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Looking ahead to Goodwood Revival 2017

PUBLISHED: 10:07 31 August 2017

Last year's Goodwood Revival (Photo by Jayson Fong)

Last year's Goodwood Revival (Photo by Jayson Fong)

Jayson Fong

Goodwood Revival returns from 8-10 September, celebrating the halycon days of British motorsport with high-octane racing and vintage fashion. Goodwood’s Will Kinsman tells Jenny Mark-Bell how the stage is set... and why visitors should wear tartan

If you are heading to Goodwood Revival this month, remember to mind your Ps and Qs – for when Lord March first brought motor racing back to the historic motor circuit in 1998, old-fashioned manners were at the heart of his vision.

That is according to Will Kinsman, who works alongside the Earl of March and Kinrara to bring this hugely successful event to the historic circuit each year.

At the time of the first Revival, motor racing had been absent from Goodwood Motor Circuit for more than 30 years – the Festival of Speed, a hill-climb that takes place in the grounds of Goodwood House each year, had launched five years before. Revival celebrates the period from 1948 to 1966 when the West Sussex circuit was the absolute epicentre of British motorsport. It was the current Lord March’s grandfather Freddie March who established the circuit and who encouraged a love of cars – in a 2014 Town and Country article the current Lord March remembered his grandfather sending car magazines to him at Eton.

Will Kinsman attended the first Revival as a spectator and joined Goodwood eight years ago as head of motorsport content. He says that in addition to bringing the sport back to Goodwood, Lord March wanted to “create an event that authentically celebrated the social occasion that Goodwood was in those days. Even though the British Grand Prix was at Silverstone, Aintree or Brands Hatch, Goodwood was the social centre. The drivers loved coming here.” Partly that was because there was always a big party at the house – a tradition that has been resurrected. There are many reasons to celebrate: as well as helping to secure the future of the Goodwood Estate, Revival has a significant economic impact on the local economy: a 2012 University of Brighton study found that the event had generated £12m revenue for the local community while generating £36m gross turnover for the national economy.

Will estimates that the 150,000-strong crowd drawn to Revival each year comprises a roughly 50:50 split of motorsport enthusiasts and casual punters. He believes around 90 per cent of spectators and competitors wear period dress. It was something that started gradually and then snowballed, he says: “Initially, persuading the competitors to do it was a bit of a struggle, but once they’d experienced it they started doing it voluntarily.” Now the paddocks are a riot of vintage colour. Away from the motor circuit the Over the Road field is home to a maze of stalls selling vintage clothing, and new for this year is the Revival Emporium, which includes a daily Best Dressed competition and fashion shows.

Spectators really make the effort, with many beginning to plan their looks for next year while they are still at the festival. “I know a few people who came for the first time in jeans and a t-shirt and went away vowing to buy some tweed for the following year,” says Will. “They felt they had something to live up to.”

It’s not just the punters who start planning early: the groundwork for this year’s Revival started in April 2016 and plans are already well under way for the 2018 event. “We start with anniversaries,” says Will. “Not just in motorsport but also social and cultural events.” That could be something such as England’s World Cup win, or the invention of the bikini: the organisers like to surprise their visitors and make them smile.

This year celebrates the Scottish Ecurie Ecosse team who won Le Mans in 1956 and 1957. Punters are encouraged to wear tartan in tribute to them. On the Saturday, anyone wearing tartan will be invited to participate in a grid walk – “so we want to see lots of kilts and tartan trousers this year,” says Will.

Hundreds of Fiat 500s will flood the track in a daily opening parade in celebration of this icon of Italian design, with snappily dressed ladies and gents on Vespas and Lambrettas jostling for position in a recreation of a real Italian traffic jam.

And Goodwood will honour one of the men synonymous with its motor circuit, Sir Stirling Moss, by celebrating the 60th anniversary of his win at the 1957 British Grand Prix with Tony Brooks. “It’s quite meaningful this year because of Stirling being ill,” says Will. “We’re very much hoping, as is he, that he might be here but it depends on his health.

“Tony Brooks, who shared the car with him, will be here and I think that will be quite an emotional moment because their win heralded the start of Britain becoming a dominant force in motorsport.

“Stirling is so synonymous with Goodwood: he had his first and his last race here. If he is able to come that will be fantastic, but I think even if he isn’t, it will be an opportunity for the crowd to show their appreciation of him.”

The event has come a very long way in 19 years and Will says that development is now “about evolution rather than revolution.” He’d love to tempt Jensen Button – a Festival of Speed regular – to race at Revival and there are specific cars he’d like to see. But he says: “Because Goodwood is the event that everyone wants to come to we are able to attract the best line-ups of cars and drivers anywhere in the world.” And what do the drivers love about the circuit? Will says it’s about authenticity: “They added a chicane in 1952 but apart from that it’s exactly the same as it was when it was the perimeter road of RAF Westhampnett during the war. It’s a different challenge from modern circuits. Lots of modern tracks have longer straights, but Goodwood’s got fast corners, it’s got cambers you wouldn’t find on modern circuits, and it’s a very fast circuit. It really suits those cars.”

During the event his team is based close to the start line, and Will says that for a lifelong motorsport fan, the view is hard to beat. His own Revival wardrobe is based on tweed. “My mum knitted me a nice tank top and a whole lot of stuff to build on my period wardrobe but unfortunately as soon as the sun comes out it is quite warm. Certain members of my team will be sporting kilts this year in keeping with the Scottish theme, but I’m not sure the world’s ready for my knees!” 

Need to know

• Goodwood Revival, 8-10 September 2017

• Tickets: at the time of going to press Saturday was sold out, with some Friday and Sunday tickets available from £53 (adult)

• For more information including the daily race programme visit


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