Goodwood Festival of Speed general manager Dan Garlick discusses how his career at the West Sussex race track has included everything from jet pack risk assessments to 3D printed moon bases.

What led you to become involved in the events industry?

 I’m from an operational background and I had become involved in smaller events in a previous job and really loved seeing people enjoying the output of our efforts. I was attracted to Goodwood as things are just on a different scale to what I had done before and it’s a great feeling once the event is live and seeing the smiles on so many peoples’ faces.

Have you always been interested in motorsports?

 I love the excitement of our motorsport events but I wouldn’t pretend to be a motorsports expert. My background has been in operational event delivery and I love the thrill and pressure of getting everything ready for ‘gates open’. At Goodwood, it is a real team effort with lots of different teams bringing the events together. I think of it as our Event Operations Team building ‘the stage’, and then our Motorsport Competitions Team supplying the ‘actors’. They are motorsport fanatics with encyclopaedic knowledge of which cars and drivers to invite depending on what we are celebrating; they make our content genuinely world class.

When did you first get involved in Goodwood Festival of Speed and what have been the highlights since?

I joined Goodwood around nine years ago as the Goodwood Revival operations manager, then moved to Festival of Speed general manager and I’m now Motorsport director with oversight of our three headline motorsport events; Festival of Speed, Revival and Members Meeting. Introducing the Festival of Speed Future Lab three years ago has been a personal highlight. FOS Future Lab features world leading technology and looks at all sorts of things just being developed, from deep water submarine exploration, to flying cars, to 3D printed moon bases, to connected cities.

 “I love the thrill and pressure of getting everything ready for ‘gates open’”

Have there been any memorable challenges overcome?

The most memorable challenge recently was test flying and writing the risk assessments for David Mayman the ‘jet man’ of Jet Pack Aviation to fly up the FOS hill climb, including going under the pedestrian bridge just meters in front of all of our fans, a couple of years ago. It was all worth it though as it was really spectacular, was loved by the crowd, and is definitely one of my fondest FOS memories.

 

2020 was an incredibly frustrating year but has there been any high points or valuable lessons learned?

We came up with a behind-closed-door event called Goodwood SpeedWeek, which represented the best of the content from FOS and Revival. We brought in significant TV infrastructure and thanks to our partners were able to live stream the four-day racing for free to all of our members, fans and general public. Coverage included three two-hour live shows on ITV hosted by Dermot O’Leary. It was great to give something back to motorsport fans amidst this terrible pandemic.

 

How confident are you that the Festival of Speed will be able to take place in 2021?

 The news seems really positive at the moment, with vaccine progress getting better every day. It’s great that crowds are returning to sporting venues and let’s hope that continues over the winter period.  We are busy planning for all COVID eventualities for our events next year, but we are very confident we will be able to hold them all and have literally just announced our dates. I really hope we will be getting back towards normality after Easter next year, with the return of full capacity crowds being a real possibility.

This article was published in the January edition of Access All Areas, which is available here.

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