The 2021 Goodwood Revival Puts Racing Fans In A Time Warp
Here in the U.S., for example, it’s not always a good look to see grown adults divvying up gray and blue uniforms and reenacting the Civil War. Is cosplay really the best way to go in that scenario? How would you even pick the teams?
But as it turns out, there’s another way to approach historical reenactments, and it’s a vintage car lover’s dream come true. The Goodwood Revival, a British racing event where drivers and spectators don the period dress of the 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s, was held September 17-19 in West Sussex, U.K., and it’s as close to a time machine as any car fan could imagine. The Revival is also closely connected to the upper crust of British society, as one of several motorsports events held annually at Goodwood Estate, the ancestral home of the Dukes of Richmond. The current Duke, Charles Gordon-Lennox, is a lifelong auto enthusiast who first starting hosting Goodwood’s Festival of Speed event back in 1993.
After that, the Goodwood Revival seemed like a natural fit, since the throwback race nods to the estate’s history as the site of a post-World War II motor circuit. The whole affair is a surprising contrast from what you’d see in the United States, where motorsports conjure images of Nascar Dads chugging brewskis - not exactly a stately, aristocratic reputation.
Although the whole concept of the Goodwood Revival might seem a little pretentious, this year’s event proved that it’s also a genuinely good time. The racing circuit, which is 2.37 miles long, was roaring with the sound of enough automotive legends to fill a museum, like the Mercedes 300SL Gullwing, the Aston Martin DBS, and the Jaguar C- and D-Types. Shelby fans could also feast their eyes on a large group of Cobras snaking their way across the track, a testament to that car’s racing dominance in the period Goodwood is trying to emulate.
So, in the end, motorsports fans can only gain from buying into the silliness and stuffiness of an event like Goodwood, which makes automotive history come alive in a way that few other races can. And that’s not just because of the vintage cars participating – the Goodwood Racing Circuit also has quite a dramatic history, as the site of not one, but two notorious accidents. In 1962, a crash on the Goodwood track left F1 legend Stirling Moss in a career-ending coma (although Moss survived the episode, and passed away only last year). Just eight years later, another one of the automotive world’s most heralded figures actually lost his life at Goodwood, when driver and designer Bruce McLaren died testing one of his cars there in 1970.
It all amounts to a pretty memorable experience, although potential Revival attendees should be wary of sticking to the dress code – the Goodwood Estate isn’t going to let you get away with throwing off the meticulously recreated retro vibe. There’s even a best-dressed competition for those willing to put extra effort into their threads. But the classic cars are really the stars of the event every year, and they’re the reason why Goodwood is such a must-see. So any vintage racing enthusiast who’s ever wanted to step back in time doesn’t have to dream about it anymore, because the Revival can make that dream a reality.
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