes-Benz “Racing Revolutions” are the brand’s racing cars with a string of victories to their name. And these successes were not just down to the drivers’ skill but essentially also fruit of the engineers’ tireless determination to come up with new solutions for the racing cars. Such developments have consistently been those “quantum leaps that shaped motor sport”, as echoed in the 2011 festival theme.

This year Goodwood will be host to legendary racing cars that are all set to tackle the hillclimb circuit. The line-up includes the W 165 Silver Arrow designed specifically for the Tripoli Grand Prix in 1939, the 300 SL (W 194) racing sports car from 1952 (claimed victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours) and the 190 2.5 16V EVO II touring car used in the DTM from 1990. The current Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3, which will line up on the starting grid in the FIA GT3 Championship, will represent contemporary high-performance cars.

In keeping with the Festival’s tradition, high-profile racing drivers such as Sir John Surtees, Paul Stewart, Klaus Ludwig and Bernd Schneider will take the cars around the hillclimb circuit.

The “125! years inventor of the automobile” exhibition starts with the foundation of automotive history – the Benz Patent Motor Car from 1886. Among the exhilarating engineering and style icons also on show in the exhibition will be the Mercedes Simplex 40 hp from 1902, a Mercedes-Benz 500 K Cabriolet B (W 29) from 1936, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing Coupé (W 198), a Mercedes-Benz 250 SE Cabriolet (W 111), a Mercedes-Benz 280 SL Roadster (W 113) from the 1960s, a Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL 6.9 (W 116) launched in 1975 and the very latest Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupé (C 197).

From art to the top flight of motorsport

The Festival of Speed, which was inaugurated in1993, was the brainchild of Charles Gordon-Lennox, Earl of March and Kinrara. The dedicated motorsport fan and Goodwood host bears the title Lord March. His grandfather, the former Earl of March and 9th Duke of Richmond, laid the foundation for the Festival. He was well-known in England as the car designer, engineer and racing driver Freddie March. In 1936 he organised the very first private hillclimb circuit in Goodwood Park. His grandson would rekindle this tradition more than 50 years later.

The Festival has developed from the inaugural event in 1993 into one of the unmissable highlights in the international cultural calendar for automotive fans. Racing and sports cars from across the ages play the symphonies of speed on the circuits for three whole days. Even the top flight of motorsport is represented: at least nine of this season’s Formula One teams are scheduled to participate in Goodwood in 2011, including Mercedes GP and McLaren-Mercedes. A 2.5-kilometre-long rally course was added in 2007 to supplement the hillclimb course.

Leisurely afternoon stroll and automotive fascination

The Festival of Speed is just as much an exhilarating motorsport event as it is an opportunity to stroll along in style and lap up some automotive culture: from the pits, open to all visitors, through vehicle exhibitions in the park grounds, to the automotive works of art created every year by British sculptor Gerry Judah. His temporary sculptures, which are located right in front of Goodwood House, always centre around a single brand and its particular vehicles. In 2001 the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL was the subject of the work of art at the then Festival of Speed.