The roots deliver the goods
2012 Circuit Revival Meeting report
- Mattijs Diepraam (words & pictures)
- September 20, 2012
- Goodwood - A delightful antidote, 2001 Circuit Revival Meeting report, by Mattijs Diepraam/Frank van de Velde
- Goodwood - Continental Grand Prix team in search for British excellence, a spoof period report on the 2003 Revival Meeting, by Mattijs Diepraam
- Goodwood - Photographic impressions of the 2003 Revival Meeting, Friday's gallery, by Frank van de Velde/Mattijs Diepraam/Jeroen Bruintjes
- Goodwood - Photographic impressions of the 2003 Revival Meeting, Saturday's gallery, by Frank van de Velde/Mattijs Diepraam
- Goodwood - Photographic impressions of the 2003 Revival Meeting, Sunday's gallery, by Frank van de Velde/Mattijs Diepraam
- Goodwood - Indian summer for historic motor cars, 2005 Circuit Revival Meeting report, by Mattijs Diepraam
- Goodwood - Thrills and spins in Revival spectacle, 2007 Circuit Revival Meeting report, by Mattijs Diepraam
- Goodwood - Happy Anniversary, 2008 Circuit Revival Meeting report, by Mattijs Diepraam/Maarten Hoeben
- Goodwood - Revival of the fastest, 2009 Circuit Revival Meeting report, by Mattijs Diepraam
- Goodwood - Row, row, row your boat, 2011 Circuit Revival Meeting report, by Mattijs Diepraam
- Goodwood - Keeping its core intact, 2013 Circuit Revival Meeting report, by Mattijs Diepraam
- Goodwood - Being part of it, 2014 Circuit Revival Meeting report, by Mattijs Diepraam
- Goodwood - The cars are the stars, with stars in the cars, 2015 Circuit Revival Meeting report, by Mattijs Diepraam
Rob Huff, Anthony Reid, Rowan Atkinson
Austin A40, Jaguar MkI, Jaguar MkVII
2012 Goodwood Revival (September 15, 2012)
The best Goodwood Revival is always the next one. It’s an axioma based on knowledge garnered by veteran visitors, who each year return home shouting ‘This was the best Revival ever’ followed by a spine-tingling and mildly horrifying sensation of doubt best described by the words ‘How can they ever top this?’ And yet they manage to pull it off each and every next Revival.
They – these are the Earl of March and his devoted team of experts – have continued to succeed in their Mission Impossible by on the one hand guarding the inspired formula of ‘A magical step back in time’ with an almost military devotion, while on the other hand carefully building on it. The first element is warranted by the Revival organisers’ meticulous eye for detail – everything has to be perfect, both conceptually and in its execution, to create that marvellous forties-to-sixties time bubble. To the visitor encouraged to help shape the magic by dressing up, however, the entire event doesn’t feel like it is organised with a discipline bordering on the Germanic. Yet it is. It must be. The second ingredient that contributes to the idea that the latest Revival is the always the best are the subtle changes and additions to the programme. Again, these are well thought out but to the casual visitor they have to look like an adventurous step into unknown territory.
This year, the adventure would be provided by the return of the night race and the Return – yes, this warranted the use of a capital R! – of the Silver Arrows. Also, even more shops and attractions would help to enhance the vintage feeling, and the Over The Road experience promised to be larger than ever. The night race in the spirit of the erstwhile Goodwood Nine Hours was already done in 2008 but on the Saturday. Now scheduled to end the Friday it was certain to persuade many visitors into doing the full three days. In fact, the event was a sell-out, with all 146,000 tickets gone a handful of days before the gates would open.
The perfect Revival atmosphere has visitors wanting for more every year. (photo 8W)
There was no doubt about the big crowd-puller, however. This would be the Silver Arrows demonstration ‘race’ run between the monster Mercedes and Auto Union Grand Prix cars of the thirties and their outclassed Italian, French and British rivals of the time. Oh, how we rejoiced when the announcement came – now it was an absolute no-brainer that the 2012 Revival would be the best ever, and never before did we reach that conclusion so early in the year, a full nine months ahead of it actually taking place.
Multiple Auto Unions! Multiple Mercedes! Together on the same track! At ‘race speeds’! Doing a ‘race’ according to a carefully scripted scenario! Knowing how Mercedes and Audi feel about this, the historic racing world’s initial reaction was that of sheer amazement. How did they pull that one off? Then everyone realized that if anyone would ever have been able to do it, it had to be Lord March and his team. If anyone had doubts about revisiting the Revival for the umpteenth time, these were now firmly squashed by the promise of the fulfilment of a life-time dream – the live re-enactment of a Grand Prix of the thirties.
