In Review

Goodwood Revival 2019 review: racing through the ages

The annual event is home to ‘the world’s most expensive motor race’ but the off-track action steals the show

Long-time fans often argue that motorsport has become sterile in its pursuit of speed, safety and efficiency. 

Most racing circuits now feature acres of tarmac run-off areas to help drivers slow down if they make a mistake. Meanwhile, modern competition machines are equipped with vast wings that, while unsightly for some, help drivers manoeuvre the car with razor-like precision at high speeds.

Last weekend’s Goodwood Revival, however, took motor racing lovers back to a time when drivers had to wrestle their machines to the finish - and where the smallest mistake would often result in a one-way ticket to the barriers.

Held at the Goodwood Motor Circuit near Chichester, the revival is one of the world’s biggest historic racing weekends. It attracts top drivers, including Le Mans winner Brendon Hartley and three-time Indy 500 victor Dario Franchitti, all of whom pilot a selection of classic racing cars around the 2.4-mile circuit. 

These machines are by no means common or cheap to run, either. For example, only one example of Aston Martin’s 1962 DP212 was ever made - and it was pushed to its limits around the tight yet speedy circuit. 

In fact, Goodwood says its Kinrara Trophy, which features a selection of Le Mans machinery from the 1960s, is “the world’s most expensive motor race”.

It’s a statement that’s hard to argue with, given that the 60-minute race featured a Ferrari 250 GTO, examples of which sell for upwards of $45m (£36.2m), and a smattering of multimillion-pound Aston Martin DB4 GTs. 

The value of the cars and their scarcity has no impact on the drivers, who can be seen drifting from corner to corner as they wrestle with their racer’s old tyres and rampant power. Seeing these classics on the limit is a rare pleasure and will no doubt make fans feel as though they’ve stepped back in time. 

Remarkably, it’s easy to miss most of the racing thanks to the sheer volume of period-correct installations dotted around the pit lane and circuit entrance. 

The organisers not only set up a 1950s-style Porsche showroom and a homage to the 1966 Earls Court Motor Show, but attendees could also walk around a reimagined version of The Italian Job film set, complete with the six-wheeled bus that gave a very literal meaning to the word “cliffhanger” at the end of the movie.

To top it all off, spectators were encouraged to dress in period-style outfits. It wasn’t mandatory, but those wanting to access the paddock in the centre of the circuit needed to wear a jacket and tie, a dress or a suit. 

Revival 2018

Revival 2018

Marcus Dodridge

Given the relatively high ticket prices, which come in at £79 for either Saturday or Sunday admission, most put a fair amount of effort into their look. 

The dress code completely transformed the event, as you felt like you were at the very heart of a race weekend in the early 1960s. There were also actors in the paddock, including a group pretending to be the Beatles, who were being chased by screaming fans, adding to the atmosphere.

Motor racing fans often say that you don’t need to like cars to enjoy motorsport. While we suspect most non-car fans won’t agree with that statement, the Goodwood Revival really is an event that can be appreciated for its style and fashion – as well as the on-track action.

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