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Seven Reasons Why You Must Attend the Goodwood Revival

More than a vintage race in a fancy suit

Rory JurneckawriterAnthony Rewphotographer

If you've never been to the Goodwood Revival in West Sussex, England, you might be tempted to dismiss the three-day event as mostly hype, thinking that it is nothing more than a vintage race spruced it up with a little fancy fashion. You'd be dead wrong. I've been attending vintage races for the better part of three decades, but my trip to the 2016 Goodwood Revival this past weekend stands out as something completely unique. Here's why:

1. The Racing is Real

There's no shortage of vintage racing in America, and some of it is very serious competition. On various weekends at tracks like Lime Rock, Road America or Willow Springs, you can find old high-volume sports cars fighting fender-to-fender for the win, but at higher-end events with top-notch cars, the racing is highly cautionary. Not so at Goodwood, where spins are commonplace and a little rubbing is just good racing.

2. The Venue is Properly Vintage

If you've ever browsed through photos of racing in the '50s and '60s, you know that safety standards back then aren't to the same caliber as today. While drivers at the Goodwood Revival are required to wear the latest in fire-retardant suits, gloves, helmets, and the like, the track itself is shockingly devoid of the mile-high catch fencing you'll find at modern venues. Chest-level chicken wire and wooden-post fencing, tire barriers, and a little run-off space are about all you'll find at Goodwood. Combined with the vintage structures and paddock area around the track, it's like stepping back in time.

3. The Costumes are Spooky Authentic

The vast majority of Goodwood Revival attendees dress in their best '40s, '50s, or '60s fashions. Country tweeds and vintage dresses are by far the most popular look, largely because of how easy they are to source, but fashion runs the gamut from '40s flying ace to '50s rockette to '60s swinger. Nearly all mechanics are in period-look overalls and there are plenty of areas with vintage-style performances.

4. Rain Doesn't Stop the Racing

Should things get wet, the drivers still race as hard as ever, rooster tails of spray be damned. It's a testament not only to bravado, but also driver skill, that finicky English weather on Saturday didn't put an end to the entertainment. Watching a Ford GT40 and Lola T-70 chasing each other in the pouring rain, drifting in tandem through Goodwood's chicane just inches apart is a memory that will stay with me for some time.

5. Yesterday's Star Drivers, Today

Stirling Moss won his first race at Goodwood in 1948 was on hand this year, driving exhibition laps in a '50s Aston Martin sports racer and milling about the grounds. Around every corner, there's a chance you'll run into another racing driver like Jackie Stewart, Derek Bell, or David Coulthard.

6. Vintage Airplanes on the Ground and in the Air

A functioning airfield is adjacent to the Goodwood circuit. During the Revival, it hosts vintage aircraft for static display as well as a full-action air show. Most planes are of World War II vintage, a look back to when the space was used by as a base by the Royal Air Force. Throughout the day, fleets of vintage military planes, including Spitfires and B-24 Liberators, circle the track.

7. Even the Parking Lot is Incredible

Many spectators show up to the Revival in their own vintage cars, turning the field used for parking into a car show of its own. We spent an hour walking through rows of vintage Jaguars, Morgans, Ferraris, Porsches, and MGs, among many others. One car that stood out was a '50s Bentley Continental coupe that had towed a period trailer to the race. Now that's camping in style.