With feet encased in brogues, stilettos or even Dutch clogs, 138,000 visitors passed through the gates to enjoy another magnificent Goodwood Revival.
The figure is a record and, despite Goodwood’s innovative ways of using every scrap of space on the airfield perimeter track course, at times it felt like it. But of course one of the joys of the meeting is making new acquaintances, and if that happens to be while waiting in line for the Earl’s Court Motor Show or the pedestrian tunnel, so be it.
New-for-2011 was a 1960s motorcycle scrambles display area on the inside of the circuit at Lavant, and while High St spending elsewhere in the UK might be in the doldrums, an expanded ‘Goodwood High St’ was doing rather well. Joining the 60s-themed Tesco supermarket was a Kenwood kitchen appliance store and De'Longhi coffee shop.
And last year’s novelty of the time-warp Tesco hasn’t worn off – the middle-of-the-road UK grocery chain was still spoken of in the same breath as a Spitfire, E-type or AC Cobra... all of which were, quite rightly, the real stars of the 2011 Revival.
Looking skywards first of all, the 75th anniversary of the first flight of Britain’s legendary fighter was marked with a flypast of 10 Spitfires. The single-seater with its instantly recognisable elliptical wing profile was developed and built at nearby Southampton, while the Goodwood airfield, as RAF Westhampnett, was in the front-line of the Battle of Britain.
It would be trite to compare real life-or-death heroism of the 1940s with the antics on the track, but with changeable weather that shifted from dazzlingly low September sunshine to torrential rain in the time it takes to complete a lap, the many ex-Grand Prix, Le Mans and Touring Car stars were tested to their limits this year.
And none more so than in the event-topping, Royal Automobile Club TT Celebration, with just one car spinning over the shortened, 45-minute race. Think of a number and add a few noughts for a value of this year’s grid. The 2011 TT might have lacked Jaguar E-types (who had their own race, the Fordwater Trophy) and previously winning Ferraris, but it still produced some edge-of-the-seat action.
Pole-sitter, the Swedish Indy 500 winner Kenny Bräck, who was sharing a Shelby Daytona Coupé with eight-times Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen, seemingly had the headline race in the bag until the heavens opened after some 10 minutes of racing. Still lapping quickly, the car’s clear advantage in horsepower was now somewhat reduced, allowing Nick Mason’s Ferrari 250 GTO, driven by Martin Brundle and Mark Hales, to finish just 22sec behind the blue Daytona, itself kept more than honest by the Hill/Colassaco Maserati Type 151 (a popular debutant at the Revival).
The all-E-type race was held the previous day, with some thrills and unfortunate spills including the famous ‘4 WPD’ leaving the road at the chicane with Desiré Wilson at the wheel. Overall winner was the Jon Minshaw/Martin Stretton ‘semi-lightweight’, closely followed by Adrian Newey’s familiar white-with-a-red-roof genuine Lightweight, only 1.967 seconds adrift. Exciting stuff.
The two-part saloon car event, the St Mary’s Trophy, always a favourite with the Revival crowd, was for the newer cars this year. As ever, the Goodwood team had carefully selected a fresh mix of machinery for 2011; with no Falcons, it was to be a fight between rumbling Ford Galaxies, harried by a throng of buzzing Minis and Cortinas, and several ‘TiSa’ BMWs with the German car’s characteristic rorty howl.
Some brilliant driving by former F1 driver and Le Mans-winner Jack Oliver in the #100 BMW, ably backed up by its entrant Richard Shaw, saw the white/red machine just pip the Radisich/Wood Galaxie, with Aston Martin works driver Darren Turner thoroughly enjoying himself in Nick Swift’s fast 1965 Mini Cooper S. Also Mini-mounted was Classic Driver dealer Desmond Smail, the Olney-based Aston guru finishing a fine eighth overall paired with Rob Huff. Nice work, Des.
Other winners over the weekend included Jay Esterer in the Chinook-Chevrolet (an action-packed Whitsun Trophy), Alex Buncombe aboard the JD Classics Costin-bodied 1959 Lister-Jaguar (beating Bobby Verdon-Roe and Anthony Reid – he won’t forget that), and Andy Middlehurst (driving a Lotus 25 for Classic Team Lotus in the Glover Trophy).
Another Classic Driver dealer in action was James Cottingham at the wheel of the attractive Ferrari 857S in the Freddie March Memorial Trophy, held late on Saturday afternoon. This was a cracker, and it looked as if the Chorleywood man would take the honours, only for the car to retire a couple of laps from the end. A great effort, and hard luck, the Cottinghams.
In addition to the off-road motocross and four-wheeled racing, the two motorbike races produced some exciting action, while daily tributes to Juan-Manuel Fangio featured some of the wonderful cars the great man drove during his career, including two Chevrolet coupés used in local long-distance races at the start of his career, specially flown over from Argentina.
In other words, another Glorious Goodwood with All the Fun of the Fair (yes, there was a period one, and quality trade stands and a Bonhams auction).
Next year’s Goodwood dates have just been announced (provisionally, to be accurate) as 29 June - 1 July for the Festival of Speed and 14-16 September for the Revival.
The 2012 office holiday planner might yet to be pinned up, but we recommend an early booking to these advance-ticket-only events. Tickets for 2012 will go on sale at www.goodwood.co.uk from Monday, 31 October 2011.