Goodwood Revival 2007, August 31 – September 2, 2007
By Andy Tyacke, photography by author
Recipe for Three-Day Delight:
Assemble the largest collection of pre-1967 cars to be found anywhere in the world, add a gathering of military and civil aircraft of the period, stir in the fashions of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, provide a competing car list that is a compound of all the great names of the sport’s history from the ’20s to the ’60s, add a star-studded list of the great drivers of the last fifty years, mix in eye-watering wheel-to-wheel racing, wonderful organisation, unique atmosphere.
Simmer for three days of all-day practice and racing in one of the world’s prettiest racing circuits and serve.
Warning: This dish can cause brain overload and delusions of having died and gone to car freak heaven!
Where does one start? Is it the incessant “Omigosh—look at that…” which starts 50 miles from the track? Or the first sight of a cop on a 1956 Triumph Speed Twin (complete with period uniform) directing traffic on the approach? Or jeeps and GIs from the ’40s? Or the vintage airplanes overhead? And we haven’t even gotten there yet!
Reserved car parks for several thousand pre-1967 vehicles are a honey pot for the camera hound and a mind-blowing experience for every motor head. Even the regular car parks are full of the mind-blowing: I spotted two D-types, a C-type and a Lotus XI parked together at the end of a row of assorted E-types, MGAs, Morgans etc. All of these had been driven to the event and were parked in the grass field among the modern tin boxes. Frequent displays by three of Grumman’s greats—Wildcat, Hellcat and Bearcat and a P51 Mustang, a Hurricane and two Spitfires among others complemented the racing throughout the three days.
Goodwood was the premier British Grand Prix track from 1948 to 1966 and each year the clock is turned back to revive the appearance, the atmosphere and the racing of a period when the only jet in an airplane was in the carburettor, racing and sports cars were beautiful and no lady would venture out without a hat.
The sixteen races this year (the mix varies from year to year within the pre-1967 parameter) included just about everything you’ve ever fantasised about: from the pre-war Golden Age came bellowing Brooklands Bentleys (including the 24 litre Napier-Bentley), 750 supercharged MGs (unbelievably fast to come 1-2 in a field including GP Bugattis, Delages, Alfa Romeos and assorted Mercedes and Bentleys, Fraser Nashes, Morgans etc.), Maseratis, ERAs, Miller FWD, Riley and a host of others.
Where else will you see 1952-55 sports and GTs such as DB2, DB3S, Cooper, Cunningham, Ferrari, Frazer Nash, Gordini, HWM, C-type, Lagonda V12, and Maserati A6GCS really going wheel-to-wheel flat out and the next day, their 1955-60 successors doing the same? Or a field of Cobras, DB4GT, Project 212, Sting Rays, Ferrari GTOs, GTs, 330 and a host of others re-creating the legendary battles with the lightweight E-types?
And were there ever more beautiful monopostos than the 1948-60 Grand Prix cars? Aston Martin DBR4s battled assorted Connaughts, Cooper-Alta, BRM, Vanwall, Cooper-Bristols, Emeryson, Ferraris, HWMs, Maseratis and the 4WD Ferguson P99 in a wonderful demonstration of the art of the four wheel drift and induced slides as the open cockpits gave the crowd a perfect view of the drivers sawing at the steering to balance their cars against the throttle.
The St Mary’s Trophy for production saloons from 1960-66 is a perennial thriller, pitting David against Goliath as the Yank Tanks—Falcons, Galaxies, Mustangs, Corvairs, Darts and Barracudas—took on the smaller Yurpeens including Mini-Coopers, Alfas, BMWs, Lotus Cortinas and Mark 2 Jaguars.
Anthony Reed’s 3.8 Jag blew a core plug at Lavant and spun wildly on his own oil, spreading the black stuff generously around the braking area. The ensuing acrobatics saw an amazing ballet as the Galaxies of Jackie Oliver and Barrie Williams managed miraculously to miss each other and everyone else, whilst the Mustangs of John Whitmore and Derek Bell managed to miss everyone, but not the gravel patch where both ended their race, together with several imitators. Gounon in a very smoky Barracuda performed amazing feats to maintain his lead through the oil and went on to win whilst a series of thrilling tussles continued behind him.
The second leg was equally mind-blowing—albeit more for the tightness of the racing—as nineteen-year-old Oliver Bryant in the Barracuda and Sean Young’s Galaxie swapped the lead continuously with Young craftily snatching the lead on the last straight and holding on to a two or three feet lead into the flag.