Event // Scenes from the Goodwood Revival

Event // Scenes from the Goodwood Revival

Words and photos by Andrew Coles

The first few hours at Revival are always a write-off, with so much stimuli competing for your attention that you never quite know where to focus your attention.

This is how Friday morning played out.

Having just parked and got out of the car, I stood adjusting my tweed coat and using the reflection of the side glass to perfect the length of my tie. Overhead, a quartet of WW2 era fighter planes – Spitfires and Messerschmitt’s, performed a mock dogfight. As my colleague and I walked into the circuit, passing two separate Ferrari F40s and several Blower Bentleys on our way, the planes came in to land one-by-one on the infield airstrip, a few hundred meters to our right. It was not yet 830am.

There was no time to look at the trade stands as we traversed through them, but the stripped bodyshell of a very rusty Ferrari 330 GT that had been lightly crashed many decades ago caught my eye. We walked past a miniature steam train, its railway specially installed for the event and a team of engineers stoking the fire in its boiler, past a full-size steam train that had been craned into display position, through the track tunnel and into the paddock proper.

The media centre was our destination, but our route required us to walk past 12 Ferrari 250 SWBs in a line, a trio of 250 GTOs, and the one-off 250 GT Breadvan, to name but a few. Around them swarmed white overall and tie wearing mechanics tending to their every need, and an endless stream of hangers-on wearing immaculate suits and lovely summer frocks. The media centre itself is a large tent decorated with flags and props to resemble a WW2 foreign correspondents field office, and I chose a desk from where I could see planes landing on the airstrip.

What I feel is a short walk around the paddock quickly occupies many hours, and it becomes unnervingly easy to lose vast swathes of time. The cups of coffee in the hands of period-dressed spectators soon turn to glasses of champagne, and after shooting the drivers belting themselves into their cars, it’s suddenly time for beef stew and a refreshing ale back at the media centre. How did that happen? Half a day gone, just like that.

The 3.8 kilometre Goodwood Motor Circuit served its time as a post-war perimeter airfield circuit in the years 1948-1966, and it is this specific period in time that the Revival harks back to. Of course, the irony is that Goodwood’s ‘revival’, for want of a better term, has arguably made the circuit more successful than it ever was in period, and 2018 saw the 20th anniversary of the Revival event.

The Revival would risk descending into the murky depths of becoming just another vintage festival were it not for the quality of racing, which is unmatched. Nowhere else will you see cars as well-prepared being raced so hard, and it is this alone that maintains the event’s integrity. Yes, the Revival is quickly joining the likes of Ascot as another stop on the socialite’s must-be-seen-at event list, but the racing is still very much the core attraction.

Friday evening’s Kinrara Trophy will be remembered for some time. A reputed £200m of cars, comprised of all those V12 Ferraris, a brace of E-Types and a sparing few DB4s, slid and rubbed fenders in a soft golden sunset that seemed to last for hours. The Breadvan Ferrari won, but only just, and that race will be covered in depth in an upcoming print issue of Sports Car Safari.

Elsewhere, motorcycle legend Troy Corser took victory in the Barry Sheene Memorial motorcycle race, riding a 1922 supercharged BMW with a solid rear end. A pair of Jaguar MkIIs battled wheel-to-wheel for the entire St Mary’s Trophy, and the Settrington Cup saw a full grid of beaming children race their Austin A40 pedal cars on the start/finish straight.

There are few places in the world where you can rub shoulders with motorsport royalty as you stand on an authentic 1960s pit building, sipping an ale as you watch five genuine GT40s lay thick black lines on the track as they scramble for traction and a good run down to turn one. There is truly nothing else like the Revival, and long may it continue.

And a small handful from the car park: