Respect your elders. It’s a phrase that’s been said over and over throughout history. No doubt cave men had their own version of it or painted images on rocks to make sure this message lived forever. Why should you respect our elders? Because they’ve lived. They’ve pushed the boundaries so we might enjoy a world of flappy paddle gear boxes and nine-speed automatics. They alone can share wisdom to help shape your future decisions in life. Like, “Should I own a stripped down race BMW 2002 tii, or just spring for a 1967 Porsche 911 S?”
The Goodwood Revival is an annual homage to these conundrums. What would Daimler have done without Benz? What would Enzo have done without Alfa? Why they hell did the Italians love and hate Carroll Shelby so damn much? All answers can be found in the paddock of Goodwood.
For many in attendance, the thought of dressing in your favorite fashions of a bygone era is attractive. For me, it’s an opportunity to slip into a new mindset. The chance to forget about hybrid hypercars, flame throwing Aventadors and early morning parking lot meets. This is how mechanical obsession for many of our forefathers began. An honest walk amongst the mechanics, drivers and team owners shouting, hammering and revving their way into immortality.
Yes, I won’t be the first to let you know that seeing a vintage Bugatti navigate a chicane while listening to historic Formula 1 cars bring their oil temperatures up as iconic Le Mans GT racers rumble in the paddock is orgasmic. When you roam the grounds of Goodwood, fans in their regalia, you begin to respect the dedication the owners and racers have put forth ensuring the next generation understand what they were up against.
Adjustable suspension? Why bother? Sequential gear box needed? Hell, put a dog box in there and hammer it home out of the kink like Thor. The car experiencing a little oversteer? Counter steer dummy, you’re going as fast as you need to be!
That “Just make it better” attitude that resulted in many of the cars awaiting for their time in the sun. Which happened to be a wonderful I might add. After watching last year’s event get a bit damp the smiles were seen everywhere and it was a truly perfect race weekend. Sun, clouds, a light breeze and flowing bitter and champagne around every corner kept the crowds gleaming.
But I digress, the cars. I was here for the cars. No temptress in full pin-up garb could distract me. Awe hell, who am I kidding? It was hard not to look up from the row of 18 D-Types every now and again to appreciate the time and effort these wonderful women put into their fashion research.
Take a Lap
Getting caught up in the hustle and bustle at the main entrance of the track is easy to do. There really is so much to see. Vendors, private clubs, beer stations and the vintage taxi service area, you really are overwhelmed with the amount of detail that invades your senses. Lord March and his team have gone above and beyond the call of duty to offer a truly time warp experience. But, if you manage to actually work your way through the crowd, left or right from the front straight grand stands, you will see that with each corner you’ll find something inspiring.
I took a walk with my friend, and main reason for me committing to attend this year, co-owner of British Sports Cars in San Luis Obispo, CA Justin Jurgens, to see if we could find a vantage point worth investing our time. And we did just that.
After cutting through the vintage motorcycle paddock on the East side of the track, we found ourselves walking across a live airstrip. Goodwood isn’t just a playground for machines on the ground, it also hosts a magnificent display of aircraft from various periods of flight history. Watching World War 2 fighter planes (from both the ally and axis sides) hustle down the runway and hum over your head produces a new dimension to any automotive gathering I’ve ever been to.
Emerging from runway nirvana, you enter the back straight stands. Here is were you see the cars erupt out of a sweeping back corner and rip the cars wide open. Formula Junior cars shatter your eardrums and TT class cars reorganize your innards. And what about the fleet of D-Types I mentioned earlier? Bliss.
Once we had our fill of wide open throttle euphoria we made our way towards the opposite corner around that sweeping bend at the far end of the track. It’s here we found the S-Turn up a hill. This where we would call home for the next several hours. This was also the place where we found a beer and food station without a line. A miracle unto itself. A few British bitters and a proper ice cream cone with a chocolate flake later we realized we stumbled up gold. This is where the battle were fought. This is where the engines and suspension make or break the winner. Here you see more passing, more fire spitting and more oversteer action than on any other part of the track. This is certainly worth the price of admission (aside from a plane ticket to hop over and a hotel to stay in the cost is around $300 for the three-day weekend) was well worth the arduous task of calling The Goodwood Revival your final destination.
Right of Passage
Americans making the journey, your first time isn’t going to be an easy one. First, if you rent a car (expensive) driving on the right hand side will take some getting used to. Second, the roads in the UK aren’t what you call “road trip friendly”. They duck, dodge, turn and throw you into all sorts of chaos if you miss your turn. Simply exiting and turning back around isn’t always an option. So take a co-pilot to share the stress of getting back on the right track. What England lacks in conventional street ergonomics and organization they do make up for in amazing driving roads with breathtaking scenery.
Chichester, the town that is home to Goodwood, is roughly and hour away from Heathrow. The small town of Portsmouth is about 20 minutes away (and the best place to find a deal on hotels we might add, the Red Lion Hotel is a good choice). But it’s worth noting that booking at least a few months in advanced, not to mention tickets for the event sell out faster than the hotels.
Finding an appropriate outfit for the weekend, if you do all three days, is worth planning and budgeting ahead. You feel like an outcast if you stroll in with modern clothing (e.g. jeans, t-shirt and sensible footwear). The point is to make the event transcending and to be honest it’s worth doing right. Women respect a man in a decent three piece suit and participating the champagne filled swing dance hall.
For most, certain events held around the world deem you worthy or the pillar of envy (depending on what friends you keep) of being called a prophet of motoring. The Revival is no different. It competes as a world class motoring event destination for the elite to stretch their financial arms and flex their petrol fueled hearts on a, somewhat, level playing field. Every car races the same track, every team is given the same amount of paddock space, everybody has the opportunity stand next to their heroes.
Roaming the Paddock
History in the Air