On the Thursday night the great and the good of two and four wheels descended on Lord March’s estate for a traditional ball, only to be awestruck by the enormous sculpture on the stately lawn with six very significant Lotus racing cars bolted high up, colour floodlit, and shadowing the famous hillclimb that runs past Goodwood House.
It was the ultimate sculpture to Lotus’s past and present. The current black and gold Lotus F1 car was flanked by Jim Clark’s 1965 Type 32B, Graham Hill’s Type 49, Emerson Fittipaldi’s Type 72, Mario Andretti’s Type 79 and Ayrton Senna’s Type 99T. Not models you understand, actual history-making gems.
Fittipaldi was just one of the Lotus legends who turned out to support Lotus and reacquaint himself with the car that made him famous – the JPS-livered Type 72. Jackie Oliver was out in the Gold Leaf-coloured Type 49 which earned him a podium in Mexico ’68, and Sir Stirling Moss, the first man to win a grand prix in a Lotus, was also there, defying his 82 years by pushing his Rob Walker blue Lotus 18 – the model that blitzed Monaco in 1960 – to the cheers of the crowds huddled behind hay-bales.
This being England, the weather changed minute to minute but by the end of Sunday the sun was out on what was the biggest Festival of Speed yet.
The Lotus stand was a big draw, showcasing the current model range as well as cars from the past like the dinky and loveable Lotus Elan which blows the candles out on its 50th birthday this year.
Lotus used the opportunity to get miles under the belt of its new rally car, the Exige R-GT, at the hands of Portuguese hotshoe Bernardo Sousa, while the road-going models also drew many admiring glances in the supercar paddock, the Evora GTE and Exige S outperforming and stealing attention from their more costly neighbours both at standstill and on the course.
Forty Lotus cars paraded around the Goodwood grounds, with just about every model represented. Classic Team Lotus’ customers were high up the leader board at the end of proceedings when the hillclimb times were read out. Chris Locke and his Type 77 were 11th having set a 54.39, while Andrew Beaumont won the Lotus bragging rights in his Type 76 with a 49.74 second run, which put him seventh overall.
There was also the opportunity to own a piece of Lotus history yourself. Olav Glasius’ collection went under Bonham’s hammer to gross £977,000, the top sale being the 1962 Lotus-Buick V8 Type 19 ‘Monte Carlo’ at £158,300, closely followed by the historically significant ex-Le Mans 24 Hours Team Lotus Lotus Eleven, which was raced by Cliff Allison and Keith Hall in 1956. It sold for £152,700.