Densely populated grid for the Sussex Trophy contest jostles for position into the first corner.
Photo: Roger Dixon
U.S. Presidential election fever hit Goodwood, and the Revival candidate was none other than Dan Gurney. Posters, pin badges and car stickers bore the legend: “Dan Gurney For President.” The designs mirrored the period campaign emblems of the 1960s, but this time were a signature and homage to the motor racing career of Dan Gurney, whose presence and aura lit up a rather dull and dreary Friday—which at times was very wet. The rest of the weekend was bathed in bright sunshine for this extravaganza of theater, nostalgia and yes, motor racing, too. I say that because while the event was a record sellout many days prior to the gates opening, there seems to be a significant increase in the staging and props to convince the punters they have indeed taken that “magical step back in time.” While the glitz and glamor are all part of the Revival show, there may be a case for the motor racing purist saying the cake is being over-egged and the racing and racing cars are but a byproduct of a much bigger lifestyle event. That said, if the public votes with its feet, Lord March is definitely taking the right decisions and on the right track. At the world’s largest historic motor race meeting all attendance records were broken and numbers capped to 146,000. Much more than in previous years, spectators participated too, becoming extras in the spectacle, dressing in faux fashion styles and period uniforms loosely emulating the decades from the 1940s to the 1960s.
The Dan Gurney tribute came to a colorful and emotional high point on the Sunday as many Gurney cars formed up on the Goodwood grid, Mustangs flew overhead, the marching band played and fireworks and tickertape added to the razzmatazz as Lord March acknowledged the distinguished career of the legendary American driver and team owner. Staging relating to racing cars included an accurate recreation of the Bremgarten circuit paddock shelters that housed the gathering of the famous “Silver Arrows.” Each day these Mercedes and Auto Union racers dynamically hit the Goodwood circuit, dramatically exhibiting both their presence and history. The 50th anniversary of the Ferrari 250 GTO was acknowledged with daily displays of the iconic sports car.
Competition on track was as gritty and resolute as ever, sometimes drivers having little respect for the history, or value, of their steeds. Prior to the event, Sir Stirling Moss had made comment in a national newspaper that cars that had faltered and spent much time at the rear of the grid in period were now winning, or competing for top honors in historic racing. He questioned the authenticity of such cars. The Daily Telegraph reported Goodwood’s favorite son as saying, “In truth, it’s a great shame that so much money is spent to win by having a non-standard car. The Americans got around it in quite a good way; they put an ‘S’ after the number, which means ‘I’m cheating’ because I’ve got bigger this or bigger that. And it’s allowed. I think we ought to try to get to a situation where we run legally with the car as it’s supposed to have been.”
Back to the racing, the life of Carroll Shelby and the 50th Anniversary of the Cobra were both remembered with a dedicated Shelby Cup race featuring a grid filled with 30 examples of V8-engined Cobras. The Saturday race was eventually won by Rob Hall and Andrew Wolfe, after the Kenny Bräck and Derek Hill Daytona Coupe ran into mechanical difficulties, and the Ludovic Caron and Anthony Reid Cobra was flagged into the pits to fix an errant exhaust, parts of which were strewn across the track with the remaining part held on by a single nut and bolt.
Other racing highlights included the St. Mary’s Trophy for 1950s sedans, which delighted and thrilled the enthusiastic crowds, with Justin Law and Anthony Reid taking victory in a MkI Jaguar. The Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy Celebration also made for exhilarating racing, with a £175 million grid of Jaguar E-Type “Lightweight” cars. Former F1 driver and now Grand Prix pundit Martin Brundle and Red Bull Racing designer and car owner, Adrian Newey, took the win, the victory coming despite Newey—who has a reputation for visiting the “kitty litter”—spinning off at St. Mary’s on the first lap as Gary Pearson challenged on the inside, aboard his similar car. Newey had to watch the entire field go by before he was able to rejoin!
Gary Pearson took the honors in the Whitsun Trophy for late-period sports-racing prototypes after a riveting race with Jay Esterer in his Chinook MK2 and McLaren driver Roger Wills. As evening fell the Freddie March Memorial Trophy celebrated the 60th anniversary of the first Goodwood Nine Hour race. The special 90-minute night race was both atmospheric and enthralling, which stirred many a memory among those old enough to have witnessed the period races, and made an indelible mark on the mind of younger spectators. Victory went to John Young and Alex Bumcombe in a Jaguar C-Type, who drove a dominant race despite a pit stop to fix a faulty light.
The Rolex Driver of the Meeting was Max Werner who, in typical Pomeroy style, single-handedly drove his 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza racecar to Goodwood from Dusseldorf, won the race and returned home—a round trip of some 800 miles. He refused help to prepare his car saying, “Don’t worry; I checked the oil and tires before I left home!” His victory in the Brooklands Trophy is all the more remarkable as he had no one in his pit to relay signals. Apparently, he did all this in the name of fun!
As the curtain came down on the 15th running of the Goodwood Revival, organizers were busy making plans for the 2013 event. Whatever your view of the Revival, the nostalgic and melancholic overtones of the event are as much if not more of a draw as the racing itself. It is a social and society occasion too, a place to be seen as well as see. Don’t forget to book early—tickets for next year are on sale beginning November 1 at www.goodwood.co.uk!