Goodwood Revival 2015 Review

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It’s hard to believe that Revival has now been going for 18 years. Every year it has got bigger and bigger and with 149,000 visitors over the three days, this year was its biggest ever. For most, the attraction of course is to see vintage racing cars – some worth in excess of £30m – not just at close quarters, but out on a vintage track.

That said, one suspects equally as many come just to be part of what has become the biggest cosplay event in the English calendar. Where once just some of those attending dressed up, if you’re not in tweeds, wearing a trilby or sporting military uniform, now you feel decidedly out of character. Some of course carry it off brilliantly and look like extras on a movie set, others choose false moustaches and fake cigars and frankly just look foolish. With so many dressed to impress, Revival is an event where the audience is as important as what happens on the track or what’s on display.

As a celebration of the past – or more specifically of the era spanning 1948 to 1966 – if you come every year, as many do, the trick is to seek out what’s new. Whilst much of what there is to see is quite literally the same old, same old, Goodwood work hard to keep things interesting with a host of not seen before cars and ‘track moments’. Traditionally, that means commemorating motoring milestones and this year three notable celebrations took centre stage.

Arguably the stars of the show were half a dozen cars, all sporting Guardsman Blue paintwork and white stripes. Here, for one weekend only, was one of the most iconic racing cars ever created: the Shelby Daytona coupe’s. Until 2001, the whereabout of the original prototype which was once owned by Phil Spector but vanished in 1971, were unknown, but fortunately the car was discovered in an LA lockup and now resides in a museum in Philadelphia.

To celebrate their 50th, not only were all six original cars reunited in the same place for the first time, but visitors to Revival weren’t limited to seeing them in a recreation of the Sebring pit garage from 1965, but also got the chance to watch and hear them unleashed on the track. For petrolheads, it was an awesome sight, one that may never be repeated again. But it wasn’t just the cars that were at Goodwood, their designer, Pete Brock, was also making his first visit to Revival along with members of Caroll Shelby’s family.

Another illustrious racing family present at Goodwood were the McLaren’s as 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the first McLaren race car. Revival paid tribute to Bruce McLaren, one of the legendary names in motor racing, with a grid full of the cars he raced in and helped develop.

With Bruce’s daughter Amanda and sister Jan on the grid, Lord March gave a heartfelt eulogy to a ‘friend of the family’ who in 1970 died while testing at Goodwood. He was just 32. Lord March recalled the words McLaren had spoken at a fellow racing driver’s funeral: “To do something well is so worthwhile, that to die trying to do it better cannot be foolhardy.”

But Revival isn’t just about speed at all costs, this year it also commemorated the end of the Land Rover Defender with a cavalcade of Defenders in every guise imaginable. Sadly, a fuel leak denied the Goodwood crowds the chance to witness one of the final flights of the Vulcan, which will be retired this year.

And whilst some things disappear, others arrive as the weekend saw the opening of the brand new super-sleek white Goodwood Aerodrome building, another example of how Goodwood is continually investing the proceeds of its events to enhance the estate.

That’s not to say everything Goodwood does is good. Previous year’s have seen living tableaus created alongside the Rolex Driver’s Club. The one celebrating the conquering of Everest was brilliantly carried off, while last year’s Stonehenge theme didn’t quite reach the same heights. This time however, things were really scaled back with a less than spectacular dinosaur dig. Not only did it seem to have no relevance to the event, but what there was of it was pretty much hidden from public view.

The same couldn’t be said of the giant Birds Eye trawler that dominated the entrance, but celebrating the 60th anniversary of the fish finger only gave the impression that Goodwood was more interested in hauling in income from anywhere, rather than staying on topic.

Much more successful, was the Youthquake ‘live billboard’ on the Richmond Lawn, which featured wannabe Jean Shrimpton’s dancing to the songs of the day in celebration of the mini skirt. As good as it was visually, one couldn’t help notice that the hemlines were somewhat less shorter than Mary Quant might have remembered them.

Of course, like any huge event with so much going on, every person’s Revival experience is going to be different. Some will have come to look at the cars, bikes and planes, some to watch them racing, some just to step back in time and be part of the experience, others to be wined and dined in the many hospitality suites.

Those who came hoping to spot celebrities would’ve have left disappointed. Unlike previous years, ‘slebs’ seemed to be thin on the ground. Last year saw a cast of A-listers led by Rowan Atkinson and Mark Webber, this time we had to make do with just an ex Spice Girl, Geri Helliwell, a current Take That member, Howard Donald and Don Broco (who, if you didn’t know, isn’t an Italian racing driver, but a rock band).

2015 may not go down as being the best Revival. It did seem to be just a little lacking in lustre this year. That said, just getting to see those six Shelby Daytona Coupe’s in one place was worth the admission money alone. Not to mention seeing a red carpet full of 25 legendary Ferraris and ‘Blue Lena’ Keith Richards’ classic 1965 Bentley S3 Continental which Bonham’s sold for three-quarters of a mill.

But even when it’s not quite at its best, Revival is still an unrivalled, uniquely British experience. To borrow from Bruce McLaren “To do something well is so worthwhile, that to always try to do it better cannot be foolhardy.”

Words: Gary Marlowe

Images: Images Out Of The Ordinary

For information about next year’s Festival of Speed and Goodwood Revival visit

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