So, nine months after the birth of that wonderful dream, did we indeed leave Goodwood with the acute awareness that this was the best one ever – as you invariably do on a mid-September Sunday night?
The question on everybody's mind: would it really happen, the live re-enactment of a thirties Grand Prix? (photo 8W)
We did. But amazingly, it wasn’t because of the new stuff that the Revival team had come up with. It was the Revival’s roots that delivered the goods: the racing. Rarely did so many races on the programme provide such edge-of-seat viewing experiences. Undoubtedly top of the heap in the entertainment department were those touring-car bad boys in both St. Mary’s Trophy races, epitomized by the three-can-go-into-one move by Rob Huff in his Austin A40, lining up Anthony Reid’s Jaguar MkI in the second apex of Lavant while putting a foot in the grass, with Rowan Atkinson on the outside giving his all to keep his wallowing MkVII out of harm’s way.
In the second race Richard Shaw in his tiny but potent BMW 700 performed several show-stealing acts, the foremost being his unbelievable move at Madgwick, overtaking two Austins around the outside. That was after a frightening spin at the same place a few laps earlier, while shortly after, still progressing with his comeback, he let his enthusiasm get the better of him to spin off in an endless amount of twirls at St. Mary’s, ending up as far as the grape seed fields. A Gilles-style performance that ended in vain but deserved full marks for effort.
And surprisingly, in all of these antics they hardly ever touched – one exception being the last-lap hairy moment at Woodcote in the second race, between the two A40s. Fortunately the damage was only superficial, and the spectators loved it. It’s as if the saloon-car spectacle is mirrored by their off-track accessibility, since ‘the people’s paddock’ was unquestionably found in the free-for-all section next to the scrutineering shed.
The 'people's paddock' was a beehive buzzing with activity. (photo 8W)
Hard but clean racing was the order of the day everywhere, as it seemed, since driving standards were upheld much better than in previous years, when some of the drivers become a tad overambitious while striving to add a Goodwood race win to their tally. We did see some heavy damage, such as to Joe Colasacco’s Maserati Tipo 151 or Martin Brundle’s Cobra, but most of it was self-inflicted.
Not even the huge startline accident in the Richmond and Gordon Trophies race was due to blatant dangerous driving. It just happened, triggered by everyone having to avoid the slow-starting Gary Pearson – which they thankfully all did – and then finding their space again in the hole on the track created by the struggling BRM. Tony Smith’s Ferrari Dino back-ended John Harper’s Cooper, Roger Wills’s Lotus 16 climbed on top of Paul Smeeth’s 18, with Willi Balz, Michael Hinderer, John Chisholm and Andrew Garner also involved in the melée. After the start, poleman Alasdair McCaig stormed to a convincing win in his Ecurie Ecosse Cooper T53 but he was kept honest by the older Cooper of Rod Jolley whose four-wheel drifts through Madgwick were a marvel to behold. Having been given a reprieve by the restart, Gary Pearson was involved in the lead battle in the initial stages but fell back in the second part of the race to still claim third.
The Lotus 16 of Roger Wills was among the victims of the Richmond & Gordon startline incident. (photo 8W)
The two most enthralling races – as a race – came late in the afternoon on the Saturday. There may be miles between the big-banger sportscars of the Whitsun Trophy and the nimble Formula Juniors of the Chichester Cup but they both provided a great show, with the top four cars battling it out until the finish line.
In the Whitsun Trophy Simon Hadfield’s Huffaker-Chevrolet made it five for quite a while, until he had to retire, leaving the equally Chevy-powered quartet of Roger Wills, Jay Esterer, Chris Goodwin and Gary Pearson to slug it out for the lead. Lead changes were numerous, the most notable being Wills’s error at Lavant dropping the Kiwi’s orange McLaren from first to fourth. In the end, Pearson’s Lola narrowly prevailed over Esterer’s Chinook in a titanic battle that captivated the spectators right until the chequered flag. The four-way fight among the Juniors followed next, with Joe Colasacco, Will Mitcham, Stuart Roach and Jack Woodhouse continuously swapping places. Colasacco’s Stanguellini finally came out on top.
