Highlands and Hampton Downs owner, Tony Quinn, has ‘Mad Mike’ Whiddett to thank for his invitation to this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed from July 4-7. Whiddett has been one of the stars of the world-renowned motorsport extravaganza since he made his debut at the English festival in 2014.
“My first Goodwood in 2014 was an incredible event and one of the highlights of my career,” says Whiddett. “For me to get the opportunity to showcase drifting in front of all these motorsport legends including Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Loeb and Sir Jackie Stewart, was very special. Lord March (now the Duke of Richmond) who hosts the event, gave me the award for ‘Most Thrilling Driver’ that first year and he’s invited me back every year since then. We’re good mates now and last year I reached out to the Duke to get an invite for Tony. When I told the Duke about some of the cars Tony owned he was blown away.”
“It’s nice to be able to return a favour to Tony. He’s been so supportive of my career. He gave me my first opportunity to race a GT car a couple of years ago and I’ve really enjoyed the GT racing that I’ve done. He helped me set up my Mad Mike Motorsport shop at Hampton Downs and I was also the first driver to drift the track at Highlands.”
Whiddett will be debuting his new Lamborghini Huracan drift car at Goodwood while Quinn will be competing in the hill climb in the heavily modified Ford Focus he’s raced at Pikes Peak for the last three years. Warwick Mortimer, who’s a member at Hampton Downs and Highlands, will make it a hat-trick of Kiwis at Goodwood this year with his Mazdaspeed March 84G.
“I’ve been to Goodwood before as a spectator and it was the best motorsport event I’ve been to,” says Quinn. “I don’t have a bucket list but if I did then competing at Goodwood would be on it. The good thing about it is there is no expectation or pressure to set a fast time or finish on the podium or anything like that. It’s just a blat up a hill and a chance to hang out with a bunch of petrolheads who want to relive their youth.”
Quinn is also shipping over one of his prized possessions from the Highlands Motorsport Museum, the Benetton Formula 1 car that Michael Schumacher scored his first points in.
This year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed will celebrate Schumacher’s career with a collection of his famous cars, family, friends, team-mates and former rivals coming together in a unique tribute to one of the greatest drivers of all time. Schumacher turns 50 this year and 2019 also marks the 25th anniversary of the first of his seven Formula 1 world championships.
The theme for this year’s festival is ‘Speed Kings – Motorsport’s Record Breakers’ and another legend of the sport, Sir Jackie Stewart, will be the guest of honour. The Festival of Speed celebrated it’s 25th-anniversary last year and the event goes from strength to strength. This year’s line-up will feature the usual mixture of supercars, stunt car drivers, drifters, motocross, modern and historic racing cars, hill climbs, bikes and hi-tech gadgetry.
Supporting the Kiwi contingent at Goodwood will be 19 members from Highlands and Hampton Downs.
“A group of members came over to Pikes Peak last year and it was fantastic,” says Quinn. “It was great to have them there and it really added to the experience for me. We’ll put on a good show for them in the UK and we’ll introduce them to some interesting people and some really unique experiences that money can’t buy.”
One of the highlights promises to be a visit with Dick Bennetts, the ex-pat Kiwi originally from Dunedin, who founded West Surrey Racing in 1981 to compete in the British Formula 3 Championship. Bennetts bowed out of F3 as the most successful team owner in the history of the series, both in terms of race victories and titles and he helped launch the careers of some incredible drivers including Ayrton Senna and Mika Häkkinen.
“This road trip is set to become an annual event for our members and we’ll go somewhere different every year,” says Quinn. “Next year we plan to take the members to Bathurst and we’ve also got plans to do some of the big endurance events in Europe. We’ve got over 300 members now between Highlands and Hampton Downs and it’s a great bunch of people who are interested in the same things.”