The 2009 Goodwood Revival
The Goodwood Revival proved once again to be the world’s premier historic motor racing event. No, let’s make that ‘occasion’...
Two birthday celebrations dominated this year’s marvellous event: it was 50 years ago that the Mini was launched on an unsuspecting world and 80 when Britain’s greatest living racing driver was born. Happy birthday, Sir Stirling Moss. So the track parades, featuring an incredible 90+ cars, were dedicated to Moss, while on the Saturday and Sunday the St Mary’s Trophy saloon car race was an all-Mini affair.
Despite the ghoulish anticipation of many spectators, the predicted carnage failed to materialise in either Mini round. Thirty cars started and most finished in pretty much the same condition – although the toll on engines must have been high. Oliver Gavin and Nick Swift won on both days, with Saturday’s racing enlivened by a determined Darren Turner (a regular at Aston Martin Racing), hell-bent on beating his regular opponent in long-distance events, the normally works Corvette-mounted Gavin.
Hugely entertaining stuff.
In fact, just about all the races were up to the high standard we’ve come to expect in September on the rolling South Downs circuit. Richard Attwood once again demonstrated his peerless, smooth driving style with a tremendous win in the Richmond Trophy, beating Audi’s regular Le Mans test driver Frank Stippler in Burkhard von Schenk’s Maserati 250F.
Attwood’s Duncan Hamilton Collection Ferrari 246 Dino probably had the measure of anyone that day, but the younger driver’s performance was electrifying and quite rightly won him the Rolex Driver of the Meeting award.
In addition to a cigar, of course, for many years the prize for a top three finish, handed over on the start-finish line, post-race, by Lord March’s ‘man’...
From a racing perspective, the event also encompasses older, pre-War sports and single-seater racing cars and the surprisingly fast 350-500cc motorcycles in the Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy double-header won, as is customary, by Australian Wayne Gardner. The riders performed a ‘Le Mans start’ this year, running from one side of the track to the other, then jumping on their already running bikes held by their team mates.
Another anniversary was the half century since Aston Martin’s 1959 Sports Car World Championship - a title battle with Porsche and Ferrari that was only resolved in the British manufacturer’s favour at the Tourist Trophy, run at Goodwood in 1959. To celebrate this, the Lavant Cup was a two-driver, 60-minute race for cars of the type that competed in these races in 1958-1959. The quickest qualifier was Bobby Verdon-Roe in the Ferrari 246S and the race turned out to be a gripping thriller between this car, a Tojeiro Jaguar and the Monteverde/Pearson Costin Lister Jaguar.
Once Verdon-Roe was on board, he really turned the afterburner on and was way ahead by the time the race was shortened for the arrival of one of his great-grandfather’s finest aircraft – the only Avro Vulcan Cold War bomber still flying.
The effect of the delta-winged giant is jaw-dropping. It whispers in... and then makes the ground shake as its Rolls-Royce Olympus turbojets are turned up for a dramatic climb and turn. It was, undoubtedly, one of the stars of the 2009 Revival meeting.
The popular Freddie March Spirit of Aviation concours was judged (among others) by the man who landed on the moon 40 years ago: ‘Buzz’ Aldrin. The award went to Mark Rijkse for his Bucker BU133C Jungmeister. Other flying displays included the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and close-formation work by pairs of Mustangs and Spitfires.
Away from the track, the circuit had an air of 1960s Swinging London about it with go-go dancers at the Track Records stand and, on Ladies Day, many mini-skirted spectators joining in the fun. There were many references to the newly announced Vintage at Goodwood event to be held next year (August 13-15), a three-day extravaganza that will build on the immense nostalgic popularity of the Revival with an opportunity to dress up and enjoy different eras from the 40s to the 80s. Sadly, there'll be no racing.
Back to the present, and the headlining Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy Celebration. The grid had a slightly different look in 2009. No Corvettes or Bizzarrinis, so it was a Ferrari 250 GTO vs. Lightweight Jaguar E-type contest with a few AC Cobras to make life interesting.
The front row was last year’s winner, the Ferrari 330 LMB of Verdon-Roe/Pirro, alongside Sir Anthony Bamford’s ’64-bodied GTO driven by Goodwood ace, Jean-Marc Gounon, paired with one of the meeting’s favourite drivers, Peter Hardman. Adrian Newey and Bobby Rahal had put the Formula 1 designer’s Lightweight ‘E’ on the outside, third fastest.
Come the start and, right up to the pitstops, the spectators (totalling 134,000+ over the three days) were on the edge of their seats as Gounon and Rahal fought tooth and nail. Pirro – somewhat off the pace, unusually – stopped early to let ‘BVR’ set to with a vengeance. Sadly, Hardman, now driving the ’64 GTO, had to retire the car leaving Newey to cross the line first with Verdon-Roe (taking up to three seconds a lap out of the deficit) a closing second.
The fantastic Ferrari 250 GT SWB 'Breadvan' (Werner/Hürtgen) also retired with mechanical maladies – but not without running very strongly.
For me, the ‘Breadvan’ and the Vulcan were the abiding images of (yet) another remarkable Revival.
Do check the Goodwood website www.goodwood.co.uk for details of next year's Goodwood events and www.vintageatgoodwood.co.uk
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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