The 20th running of the world’s premier retro racing festival was once again held in ideal autumnal weather over a recent weekend at Goodwood in the south of England. With 30 000 paying attendees on each day supporting confirmed petrol heads in military service uniforms – or dressed in a most elegant manner to support the occasion – combined seamlessly with ever-present track racing action. It’s a heady mix of enjoyment for everyone concerned with cavalcades of seemingly every type of bus-, fire engine-, vintage motorcycle and sports car ever produced – complete with police outriders – which would continue well into the twilight.
At the hard end of the racing classes the cut and thrust of competition remained fierce with some of the very best drivers from yesteryear strutting their stuff – including Stirling Moss, Dan Gurney, Damon Hill and Jackie Stewart – to name just a few seen at this superb grand turismo event. In years gone by the rarest and priceless machinery was much in evidence – this year’s event was no exception. The token theme this year was based around some of racing entrepreneur Rob Walker’s team-winning vehicles – all present and correct and in every one in magnificent condition – lining up daily come parade time.
St Mary’s Trophy Race
The superstar grid that included Steve Soper and reigning British touring car champion Ash Sutton, put on a dynamic display in the Tin Top racing section which saw the usual gaggle of Lotus Cortinas battle for the front. Five-time Le Mans winner and F1 driver Emanuele Pirro reckons Goodwood remains the pinnacle event on his racing calendar, managed to squeeze past Rob Huff’s Lotus Cortina which was penalised for jumping the gun at the start of the race. There was plenty of on-the-grass sideways action to entertain the vast spectators out for a good day by Duncan Pittaway’s Plymouth Barracuda that eventually crashed – by clipping the chicane wall – causing a red-flag restart. The sheer pace of this race was astounding in the final sprint as Hart’s initial getaway was so quick – but the roll-over of Bill Shephard’s Ford Galaxie – which barrel-rolled seven times – was truly spectacular. Luckily he was uninjured and Soper was able to just drive around Perfetti’s Lotus Cortina but forced to take the grass route in the melee to take a hard-earned win.
Chichester Cup Race
The turn of the single-seater vintage racers involved some breath-taking manoeuvres from Andrew Hubbard on the penultimate lap of Sunday’s race that caught the dicing pair of himself and rival Cameron Jackson’s (Brabham Ford) quite by surprise. The overtake manoeuvre of the day for me came at the end of the Lavant Straight to complete a race that was one of the weekend’s most competitive 20-minute dashes. It was great to see the ex-works Lotus of South African Dave Charlton, now painted in immaculate blue and white colours, and driven by Sam Wilson on track and with the field giving everything in top racing spirit. The race proved a real belter to watch.
Goodwood’s dream weekend was punctuated by some of the world’s 50 or more big money racers like the Era RSB Remus that claimed the win at the inaugural revival some 20 years ago. Crowds sat up and paid attention as a Bugatti type 22 and Delahaye 1355 whistled by driven by Sir Jackie Stewart and Derek Bell piloting the rare racers in turn all weekend. Bell said that just to sit in the Eagle TIG – which in its day had won the Belgian GP – revealed just what an incredible car it was.
The Kinrara Cup Trophy
Driven at dusk this new race was for three-litre plus closed cockpit cars that pre-dated 1963 that was run over 39 laps of the circuit. The race-long duel between Niklas Hulusa and Pirro in the 250GT V12 Ferrari bread van, and the lightweight E-Type Jaguar of John Minshaw and Phil Keen, produced a superb dice which saw the lead change so many times between them one simply stopped counting as they sliced through the tail-enders lap after lap. At the halfway point driver change just two seconds separated them – with the crowd on their toes – it went down as Pirro’s fourth win of the day in the ultra-fast Ferrari V12 bread van by just five seconds ahead of the super quick Jaguar of Keen. For me it was the race of the weekend in the sports car class.
In the Fordwater Trophy a huge AC four-seater open tourer was arguably the least race looking vehicle to be seen, powered by a six-cylinder, straight six, overhead cam motor in a design that was first used in 1919, and driven by Steve Gray. The 1953 example was seen dicing it out with an Austin Healey Silverstone and a flat-four Jowett Jupiter sports in this rather strange class of road-race cars.
With a packed race card each day of some 12 classes the non-stop action provided – as usual – possibly the most entertaining track action from start to finish. With the dawn patrol of Spitfire and Mustang RAF aircraft fighters thrown into the mix, plus a full-sized train with a full head of steam – set against a huge Grenadier Guards’ Band to entertain the spectators. The 2019 Revival provided the absolute weekend of a lifetime and that’s the reason that it has grown to such new heights. As a journalist I was simply one of 800 who came to record and photograph the wonderful event because in a sea of drab normality it is simply awesome to once again attend this retro extravaganza.
Story and pics by Ian Groat