Goodwood Revival

21 Dec 2015

(Dear me, found this in my drafts folder. Let’s pretend it’s late September still…)

Last weekend (ahem) Laura and I attended Goodwood Revival. For those not familiar with it, Revival is a weekend long automotive equivalent of a historic reenactment event, set across the 30s to 60s, all hosted by Lord March at Goodwood, a mecca for motorsport and automative enthusiasts. It’s not the sort of thing either Laura or I would have attended had we not been invited along by one of Laura’s work colleagues, who happened to be racing in one of the events, but I’m rather glad we did.

Goodwood Revival starts with the carpark. Normally you’d despair at parking in a field with a mile or so to walk to the event; not so at Goodwood, where the car park is essentially a free entry motorshow that would rival many other events around the world. There’s a specific set of fields set aside for show cars that fit the theme (yes, multiple fields), and then there’s just the general car par which is studded with random exotica. You could easily just lose hours walking around here, and I suspect quite a few people do.

The next thing that hits you as walk around (in which Laura and I partook too) is the degree of LARPing at Revival. I’d estimate at least three quarters of people attending had taken the opportunity to dress up, some with minimal effort (I wore as much tweed as I could find) but a good percentage going the full hog, and dressing up as mods, or WWII RAF folk (in theme – Spitfires and Mustangs were buzzing the show taking people for a ride all weekend) or many other wonderful themes. It meant that the event had a wonderful surreal quality to the weekend, with so many people in the spirit of the theme; you feel like you’ve really stepped out of the normal world for a day, which makes it much easier to switch off the real world and relax at the event.

Once inside the event there’s a lot of vintage race cars and motorbikes on display, but unusually most of the time are not static museum pieces, they’re here to race. All weekend long the fortunate owners are here to race these cars against others from the same era. And they don’t pull punches either despite the incalculable worth of all that old metal hurtling around – you can see them taking corners on the ragged edge of what the car will cope with, and there were several offs that no doubt would cost what I paid for my house to repair. But these are cars still living the life they ere built for originally, which is a wonderful sight to see and hear.

Laura and I weren’t that fussed about any given race, which meant we could take a relaxed time, watching just a few laps of a race to see the cars from whatever period was on track, and then returning to looking at the other stands showing off cars, the various stores of memorabilia, or just watching all the people in fancy dress. A very chilled day spent with people doing exactly the same.

It was totally not what I expected from such an event, which I thought would be stuffy and a bit dull; whilst I like cars, I don’t like them as display objects, I like them as working bits of engineering. Thankfully, that’s exactly what Revival likes too – this isn’t a nod back to a postcard view of the past – it was literally a revival of these wonderful classics. I guess the clue should have been in the name.

You can see some more pictures here, and if you’ve been convinced this is worth a look, perhaps we’ll see you there next year – we’ve already booked our tickets for 2016.