Drivetime: get dressed up in period fashion and enjoy the show
Drivetime: get dressed up in period fashion and enjoy the show

Goodwood Revival: A day out for historic motorsport lovers

Tally ho... the Goodwood Revival celebrates its 20th birthday this year

Tuesday 21 August 2018 15:08

If you enjoy dressing up and living in the past – and who wouldn’t, given where we are in 2018 – then you’ll be pleased to learn that the annual Goodwood Revival is almost upon us, and that tickets are still available. Your very own time machine in the Sussex countryside will be going back to the golden era of motor racing (albeit one with more casualties) and much else between 7-9 September – and, fingers crossed, the weather should be better than in many a long year.

Think of the revival as the eccentric, fogeyish, tweedy sibling of the Goodwood Festival of Speed and you get the idea. And some of the attention to detail can be astonishing, such as when they established a reproduction 1960s branch of Tesco, complete with period groceries (packaging, not contents) and till attendants in the correct gear, though sadly the prices were all post-decimal and very much 21st century.

Race against time: pretend you’re watching Stirling Moss or Graham Hill

The backcloth to the event is a long series of races on the old Goodwood motor racing circuit, with the most memorable spectacles being the attempts – brave is the only word – to make Edwardian “racing” cars get around corners safely. Motor bikes and cars right up to the 1980s all get a chance to win various trophies. It’s noisy and of course smelly, especially in the paddocks.

It’s all very much of the time, which is the point. The original Goodwood Motor Circuit was established on the Duke of Richmond’s Goodwood estate (the stately home is still there) and an ex-RAF base adjacent to it. From 1948 to the last competitive event in 1966, the circuit hosted headline races such as the Tourist Trophy for sports cars and the Glover Trophy for grand prix cars.

All the top drivers of the day raced at Goodwood, from Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss in the 1950s to Jim Clark and Graham Hill through the 1960s.

The circuit was painstakingly restored to look as it did in its heyday while complying with modern safety standards.

The Revival has since become one of the biggest annual historic motorsport events in the world, and the only one to be staged entirely in period dress. Each year more than 150,000 people descend on this quiet corner of West Sussex to enjoy the three day event.

Fiat of engineering: there are plenty of processions to enjoy

Dress for your arrival in the Britain of circa 1954. Military uniforms are often favoured. But some attendees have pushed the boundaries of taste a little too far by turning up as members of the Luftwaffe, for example. Not only would many find that offensive, even in a good natured crowd such as the Goodwood Revivalists, but it doesn’t really work as part of the pageant, as a German air force officer back then would have been unlikely to be found enjoying a pint and a burger in Blighty.

Period barbers, retro clothing stalls, motoring memorabilia, books, spare parts, costumes, a mock Earls Court Motor Show demonstrating the newest Hillmans, Triumphs and Austins, plus Wolseley police cars and Renault Dauphine mini cabs. In time you will become accustomed to being surrounded by classic Ferraris, Jaguars, Aston Martins and much else.

Earn your wings: come along in period dress

This year the Goodwood Estate will, incongruously enough, welcome Butlin’s, offering free rollerskating to visitors in the Butlin’s ballroom, styled exactly as it would have been in a 1950s Butlin’s resort. Hi de hi! Redcoats will entertain the children, encouraging games such as ‘limbo’, ‘follow the leader’ and ‘stuck in the mud’.

The Revival Cinema will once again be presented by Sky Cinema, featuring family films throughout the weekend.

If you want to offload your Sunbeam Alpine, Facel Vega or Jowett Javelin, you can take your chances at the Bonhams historic vehicle auction, or instead just show it off at the Smith & Williamson Classic Car Show, where visitors can become part of the event, bringing their own classics for display.

The Goodwood Revival, now in its 20th year, is the nearest thing we have to a Tardis.

Friday and Sunday tickets are still available for the Revival, which runs 7-9 September. Contact the Goodwood ticket office at or on 01243 755 055

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