For anyone with even a passing interest in Britain’s great motoring tradition in times past, the place to be this weekend (11-13 September) is down in rural Sussex at the Goodwood Revival. This annual extravaganza of automotive nostalgia has gathered momentum over the years, and grown into an occasion that makes aficionados go misty eyed just thinking about it.
This weekend’s event will be the 18th Revival. At its heart is what has become the world’s most popular historic motor race meeting, with a magnetic appeal for many of motorsport’s greatest drivers – Stirling Moss and Derek Bell are usually there – and some of the greatest historic racing cars ever made. It is also a big draw for car fans, attended by some 150,000 people.
But it is so much more than just the racing, good though that usually is. It is the only event of its kind to be staged in the romantic time capsule of the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s, and most of the spectators go to great trouble to dress in a style appropriate to the era. So you mingle with chaps wearing fighter pilot attire and ladies in Chanel ‘New Look’ fashion, Land Army girls and Dad’s Army blokes.
For just this one weekend every year, the motor racing circuit in the grounds of Goodwood House, and just a short hop down the road from the Rolls-Royce car factory and global headquarters, time warps into a scene out of the mid-20th century. The Revival takes place on land that served during World War II as RAF Westhampnett, a Spitfire base from which the legendary pilot Sir Douglas Bader flew his final sortie.
The world’s finest vintage motors, many brought in from abroad, gather at Goodwood for the Revival, and this year marks the 50th anniversary of the iconic 1960s Shelby Daytona Coupe, only six of which were ever made. So it will be a rare treat this time to see a collection of these fabulous V8 racers on the grid at Goodwood, the first time that they have all appeared together at the Sussex circuit. As well as cars on the track, there will historic aeroplanes doing fly-pasts.
Will I be there? Oh yes, dressed for the 1940s and ready to join in with the non-stop nostalgia. Some of the highlights I’m looking forward to are Ford’s fabulous pair of original GT40s doing exhibition laps of the circuit, and a trip as a passenger in Land Rover’s Defender Celebration Parade of 52 historic cars driving in procession around the track. It will mark 67 years of a legend that is coming to the end of its reign as the most rugged Land Rover of them all.