It was 1998 when Lord March staged the first, fabulous Revival. Ten years on - with identical glorious weather - the event still manages to surprise and entrance, with the Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy Celebration proving to be the finest yet.
Prior to the event, James Knight of Bonhams had estimated the value of the feature, one-hour race as "circa £85m... the most valuable grid of racing cars ever assembled for any historic race anywhere". With three Ferrari 250 GTOs (including the 1963 original race winner), and a galaxy of lightweight E-types, ‘Project’ Aston Martins, AC Cobras and Corvettes, few would disagree.
And matching the quality of the cars was a stellar driver line-up of very quick owners paired with the fastest professionals: Jack Oliver, Bobby Rahal, Richard Attwood, Tony Dron, John Fitzpatrick, Emanuele Pirro, Henri Pescarolo, Jean-Marc Gounon, Martin Brundle, to name just a few. Lord March also achieved the remarkable coup of enticing double World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi to co-drive Roddie Feilden’s 1965 Chevrolet Corvette.
The race was a start-to-finish thriller, with the pole-sitting lightweight E-type of Adrian Newey/Martin Brundle in a constant battle with the Hardman/Verdon-Roe 1963 Ferrari 330 LMB, the Reid/Law 1963 Lister-Jaguar Costin Coupé and the 1964-bodied Ferrari 250 GTO piloted by the brilliant Jean-Marc Gounon.
It was the big Ferrari that won, with a likely victory for Newey/Brundle seemingly thrown away by a poor driver changeover. Bobby Verdon-Roe powered the 330 LMB across the finishing line to tumultuous applause, just 2.264 seconds ahead of a determined Reid in the green Lister, the F1 designer/driver pairing finishing third.
The TT may be the jewel in the crown of the Revival weekend; however, there’s so much else going on that any self-respecting spectator (suitably attired in tweeds and trilby) should allow two days for the complete experience.
As is well known, the whole weekend is ‘themed’ with the rolling Sussex circuit taking on the appearance of a film set. This has aspects not only of Goodwood’s motor racing history, but also its role in WW2 as a famous Battle of Britain airfield, Westhampnett. Spitfires, Hurricanes and one of the few remaining Lancasters still flying all took part in air displays over the weekend.
New for 2008 was the Earls Court Motor Show. It was 60 years ago when Great Britain held its first post-War show - the same year that motor racing started at Goodwood. In celebration of this, one of the hangars was dressed up with an external façade to replicate the famous West London venue, while inside ‘cars of the future’ were on show to the public.
The consensus on this was that a little more Goodwood fairy dust needs to be sprinkled on the interior display before it reaches the familiarly high standards of the rest of the event.
The Freddie March Spirit Of Aviation aeroplane concours, now in its second year, was another resounding success, Tony and Pia Bianchi taking the top prize with their wonderful Spitfire Mk1.
Back on the track, the St Mary’s Trophy saloon car race was for ‘oldies’ this year and was duly won (on aggregate, after the two races) by John Fitzpatrick/John Young in the unlikely-looking beige 1956 Austin A95 Westminster.
A thrilling Sussex Trophy saw multiple lead changes with Jamie McIntyre’s ‘Knobbly’ Lister-Chevy beating the Costin-bodied Lister-Jaguar of Mark Hales by the tiniest (0.572sec) of margins.
Everyone at the circuit was worried when one of the world’s finest drivers (and all-round, thoroughly decent bloke, to boot), Jochen Mass, rolled the Lancia-Ferrari D50A at the Chicane in Sunday’s Richmond & Gordon Trophies race. Trapped under the big car, he was swiftly extricated by the marshals, having suffered a trapped windpipe where his helmet strap caught his throat during the backward, upside-down slide along the grass. A nasty moment.
Saturday night’s twilight Freddie March Memorial Trophy produced some evocative images of night-time racing in the early 1950s, while the event closed with a bang as the big-capacity sports-racers took to the track. The eventual winner, Simon Hadfield, also managed to make the fastest lap of the meeting (1:20.476) in his Lola T70 Spider.
Another wonderful event came to a close late on Sunday afternoon to the sound of jazz bands playing and Rolls-Royce Merlin aero engines rumbling off into the low autumnal sun. The enduring images for me – apart from the bowler-hatted spectator carrying a golf bag holding a five-iron and a stick of French bread for the entire weekend, that is – are always the top professional drivers behind the wheel of iconic racing cars.
Richard Attwood, wearing open-face helmet, fireproof scarf and goggles, driving the 1950s Ferrari 246 Dino F1 as only an ex-Grand Prix driver can: absolutely flat-out, like Hawthorn, Collins, Brooks or Hill in the 50s. That’s what the Revival’s all about.
Emerson Fittipaldi was the winner of the Will Hoy Memorial Trophy for the greatest drive in a closed cockpit car. Ian Nuthall Racing was the Best Presented Team while TecMec racer Barry Baxter was the worthy recipient of the Spirit of Goodwood Award, having stopped his own car at the Chicane, in order to assist marshals extricating Jochen Mass from his overturned Ferrari.
The Rolex Driver of the Meeting award went to Peter Hardman, as fast and dramatic as ever.
Do check the Goodwood website www.goodwood.co.uk for details of next year's Goodwood events.
Text: Steve Wakefield
Main Photos: Roger Dixon - all strictly copyright. For further information please visit www.rogerdixonphotography.com
Additional Photos: Classic Driver
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