A Spec­ta­cle To Be­hold

The Good­wood Re­vival spec­tac­u­larly recre­ates mo­tor­sports events of the 1940s to 1960s, wit­nesses Tony Watts.

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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.

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07 A guest drives a vin­tage Rolls-Royce. 08 Bri­tish Olympic cy­clist Sir Chris Hoy (left) en­joy­ing a leisurely ride.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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