Goodwood Revival Meeting (September 6th - 8th, 2002)
Octagon Newsletter … November, 2002
By Mike Skene
After considerable agonizing over the last few years, I finally decided to go to the Goodwood Revival Meet in England this year. The meet was originally started five years ago with the intention of being a one-off event, but turned out to be so popular it has been repeated every year since.
My reason for going was to see some of the past world champions such as Stirling Moss, John Surtees, Graham Hill & Jack Brabham, some of whom are in their early seventies, racing cars they drove in the fifties and sixties. This was an opportunity to see them before they finally retired and also to see some of the beautiful cars I remembered from my youth while a spectator at Brands Hatch, Goodwood & Monaco.
On arriving at Heathrow Airport, Sheila and I collected a VW Golf from a car rental company and I drove down to the Swan Hotel at Arundel, which was to be our home for the next few days. I surprised myself by driving down to the hotel on the wrong side of the road without having an accident or even having anyone blow their horn at me. It was enjoyable and invigorating being able to motor at more sensible speeds than we are permitted here. Despite the increased speed the drivers are good and usually very courteous.
The cost of the hotel accommodation was exorbitant, as they had doubled their rack rate for the Goodwood week-end. The plumbing was up to the usual inefficient British standard, but the food was good. The town of Arundel is quite small and very charming with a couple of nice pubs, a Catholic Cathedral and a magnificent castle which is well worth visiting.
It only took us about half an hour each day to drive to the Meet from the hotel. A friend had obtained passes for us to the pit area and to the Goodwood Road Racing Club member's parking lot which was conveniently situated right by the main entrance. The walk through the car park, which was filled with about 500 cars, was an experience in itself with immaculate examples of cars ranging from the 1930's to the current day. The variety of cars would make any enthusiast's mouth water.
The whole meeting had a very special feeling about it and a lot of the fun came from the large number of the people attending being dressed in clothes of the period. Many of the men had sports coats with ties or cravats and trilby hats or cheese cutters. Also a number of men and women were sporting a variety of military uniforms. A great number of women were dressed to the nines in summer dresses with large hats and fur stoles and even stockings with seams in them. It made the whole event feel more like a carnival and everybody seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the atmosphere.
The display in the pits of the immaculately turned out period racing cars was a most enjoyable experience and the fact that one could ponder over the cars and talk to the mechanics and drivers was an added bonus. In talking to some of the team mechanics, it only made me realize how ignorant I am about all things mechanical.
In each of the pit lanes there were rows of Ferraris, Maseratis, Jaguars, Aston Martins, Coopers, Lotus, HRGs, Brabhams and numerous other makes - too many to mention. The ear splitting sound of the engines being tuned and the distinctive smell of the burning racing fuel created a lot of nostalgia for me. Scattered around the grounds, as you walked about, were many fine examples of vehicles on display such as Lagondas, 4 litre Bentleys, MGs, 3.8 Jaguars and older models such as a Riley 9 and a Lea Francis and some Alvis'.
Luckily the weather was fine the whole time we were there and the air display they put on three times a day was quite breathtaking for those of us who can remember the old aircraft. There were aerial acrobatic performances put on by some Mustangs & Spitfires which were very thrilling and the final fly-by each afternoon was made by a Lancaster Bomber and a Hurricane Fighter. These planes are some of the very few examples still flying today.
It was very exciting watching the vintage cars racing with their old technology and suspension (seeing them all drifting round the corners brought back many memories), far different from the modern racing vehicles of today.
Seeing Stirling Moss racing (he seemed to be driving as precisely as he did in his hey-day, if not quite as fast), was enjoyable and seeing Rowan Atkins (Mr. Bean) trundling around in an old Jaguar MK7 was amusing, even though his car did not complete the race.
This racing is not just a demonstration, as some people may think, it's quite serious as some of the cars reach 170 miles an hour down the Lavant Straight. Personally I have always found the saloon car racing the most enjoyable with Jaguars, Galaxys, Lancias and Morris Minors and the like, all battling it out. Seeing these street cars racing is fun, as they are vehicles that many of us can associate with. Next year they are bringing back the Ford Cortinas and the Minis to race - which should be very entertaining.
It was a most enjoyable holiday and a great experience and despite everything in Britain being so expensive I might be tempted to go to The Goodwood Revival again.
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