The Goodwood circuit revival is a magical step back in time
The Goodwood Circuit Revival is an annual motorsports event which takes place over three days each September at the Goodwood Motor Circuit in West Sussex England. The Motor Circuit began life as the perimeter track of RAF Westhampnett airfield which was built during World War II.
The circuit was established by Freddie March the Duke of Richmond. The circuit hosted racing from 1948 up until 1966 at which point the cars had become too fast for this high-speed course and the circuit was closed for racing. In 1998, the circuit was revived by Freddie March’s grandson Charles, Earl of March.
The Goodwood Circuit Revival has now turned into the top event on the historic racing calendar. The entire event is set in the period in which the circuit was originally opened and spectators are encouraged to show up in period dress. It is quite amazing the number of people that do dress in period. I would estimate 90% or more. When you enter through the gates it is truly like stepping back in time. You feel as if you have just walked onto a movie set. There is so much going on here it is sensory overload.
They have recreated a typical shopping street of the 1950’s, there is the Earl’s Court Motor Show showcasing the finest automotive machinery of the day, the March Motor Works which is a recreation of car workshops of old. There is an air show featuring WWII Aircraft for those aviation buffs and the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation which is a concours of rare and historic aircraft that have flown in to celebrate Goodwood’s rich history with aviation.
The Revival kicks off on Friday giving guests their first chance to see all the cars, bikes and aircraft on show, as well as all the other action taking place across the circuit grounds.
There is one full race on Friday, but all the other competitors are out for practice and qualifying so visitors get to see every car and bike in action.
When you enter through the gates it is truly like stepping back in time.
The first race of the weekend was the Kinrara Trophy. This is a 60 minute two driver race into the dusk featuring pre 1963 GT cars. It was a beautiful sight seeing Aston Martins DB4’s battling with E-type Jaguars and Ferrari SWB’s into the night with headlights ablaze and exhausts shooting flames as the skies darkened over the wet rainy circuit.
Saturday’s track activities began with a parade celebrating the Fiat 600 with over 125 of the diminutive Italian icons circling the track. There were seven races on Saturday including part 1 of the Lennox trophy for motorcycles. There was also part one of the Settrington Cup which is a pedal car race for those up and coming racers.
The highlight of the day was the crowd pleasing St. Mary’s Trophy PT 1 for sedans built up to 1959. It was the pros in the car today with an entry list reading like a who’s who of touring car greats past and present. Jaguar’s battling it out with Austin A40’s, Alfa Romeos and even a Ford Thunderbird driven by 9 times LeMans winner Tom Kristensen.
Sunday morning kicked off with the Brooklands Trophy for pre-war cars. The highlight of this race was watching pole position winner Patrick Blakeney-Edwards drifting the Fraser Nash “Owlet” around the circuit in brilliant sideways fashion.
The marquee race of the weekend is the 60 minute two driver RAC TT featuring the finest historic GT cars in the world. There were thirty cars scheduled to start with an estimated value of over 150 million dollars!
The race did not disappoint as there was an incredible race long battle for the lead between the lightweight Jaguar E-type of Chris Ward and Gordon Shedden VS the father and son team of David Hart and 18 year old Oliver in their 1963 AC Cobra.
Unfortunately the Cobra had to retire near the end of the race with mechanical failure and the Jaguar was given a penalty for contact with another car, giving the win to the AC Cobra of Michael Gans and Andy Wolfe.
…the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation which is a concours of rare and historic aircraft…
Sunday’s racing came to a close and it was time for the prize giving at the start-finish straight, where spectators and drivers gathered to enjoy a glass of complimentary champagne while the awards were given out. At this point it started to sink in that the weekend had come to a close and I would have to leave this fantasy and return to reality.
It was another incredible Revival put on by Lord March and his team. Being able to see some of the finest historic racing cars being pushed to their limit and beyond by some of the world’s top drivers past and present was an unforgettable experience.
This is so much more than just the great racing you also have the air shows, a carnival and outdoor theatre “over the road” which is open until 10PM for those looking for a break from the racing. Having all this put on in a time capsule truly was “a magical step back in time”.
I know where I will be next September.
Hope to see you there!
… thirty cars scheduled to start with an estimated value of over 150 million dollars!
1st: Phil Keen and Jon Minshaw, Jaguar E-Type
2nd: Gregor Fisken and Tom Kristensen, Jaguar E-Type
3rd: Ollie Bryant and Martin O’Connell, Jaguar E-Type
1st: Stuart Roach, Alexis Mk3
2nd: Peter de la Roche, BMC Mk2
3rd: Pete Morton, Ausper T3
1st: Miles Griffiths, Lotus 11
2nd: Dion Kremer, Lotus 17
3rd: Ian Dalglish, Lotus 17
1st: Michael Gans, ERA R1B
Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the January 2018 print issue of the Drive Magazine.