After a hiatus due to the Pandemic, Goodwood Revival was back full throttle the third weekend of September. Three friends and I made the trek from Texas to the holy land of vintage automobilia in West Sussex, England. Goodwood Revival is three days of vintage clothing, vintage airplanes, vintage military, and vintage racing.
During the Second World War, the Royal Air Force built an airfield on the Goodwood Estate near Chichester, England. It was used as a relief airfield by both the RAF and the United States. After the war, racing was introduced in 1948 by the current Duke of Richmond’s grandfather, Freddie March. Auto racing was held on the track until 1966 and hosted some of the greatest names for the eighteen-year run. Notable racers include Sir Stirling Moss, Mike Hawthorn, Graham Hill, Roger Penske, and the list goes on.
Goodwood Revival was the brainchild of the current Duke of Richmond with the first Revival Meeting in 1998. Those involved have done a splendid job of bringing back the Golden Era of racing. It’s a step back in time to the days when 60’s Aston Martins, Ford GT40’s, Ferrari 250 GTO’s, and AC Cobra’s ruled the world.
Explaining Goodwood Revival isn’t an easy task, but it was described to me as “Magical”, “An Experience like no other”, a “Bucket List Event” and an “Immersive Experience” to the event-goers I spoke with. The local Chichester chip shop owner, Andy, described it to our mates best. “Once you see (Revival) for the first time, your head goes BOOM!” while making hand gestures of his head exploding. He’s 100% correct.
Every detail of the Goodwood Revival is carefully planned and thought out. Each year’s themes, parades, and invitees are planned two or three years in advance. Four teams with dozens of workers start on next year’s Revival almost as soon as the brake dust settles. Carpenters build paddocks of famous racetracks from the 1960s with extensive research to make sure the signage, logos, and accompanying racecars are correct.
One of our insiders told us the Duke of Richmond is immensely involved with the planning and details. The designers keep an eye out for vehicle groups/clubs, bands, and entertainment that fits the music, dress, and style of the era. While wandering around the Revival grounds you may find yourself in the middle of a flash mob dancing to Beatles music or a group of singing nuns belting out show tunes, all choreographed by the Goodwood Revival event team. The vision of one man and a few designers is very apparent with every step you take.
This year was a tribute to Mr. Motor Racing or Mr. Goodwood himself, Sir Stirling Moss, who passed away on Easter Day 2020. A special paddock was built reminiscing his 1957 Pescara Grand Prix win with many of the cars he raced on display. According to one of the Designers, it was a very difficult build. You can watch the Duke of Richmond’s speech and some great footage of Sir Stirling on Goodwood’s YouTube channel. The clip is titled Goodwood’s Emotional Tribute to Stirling Moss.
Revival may be best known for some of the greatest vintage car and bike racing in the world, but that’s just a portion of the fun. Goodwood has displayed WWII airplanes and military vehicles from the first Revival Meeting. You’ll find scores of Jeeps and tanks with many people dressing the part of aviators and army personnel. Sunday afternoon hosts a parade of military vehicles. Many of the vehicles and aircraft’s caretakers are present to tell the fascinating history.
The British go out of their way to dress the part. Tweeds, racing suits, and military attire from the 1940s to 1960s are standard. Tickets are mailed with a Documents booklet including a Style Guide. I couldn’t count how many beauty salons are scattered around the grounds. If your Texas Gentleman’s attire is on point, you might be asked to participate in the Best Dressed Competition, as was my friend Ron.
I have noticed as Revival gets bigger each year, a larger percentage of Americans are wearing car show t-shirts and Shelby ball caps. The Brits I spoke with are on to us as well. Just a friendly reminder, if you travel all the way from the US, let’s keep Revival looking like Revival. We are all part of the magic. The Goodwood Fashion Police write tickets saying you look fabulous, but they might need to cite some of you for the flip-flops.
I’m thankful something like Revival can exist in the corporate sponsor culture. All sponsor’s logos are used sparingly and within the style of the era. Automobile sponsors like BMW and Porsche have areas to show classic models in their workshops manned by brand experts. They easily blend with the period look and it’s always a joy to chat about their marques.
Here is my Pro Tip! Avoid the crowd for a bit and check out the car park. Members of the British car clubs park just outside the Revival grounds and this area could boast the best collection of European vehicles ever assembled. Mercedes Gullwings and Bentley Blowers are parked alongside original Minis and classic Jaguars for what seems to be miles. Remember to bring a picnic basket and a bottle of wine.
There is something for everyone at Goodwood Revival. I’ve always said it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience and hard to describe to friends who know car culture. Goodwood has a rich history that continues to thrive thanks to Goodwood Revival, the Goodwood Road Racing Club and their Member’s Meetings, and the Goodwood Festival of Speed. I applaud all those involved and as someone shouted as the awards ceremony was ending, “Three cheers to The Duke”.
About the author: Grant Griffin (pictured above far right), better known as Sir Wheelsy is a certified car enthusiast and the principal behind Sir Wheelsy Limited a Collector Vehicle Insurance brokerage firm based out of Dallas, Texas.