“The buzz for any of the events is the same – it’s a privilege. You’re not there to prove you can outdrive everybody. It’s important to understand those things, it’s competitive theatre.”
Wise words from Rob Wilson, who most reckon has driven more laps of the Goodwood Motor Racing Circuit than anyone else since winning its race school apprenticeship in the mid-1970s.
Offering tutelage in a modern-day Ford Mustang, the Kiwi was one of a dozen or so racing names allowing themselves to be driven around the world-famous West Sussex track in an assortment of machinery during a pre-season media launch as Goodwood prepares to celebrate several major anniversaries in 2023. These include 30 years since the first Festival of Speed, 25 since the Revival was launched and 75 since Goodwood Circuit opened.
It’s a big year for patron the Duke of Richmond and his team and, going by their media event, it’s clear no stone will be left unturned as they look to make it the most exciting yet. Outside Goodwood House, a display of cars and motorcycles that have a history with the hill or the circuit – reminiscent of the launch for the first Festival of Speed in 1993 – sent the ‘vloggers’ into overdrive.
“Comment c’est possible!?” exclaimed one to camera in awe of the line-up – the 1977 Le Mans-winning Porsche 936 of Jacky Ickx, Jurgen Barth and Hurley Haywood, and a 1986 Group B Tony Pond/Rob Arthur Metro 6R4 making me turn seven and 16 years old all over again. The Duke of Richmond’s appreciation of others’ “goodwill” to make such events happen is heartfelt and sincere.
“We’ve had more great cars here than anywhere else in the world by a mile when you think about all the genres we celebrate,” he says. “That’s not me trying to blow our own trumpet; it’s just the fact that it’s a bizarre thing.”
The Duke of Richmond is determined to make Goodwood's 75th anniversary celebrations a success
Photo by: Jordan Butters
The memories are too many to mention, but some inevitably have left their mark, including Ray Hanna buzzing the circuit’s pitstraight in a Spitfire at the first Revival in 1998.
“It’s one of those moments people never capture, but everyone seemed to get that picture of him flying below the height of the pitlane,” recalls the Duke. Some in authority “took a very dim view indeed” of the stunt, but “Ray was such a highly thought of pilot that he got away with it. It was a big moment that set the whole thing off and us trying to do something that was exceptional and different and moved people.”
Another memory of his is being at Maranello in 1995 when Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo declared to Jean Todt and co, “We go to Goodwood!” – “I was pinching myself thinking this is amazing, and sure enough they were here and have been every year since.”
"We will continue to champion exciting new technologies and showcase the future of mobility. Alternative and sustainable fuels are high up the agenda as is the whole ‘revive and thrive’ ethos of the Revival itself" Duke of Richmond
Seeing a Silver Arrows W165 run for the first time since its one and only race at Tripoli in 1939, Valentino Rossi riding his MotoGP Yamaha YZR-M1 inside Goodwood House and World Trials Bike champion Dougie Lampkin ascending the roof of His Grace’s residence also stand out.
As for the Revival, the Duke adds: “I recall Martin [Brundle] being completely blown away by Stirling [Moss] as he overtook Martin’s yellow D-type, I think on the outside and waving as he went past. Barry [Sheene] having his last race here – that was very, very emotional. He rang me one lunch time and said, ‘I’m not well, I’m going to be racing for the last time’.”
There’s a true romance to driving Goodwood thanks to its fierce speeds and an appreciation of the names who have graced the very same configuration with extraordinary levels of ability. Hitting 148mph alongside British GT racer Joe Osborne in a McLaren Artura during the media event and the handling of Toyota’s Yaris GR with Abbie Eaton tutoring were both highlights.
So, too, the ride of Bentley’s exquisite ‘Flying Spur’ with Mark Cole, so close to winning the Revival’s Lavant Cup last year, in the passenger seat. He sums up the Revival as “an event you can race at and enjoy the environment when not in the car. A lot of kudos.”
Goodwood has brought together legends from different eras for unique demonstrations, as in 2015 when Surtees and Rossi were in action
Photo by: Gary Hawkins
The #Goodwood75 hashtag is being used as Goodwood asks fans to post their memories of the past 30 years. But, for all its unrivalled ability to take people back in time, the estate is just as astute in looking ahead.
“I’m feeling pretty confident about the next 75 years,” says the Duke. “We will continue to champion exciting new technologies and showcase the future of mobility. Alternative and sustainable fuels are high up the agenda as is the whole ‘revive and thrive’ ethos of the Revival itself.
“It’s important for us to protect and nurture the historic and classic car scene for future generations. The world is changing fast, it certainly never stands still and nor will we.”
One final thought from Wilson: “At the Festival one year, I drove Dan Gurney’s Eagle-Weslake. Coming to the startline, in front was Jack Brabham in a mid-1960s Brabham-Honda F2 car and behind me John Surtees in the Honda V12 he won with at Monza in 1967, and ahead of the lot of us was Chris Amon in a 1968 F1 Ferrari.
“It was one of those moments you will always remember. It’s full of them.”
The Duke is keen to see the circuit embrace change as well as celebrate the past
Photo by: Jeff Bloxham / Motorsport Images2023-03-23T15:11:46Z dg43tfdfdgfd