1968 Porsche 910 6-cylinder driven by Rainer Becker in the Whitsun Trophy at Goodwood Revival 2019
It’s hard to believe that the Goodwood Revival 2019 has come and gone again. With memories of the deluge from a few years back, and snow during last year’s Members’ Meeting still fresh in my memory, you can imagine the relief after having enjoyed three days of pristine late-summer weather. With midday temperatures up in the mid-20s and cloudless, almost windless days, you could not have wished for better conditions for the 22nd running of this famous motorsport spectacle.
I have attended the Goodwood Revival many times over the years, but not having attended now for a few years, I had forgotten what a fabulous event this is. The Duke of Richmond and his team have outdone themselves this year, as it just seems that things are even better than they have been in previous years…if that was possible. The whole operation just seems to have been ratcheted up a level or two, as the décor, the props, and the thought that has been put into every display around the entire venue, is so well thought through.
Ensuring that everything comes together on the day, a small army made up of permanent staff, support staff, temp staff, officials and volunteers, all pitch in to make the weekend what it is. These include the likes of motorsport officials, event planning and coordination, content planning, marketing, sales, media and public relations, catering, actors, partnership and sponsorship management, medical staff, hospitality, legals, finance, aerodrome personnel…you name it!
Oh…and then there was the motor racing. It is awesome to watch how the drivers have to really balance the car on the throttle with such passion and skill, constantly working the steering this way and that. Corners are taken in a controlled drift, but this is how these cars were intended to be driven back in the day due to tyre and braking technology available then. Having spent a lot of time over the years photographing modern GTE sports racing cars, you realise, by comparison, how clinically they are guided around the track, as if on rails. By contrast, these historic race cars look alive!
By comparison, photographing the RAC TT Celebration race track side down at Madgwick, it was fascinating to watch the Cobras, Corvettes, E-types and others as they exited the long corner sideways, bumping over the curbs, and then squirmed under power as they headed off down the Fordwater straight.
If any spectators have ever entertained the notion that, due to the astronomical value of some of these race cars, that the drivers somehow take things easy around the track giving each other a wide birth in the corners, that idea should be quickly abandoned. Having heard from more than just a few of the drivers, there is no quarter given between competitors, and if anything, the cars are driven faster today than they were in period.
How could these cars be driven faster today than they were in period? Well, that question is fairly quickly answered, because the march of technology and innovation has been relentless since the 1950s and 1960s. Tyres, lubricants, fuels, brake pads and other components have all improved over the years, and this allows the older cars to run faster than they did in period. But along with that development, the older suspension systems and mechanical components are now having to cope with much higher levels of stress as the G-forces generated by the higher speeds through corners has increased tremendously. So, the struggle facing teams today, is to ensure that these older cars are maintained to the highest possible standards, not only with performance in mind, but also safety. With everyone doing their best to ensure these high standards are maintained, it all adds up to a greater racing spectacle, and this is what the spectators are paying to see, so everyone wins!
Added to the racing spectacle, was the appearance by so many past racing greats such as Derek Bell, John Fitzpatrick, Jochen Mass, Richard Attwood and so many others in the wide spectrum of racing categories. It is also really refreshing to see how many current (younger) racing drivers, and those who have only recently given up full time racing, have been attracted to drive in the Revival. For instance, Andre Lotterer was behind the wheel of a Cobra, Tom Kristensen was in a Ferrari 250 GT SWB, Darren Turner was in an AC Cobra, Emanuele Pirro was driving a Lightweight E-type, Neel Jani was driving an E-type, Derek Bell was in the cockpit of a Porsche 904, Peter Dumbreck piloted a Corvette Stingray…and so many more. This makes the whole spectacle of Goodwood so much more relevant for both the older spectators as well as the younger ones.