The words Glorious Goodwood have become synonymous with horse racing on the South Downs. In the minds of motor racing afficionados, they can equally be applied to their sport at the historic circuit at the foot of Trundle Hill.
Closed in 1966, the motor racing circuit assumed a new lease of life in 1998 when the Earl of March, after some huge battles, put on the first Revival Meeting. This was held over three days, with restricted entry to all those cars and motor bikes that had raced at the circuit between 1948 and 1966.
These wonderful cars, steeped in history, ranged from the Baron de Graffenreid’s Maserati, which won the Lavant Cup at the Easter Monday meeting in 1953, to the BRM which Mike Hawthorn over-turned at Fordwater in the 1957 Easter Monday F1 race.
Every year for the past 15, the Earl of March has not only succeeded in expanding the field of classic cars competing, but also ensured the preservation of the period feel of the weekend. His insistence on spectators and officials adopting a dress code in keeping with the Meeting’s history, has created a step back in time for everybody.
Successive years have witnessed amazing additions to a well-established repertoire of feature events. On the track this year we saw a moving tribute to Jimmy Clark – one of Britain’s greatest, if not the greatest, racing drivers who ever lived. In addition, a one make race for the spectacular Ford GT40s (which were such a feature of sports car racing in the 60s), combined with a blend of exciting, historic races for single seaters, sports cars and saloons, made for wonderful entertainment.
Off the track, we were all impressed to witness scenes recreating the 1963 Great Train Robbery, a tribute to the 1943 Dambusters Squadron, with a flypast by the last surviving Lancaster Bomber, and an exhibition of Aston Martins commemorating the marques’ century. Other surprises included a parade of 60 cyclists commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France. This included Sir Chris Hoy, who also raced a Mini in the St.Mary’s Trophy race.
Paddock scenes were enhanced by the presence of sinister looking gangsters with their molls pursued by policemen in period dress, complete with truncheons and no tasers! In addition, there were wonderfully attired Army, Navy and Air Force personnel, char ladies, nannies with prams and small children and even a priest to bless us all. The appearance of the girls of St.Trinians, running riot in the Paddock, set the final seal on the atmosphere of the weekend.
Oh yes and there was some motor racing. A great saloon car race won by six times Le Mans winner, Tom Kristensen in the huge Ford Galaxie, with Frank Stippler in the little Alfa snapping at his heels, brought the crowd to their feet. Also there was an impressive win by the Red Bull designer, Adrian Newey, in the Ford GT40 race.
The parade of Jimmy Clark’s cars included two of his Indianapolis Lotus Fords, one of which won the 1965 race, and poignantly, the Lotus Ford 21 which was involved in the fatal collision with Wolfgang von Tripp’s Ferrrari at Monza in the 1961 Italian GP. There were many other amazing cars in the parade, including the Lotus Fords in which he won his 24 Grand Prix races and two World Championship titles.
It is difficult to think as the crowd streamed from the circuit to rejoin the real world, how the Earl of March could possibly improve on this year’s show. Bearing in mind though his track record over the last 15 years, he probably will.