Goodwood Circuit is gearing up to host its first race meeting in over 30 years on September 18-20, 1998, exactly half a century since the ninth Duke of Richmond – who, as Freddie March, won the 1931 Brooklands Double 12 race – opened it for racing.
The newly-reborn Goodwood Road Racing Company’s landmark event will be staged three weeks later than originally envisaged – its first day is the Golden Jubilee – making it exactly 50 years since a youthful 19-year-old Stirling Moss won his first major race there.
Having won the lengthy battle to gain planning permission to reopen the historic 2.4-mile race circuit in 1997, prime mover Lord March (Freddie’s grandson) has already overseen a massive effort in the first phase of preparation for the event.
“I know how my grandfather must have felt right at the beginning,” he told Motor Sport. “The restoration of Goodwood circuit is an circuit is an enormous challenge and a whole new chapter in the history of motor racing here. I want the revival meeting next September to be a truly magical and theatrical step back in time. Those who remember the old days should see very few differences and younger people will hopefully revel in how racing used to be. For spectators the revival of Goodwood will mean better facilities but without the concrete and fencing we associate with so many modern circuits.”
A third of a million tons of earth have been moved to create a three metre high sound-damping barrier on the south-west facing side of the circuit. This also doubles as an unbroken spectator bank affording unprecedented views between the demanding Madgwick and St Mary’s corners.
Thirty thousand tyres have been installed as safety barriers round much of the perimeter of the track, according to circuit manager Tony Houghton, and now line the outside of Lavant Corner and the beginning of the Lavant Straight, where Bruce McLaren was killed testing a CanAm car in 1970. The inside of the Madgwick to Fordwater stretch, which abuts the airfield, will be left open.
Although the race programme for the coming meeting has yet to be fixed, it is certain that the spectacular will be run for cars built up to the track’s closure in 1966, when the British Automobile Racing Club transferred its racing programmes to a new base at the not dissimilar airfield circuit at Thruxton in neighbouring Hampshire.
Goodwood’s layout promoted wonderful racing in virtually every single-seater, sports and saloon car discipline, thus it is no surprise that the majority of classes none more than the Formula Junior movement, whose 40th birthday celebrations next year will be reaching their climax are eager to return for what promises to be the talk of the European historic racing season.
Certainly, Moss, Roy Salvadori and many of the other drivers who made the place famous, are looking forward to returning to rekindle the memories of those who marvelled at their skills at the legendary Sussex venue, and entertain subsequent generations who were denied the privilege the first time around.