Charles Gordon-Lennox on the Goodwood Festival of Speed

Virgin Radio

9 Jul 2021, 10:09

The owner of the Goodwood Estate joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky to talk about what is going on at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this weekend, and about the festival’s humble beginnings back in 1993.

Charles Henry Gordon-Lennox is the 11th Duke of Richmond, Lennox and Aubigny and the 6th Duke of Gordon. He founded the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 1993 and has continued to stage the event at the Goodwood Estate ever since. When talking about the first ever festival, Charles told Chris, “That was a fantastic weekend, we just had no idea what was going to happen. We were told that 2,500 people would turn up, and actually 25,000 people came! 

“It was a crazy time. They broke down the barriers. I watched them from my bathroom window and was like, ‘Oh my God what are all these people doing?’. And we had no tickets, no car-parking, it was chaotic. We had to go and buy raffle tickets and dish them out as tickets. 

“But we knew we had something. There was something here that people really wanted, and that was why we did it.

“Every year after that we said, ‘Not again! We’re never, ever doing it again!’”

The Goodwood Festival of Speed continues to go from strength to strength, and Charles said that he quickly realised that accessibility was key to the festival’s success. “We just learnt that people want to get close to cars and close to drivers. Because then you couldn’t get close to anything. Back then F1 was very different. Everything was very inaccessible, so we made it all very accessible, and we realised that if you are going to give people the right experience, you’ve got to aim high.”

This year’s festival runs from Thursday 8th until Sunday 11th July. Charles told Chris, “We’ve got some very special people coming this year. Everyone has been incredibly supportive against all the challenges. People are coming over from the States for it, all of these extreme athletes coming over. 

“Mario Andretti arrives a little bit later on today. Because our theme is Maestros: The Great All-Rounders of Motorsport, so it’s the guys who’ve driven everything, the engineers who have created all the different genres of motorsport, the teams that raced all the different sorts of cars in different categories.”

New for 2021 is Electric Avenue - the road to 2030, which presents the latest battery-powered cars of today and the future. Visitors will be able to explore and compare different makes and models and learn more about the benefits associated with switching to electric. Charles said, “I love it. I think it’s really exciting. We’re so involved in the future here. We’re looking at 100 years of mobility. That’s what the festival is all about. And this is not even the future, this is right now. 

“And also with our Future Lab presentation we’re looking at the future of mobility, what that looks like. But this is right now. This is happening. It’s exciting. Some of these cars are fabulous, they’re unbelievably quick aren't they? I mean, it is a wild experience.”

The Goodwood Festival of Speed takes place as a pilot event at a reduced capacity of 75% as part of the Events Research Programme, having been cancelled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Charles said that the support the festival has received from ticket holders and members has been incredible. “We’ve had quite an amazing experience. People have been so generous, so supportive. 

“The loyalty and support and enthusiasm has been really breathtaking.”

Find out more about the Goodwood Festival of Speed at

For more great interviews listen to The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky, weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or catch up on-demand here.