Gary Pearson and Jay Esterer slugged it out for the win in the Whitsun Trophy. (photo 8W)
The RAC TT Celebration and the event-closing Sussex Trophy were the Sunday events the powerslide-addicted were looking for but it was the Sussex Trophy that gave us a race as well. Here, another four-way lead battle kept spectators on their toes as Julian Majzub in the Sadler fought it out with Alex Buncombe’s Lister-Jaguar ‘Costin’ and the Lister ‘Knobbly’ cars of Andrew Smith and Tim Harvey. This became a three-way dice when last year’s easy winner Buncombe threw it all away at Lavant. After that, Majzub, who spectacularly failed to convert last year’s pole into a win as he decided to enjoy himself by going sideways all around a rain-soaked track, made amends by beating Smith’s Chevy-powered ‘Knobbly’ and Harvey’s more traditionally Jag-powered example.
Andrew Smith and Tim Harvey impatiently lapping a D-type as they dive into Lavant
while chasing Julian Majzub's Sadler. (photo 8W)
Sadly, a great race wasn’t on the cards for the TT, even though Adrian Newey tried to help by spinning his way out in the early stages, forcing him to mount a comeback challenge. He did so, after which a convenient safety car – employed after Colasacco’s violent Maserati Tipo 151 crash – and the almighty talent of Martin Brundle were enough for the Red Bull windtunnel-tested E-type to majestically ease out to a comfortable win.
Brundle was followed across the line by a gaggle of slightly more mortal Jags, as Jean Alesi’s reign at the head of the field was shortlived, even though the Goodwood debutant aced the start from fourth on the grid. The Frenchman was no match for the E-types as the GTO he shared with Mark Hales slipped to seventh in the end, in a reversal of fortunes from the order that people were used to in period. Even the E-types that don’t enjoy the Newey example’s aero wizardry are much quicker than anything else these days.
The Friedrichs/Clark Aston Martin Project 212 hunted down out of Lavant by the Devis/Schuppan Ferrari 250 GT SWB/C. (photo 8W)
For years, it’s been a similar story in the Goodwood Trophy class of Grand Prix and voiturette cars pre-dating the fifties. Here, well-prepared ERAs rule with an iron fist, outclassing the cars that used to beat them consummately, such as the Alfetta or Maserati’s four- and six-pot voiturettes. This weekend was no exception, as six ERA cars filled the first six lines on the final classification sheet. Among those, the A-type of the able Mark Gillies enjoyed what looked like a Sunday stroll to victory, once the initial challenge of Mac Hulbert’s D-type evaporated.
The ERAs are traditionally the best-prepared cars in the Goodwood Trophy paddock. (photo 8W)
In comparison, the Glover Trophy race delivered a historically correct result, with Andy Middlehurst repeating last year’s win in Classic Team Lotus’s Lotus 25. His only challenge came from Nick Fennell’s similar car, which led in the early stages, before Middlehurst went on to do his Jim Clark impersonation. There was excitement all the way, though, provided by the ample amount of thrills and spins offered by the midfield runners.
Andy Middlehurst's monocoque Lotus 25 delivered another Jim Clark-like performance. (photo 8W)
The night race on Friday didn’t have the most exciting of finishes on the programme, as Alex Buncombe and John Young shared a Jaguar C-type that would eventually stride out to a dominant victory by over a minute to the small Cooper-Bristol Mk2 raced by John Ure and Nick Wigley, even though Ure briefly led in the early part of the 1.5-hour race. The sight and sound of a beautiful collection of fifties racing machines driving into dusk was a joy to watch and hear, however, and in our opinion the concept is a success that deserves another repeat in a few years’ time.
Friday's Freddie March Memorial Trophy night race was a great success. (photo 8W)
There was heartache in the Fordwater Trophy when Andy Newall’s Ginetta G10 shed a wheel in the final lap to hand Martin Stretton the win in his Lotus Elan 26R. We had seen it coming, though, since Andy was hanging on to an increasingly wallowing car for quite some time, giving the car that in perfect conditions already was failing in the turn-in and braking departments (according to Andy himself at least) some very peculiar handling characteristics. Tom Dyer’s challenge in the Sunbeam Tiger ‘Monster’ faded when his bonnet came loose. Jackie Oliver drove a lonely race to second place in his 26R, with Hans Hugenholtz in the thundering Shelby Mustang GT350 holding off Sean Walker’s 26R for third.
Fordwater Trophy paddock reflected in Porsche 904 GTS wing mirrors. (photo 8W)
The inaugural Shelby Cup – a new one-make race following up on the E-type bonanza of 2011 – saw the Daniela Ellerbrock-owned Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé blast into the lead from pole, Derek Hill heading a flock of more regular Cobra examples snapping at his heels. Behind him, Dutchman David Hart was the man on the move, overtaking Andy Wolfe’s Hall & Hall car and Ludovic Caron’s Cobra to grab second place – for the moment at least.
