After being canceled last year due to the pandemic, Goodwood Revival, the three-day festival that celebrates the golden age of motorsport, has returned to the Goodwood Estate in West Sussex, England. Over the past weekend, decades-old automobiles burped and barked around the 2.4-mile racetrack, tucked away about 60 miles south of London, as costumed spectators shopped, browsed the offerings of bids, creaked and, of course, applauded.
A period piece in movement, Goodwood Revival was created in 1998 by Charles Gordon-Lennox, known colloquially as the Earl of March, as a tribute to his late grandfather Freddie. The latter first raced in its Goodwood estate in 1948, but came to a halt in 1966 when the ever-increasing speeds of the newer performance cars made competition dangerous. Mr. Gordon-Lennox brought racing back to the estate, but regulated it only to vintage vehicles. Thus, the feast of the same name was born.
Each year, a number of former and current professional runners participate. Making his Goodwood debut, 2009 Formula 1 world champion Jensen Button, and his longtime friend Alex Buncombe, started Friday’s sessions in a Jaguar E-Type. The duo switched to a Cobra for the Royal Automobile Club TT Celebration Race on Sunday, and Button contributed to the weekend’s most exciting contest with a hiccup: he went from front row to ninth after passing directly from first to fourth gear. In addition, former world prototypes sports champion Martin Brundle and racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart walked the memory route in a moving tribute Friday night to Sir Stirling Moss, who died in April 2020.
While some cars are in the race, others are on display at Bonhams Goodwood Revival auction, notably a 1951 Renault 4CV Grand Luxe which competed in the Mille Miglia. Others are displayed purely for inspiration, like Lofty England’s 1967 I 2 + 2 Series, the only model to ever leave the Jaguar factory with a four-speed manual gearbox with overdrive.
Under an impressive, vintage tent, Jaguar Land Rover Classic properly celebrated the E-Type’s 60th anniversary with a host of development cars, including its Light E-Type Continuation and C-Type Continuation. Spokesmen in three-piece tweed suits also discussed the Defender Works V8 Trophy and Jaguar’s latest limited editions making up the E-type 60 collection.
“As part of Jaguar Land Rover, we have access to the most modern technology we use to develop new cars,” said Alistair Sommerville, Jaguar Classic Sales and Public Relations Manager. “We took all the notes and the source material and created a very authentic vehicle that is the best of the old and the new.”
Men in military uniforms, aviation suits, or a fair amount of houndstooth – not to mention the obligatory neckties – and ladies sporting beehive hairstyles and polka dot dresses, wandered the grassy grounds, often with a Veuve Clicquot flute in his hand. Some opted to browse vintage-inspired clothing at Private White VC while others meandered around the carnival fairground which was teeming with non-motorsport entertainment. Still others avidly explored the paddocks and pit lane, where mechanics in grease-stained overalls and ties endlessly tinkered with.
Since Goodwood was also a Royal Air Force airfield during the Battle of Britain, Spitfires were also for sale, priced at $ 4.1 million. Five of the iconic warbirds, in varying states of repair, were on display. Matt Jones, Spitfire pilot and general manager of Boultbee Flight Academy, spent the whole weekend answering questions and answering interests. “We are offering the option of buying flying Spitfires or participating in the restoration and, in three years, seeing this plane fly here again,” he noted.
While it is prudent to always be prepared for rain in the English countryside, the annual event only received a small amount on Sunday morning. Taking advantage of the near-perfect conditions, some 150 vintage cyclists took to the Goodwood motor circuit ahead of the downpours previewing the Eroica Britannia Cycling Festival, which will also be based at Goodwood in 2022.
Learn more about Robb ReportCar of the Year 2022 at the Napa Valley event here and in Boca Raton here.