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Goodwood Revival Meeting, 18 - 20 September 2009

The Goodwood Revival Meeting is THE place to be for classic motoring enthusiasts in September, and the 12th edition only served to confirm this with numerous celebrations and anniversaries being featured, together with some fantastic racing activity on the track and spectacular air displays in the sky above. As always period dress is an important ingredient to the overall atmosphere of the gathering, and year on year the number of attendees who go to great length to look the part seems to grow, such that those in T shirts, jeans and trainers are becoming the odd ones out. Paddock access is restricted to those in “proper” attire, so there is an incentive to play the game. The weather even played its part in the proceedings, as those frocks don't look quite so good doused with water, and despite a poor forecast, the meeting was run in predominantly bright, warm and sunny conditions.

Sir Stirling Moss celebrated his 80th birthday a couple of days prior to the event, so it was only fitting that his becoming an octogenarian was celebrated in fine style, by leading a cavalcade of 80 cars, with which he had been associated, in his Tourist Trophy winning Aston Martin DBR1. After a speech by Lord March celebrating Sir Stirling's racing career, and a further tribute from soon to join the “80” club, American astronaut Buzz Aldrin, at lunchtime on Sunday, there was a deafening eight cannon salute by the Royal Horse Artillery to bring the celebration to a close, prior to the afternoon's races. The Mini turned fifty this year, and it seems incredible that the little “pocket rocket” has been around for half a century. The model's golden anniversary was celebrated not only by an enormous parade of numerous Minis and variants on the theme, including the “Outspan Orange” advertising car, plus Rowan Atkinson in his Mr Bean role driving from the roof, and a two part Mini only race, but also by mini-skirt clad grid slot girls. Fortunately they left the grid before the cars had to start, otherwise they would have been too great a distraction and nobody would have moved!

The two part Mini race for the St Mary's Trophy provided spectacular action in both parts, the first on Saturday being for celebrity drivers, including Rauno Aaltonen, Prince Leopold von Bayern, Derek Bell, Jochen Mass, Jackie Oliver, Bobby Rahal and Vern Schuppan to name but a few, which was won convincingly by Chevrolet Corvette works driver Oliver Gavin, whilst battle royal raged behind him between a spectacular Darren Turner, works Aston Martin driver, and “Whizzo” Williams, who is guaranteed to thrill despite his three score years and ten, with the race finishing in that order. The car's owners took over the driving for Sunday's race, and despite there not being any “names” they put on an equally exciting show, with the owner of Saturday's Oliver Gavin driven car, Nick Swift, showing a clean pair of heels to the rest of the field, to take the aggregate victory.

Races for a range of categories formed the sixteen race programme, including the Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy motorcycle race, the Brooklands Trophy for pre-1939 sports cars, the Richmond Trophy for 1950-60 front engine Grand Prix cars, and the jewel in the crown of the event, the Royal Automobile TT Celebration race for closed GT Cars in the spirit of the RAC TT races between 1960-64. This was its usual great race, with a multi-million pound grid, including no less than six Ferrari 250 GT SWB berlinettas, three 250GTOs, a 330 GTO and a 330 LM berlinetta, plus five AC Cobras, four lightweight Jaguar “E” Types, an Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato and their Project 212 model within the field. After a great early battle between the Pirro/Verdon-Roe driven 330 LM berlinetta, the Gounon/Hardman driven 250 GTO/64 and the Rahal/Newey driven “E”Type, it was the latter that emerged victorious, with the 330 LM finishing 2nd after the 250 GTO/64 retired with a misfire, the final podium place going to the Hall/Wolfe driven AC Cobra.

Aside from all the exciting track action, there were a whole lot of other peripheral shows, like live music in a number of locations, the strolling “theatre acts” like “Haurel & Lardy”, the road works gang, “Dad's Army”, the Mods & Rockers, spivs, the “Glam Cabs” girls, a seedy looking “Russian Spy”, to name but a few. Add in the steam funfair, the large vendor area, the dedicated pre-1966 car park, the Bonham's auction, the vintage air display concours, pleasure flights, along with the aerial displays, and there was something for everybody. The aerial displays are always a great attraction, and this year apart from WWII fighter planes and others, included the only fully operational Vulcan bomber in existence. This flew over on both the Saturday and Sunday afternoons, its quad jet engines drowning the noise of the racing engines on the track, a real spectacle, it was worth being there just for that!

Text David O'Neill
Images Peter Singhof