Report and photos by Jeff Hill
I’d never heard of a Sunbeam Rapier until I reached high school in Burbank, California during the 1970’s. We used to race around town all summer with the top down in my friend’s Rapier, and it provided some memorable times. Who then would have expected to see Christian Horner, Red Bull Racing Team Principal, flogging a Sunbeam Rapier at the Goodwood Revival? But a trip to the Goodwood Revival is full of unexpected sights.
The racing is unlike anything seen in United States vintage racing circles. This event pits many current and former professional drivers against some pretty outstanding amateurs. Tom Kristensen could be seen driving an Austin A95 Westminster against Derek Bell, Dickie Attwood, Martin Brundle, David Hobbs, Brian Redman, and Vern Schuppan.
Many drivers are pushing the limits of these historic racers and that doesn’t come without a few bent fenders and bruised egos. The British race fans take their racing seriously, and they expect to see occasional contact and off-road excursions.
There is not a car trailer, motorhome or transporter in sight unless you happened to spot the Commer Ecurie Ecosse transporter from 1959. The majority of spectators don period outfits from the 40’s through the 70’s which lends a nice ambiance the entire event. The opportunity to speak to entrants is pretty limited since few stay near their cars except when it comes time for their race. But it’s nice to see a paddock with just the cars themselves on display.
Being that this year is the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, the Supermarine Spitfires, along with a Mustang P-51D and a Hawker Hurricane could be seen performing overhead several times each day. A special tribute was held on Sunday honoring the memory of those that flew during the war years. Goodwood racing circuit was created in 1948 on former RAF Westhampnett site.
The tribute to John Surtees had on track displays of many of the rides he enjoyed while becoming both a Formula One and multiple world motorcycle champion. It is often forgotten that he won the inaugural Can-Am championship in 1966 for Ferrari. He’s seventy-six this year and has had quite an accomplished career as driver, designer and builder.
A large collection of BRM racecars was on hand to represent their sixty year history. The team won a drivers’ and constructors’ championship before dissolving in 1977.
There is a huge carpark where the spectator’s vintage cars are segregated from the more modern cars. You could spend an afternoon just perusing all of these models, so many of which are unusual to a first-time visitor. Some areas at the event could be crowded, and one would be wise to purchase a grandstand seat to escape the crush along the fence lines.
There were two Jumbotron TVs set up to help spectators follow the on-track action at different parts of the course. Another nice feature is the availability of in-ear radios to better hear the public address announcer. A display of over twenty amazing operational aircraft participated in the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation Trophy. The reproduction of the Earls Court Motor Show is a nice architectural folly, but I’m not sure I would have included a Porsche 928 amongst the collection of “Grand Touring Greats” inside.
For many years I had looked forward to viewing each new Revival Meeting DVD when it was released. Finally attending the event in person exceeded my expectations, and one couldn’t have asked for nicer weather.
Goodwood Revival 2010 – First Impressions Photo Gallery (click image for larger picture and description)
Did John Surtees not win the 1966 Can Am title in a Lola ?
You’re quite right Jonathan. He also helped to develop the T70 he drove to the title in 1966. The championship in the Ferrari was two years earlier.
I know a lot of learned people who would disagree with your comment about the Porsche 928 – the only sports car to win the car of the year!