Putting Art in the Back Seat, Kenny Schachter Goes to Venerate the Old Masters of the Racetrack at the Festival of Speed
With a lull in the art calendar, our columnist went off to pursue his second all-consuming passion—classic cars—at a tony British hillclimb.
Seventeen-time Le Mans entrant, and driver of my car, Nic Minassian. Photo courtesy of Kenny Schachter.
As an isolated, overweight child growing up in Long Island with zero exposure to culture, cars were my gateway drug to art. It was the industrial design that initially drew me in, and now I when I sit down to write I have a car directly under my desk, in my office that was once a garage and which I have since converted into a hybrid office-cum-carpark. The reasoning: when you drive a vehicle you don’t see it, and when you park, you leave it. I am drawn to the lines, smells, and furniture (aka car seats), all of it. I love to look at cars, except when I write about art—then I black out, see nothing but the page, and listen to the same song 200 times in a row. (The Strokes recently, ugh.)
Goodwood House, in Chichester, West Sussex, was built in 1600 and acquired by the Duke of Richmond in 1697; the 12,000-acre estate features car and horse racetracks, an airport, two golf courses, a hotel, and an organic farm. (I wandered into a pig patch and got challenged by a 300-pound beast.) The headquarters of Rolls Royce are also situated on the premises. There are George Stubbs hunting scenes, a Caneletto London-scape, Van Dycks, and a Veronese on the walls, lest I forget. The present Duke, Charles Richmond, established the Festival of Speed (FOS) 25 years ago, a hillclimbing event where competitors race against the clock on a vertiginous course—in this case, the service road in front of the Duke’s pile (UK slang for a rather large abode). Five years later he launched the Revival, where visitors dress in period attire to embrace the early days of motorsport.