2021 Goodwood Revival: Another vintage year

Making a welcome return, the Goodwood Revival picks up where it left off two years ago. Damien Smith dons his demob suit and takes us through the programme highlights

Goodwood Revival grid
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Is there a UK motor sport happening more hotly anticipated this year than Goodwood’s jewel, the Revival Meeting? The Festival of Speed was special, as will be the Members’ Meeting in October. The sun-drenched British Grand Prix is one that will never be forgotten, thanks largely to the antics of Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, while fans have also flocked back to Silverstone Classic, British Touring Car Championship rounds, British Superbikes and much more. But the Revival – it’s the one so many of us missed more than anything during 2020. September isn’t September without it.

So what should we expect from the world’s favourite motor sport event and certainly the pinnacle of the historic racing season on September 17-19? The short answer is more of what we’ve become used to since the Duke of Richmond succeeded in bringing back racing to his grandfather’s Motor Circuit in 1998.

Like all the best long-lasting success stories, Goodwood doesn’t need to reinvent the formula every year because the one it has works so well. But the team at the West Sussex estate can never be accused of complacency: it always manages to pull on strands to create new pieces of magic.

RAcing at the Goodwood revival

This year, for the big return and the first running since 2019, will be no exception: among the familiar line-up special features and new elements have been dropped in, with an eye on keeping things fresh for the fans. The packed entry will be full of quality – naturally. But what really stands out for the comeback is the effort that has gone into opening up the Revival further to those without whom it simply can’t happen, as 2020 proved: that means you.

New bridge over Madgwick

New Goodwood Revival bridge over MadgwickThis one might make a few photographers quake, not to mention hardcore fans who love the view from Goodwood’s first corner down the start/finish straight –a newly built pedestrian bridge between the end of the pitlane and Madgwick has been added for this year. Organisers are at pains to stress they have strived to minimise the bridge’s impact on favourite vantage points, but it’s hard to imagine it won’t upset someone. Then again, what it will do is improve and free up access to the infield, which becomes clogged through the two tunnels at peak Revival time.

Given ongoing social distancing concerns, its addition has to be considered a good thing. The bridge will link the perimeter to a new viewing area on the inside of Madgwick next to the assembly area, which is ground-breaking for Goodwood and should prove popular.

 

RAF Westhampnett revived

RAF Westhampnett Goodwood RevivalGoodwood will once again tap into its World War II heritage as it also opens up new viewing areas on the infield along the Lavant Straight. Dubbed RAF Westhampnett as the airfield was known during the war, there will be a shopping area, food stalls, more outdoor seating, a big viewing screen and a new infield grandstand. It will also be home to a display of NHRA hot rods –a personal favourite of the Duke’s – and the grid of Stirling Moss Memorial Trophy GT cars from the early 1960s, which according to Goodwood now surpasses the RAC Tourist Trophy Celebration field as the most valuable at the Revival.

Spying on the drivers

Another concerted nod to improved public access is an intriguing new approach to the Drivers’ Club – the place all competitors tend to congregate, relax and hide away when they are not racing. This year it moves from the top of the airfield to a new position close to the Earls Court Motor Show building – and for the first time will be on full display to the public.

What exactly that means is hard to say right now – Goodwood loves to pull out a surprise or two for its big weekend. But over the years it’s gradually become harder to see your heroes at motor sport events, even at Goodwood. How drivers respond to losing some privacy remains to be seen – but frankly, who cares? The Revival didn’t happen last year because the public couldn’t come. This looks like a welcome acknowledgment of how important the crowd is to a venue that really shouldn’t mimic the old elitist ‘right crowd and no crowding’ Brooklands schtick.

Stirling Moss memorials

On to the track action – and inevitably the first Revival since the death last year of Sir Stirling Moss means ‘Mr Goodwood’ will be central to so much that plays out on the Motor Circuit.

Stirling MossFollowing the memorial celebrations at the Festival of Speed, a parade of Moss-related competition cars is being gathered which could turn out to be the largest yet seen. The obvious touch points of motor sport’s most celebrated racing life will all be present and correct, including Mercedes-Benz SLR ‘722’, the 1955 Mille Miglia winner that was also rolled out at the Festival. Will it actually run within the parade? We hear that’s a moot point between Goodwood and Mercedes right now – but let’s hope so. ‘722’ doesn’t travel often out of Stuttgart and who knows when it will again after this appearance.

The Stirling Moss Memorial Trophy took its bow behind closed doors at the autumnal SpeedWeek last year, so its running at the Revival will be a public debut in this guise for a race previously known as the Kinrara Trophy. The two-driver, 60-minute race will run on Friday and looks sure to be an early weekend highlight.

Naturally, Moss cars that take part in the parade will also appear in many of the races, including his Rob Walker Lotus 18, the fourwheel-drive 1961 Oulton Park Gold Cup-winning Ferguson P99 and Aston Martins DBR1 and DB3S. The Revival without Stirling used to be an unspeakable prospect. With that in mind, we all might find something in our collective eye when the parade rolls out to celebrate his life.

 

Whitmore Mini race

The regular favourite races will be unmissable, as ever, including the RAC Tourist Trophy Celebration on Sunday and the two-part St Mary’s Trophy, this time for 1950s hot rods (sorry, we mean humble saloons) on both days of the weekend.

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See Minis getting up to all sorts of mischief in the 45-minute John Whitmore Trophy

Then on Saturday expect an added dose of tin-top tomfoolery with the John Whitmore Trophy, a two-driver, 45-minute race dedicated to the Mini Cooper S. One-make Mini races are nothing new at Goodwood, but that’s because they guarantee fun and all sorts of high-jinks. You won’t want to miss this year’s Whitmore.

Festival of Britain recalled

It’s 70 years since the Festival of Britain celebrated the best the country had to offer in a time of crippling austerity and hardship, and in the current circumstances perhaps a Goodwood theme has never been so apt. In that frame of mind, the Goodwood Trophy for grand prix and voiturette cars is renamed the Festival of Britain Trophy for this year and will run on Saturday morning. Mirroring that theme will be a display based on the Battersea Pleasure Gardens from the summer of 1951 at the Gate 2 entrance, to add another extra ration of good spirit and cheer as we arrive and leave.

Scrolling back five years earlier, the Victory Parade will mark the 75th anniversary of the 1946 end of WWII celebrations in London, with military vehicles taking to the Motor Circuit on the Sunday to pay tribute to and thank local key workers and service people. That should stiffen our upper lip.

Make-do and mend

Away from the track and perhaps inspired by popular BBC TV show The Repair Shop, Goodwood this year introduces a new Make-Do and Mend feature on the outside of Woodcote Corner, showcasing restoration projects and featuring specialist guests who will be speaking and taking part in Q&As over the weekend.

On a similar sustainability, self-sufficiency theme keep an eye out for the Dig for Victory allotment, a 600sq ft patch celebrating the wartime campaign for cut-off Britain to grow its own food. The knack of tapping into the national zeitgeist, through the medium of rose-tinted nostalgia, knows no bounds down in Sussex.

But as always, it’s the racing action that will pull us back to the Goodwood Motor Circuit. A welcome sense of normality quickly swept across the Festival of Speed in July, followed in quick succession by the packed scenes at Silverstone. As it stands, business as usual is the order of attack for the Revival too and all being well we should barely see the join from the pre-Covid era. The SpeedWeek last year was great – but watching remotely on screens was never going to be the same, and at the circuit itself the lack of crowds inevitably left it feeling like a ghost event. This time, we’ll cherish the Revival more than ever.