No Miss Galore, I expect you to fly! Cars, costumes and… helicopters at the Goodwood Revival

Hiller UH, as flown by Honor Blackman's character 'Pussy Galore' in the film Goldfinger.
Hiller UH, as flown by Honor Blackman’s character ‘Pussy Galore’ in the film Goldfinger.

In September, Haiyan and I attended The Goodwood Revival, an annual celebration of motor sport held at the Goodwood racetrack, near Chichester in West Sussex. Heading down from our home near Edinburgh, we stayed in Southampton, and travelled to the track for the Friday practice and Saturday race days.

[pullquote-left] I knew how big the Revival would be, but standing in front of an assembly area awash with ERAs, Alfa Romeo P3s and Bugatti’s, it was all, well, rather difficult to take in.[/pullquote-left]

Practice day offers a chance to explore the site, and there is much to see. The paddock area is staggering, an endless parade of machines being prepared by mechanics and drivers for the track – where the fastest lap times determine pole position on race day. Access to the paddock is strictly limited to pass holders, however you can, and we did, wander round the outside and peer in at the cars, owners, privileged guests and celebrities. We spotted Sir Jackie Stewart, 3 times Formula One World Champion, re-united with the Matra-Cosworth MS80 he drove to his first F1 victory in 1969. Later, the famous Scot led a track parade of 24 cars from his career, and was honoured by Lord March, the man behind the revival, and fellow drivers including Stirling Moss and John Surtees.

Behind the private paddock, in a quieter area, a number of Maserati 250F racing cars were resting in a recreation of the 1954 Monza pit lane, offering a remarkable opportunity to get intimately close to these iconic Grand Prix cars. Some 16 Maserati 250Fs took part in the racing or performed high speed demonstration laps over the weekend.

1955 Maserati 250F Grand Prix car approaching the pit lane.
1955 Maserati 250F Grand Prix car approaching the pit lane.
The revival is as much a social event as a motor racing fixture, though the crowds are so large one feels a little lost at first. Taste and decorum are very much the order of the day, Tweed jackets, caps, flamboyant hats, vintage coats with fox fur collars and stoles (genuine? – I don’t think ethics have embraced the Revival quite yet) and black seamed tights are everywhere. Sixties chic was a little more elusive.
A grass airstrip at the circuit allows aircraft to take off and land at the revival, including those performing in air displays. Aircraft are also arranged in a static display park: The Freddie March Spirit of Aviation, which, with some 30 aircraft on display is an event in itself! While Haiyan relaxed with an ice cream, I wandered round admiring the wide variety of aircraft on display, including many civilian types, fascinating examples of aircraft from Miles, Beech and Cessna, plus the Hiller helicopter flown by Pussy Galore’s character in the film Goldfinger.

We finished our day with the relaxed crowds atop the grassy embankment opposite the pit lane, watching practice laps for The Richmond Trophy – a race for single seat GP cars Built between 1954 and 1960. Vintage motor racing – and the Revival atmosphere at its best. I knew I’d want to come back to this place, and we did, for race day!

On the Saturday Рladies day, Haiyan wore an elegant, figure-hugging Chinese dress called a Qi Pao or Cheongsam. 60s style shoes, make-up and hair completed the look Рexotic! I went for a costume loosely modelled on David Hemmings in the film Blow Up, with an authentic early 60s jacket from the United States, tight white trousers, broad black belt and purple Chelsea boots.

Haiyan adjusts her lip gloss, Goodwood Revival 2014
Haiyan adjusts her lip gloss, Goodwood Revival 2014

We had roaming tickets for the Lavant grandstands, which afford panoramic views of the cars braking into the Lavant corner – and jostling for position as they exit on to the adjoining straight. Lavant also offers a great view of the air displays over the venue, and the aircraft taking off and landing on the grass field. The weekend air shows included the rare, and likely unrepeatable sight of two WW2 Avro Lancaster bombers in formation.

[pullquote-left]Loud, brash – and fast, we loved the Can Am cars in the Witsun trophy.[/pullquote-left] As the racing unfolded, motorbikes, single seaters and classic GT cars took to the track. Our favourite races were the Whitsun & the two part, St Mary’s Trophy. The latter pitted both owners and a number of celebrity Touring Car and ex F1 drivers against each other in a sea of 50s saloon cars, including Austin A35s, A40 Farina’s and pretty Alfa Romeo saloons. In contrast, Whitsun, the phenomenal last race of the day, left the track reverberating to the v8 thunder of Ford GT40s, Lola’s and McLarens.

Our ears ringing, we walked back across to the main assembly areas and the tunnel to the Revival High Street on the outside, where we chilled for a time before getting our vintage bus ride back to Chichester.

Revival gallery

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