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Happy anniversary
2008 Circuit Revival Meeting report

Author

Date

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Who?

Tiff Needell, Tom Alexander

What?

Aston Martin DB4GT

Where?

Goodwood

When?

X Circuit Revival Meeting, RAC TT Celebration (September 21, 2008)

Why?

It's a known claim not by the organisers, but by fans, reporters and connoisseurs alike that the Revival gets better each and every year. But the tenth-anniversary edition of Goodwood's Circuit Revival Meeting had to be something special in itself. And to no-one's surprise it was, although some were stunned by the large margin it managed to perform the feat.

The effort was of course helped by three days of gloriously un-British weather warming the visitors and making the competitors and mechanics sweat even more. Then there was the entourage, some of it now part of Revival tradition, while more exciting bits were again added to the event's nostalgic mix of sights, sounds and smells. The blessing of the drivers and cars from motor racing vicar Canon Lionel Webber, the Band of the Blues and Royals marching up the grid, the magnificent air displays performed by a Mustang and a Spitfire, one of which joined Moss, Stewart and Attwood on the grid, the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation concours that outdid last year's inaugural edition, the celebration of Tony Brooks's illustrious career, the long-awaited return of night racing in the spirit of the Goodwood Nine Hours they all contrived to most people being forgiving at the news that the Vulcan expected to join the air displays had to decline the honour due to technical difficulties.

The circuit also welcomed several new mechanical faces of exquisite rarity, ranging from a Bugatti 73C to a Maserati 8CLT, but the track itself was the center of attention all through the weekend, as it wasn't just the Revival's tenth edition the Goodwood Motor Circuit itself was opened 60 years ago. Lord March, the Earl of March and Kinrara and grandfather of the present Earl, was to blame. Freddie Richmond, as he was known to his friends, was an avid racer at Brooklands before the Second World War and became president of the merger between the Junior Car Club and the Brooklands Automobile Racing Club, known from 1949 at the British Automobile Racing Club (BARC). Looking for a Brooklands replacement Freddie met Australian racer and former RAF pilot Tony Gaze, who told that he already had one on his own property!

During off-days Gaze had been racing his MG around the perimeter road of RAF Westhampnett, the airbase that had been constructed on a part of the Goodwood Estate. In his negotiations with the RAF, Lord March had carefully arranged that the ground would be handed back to him after the war. At first, he didn't think much of the track, liking it to every other flat and featureless airfield circuit around Britain, of which Silverstone was the best-known and probably the worst as well, with its corners marked out by steel drums a fact that Juan Manuel Fangio wouldn't get used to in all of his career. But Freddie pressed on all the same and work was finished in 1948. By driving a Bristol 400 around for a lap Lord March declared the circuit officially open.

His grandson Charles performed the very same act in 1998 to re-open Goodwood for motor racing after it was closed in 1966 for being too dangerous for the 3-litre F1 cars and the 'big-banger' sportscars of the day. With its slopey, high-speed, multi-apex and often off-camber corners set in lush parkland there was much to distinguish it from other airfield circuits and drivers quickly grew to like it. It was also fearsomely fast, ending the career of Stirling Moss and killing Bruce McLaren during one of testing sessions that were allowed to continue after the circuit was closed for competition. It didn't stop Charles March from restoring the Motor Circuit's former glory to create a truly unique event on the historic motor racing calendar.

The 60 years of Goodwood were celebrated by a wonderful 'Life on the Road in 1948' parade, showing off all sorts of vehicles that were found in the streets and even in the air during 1948. Many heroes who raced at Goodwood were present in the 'Goodwood Legends' presentation, including Stirling Moss, who as an 18-year-old took part in and won Goodwood's first-ever race. a 500cc quickie that was over in a few laps, like many of the Trophy races held there. Jackie Stewart was re-united with his BRM P261 Grand Prix mount while the illustrious BRM V16 was present as well. It managed to run twice, allowing the audience to experience its thundering noise, before a fire burned the car's engine cover, very much in style with the 'success' it enjoyed on its first outings...

Our snapper man at the scene enjoyed it all immensely and outdid himself in striking close-up pictures of the stuff that helped make this sport so wonderful over the years. He also joined the party at Goodwood House to watch the cricket on the Earl's lawn and spent the night in the new-for-2008 camp site on the circuit's center area.

A pleasant evening at Goodwood House
Close-up pictures in the paddock
The ambiance of the meeting