Goodwood Revival 5 /6/ 7 September 2003 - from the passenger seat

With just over three weeks to go now to this year’s Goodwood Revival meeting, last Monday the organisers put on a display of the exciting things to come at the Sussex circuit. These took the form of an exciting low-flying Spitfire, many priceless cars and the chance to ride the famous track as a passenger in a variety of cars. Your author’s particular mount was Aston Martin P212, the 1962 factory-entered Le Mans car.

Not having driven the circuit for many years, yet being an avid Revival fan and the TT event being a personal favourite, the car was the perfect choice to re-acquaint myself with the gently rolling and oh-so-fast curves that make up Goodwood. Accelerating violently from the pits, Madgwick comes up with a rapidity that only 350+bhp in a car around a ton can bring. The double apex corner is despatched quickly and the gentle lift that is Fordwater comes and goes, aided by the slightly dropping track down to St Mary’s. Fairly heavy braking into the famous scene of Sir Stirling Moss’s near-fatal accident and throwing the car sideways into the off-camber corner we are flat on the power and into the long right-hander Lavant. The car seems to take a long time to straighten, but eventually it does and the advanced aerodynamics of the 212 take over as we are propelled down the Lavant straight at a tremendous velocity. Medium braking for Woodcote and the car bucks and slithers into the short straight before the Chicane. With but a wafer’s thickness between myself and the chevroned faux-brickwork we drift onto the grass on the exit and full power on again past the pits to the first corner. Very impressive stuff and one can only imagine the sensation when really trying in the race – with another £30,000,000 of cars battling for the same piece of tarmac. Roll on next month.

The idea of the press day was to preview the event and give journalists the chance of riding in this car, and others like the famous ‘BUY 1’ Coombs Mk II Jaguar with Le Mans legend Derek Bell at the wheel. This year’s meeting follows and improves on previous ones and includes a race for small-engined slippery-bodied cars of the period under the Fordwater Trophy title. The main race will inevitably be the two-driver one hour Royal Automobile Club TT Celebration on the Sunday which will feature the Aston Project car as well as Ferrari GTOs, AC Cobras and Chevrolet Corvettes – including one of the famous ‘Grand Sports’.

The St Mary’s Trophy will, as usual, be for racing saloons. Of the 60s this time (last year was the 1950s) you can expect door handle action from the likes of Gerry Marshall, Win Percy, John Rhodes, Barrie Williams, Tony Dron and Jackie Oliver. The cars entered include Lotus Cortinas, Ford Galaxies, Jaguar Mk IIs and Alfa GTAs.

Single seater fans are catered for with races for three different eras of GP cars, and sports cars are split into two events, one for early 1950’s cars of the Goodwood Nine Hours era, the other the Sussex Trophy for later cars that featured such a thrilling race last year between Win Percy in a D-type and Tony Dron in the Ferrari 246 Dino sports prototype. The Whitsun Trophy will be a repeat of last year’s race with half a dozen Ford GT40s taking on early McLaren Can-Am cars, Ferrari 250LMs and a Lotus 30. Motorcycling is a passion of Lord March and this year the traditional two-part ‘bike race is renamed the Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy in honour of the late and great British superstar who made this event his own.

Of course a feature of the event is not only the cars and bikes on track but the social scene off it, and the magnificent air displays above the crowds by ex-WW2 fighters such as the Mustang, Spitfire and Kittyhawk. Period dress is of course de rigueur in the Paddock (as is membership of the Goodwood Road Racing Club if you want to go into the inner area) and part of the fun of the whole meeting is seeing assorted 'mods and rockers', 1950s East German policemen and (bizarrely) some gallant soul dressed as a French army officer of the 1950s complete with kepi.

New for 2003 is the Goodwood Shop selling merchandise previously only available via mail order. Visiting it this week (it’s just by the tunnel to the centre), it has the air of gentleman’s club meets provincial country outfitters. No, they don’t sell spats but they do have some very nice silk ties, driving gloves, goggles and picnic equipment that would do justice to the event itself. I am told some of Lord March’s furniture is in the shop to give it that country house ambience – and he clearly does not shop at Ikea.

Bonhams will be holding their traditional sale on the Friday, which will of course be previewed in Classic Driver. One of the early entries is, fittingly, an eminently suitable car for Goodwood, a 1961 Lotus-Climax Type 21 which has competed in the Glover Trophy many times in the hands of Westfield Motor Car’s Chris Smith.

No doubt we will run further previews nearer the weekend but it only needs repeating that this will be a fantastic event and that savings can be made by advance booking tickets and reserving grandstand seats.

Please click HERE to see the provisional entry list.

Text - Steve Wakefield
All photos apart from bottom two (Goodwood) - Steve Wakefield

With grateful thanks to David Clark .