[Photos: Laurent Nivalle]

Disneyland for revivalist gearheads.  That pretty much sums up the Goodwood Revival, the enormously popular retro-themed event held on the expansive grounds of Lord Charles March’s estate in the south of England.  However you feel about mixing those 3 words will probably determine your feelings about Goodwood, as it’s the best summary we can provide, having attended the event occasionally since 2004.  It’s a fun, expensive, crowded, colorful, anachronistic dress-up party, with a very wide latitude on the suggested ‘period’ attire (1940s-60s), and a surprisingly large percentage of participants playing along with the game.

George Formby lives! From the film ‘No Limit’, filmed on the Isle of Man – another Revival!

The remarkable effect of 90% period attire at a vintage motorsports/aviation carnival is amazing photography.  Not that acclaimed French photographer Laurent Nivalle needed the costumes to boost his work; he was hired by Sebastien Chirpaz of A Piece of Chic to cover the event.  But, since vintage suits and dresses are omnipresent at Goodwood, his photos gorgeously capture the eerie simulacra of contemporary mechanical and human subject matter merging into a slot in our collective memory.  Since we learn the history of the period in question through photographs, Goodwood can really bend the mind!

1942? Could be, with a slightly de-saturated photo and the right outfit…

Goodwood is centered around the history of this private racing circuit, which was active on the European Formula One and club racing circuit from 1948-1966. The vehicles (and outfits) are nominally expected to fall within this timeline, and the best of the era comes out to play on the race track.  Videos of the auto racing in particular show drivers really trying, whether they’re in a Ford Cortina or a Ferrari GTO; the circuit is narrow, with a wide (but not very wide) grass verge, and spins are common.  As the grass makes an even more slick surface than the track, over-exuberant drifting can lead to body-damaging shunts into the boundary walls.  And everyone likes to see a multi-$Million getting used, and dented!

Patina earned through racing hours – the lovely Norton Manx of Swedish rider ‘Esso’ Gunnarsson

Goodwood also incorporates some fun motorcycle racing, although there are as many contemporary racing bikes – replicas – as genuine vintage motorcycles. Granted, the replicas are raced hard in the Lansdowne Series, and certainly fit with the reenactment vibe; there are also genuine Aermacchis, Nortons, and BMW Rennsports on the track.  But there isn’t the depth of exotica to match the automotive side, which is far more impressive, with rows of amazing GP and circuit-racing cars, their curvaceous bodywork tugging at some part of our hearts as Desire.

The tell-tale nose of a Jaguar D-Type in the basic paddocks at Goodwood

The aviation component is simply remarkable, and perhaps the most moving of all the activities, with a slew of old warbirds (Mustangs, Corsairs, Spitfires, Lightnings) taking off and flying in formation throughout the weekend event. Great sightlines of the parked planes, and the ability to inspect some up close, is a pure thrill, without the envy generated by some of the cars.  Nobody expects to own a Spitfire except in a fantasy, but we all drive cars, and can’t help but compare ourselves with the rich sods able to whack a mighty dent in their 250GTO Ferrari while the racing. That’s burning thousand-dollar bills by the second!

The motorcycle racing camp – there are plenty of other motorcycles in various spots

If you’ve never been, you really must. We’ll leave it to you to draw your own conclusions, but there’s plenty of fun to be had, and lots of interesting people to chat with.  If you’re not a VIP, you might get annoyed at the ‘velvet ropes’ around the most interesting machinery – the GP cars, the champagne tents, etc.  The keen-eyed will spot the ‘helicopter crowd’ who fly in wearing bespoke vintage outfits from French couture houses – as spectacular as the cars in some cases, and sometimes just as expensive!  The rest of us can enjoy the scene from the sidelines.

An RAF Ariel outisde the Spitfire Lounge
It may be a Revival, but a Spitfire evokes real-deal emotions whenever it flies
A simulated film crew in a revival of a war scenario…but all the right gear in place
Rain + Rockers = England
Careful attention to detail separates the true enthusiasts from the looky-loos…
Yes, that’s a Vought F4U Corsair coming in to land…
Ack ack and all that.
Oh lucky lad!
Ready for a spin?
Mechanics and crew at the races are required to wear white coveralls, which eases fashion decisions greatly!
A Douglas DC-3 and the sky it belongs in…
The Francis Barnett two-stroke racer, normally seen at the Brooklands Museum
Details of the oil pump on the little Francis-Barnett racer
Women’s RAF inform, I believe?
Like a good carnival, there are mechanized rides and old-fashioned games galor
Goodwood hires various troupes of models to pose around the venue over the weekend
Jake Turner of London’s Mean Fuckers MC (he’s really not so mean!) sports the full ‘coffee shop cowboy’ outfit
Jake’s badges, collected since the early 1980s
Cool enough for furs, apparently.
The ladies of the vintage American iron brigade
A replica of the ‘Quadrophenia’ scooter as ridden by Sting in the film
Never get out of the car, young man. My only advice on being allowed to steer the Lotus.
Examining the cars under repair and maintenance between races is fascinating; the structure of their chassis, the details of their suspension, the the erotic twists of their exhaust
Lunch for the crew!
Belt drive on a vintage Manx? Well, it does leak less oil that way…but of course, people raced with chain primary drives for 100 years…
Corsair and Mustang, heroes at their ease
A beautiful combo; the Grindlay-Peerless ‘Hundred Model’ raced by EJ Tubb at Brooklands, winner of Best in Show at Villa d’Este, and a Norton Model 18 racer
A better shot of the Norton, which was truly hot stuff in 1926!
An military Norton in the RAF camp
A Norton 16H military looking well used in the mud…
‘Fork-tail devil’ as named by the Germans – a P38 Lightning
1958? In the Norton camp
Jaguar town; lightweight E-Types, Lister-Jaguars, D-types, etc – all the great cats
A Lotus XI tears through past the grandstands
The Spitfire Bar is a lovely spot for a beer or hot lunch; note the Ariel W/NG, and the Aston Martin ‘Ulster’ in the background.

 

 

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