The History of Goodwood Revival
Every year in September some of the world’s greatest icons of motor racing take to the circuit of yesteryear to create the racing spectacle of the Goodwood Revival. The rain failed to keep them away this year as another meeting passed the muster. Borro Blog’s car industry expert Bryan McMorran was there.
Even as a bona fide Scotsman, there is a small part of me that belongs to 2.8 miles of asphalt in West Sussex, England. Just outside the picturesque city of Chichester lies a race track that was once the perimeter road of RAF Westhampnett. Nowadays the world knows it as Goodwood, and every September Lord March and his team tempt racing royalty there to compete in a throwback event known simply as The Goodwood Revival.
Over 3 days, the sights and sounds of race cars from the 1950’s and ’60s battle wheel to wheel just as they did in period to the excitement of tens of thousands of spectators, who in their own tribute dress the part to ensure that the circuit has the same feel it did back in its heyday. Rockabillies, uniformed service men and women, seamed stockings and tweed all mix together in a nostalgic trip back in time. This may be a weekend of fun, but behind it all is a very serious business, and some proper racing, the likes of which can be sorely lacking in modern day motorsport.
RAC TT Commemorative Trophy
Throughout the weekend, single seater grand prix cars, tin-top touring cars and some of the world’s most iconic – and expensive – GT cars dance together in various races, the highlight being the RAC TT Commemorative Trophy on the Sunday afternoon. This is an hour-long race with a driver change that sees thundering AC Cobras dice with lithe Jaguar E-Type Lightweights and priceless Aston Martins and Ferraris for outright victory. Drivers include many current wheelmen from various classes of modern motorsport whose only aim is to win, irrespective of the value of the machine. With rain threatening to contribute to the outcome, the deafening roar of 30 of the finest GT cars in the world signalled the start of what was to be one of the most thrilling races of the weekend, with the Lightweight E-Type of Chris Ward and Gordon Sheddon just missing out on a hat-trick of victories thanks to a 13 second penalty handed to Ward on his first stint. This meant that the top step went to an extremely fast, and very loud Cobra.
Bonhams Goodwood Revival Sale
But don’t think that this is the only spectacle here. Children race Austin J30 pedal cars in the Settrington Cup, there are swing bands, there are retail emporiums selling everything from vintage clothing to vintage cars, the whole event has grown to be a true weekend of fun. And on the Saturday, Bonhams hold one of their most prominent car auctions of their calendar. This year, some truly wonderful cars found new homes with the always enigmatic Jamie Knight bringing his gavel down to the delight of sellers and the watching crowd. The Jack Sears Collection was a true highlight with his Ford Galaxie making a sensational £200,000 above its higher estimate when the hammer fell at £420,000. A fantastic result for a fantastic piece of history.
The event once again paid tribute to many, and none more poignant than the brave service men and women that served at the airfield during World War II. Eyes were focused skywards and through the emotions, the sight of a Spitfire, P51 Mustang and Corsair taking flight for low level passes made us truly grateful of the sacrifices made by many a brave soul to ensure that future generations never had to again. Touching and tearful.
And then eyes move back to the circuit where nostalgia was once again the order of the day with the legend of Tony Brooks taking to the track in the Vanwall that he and Sir Stirling Moss took to an amazing win in the 1957 British Grand Prix held at Aintree. Words cannot express what a sight that was to those of us not old enough to remember what these heroes were capable of in these fearsomely fast machines.
Delivering Despite the Rain
The Goodwood Revival never fails to deliver. Year after year, the effort put in by everyone involved makes the one-day ticket seem like a waste as there really is so much to see and do. And it isn’t just for petrol heads. So many wonderful sights and sounds from the Drive-in movie theatre to the Roller-Rink and fashion shows that were carefully choreographed, the overwhelming feeling from everyone who goes is only to ensure they get tickets for the next year.
Rain certainly didn’t stop play, nor did it even dampen anyone’s enthusiasm.