Inside Goodwood Revival

The three-day celebration of bygone-era cars and competition returned with grand, in-period style.

By Alexander Cheney 23/09/2021

After being cancelled last year due to the pandemic, Goodwood Revival, the three-day festival that celebrates the golden age of motorsport, returned to the Goodwood Estate in West Sussex, England. This past weekend, decades-old automobiles burped and barked around the 3.8-km racetrack, nestled roughly 96km south of London, as costumed spectators shopped, browsed auction offerings, noshed and, of course, cheered.

A period piece in motion, Goodwood Revival was created in 1998 by Charles Gordon-Lennox, known colloquially as the Earl of March, as an homage to his late grandfather Freddie. The latter first raced at his Goodwood estate in 1948 but stopped in 1966 when the ever-increasing speeds of the newest performance cars made competing an unsafe endeavour. Mr Gordon-Lennox brought racing back to the estate, but regulated it to solely vintage vehicles. Thus, the namesake fete was born.

A classic Jaguar D-type competes at the 2021 Goodwood Revival.

A Jaguar D-type races at the 2021 Goodwood Revival. Photo: Courtesy of Jaguar Classic.

Each year, a number of former and current professional racers participate. Making his Goodwood debut, 2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jensen Button, and his longtime friend Alex Buncombe, began Friday’s sessions in a Jaguar E-Type. The duo switched to a Cobra for the Royal Automobile Club TT Celebration race on Sunday, and Button contributed to the most exciting contest of the weekend with a hiccup: he went from front row to ninth place after shifting directly from first to fourth gear. In addition, former World Sports–Prototype Champion Martin Brundle and racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart drove down memory lane in a touching Friday evening tribute to Sir Stirling Moss, who passed away in April of 2020.

Attendees of the 2021 Goodwood Revival in period-correct attire.

Attendees socialize in period-correct attire. Photo: Courtesy of Jaguar Classic.

While some cars are raced, others are brought to the Bonhams Goodwood Revival auction, including a 1951 Renault 4CV Grand Luxe that participated in the Mille Miglia. Others are displayed purely for inspiration, like Lofty England’s 1967 E-type Series I 2+2—the only model to ever leave the Jaguar factory carrying a four-speed manual gearbox with overdrive.

Under an impressive, period-correct tent, Jaguar Land Rover Classic fittingly celebrated the 60th anniversary of the E-type with a host of development cars, including its Lightweight E-type Continuation and C-type Continuation. Spokesmen in three-piece tweed suits also discussed the Defender Works V8 Trophy and Jaguar’s latest limited-edition releases making up the E-type 60 Collection.

A Jaguar MK II races at the 2021 Goodwood Revival.

A Jaguar MK II comes out of a corner at the Goodwood Motor Circuit. Photo: Courtesy of Jaguar Classic.

“Being part of Jaguar Land Rover, we have access to the most modern technology we use to develop new cars,” mentioned Alistair Sommerville, Jaguar Classic Sales & PR Manager. “We took all the notes and source material and created a very authentic vehicle that’s the best of old and new.”

Men in military uniforms, aviation suits or a healthy amount of houndstooth—not to mention mandatory cravats—and ladies sporting beehive hairdos and polka-dot dresses, wandered around the grassy grounds, often with a flute of Veuve Clicquot in hand. Some chose to peruse vintage-inspired clothing at Private White VC while others meandered around the carnival fairground that was replete with non-motorsport amusements. Still others eagerly explored the paddocks and pit lane, where mechanics in grease-stained coveralls and neckties perpetually tinkered.

A Jaguar E-type is used as the safety car during the races at the 2021 Goodwood Revival.

Naturally, a classic automobile is used as the safety car during competition. Photo: Courtesy of Jaguar Classic.

Seeing as Goodwood doubled as an airfield of the Royal Air Force during the Battle of Britain, Spitfires were also for sale, priced at approx. $5.7 million. Five of the iconic warbirds, in varying states of repair, sat on display. Matt Jones, a Spitfire pilot and the managing director of Boultbee Flight Academy, spent all weekend fielding questions and interest. “We’re offering the opportunity to buy flying Spitfires or be a part of the restoration, and, in three years’ time, get to see this plane here fly once again,” he noted.

The Jaguar Land Rover tent at the 2021 Goodwood Revival.

The three-day festival is a showcase for vintage vehicles and their enthusiasts. Photo: Courtesy of Jaguar Classic.

Although it’s prudent to always come prepared for rain in the English countryside, the annual event received only a smattering on Sunday morning. Enjoying the near perfect conditions, some 150 vintage cyclists took to the Goodwood Motor Circuit before the showers in a preview of the Eroica Britannia cycling festival, which will also be based at Goodwood in 2022.

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