It would all turn around after the driver changes. A few laps out, Kenny Bräck had to retire the fast blue-and-white Daytona Coupé while Tom Coronel in Hart’s car was taking four to five laps to work his way in. Amazingly, a single lap during RAC TT qualifying was all he got to see of the Goodwood circuit after making such a successful historic racing debut in the car at Zandvoort two weeks earlier. Again, learning Goodwood proved more difficult than meets the eye, and by the time Coronel was setting competitive lap times, Anthony Reid in Caron’s car and Rob Hall in the H&H car were long gone. Reid seemed to have it all covered but then trouble struck: a part of his exhaust mid-section came off, forcing the officials to show him the ‘meatball’ flag. This was converted into a black flag, which he finally adhered to, gifting Rob Hall and his supersub Andy Wolfe the win. Afterwards, Reid explained that he simply forgot what his starting number was, driving so many cars during the weekend!
Kenny Bräck in practice, when all was still well with the Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé. (photo 8W)
Our hero of the weekend was victorious in the Brooklands Trophy, beating Gareth Burnett’s Talbot AV105 after a great race-long fight. However, winning the race doesn’t deserve Max Werner the distinction but it’s what he confessed to have done leading up to the race. Which was driving his Alfa Monza all the way from Germany! And, taking the laurels with him, he would be driving home the very same afternoon. So what he essentially did was step in his 8C-2300 model, a car that dominated Le Mans as far back as the early thirties, stash a bag of clothes in the passenger seat, drive the 1933 car all the way through Germany, Belgium, France and England, produce a win in the Brooklands Trophy and then drive all the way back to Germany - as seen here on a wonderful snapshot by Dutch Revival visitor Harry Hoving, who captured Werner on his way back. Imagine doing that in 2091 with this year’s Le Mans-winning Audi R18 e-tron quattro.
In Werner and Burnett’s wake Patrick Blakeney-Edwards was a star in the most unlikely of race cars, the Frazer Nash Saloon ‘The Owlett’. Even though he was forced to abandon the lead battle when Werner and Burnett proved simply too fast, the man that hand-pumped his TT Replica to the line in 2009 was sliding ‘The Owlett’ around like a second-hand BMW, and also performed the strangest act of the entire weekend: running up towards the pit wall to drive one of his mirrors off – an old trick to reduce drag, he later explained – but we bet the guys holding out their pit signals were slightly less amused…
Patrick Blakeney-Edwards braving it out at Madgwick in 'The Owlett'. (photo 8W)
So, if the return of the night race was deemed a success, what about the long-awaited Return of the Silver Arrows? The show-stopper that would turn the 2012 Revival into the best Revival of all time? It wouldn’t. In fact, the demonstration ‘race’ held by the Mercedes and Auto Union cars, accompanied by ERAs, Maseratis, Alfas and a lone Bugatti, turned out to be no more than a parade. No ‘race speeds’, no ‘carefully scripted overtaking’ between the German cars and their rivals. Instead we were given demo speeds, and only the occasional modest drift by a Jochen Mass who just couldn’t resist, and the entirity of the British, Italian and French cars impatiently propping up the back, resorting to some playful overtaking between themselves.
What had gone wrong? Did Lord March and his team overplay their hands in the way they advertised the event? Or did Mercedes and Audi get cold feet after initially agreeing to the ‘race’ scenario? We will probably never know. And it must be said that seeing all those Silver Arrows together, both on track and in their beautifully created pit building still brought tears to many an eye. In hindsight, it was more a case of managing expectations badly than the actual show being a disappointment. We weren’t disappointed at not seeing the GTOs and the great collection of Dan Gurney’s cars racing at speed, since we were expecting a parade anyway – even though the GTO drivers still gave it a bit of a welly. The Gurney tribute was well-deserved and brought out a huge variety of cars all linked to ‘Dan The Man’ – Dan the versatile driver, Dan the multi-championship constructor, Dan the team boss. After a very successful Goodwood campaign promoting ‘Gurney for President’, Dan was surely voted President of the Weekend by a unanimous Goodwood crowd.
At least Jochen Mass showed a bit of flair demonstrating his Mercedes. (photo 8W)
So this Revival was the best ever yet again, but mainly because of the event’s core business delivering on its promise. Still, the event offered enough for the non-motorsport enthusiast to be kept busy and enjoy themselves. It’s that typical Revival atmosphere that is sure to take care of that. And this year’s atmosphere was good yet again. Very good. How long will it last?
Dan Gurney was unanimously voted President – of the weekend, that is. (photo 8W)