Ever since I went to the first Goodwood Revival meeting in 1998, those three days in September have been the highlight of my motoring year. Goodwood is a fantastic race circuit, fast and demanding of drivers but at the same time beautiful and accessible to the public. When the weather is good there is really nothing to match the place. Lord March does, of course, put on a good party. Racing heroes of the past and the top historic racers of today love to drive at Goodwood as much as the public loves to see them. And if you are a billionaire owner of a Ferrari 250 GTO then nothing underscores your wealth more than allowing your precious car to be raced at it’s limit around such an unforgiving track.

Much though I love the revival I do increasingly begin to question whether I enjoy it as much as I used to. This year there was a record attendance of over 160,000 people and boy, at times did it feel it. Maybe it would not have been so bad if all of those attending had been motoring enthusiasts but many were there on corporate hospitality jollies and clearly had little interest or knowledge of motor racing. When John Surtees was taking part in his laps of honour I overheard, all too frequently, people asking who he was.

Maybe I’m getting grouchy now, but am I the only one beginning to find having to dress in period attire boring? Certainly the whole dressing up thing has become a major industry and whilst it might interest otherwise bored spouses, is it really necessary for the enjoyment of the racing? I understand that there is a desire to create a period feel but in that case why all the adverts for contemporary and anonymous private banks and hedge funds? And why are motor manufacturers allowed to push their new models in the “period” Earls Court Motor Show?

The racing this year was as good as ever but quite often it was the same cars that race every year in the same races with the same drivers. Perhaps Goodwood’s embarrassment of riches gives rise to a certain ambivalence but I no longer get excited by the multi-million pound grid for the RAC TT celebration. As for the St Mary’s Trophy touring car race, the less said the better. A Race where a Ford A40 can lap faster than a Jaguar Mk 1 is certainly entertaining but it is not historic racing.

The highpoints of my weekend? One was watching Giedo Van de Garde sliding his AC Cobra around Lavant Corner on his way to winning the RAC TT celebration with his codriver David Hart. I have often heard elderly spectators say that young Formula One drivers would be incapable of racing sports cars from the 50s and 60s as their forebears used to, because young drivers are so used to massive downforce and slick tires. Giedo proved conclusively that even one of the least high profile young Formula One drivers of today is more than capable of driving the wheels off anything given half a chance.

Another highlight was the fantastic Whitsun Trophy race on Saturday evening. Chris Goodwin, McLaren’s charming test driver, triumphed in his own McLaren Chevy M1B. The racing was very close and the average lap speed the fastest of the whole weekend. Seeing these CanAm monsters hurtle down the Lavant straight at over 160 miles an hour was astonishing as was the noise from their huge V8 engines.

An finally of course, the air displays. This year we had the once in a lifetime opportunity to see two Lancasters flying in formation. A very moving sight.

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Goodwood in September..Goodwood Trophy Race

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V16 BRM – I had not realised the engine was offset.

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Derek Bell pushes his Jaguar D Type towards the grid

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Jay Esterer’s sinister Chinook Chevy Mk2 from the Whitsun Trophy race

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Chris Goodwin’s Whitsun Trophy winning McLaren Chevy M1B

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Lots of fine cars in the Classics Car Park, one of the highlights of the event in fact. This very fine Armstrong Siddley Star Sapphire had come all the way from Switzerland.

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A very neat Singer Le Mans, a very underrated pre war sports car.

 

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A rare aerial visitor, a Gloster Gladiator fighter.

 

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A rare MG Arnholt Coupe. Built on a TD chassis in the US in the fifties, these cars are rarely seen in Europe. This one had come from Germany.

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Sir Jackie Stewart explains the finer points of his Championship winning Tyrell

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Two Lancasters – the roar of eight Rolls Royce Merlin engines. The sound of freedom.

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