Lord March – Nobility’s most famous petrolhead
The man behind the year's greatest shows
Lord March is a drug dealer.
Ok, that’s a pretty shocking opening statement, but it’s true. His Lordship might not peddle harmful substances but he does invite the world to his place once a year to sample his own highly addictive entity – the Goodwood Festival of Speed and Goodwood Revival. Once you attend these events, you can’t help but want to go back for more, time and time again. Drug dealer, see?
Lord March himself – the Duke of Richmond – brought the Festival of Speed event into the world in 1993 after being unable at the time to get racing back to the Goodwood Circuit due to pesky paperwork. The Revival – an incredible costume-heavy event throwing back to the ‘golden-era’ of motor racing came along five years later, hosted at the Goodwood Circuit and featuring many races for different classes of machine.
Goodwood happens his back garden, of course. A back garden that’s called an “Estate” and encompasses the circuit, a horse racing course, landscaped parks and forests, a stunning 17th-century residence, several small villages, farms, and the headquarters of the Rolls-Royce motor company. In total the estate covers around 12,000-acres, whatever they are.
If you’ve ever been to one of those events, you’ll know exactly what we mean when we talk about how addictive it is. There’s so much to see, learn, experience, breathe in. The history and prestige of these motoring events are practically unrivalled in the world, and it’s Lord March and his vision we have to thank for that.
He’s always been a little different, really. This is a man who studied at the famous Eton College but couldn’t wait to get out and is widely known to have hated his time there. Photography was his bag, and he dropped out of Eton aged 17 and ended up in Chelsea. Not long afterwards he was mixing with famous film director Stanley Kubrick. His photography has been displayed in exhibitions worldwide and he’s highly regarded for his talent in that area.
Advertising proved to be a natural fit for the younger Lord too, it was he who put together famous and successful campaigns for Benson&Hedges and Silk Cut cigarettes, as well as a host of others. His career in advertising lasted a good 15 years before 1993 saw him take over the Goodwood Estate. From there on in, his style and forward-thinking approach to business and estate management – by no means a simple task – has seen Goodwood flourish.
An Estate of the size of Goodwood costs many millions of pounds per year simply to stay afloat, but the fabulous successes of events like the Goodwood Revival and Festival of Speed help enormously towards helping the estate make healthy profits. Each event is said to separately bring in 8-figures of income each year. To give you a rough idea of costs at Goodwood, Lord March told the Guardian in 2016 that his curtains needed replacing, at a cost of £400,000.
Clearly, the responsibility involved in running such an organisation must be quite stressful, but with nearly 3,000 people on his payroll, the Earl has little time to rest on his laurels. He’s been quoted as saying his mission is to make Goodwood relevant in the digital era, and there’s been a big push on producing digital content – particularly with motoring – in recent years. The other side of the coin still sees money coming in from successful organic farming, though, with estate produce proving particularly successful in elite cafés and restaurants.
If you’re one of the many, many hundreds of thousands of visitors that flock to Goodwood each year, you’ll know full well just why we all owe Lord March one. Yes, he’s an entrepreneur of sorts, but there’s a streak of motoring philanthropy coursing through his work. He’s helped many of us ordinary folk get close – perhaps as close as anyone ever has been – to legendary cars and drivers, as well as provide an alternative to do hollow British Motor Show slot.
If you’ve not yet had the chance to sample one or both of the famous motoring events, we sincerely hope you get the chance. Most likely, you’ll see one of us lot there getting our fix. Until then…
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