Goodwood Revival 2013 Pt 2: A Weekend of Style and Speed
There are many premier automobile gatherings around the world, but which is the world’s single best location for a vintage car event is a question to be debated. Some will say Monterey week, others will claim Le Mans Classic; however, having been to both of these events, I can justifiably say that niether compare to the Goodwood Revival.
The Goodwood motor circuit first opened in 1948 and closed its doors to racing events in 1966. The Revival recreates the raceway’s golden era with races featuring cars that ran on the circuit between 1948-’66. Additionally, prior to becoming a racetrack it was used as a relief airfield for fighter command during World War II, so in commemoration, organizers orchestrate flyovers by legendary fighters like the Spitfire and P51 Mustang.
What lifts the Revival out from other events is the extraordinary attention to detail that the organisers put in to ensure everything correctly reflects the 1940-1966 time period. With the exception of modern safety vehicles, cars made after 1966 are not allowed into the circuit. Taking it a step further, participants and spectators are highly encouraged to wear vintage clothing from the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s.
I walked into the main paddock at the Goodwood Revival practice day to the sound of Merlin V12 aircraft engines emanating from a Supermarine Spitfire and P51 Mustang executing a precision flyby. This mechanical symphony was accompanied by the rumble of big American V8s as several Ford GT40s fired up ready to head out for their practice session.
Meanwhile, former Ferrari F1 ace, Jean Alesi, sign autographs by a 1964 Ferrari 250 GTO, set to race in the feature RAC TT Celebration. Further down the paddock, nine-time 24 hours of Le Mans Champion, Tom Kristensen (aka Mr. Le Mans) stood talking to fellow competitor Emanuele Pirro (five-time Le Mans champion), a sight commonly found in pits at The Revival.
The cars, whether racing, taking part in a parade, or on display would have many Petrolisti mopping up their saliva with their handkerchiefs. On the racetrack the Alfisti amongst you would be delighted to see a rare Disco Volante taking part in the Freddie March trophy racing category. Notably, a flood of Giuliettas could also be seen flogging the famous chicane during the Fordwater Trophy race.
I enjoyed the selection of Ferrari tifosi sprinkled throughout the paddock. Luckily, I was spoilt for choice with three unique examples of the iconic GTO and a 250LM taking part in the RAC TT Celebration. Alesi, in the 1964 bodied 250 GTO. This was considered the most competitive model of the bunch but my personal favourite was the 4.0-litre powered GTO on hand–universally known as a 330 GTO but correctly titled as a 330LM.
In the Fordwater Trophy, Max Girardo of RM auctions, enthusiastically drove a 250 Tour de France to third place behind Jochen Mass in a Mercedes 300SL Gullwing and an unbelievably fast Austin Healey 3000.
The highlight of the weekend, for many spectators, was the Whitsun Trophy races, which featured only Ford GT40s . In somewhat wet and greasy conditions, 24 of these brutes thundered around the circuit but it was Adrian Newey, Red Bull F1 designer, personal GT40 that left the pack in its wake. Newey shared the race with former Indy 500 winner Kenny Brack, explaining the gap at the drop of the checkered flag.
Event sponsor, Veuve Clicquot, even had to comply with Goodwood’s period correct requirements. This meant they couldn’t bring their custom Airstream caravan to the circuit. So like any global luxury adult beverage company does they repurposed the trunk and interior space of a 1963 Ferrari 250 Lusso to showcase their Veuve Cliquot hamper and bottles of Yellow Label on the parcel shelf.
As guests of Veuve Clicquot we were treated to three-course lunches washed down with 2004 Vintage Veuve Clicquot, later followed by afternoon tea and Veuve Clicquot Rosé, the afternoon races had begun. Nimble Alfa Romeo Giulia GTAs diced with gargantuan Ford Galaxie 500s in the St Mary’s Trophy. Fortunately the lawn outside the marquee was strategically located on the inside of the chicane, a perfect viewing position to catch all the action.
Away from the racing circuit and across the road, the forward car parking lot became a show in itself. It’s strictly reserved for cars (and motorcycles) built before 1973. Everything from Austin Sevens to a Maserati Mexico braved the inclement weather to be part of the show. Perhaps more noticeable than in previous years were the number of foreign visitors to this event. French, Belgian and German registrations were plentiful amongst the old cars and there was even an Austin Healey from Ontario, Canada!
The cherry on top for the event had to be the warbird air show. Spitfires, Hurricanes, and Kittyhawks demonstrated formations overhead, whilst an ear-shattering Canberra jet from the 1950s began its ignition sequence. On the ground the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation Concours could be considered the classic aircraft equivalent of the Pebble Beach Concours. Pristine examples of painstakingly restored aircraft reminded everybody in attendance the sheer innovation and beauty each machine represented during the rapid ascent of aircraft technology.
To be honest, I’ve barely scratched the surface of just how unique the Goodwood Revival experience was. The decor, fashion, races and of course cars allow you to slip into the fantasy of life during the golden era of the automobile. If you take anything away from this report its simply this: mark your calendar this very instant for next year’s event. Start researching what era clothing you plan on wearing and be sure to bring an umbrella (just in case). Trust me, you won’t regret it.
Photography by Jonny Shears for Petrolicious