Over 150,000 motorsport fans attended the 2011 Goodwood Festival of Speed, hosted by Lord March, over the weekend of 1-3 July.
The main attraction at this one-of-a-kind event is the 1.16 mile hillclimb along the main drive and through the grounds which, this year, played host to BMW star riders from past and present including Leon Haslam, John Surtees and Mattie Griffin.
Surtees, the only man to become world champion on two and four wheels at the very highest level, tackled the hillclimb on the historic BMW Type 255 Kompressor. German rider Georg Meier won the Isle of Man TT in 1939 on this bike – becoming the first non-British winner of the legendary race.
Surtees has a very close personal relationship with this motorcycle. Fascinated by the pictures of Meier winning on the Isle of Man, Surtees traced the journey of the bike through several countries and finally located it in the late 1970s. He bought it and painstakingly restored the bike with the assistance of BMW engineers and mechanics. Later he returned the bike to BMW, with the only remaining BMW Type 255 Kompressor now proudly displayed in the BMW Museum and run at prestigious events like Goodwood.
Surtees said: “In life you have relationships with people, but you also have relationships with machines. Some are not so good and others are a bit special. This relationship is a bit special. If BMW were to give the Type 255 away again, I would have it back! I have had a very long relationship with BMW and own a collection of BMW cars. I still have my original 507.”
Surtees was delighted to ride his “old friend” again at Goodwood and raced up the hill at high speed: “It might sound silly, but you do this to satisfy yourself. And you want to make the machine happy.”
While Surtees and the BMW Type 255 Kompressor represented BMW Motorrad in the past, World Superbike rider Leon Haslam and his 2011 BMW Motorrad Motorsports S 1000 RR entertained the spectators with a BMW bike of the latest generation.
Haslam said: “I have been coming to Goodwood for a few years now and it is always a fantastic show. This year saw some of the great riders and drivers like Stirling Moss and John Surtees attending; as well as countless stunning bikes and cars from all eras.”
“Doing the run this year on my BMW S 1000 RR was fantastic fun. The atmosphere is always great - it is a pleasure to be here. I did some autograph sessions with John Surtees and I took the opportunity to ask him all about his old BMW bike. Obviously he is the only guy ever to have won the world championships in Formula One and on two wheels, so he is an absolute legend. To meet him was a real honour for me.”
Another BMW Motorrad rider who made his way up the Goodwood hill, albeit in a very different manner, was Irish stunt star Mattie Griffin. Returning to the event for the second time as a BMW Motorrad rider, Mattie once again raced up the hill while performing a stunningly choreographed series of wheelies and stoppies, intermixed with tyre-shredding burnouts. Michael Neeves, senior road tester for Motorcycle News, once again entered the hillclimb event on his S 1000 RR MRO Superstock racer, prepared by BMW Park Lane.
Tony Jakeman, BMW Motorrad Marketing Manager, said: “Once again, the Goodwood Festival of Speed has been a great success. It’s great for BMW to be able to display a number of exciting models from the 2011 range to the visitors, but even more so, it’s a chance for motorsport fans to meet some of our most famous riders and see and hear their bikes being ridden. This year we were very pleased to be able to have both Leon Haslam and John Surtees running in the hillclimb on two very special BMW race bikes, from the past and the present.”