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Classic Rennaisance: A Guide To The Goodwood Revival

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Come September, there’s only one thing on the minds of motoring fans.

Attending the Goodwood Revival comes with a unique kind of danger. The event is so hyped that you may fear disappointment, that it can’t possibly live up to the praise of fawning friends and enthusiastic media outlets.

The thing about the Revival is, it does. No matter how high the crescendo reached by the hype, nothing compares to the actual experience. There’s a reason the Revival is the world’s most popular motor racing and vintage culture event.

Nowhere else can you immerse yourself so deeply in superb style and even better engineering. You don’t go to Goodwood merely to watch. You go to become Goodwood.

Birth Of A Legend

In 1993, Lord March held the inaugural Goodwood Festival of Speed. The hillclimb was a hit, and the next step in resuscitating the Goodwood motor circuit was staging a race meeting for historic cars. The Revival was conceived as a weekend of motorsport that would recreate the circuit’s golden era: 1948, when it became the first permanent venue in Britain to host a post-war motor race, to 1966, when modern cars become too fast for the track.

Goodwood’s heyday was lovingly recreated, modernised only as much as needed to meet contemporary safety standards. With the stage set, the Goodwood Revival launched in September 1998. It was an instant sensation. A crowd of 68,000 came to the circuit, suited up in spectacular period fashions.

Today more than 140,000 make the annual pilgrimage to Goodwood, dressed in their retro best, to experience the three-day automotive extravaganza.

Cars & Stars

There would be no Revival without its most important guests: the machines themselves. For all its atmosphere, the classic cars are the original draw at the Goodwood Revival. Wander the bustling paddock and you’ll get whiplash trying to see everything. There are cars you’ll know and cars you’ve never heard of, all vying for your attention. Motorcycles, and even historic aircraft, also get in on the action. If you have even a drop of petrol in your blood, this is as good as it gets.

A host of familiar names and famous faces from a wide variety of motorsport disciplines come for the action, along with an assortment of celebs from other spheres. At any given moment, you could spot a racing legend like Stirling Moss and John Surtees, or a screen star like Rowan Atkinson.

Races occur throughout the three days of festivities. The highlight for many visitors is the Royal Automobile Club TT Celebration race, which pits some of the world’s most valuable racing cars against each other in a celebration of extraordinary engineering. The weekend concludes with the Prize Giving ceremony where Lord March awards his much-coveted honours and medals.

Revival Style

Second in importance only to the cars is style. Revival fashion is, without a hint of hyperbole, absolutely legendary. Dressing in period clothing is not obligatory at the Goodwood Revival, but most visitors get into the spirit with vintage apparel and accessories that harken back to the 1948-1966 heyday of the circuit.

The Goodwood look is about tweeds and trilbies, frills and frocks. Guests come as dapper gentlemen, starched army officers and glamourous starlets with pin-up red lips. A best dressed competition awards those who most encapsulate the nostalgic Revival style.

For inspiration, check out the official Revival style guide.

Vintage Vibes

The festival makes good on its promise to faithfully recreate the past, with every effort made to create an accurate old world atmosphere. The vintage entertainments include period music, historical re-enactments, and theatrical performances.

More immersive experiences include the March Motor Works, which teams up with some of history’s finest automobile marques to recreate car workshops of old, and even a Tesco hawking retro products.

Don’t miss the astounding Revival High Street, which offers a cornucopia of vintage goods sold by sales assistants dressed in decade-appropriate attire. Nearly 200 vendors set up shop on the achingly authentic shopping strip.

Everything at the Revival is from the 1940s-1960s era, with one notable exception: the Earls Court Motor Show, where the world’s top brands juxtapose their classic models with the latest in their production lines.

Finer Points

Convinced that the Goodwood Revival belongs on your bucket list? Here’s what you need to know.

Prepare

Entry is by advance ticket only and they’re increasingly difficult to come by. Ticket sales begin months ahead of time and yes, they will sell out.

Stay

Many visitors make a weekend of it so they don’t miss any Revival action. Hotels, B&Bs and campsites in the surrounding area book up many months before the event itself, so plan early.

The campsite on the Goodwood Estate affords easy access to all the Revival’s attractions, not to mention showers, toilet facilities and power hook-ups. For visitors in need of creature comforts, the Goodwood Hotel offers a restful night’s sleep and a full English breakfast. Accommodations can also be booked in the surrounding area.

See

The best views at the Revival come courtesy of the grandstands and, like everything else, they tend to sell out.

Grandstand passes can be roving, which allow you to move between several grandstands around the circuit, or seated, which allow you to stake a claim on a single spot. Each of the seven seating areas offers a unique perspective on the Motor Circuit, so read up to decide which one is right for you. One grandstand, over the Chicane, is available to Goodwood Road Racing Club members only.

Eat & Drink

No auto enthusiast goes hungry at the Revival. An extensive variety of food and drink options are available from morning until night each day of the event. Dine in style with champagne and seafood, or keep it casual with low-key pub food. The variety is wide enough to tantalise all tastebuds.

Experience

A handful of hospitality packages are available to the Revivalist who wants to splurge. Package perks include champagne receptions, afternoon tea, prime vantage points, multi-course meals, paddock access and private pavilions set dressed to look like they’ve travelled through time.

For the ultimate immersive adventure, there’s no better way to experience the Revival.

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