On Wednesday (29 January 2020) LBPC went to the races as club members were entertained by our very own Roger Gage and his delightful illustrated presentation about the Goodwood Revival festival and all that goes on there.

The Goodwood Revival is an annual three-day festival of motor racing at the Goodwood Circuit in Sussex.  Introducing his talk, Roger explained that, because of the large scale of the festival, the images he was using had been taken over a number of years.  “There is simply too much going on to see it all in one visit.”

Roger began with some historical background.  The Goodwood Circuit is actually a former World War Two airfield – RAF Westhampnett – on the Goodwood Estate of the Duke of Richmond.  After the War it became a motor racing track with the circuit based on the airfield’s perimeter road.  The first race meeting was held in 1948 and was won by Stirling Moss.  Goodwood became one of Britain’s leading racing venues and hosted all kinds of motor racing, including Formula One and World Sportscar Championship races.

Unfortunately, racing cars became too powerful for safe racing on the circuit and Goodwood was closed in 1966.  But the infrastructure was preserved and used for track days and testing.  By the early 1990s, interest in classic cars was growing and in 1998 the circuit was reopened for “historic racing”.

The Goodwood Revival is now one of the racing circuit’s flagship events.  It is staged entirely in the period of the circuit’s original existence from 1948 to 1966 – all the cars and motorbikes involved are from that era and the race fans wear period costume.  About the only things not in period are safety features, such as the drivers fireproof overalls and the equipment used by the safety marshals.  The event attracts crowds of around 80,000 a day!

Roger’s presentation covered many aspects of the festival, with special prominence given to the many re-enactors.  It was set out in Chapters.

In “Paddock & People” we saw mechanics (in white overalls!), drivers, their family members, and the marshals.

In “Race Fun” we saw the paying race goers and the re-enactors, all in their splendid pre-1966 clothes – including military uniforms, mini-skirts, cravats, and bikers leathers.  There was also a sprinkling of celebrities such as Stirling Moss, Jackie Stewart, and Noel Edmunds.  And some of the classic aircraft on display on the airfield (still operational) inside the circuit.

“Evening Race” was shots of the opening race on the Friday night – nice golden-hour light and some light trails.

“Actors” covered the re-enactors, both professional and amateur, many of whom are deployed in theatrical set ups and tableaux.  There were Laurel and Hardy, Marilyn Monroe, hippies, various military scenes (including Dad’s Army), cigarette girls, photographers, road menders, cleaners, models, bikers, air hostesses, St Trinian’s schoolgirls, and much more.

For the historical petrolheads, “Pre-War Cars” included examples of Frazer-Nash, Mercedes, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Ferrari and Bentley.

“Young Racers” covered a race, with Le Mans style start, for children in Austin J40 pedal cars.

“Bands & Dancers” dealt with the entertainment available at the festival along “Gasoline Alley” and “Over the Road”.  Rock and roll, big band, and other musical genres, with dancing, plus hog roasts, pubs, and other food and drink outlets.

Many of the classic aircraft on display were included in “Aircraft” – including examples of the Spitfire (one year they had all 12 of the Spitfires still airworthy), Hurricane, Mustang, Douglas Skytrain (Dakota), Flying Fortress (the Memphis Belle), Bristol Blenheim, Messerschmitt ME109, English Electric Lightning, Avro Vulcan, Hawker Hunter, Gloster Meteor, Avro Lancaster, and a replica Vickers Vimy (a biplane bomber developed during World War One, this replica was flown to Australia in 1994 and to South Africa in 1999).

“Motorbikes” comprised the motorcycle race for the Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy.

Under “Wet Races” there was atmospheric shots of car races in the rain – as well as some hot-rods (where water is thrown on the track to aid wheel-spin).

The images in “Cameos” related to the various professional period re-enactment set-ups.  These included bike shops, “Glamcabs”, mods and rockers, the 1907 Peking-to-Paris race, an art class, the Italian Job (a mock film set), garages, a scrap yard, and the Earl’s Court Motor Show.

“Over the Road” showed more of the facilities and entertainment available just outside the circuit for race goers – beer tents, a picnic area, a fun fair, shops of all sorts, Punch & Judy, a barbershop, car restoration services, a drive-in movie cinema, and the special car park for people who came in pre-1966 cars.  This also included some night-time shots.

To finish the show there was a section entitled “Racing Incidents” with images of spins and crashes and the safety marshals at work.

And so Roger’s presentation covered the history of the Goodwood Revival, the classic cars and motorbikes, the historic aircraft on display, the colourful people, the entertainment, and of course the thrills and spills of the racing round this classic circuit.  This was an enchanting step back in time – nostalgic for older members, educational for younger ones.

Roger is of course a most experienced photographer and his extensive slideshow of his fascinating images (plus a few archive and stock images), with his entertaining and informative commentary, beautifully captured the unique period atmosphere of this celebrated event.