In 1948, at a track built on what was originally a relief airfield during World War II, the first race meeting of the Goodwood Motor Circuit took place, organized by the Junior Car Club and sanctioned by the Duke of Richmond and Gordon. Anyone who was a motorsport and racing enthusiast at the time, and for the next twenty-plus years, made their way to the south shores of England for the event that played host to some of the most famous race car drivers of the 1950s and 60s. Mike Hawthorn and Graham Hill had their first single-seat races there, Roger Penske visited in 1963, and Jim Clark and Jack Sears competed in 1964. Donald Campbell first demonstrated his land speed-record car, the Bluebird CN7, here in the early 1960s. And the accident that famously ended Stirling Moss’s International career happened at Goodwood’s notorious St. Mary’s Corner in 1962.
Whether it was for the adrenaline, the revelry of the crowd, or for the many many many pints of beer being poured, the Goodwood Motor Circuit was, in those days, the place to be.
Then in 1966 it all came to a screeching halt because, legend has it, the owners refused to modify the track with chicanes that would damper the increasing speeds of modern racing vehicles.
Dormant for thirty years, it wasn’t until 1998 that racing returned to the Goodwood track with the formation of the Goodwood Revival. Held in September every year, the Goodwood Revival is open only to cars and motorcycles built before 1966, and it is a sight to see. Grand Prix cars from the 1950s and 60s, junior Formula One cars, vintage Shelbys and Coopers all speed their way along the track over a three-day weekend that draws close to 150,000 spectators.
Highlights of the 2015 event, which took place earlier this month, included fifteen races for pre-1966 built motorcars and bikes, a special tribute to motorsport legend Bruce McLaren, a celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Shelby’s world title, the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation concours d’elegance, numerous air displays, and the Revival Car Show.
Now a private membership club, The Goodwood Circuit has once again become a showcase venue for the golden era of motorsport, where the din of the crowd can be heard above the roar of the engines and the pints flow as freely as the petrol.