A Spectacle To Behold
The Goodwood Revival spectacularly recreates motorsports events of the 1940s to 1960s, witnesses Tony Watts.
Just wandering around the
paddock area where the vehicles are prepared for
the weekend’s 15 races is enough to send any motoring
aficionado into a swoon.
It is a measure of the value of the Rolls-Royce brand that approximately 70 per cent of all the motor cars ever handcrafted are still running. It is a matter of conjecture if the reason behind this is because the vehicles are so rare that the value of the significant ones only ever increases, or because Rolls-Royce owners are just unusually aware of history.
An argument for either case could be made at the Goodwood Revival, an annual historic motor race held at the Goodwood Estate in West Sussex, England every September. Goodwood is also the hallowed home of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.
The Revival is the brainchild of Lord March, whose grandfather opened the Goodwood Motor Circuit in 1948.The 2.4-mile (3.9km) circuit was originally the ring road for Royal Air Force Westhampnett, an airfield constructed during World War II. From 1948 until 1966, the Goodwood Motor Circuit was, along with Silverstone, Aintree and Brands Hatch, one of the pre-eminent motor racing circuits in the UK. But with the increasing speeds of race cars in the late 1960s, the circuit was closed over safety concerns.
Since its inception in 1998, the Revival has celebrated the glory days of the Goodwood Motor Circuit, attracting the best historic race cars of the era for a weekend of on-track thrills. But the Revival is a motoring spectacle not simply because of the quality of the vehicles in attendance or the big-name drivers it attracts. A large par t of its allure can be attributed to the authenticity of the experience – the period recreation includes the service vehicles, motor show, fairground with period rides, and retail stores stocked with items in unique packaging you may not have seen for some years.The crowd, too, lends a generous touch of authenticity to the event by dressing in period attire.
Since 2007, the Revival has featured the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation Concours d’Elegance for historic planes, with World War II Spitfires and Hurricanes with their thundering Rolls-Royce Merlin engines arguably attracting the most attention. Every year, Goodwood also celebrates momentous historic occasions. This time round, it paid tribute to Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on the 60th anniversary of their ascent of Mount Everest, with a snowy scene decorated with Nepalese prayer flags and actors playing their parts.
The 100th running of the Tour de France in 2013 was celebrated with two laps of the circuit by riders of pre-1966 racing cycles, led by British Olympic hero Sir Chris Hoy on a 1920s steel racing bike. He also raced on four wheels with a Mini Cooper S over the weekend.
Famous drivers are another big draw at the Revival, with names like Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner, Paris-Dakar hero Stéphane Peterhansel, rally legend Rauno Aaltonen, touring car ace Steve Soper, ex-Formula One drivers Mark Blundell and Jochen Mass, Le Mans
01-02 Guests had the opportunity to get cosy with historic Rolls-Royce motor cars during the Revival.
07 A guest drives a vintage Rolls-Royce. 08 British Olympic cyclist Sir Chris Hoy (left) enjoying a leisurely ride.
heroes Derek Bell and Tom Kristensen, as well as actor and comedian Rowan Atkinson, who competed against Sir Chris in the 1960-1966 production saloon car category.
But the highlight for motoring enthusiasts would undoubtedly be the cars. Just wandering around the paddock area where the vehicles are prepared for the weekend’s 15 races is enough to send any motoring aficionado into a swoon.
Each Ferrari 250 GT and 250 GTO is rare enough to fetch more than US$5 million (S$6.3 million) at any auction – there were nine of them in the paddock area. Alongside them was a stunning 1.5-litre 12-cylinder 1964 Ferrari 1512 open wheeler, driven by John Surtees in the 1965 Grand Prix season.
Then there was the 1969 Ford GT40 (it served as a camera car for Steve McQueen’s Le Mans film) that recently set an auction record of US$11 million in the United States. It would be overwhelming enough for many just to be in the presence of an original, so one can imagine how breathtaking it was to see an astounding 27 of them in attendance.The fleet competed in the Whitsun Trophy race later in the day to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this momentous racing car. There were also rare beauties on display as well on the racing track. These included the Jaguar C, D and E-Types, various Maserati Grand Prix and sports cars, Aston Martins, BRMs, Lotus open wheelers, Porsches, AC Cobras, MGs and Alfa Romeos.
Rolls-Royce customers and prospective clients were treated to laps in period vehicles between the events, and clearly enjoyed the nostalgic rides. A personal favourite was displayed for sale – a 1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Drophead Coupe with coachwork by Binder of Paris, though its £1.25 million (S$2.62 million) asking price was as breathtaking as the work of art.
As Goodwood is the home of Rolls-Royce’s state-of-the-art production facility, it should come as little surprise that the company is a sponsor of the Revival. But the relationship goes deeper than mere geography – the Revival is held at Goodwood because the history of the motor car would be incomplete without the magic of Rolls-Royce.
05 04 An event staff ensures that the motor cars on display are as pristine as possible.
03 A guest poses beside an elegant Phantom Drophead Coupé. 05-06 Historic race cars take to the track alongside grid girls in costumes.
09 Actor Rowan Atkinson (left) was among the celebrities in attendance at the Revival. 10 It was a colourful event, with everyone dressing up in period costumes.