There's no other place I’d rather be in September than the Goodwood Revival. Describing it as a step back in time doesn’t do it justice; it’s like a multi-million pound movie set but much bigger. Actually, a lot of the buildings are temporary and built just for the event, though you wouldn’t guess it. Most of the circuit’s buildings stay in place, as does the aerodrome, although all the B52s and Spitfires that fly overhead all weekend are flown back to museums on the Monday. The circuit, pits and race tower are as they’ve been since the beginning of racing at Goodwood in 1948. The attention to detail needs to be seen to be believed and there’s a grid made up of more than £200 million of DB4’s SWB Ferrari 250 and 330 GTOs, Jag E-types and Maseratis. The bikes are pretty special, too! This year there was Troy Corser’s
1928 supercharged BMW, Manx Nortons, a G40 Matchless and the bike that Scott Smart raced – a 1944 Velocette – was valued at £400,000... someone was brave enough to let him ride it.
Don’t bother coming unless you’ve gone to the trouble of picking up some tweeds, flat caps, boating jackets or full 1940s military wear, though. A change for each day is recommended and a bonus is that the girls look amazing in pencil skirts and stockings. I love the amazing atmosphere: more than 100,000 people all smiling, laughing, complimenting one another like we’ve all learned our manners again and not pushing each other to get past. The feelgood factor makes a pleasant change to normal life.
We are lucky enough each year to meet up with little circles of race friends from two and four wheels, trying to out-dress one another, and rubbing shoulders with the legends of our sports: dining
together in Goodwood House with the Earl of Richmond, or sharing afternoon tea in the riders/drivers lounge with Jackie Stewart, Stirling Moss or Sammy Miller... Stop me if I’m namedropping too much.
This year, Troy Corser and his team-mate Herbert Schwab won the Barry Sheene memorial overall on the 1935 supercharged BMW Boxer I mentioned here last month. It was a sight to behold as this bike doesn’t go around corners, it jumps and chatters around them. Just sitting behind Troy was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done; I didn’t want to get close in case it all went tits up. How he stayed on it is a miracle; they deserved to win it with that effort. John McGuinness and Glen English won the first race on Saturday; JM actually made the holeshot with his dicky leg after the Le Mans start, work that one out! He was made up with that as he didn’t have to buy the drinks, but he seemed out of sorts on the Sunday... starting with a 10-second lead, they lost out by six at the flag. The BMW team stayed on for the Sunday night, sharing their Bavarian beer with anyone who’d drink with them. Troy and the big German were in top form after their first win.
Racing together at Goodwood is pretty awesome, the crowds that fill the stands and the banks all the way around are all dressed to the nines, and wave their programmes at you as you cruise past on the victory lap smoking a huge Cuban cigar. If you’re lucky enough to make the podium, it feels like you’ve just won the 1954 British GP. Sharing the victory magnum of Veuve Clicquot with your competitors carries on to the ball on the Saturday evening where plenty more is served. It’s a party like no other, if you are lucky enough to get invited. Past winners tend to be, so there’s some motivation to pull your finger out on track. I’ve been to a fair few parties in my time but nothing comes close to this. Every year is a different theme; this year was Steampunk, everyone made the effort and the bike racers were first on the floor and last to leave. We even had our very own leprechaun, Lee Johnson, in a top hat.