Re·viv·al noun ri-ˈvī-vəl
: a period in which something becomes popular again after a long period of time
: the growth of something or an increase in the activity of something after a long period of no growth or activity
: the showing of a play, a movie, etc., to the public usually many years after it was last shown: a new production of an old show
All three Merriam-Webster definitions ring true when you are talking about the annual Goodwood Revival. Between 1948 and 1966, the Goodwood Motor Circuit was one of the premier motor racing locations in England, rivaling Silverstone. During that time it hosted Formula One races, endurance races, and the Tourist Trophy. Built around the circumference of an airfield, it is a circuit set in the English countryside on the estate of Lord March. He was instrumental in returning the circuit to use and launching the revival in 1998. Each year since then, for three days in September, the circuit, the airfield, and its immediate environment are transported back to sometime in the 1940s 50s, and 60s.
Perhaps the greatest facet of this event is the sporting competition of these vintage machines. There is literally millions of pounds worth of machinery on the track, and yet no one is engaged in “gentleman racing”. Make no mistake about it, these guys are racing hard and going for the win. I personally watched a museum-quality car get wadded up in an off-track excursion. I was later informed that this was the second year in a row that the car had sustained damage. And this was just during practice! The bikes included works racers from BMW, MV Agusta, Norton, Honda, and more. The featured Marque and Model this year was the Ford GT 40. There were a total of 28 GT40s present at Goodwood that participated in the GT40-only race around the circuit. You will probably not see this many of them together again. The featured driver was Jim Clark. Besides a great tribute by Moss, Stewart, and Surtees, a field of Jim Clark cars took to the track for some hot laps. Everything from a Porsche 356 to a Formula 1 car. Outstanding stuff. Oh, by the way, the paddock was filled with unobtanium race-winning machines, any one of which would have commanded your attention for hours. Oh, and by the way, there was a vintage airshow taking place during this event with everything from Biplanes to Spitfires coming and going from the grass landing strip in the infield that was actually used during WWII. So yes, to put it very mildly, the old is once again popular.
To say that the event has grown to be successful is a wild understatement. The event has steadily grown in attendance on a scale not really seen at US events. 2012 Attendance was reported as 145,398 and about £36 million was spent over the three days according to research by the British Historic Vehicle Clubs and the University of Brighton. In fact, the festival has taken steps to curtail ticket sales in order to control the growth and preserve the experience! So yes, you might say that there has been growth and increases in activity.
Unbelievably, Goodwood is more than all of this. It is a show. I would guess that two-thirds of the attendees are dressed for the event in some way. For three days, most of the world’s supply of tweed, wool, and houndstooth clothing is in one place. Teams can win awards for the best and most authentic presentation, so they wrench in period white overalls with period insignia and drink from period flasks and thermos bottles. Mixed in are performers from the Goodwood Actors Guild (!) who interact with the crowd, operate a period-correct grocery store with period items on the shelves, re-enact period events, etc, etc, etc. You can just take random pictures and not know what year it is. And then there are the cars. Show cars are scattered all around the track in clusters so you are never far from a corral of some sort. There is a period Motor Show as it might have been, with cars as they might have been. There are vendors of memorabilia and vintage clothing, and vintage Prams (baby carriages). Disney would be proud to call this event their own.
But wait, there’s more…Outside, in the classic car parking lot are thousands of cars driven by attendees. As you might guess, many of them could have been at home inside the event. I spent 3+ hours one day just walking through the parking lot. You know you are someplace special when you start to ignore E-Type Jags, Triumph Stags, Facel Vegas, Bentleys, TVRs, etc because they are too common to warrant a photo! So yes, you might say that there is a show of the highest quality once again, at a historic location in England.