Goodwood's genius doesn't stop when the sun goes down


Author: James ElliottPublished:

As ever with Goodwood, it was all about the detail. While I certainly heard some mutterings during the day about over-commercialisation (albeit incredibly tastefully done) of the trade areas – "too many novelty coffee bars and cigar shops" was one comment I overheard – I reckon that there must be pretty few dissenting voices among the 120,000-odd visitors who revelled in yet another glorious weekend.

Yes, doing Goodwood properly can be fiercely expensive, but we must all remember that there is nothing quite like this event anywhere in the world, however many people try to 'Goodwoodise' their own festivals. Part of that is simply that Goodwood as a setting lends itself uniquely well to being the ideal canvas for Lord March's vision.

But a sizeable portion is down to that vision and the most astonishing attention to detail, not just from Lord March and his team, but also from the visitors who 'get it' and their incredible efforts to blend into the theatre.

The Revival Car Show was better then ever and, personally, the more household brands that are desperate to compromise their present to fit in with Goodwood's past, the more it brings a smile to my face.

We are forever hearing of the might of Tesco in the high street – and rarely in complimentary terms – yet this juggernaut of businesses bends over backwards and pulls out all the stops just so that it looks and feels appropriate at a Sussex classic car show and race meet.

And that is the measure of Goodwood's power and the inspirational effect it has on people. Goodwood is no longer simply the highlight of the historic motor racing season, it is the highlight of The Season, the English summer essentials that include the Henley Regatta and Royal Ascot.

I am always reticent to talk about the evenings at Goodwood, the heightened experience enjoyed by the privileged few (well 1500 or so people) when the vast majority of the public have felt the gentle draught of the gates closing behind them, but I will make an exception this year because it illustrates a point.

If you think the details are good during the day, they just get better at night. First and foremost, there is the best, lowest aerobatic display. Actually, you don't need to be privileged to experience that: just don't leave until the last race is done and you'll still be in the car park queue so will be able to watch it.

After that, however, is the ball: an amazing spectacle for competitors, sponsors, guests and others. Housed in a giant tent/hangar on the infield, it is an event in itself, in fact a competition in itself as people compete to arrive in the best, coolest, car. Each year there is a theme and this year's was 'space age', with a heavy debt to Barbarella.

Not too many Jane Fonda lookalikes, sadly, and mercifully few Durand Durands, plus only a brace of brave shivering Pygars that I spotted. Inside, the room dressing was predictably perfectionist, like wandering around the USS Enterprise, and throw in a mesmerising laser light show, acrobats, a David Bowie impersonator (Starman, Space Oddity etc), fireworks (yes, indoors) and some rather scrumptious grub and everyone went away feeling very important and happy.

Naturally, despite all this, it was a small, much ignored in the rain, just peering out of the gloam detail outside of the actual party that captivated me and summarised the greatness of Goodwood. Lord M's team had subtly and without fanfare lined up a trio of 'space age' car designs for the likes of me to drool over.

Seeing as those who weren't at the ball probably didn't see them (I didn't spot them anywhere else over the weekend), I just wanted to share them. Hell, whoever identifies all three correctly first can have a prize of some sort, so get guessing and post your answers below.



The commercialisation in my view was no bad thing. It was as you say tastefully done, and if it goes towards what I assume is the considerable cost of putting on the event so be it.

Just a shame the Revival's long run of good weather finally came to an end this year.


Adams Probe 16,
Abarth 1500 Biposto
Vauxhall SRV

How'd I do?


And I suppose that you could tag the Probe as the "Durango 95" if you fancy it more as a movie prop than an automotive icon...


ok so it took over an hour to queue to get into the car park,another 15 minutes queue to get across the road to the entrance.There was no hope of getting on the banking to watch a race.The public areas were overcrowded with queues for everything to eat or drink and the toilets were marginal.The grandstands were overpriced and the basic entrance fee was huge at £54 per day.Meanwhile the privilidged and the corporate merely lorded it.
Actually it ia a very authentic recreation...but of a Silverstone G.P. in the late 70's early 80's
Goodwood has done a great job seducing the media who are hardly likely to criticise and risk losing their (considerable) perks and privilidges
Sorry but after this one(and being a regular since 2004) I won't be rushing to go back



The answers to your problems are:

Get up earlier
Walk more than ten minutes from the main straight
Pack some sandwiches.

You get what you pay for, there are cheaper events than the Revival but are they as goo?. Let's face it, the cost of entry and a few cups of coffee and a few snacks is barely two tank of fuel in our everday cars.

Valve Bounce

I've come through my curmudgeonly phase. Let's face it the whole thing is absolutely incredible and I enjoyed every minute.

I think the only way to really enjoy the racing is in the grandstands or up at St. Marys. Personally I just amble around all day, there's enough going on to not bother with the racing at all (and then watch it later on TV)

I guess most of the people there are not regulars at old car events - there are lots youngsters and girls(!) - but if 1% of them go away thinking maybe old cars aren't just for weirdos it will have done a great job. There must be a big spin-off for interest in old cars in general.

If you want exclusive and weirdos (and I usually do) there's always a VSCC event or the Hayride.

btw The tax exempt car park is a great way to get in quick.


well now Jeremy
a 7.30 arrival int he queue is as early as I am prepared to go
having walked the circuit several times please tell me where one could watch racing i.e. a corner
I am not into soggy sandwiches and the worst queues I refer to were for the iffy toilets.God knows how some ladies held out in the queues.

Maybe I am not easily pleased or maybe the Emperor has new clothes?

If you must then try Le Mans Classic to see how these things are addressed well
On the other don't and we may keep the less selective away


Unfortunately I think Goodwood has now passed it's best, in the same way that all these high-profile events usually do after about 5 years. More and more profit is required as the years go by, ruining it for ordinary punters by making it too expensive. They also let in too many people. It's too crowded. Unfortunately it is the punters who effectively, pay for the privilaged hangers-on (I don't mean the owners and drivers) to attend, gratis.

Anglouleme and Classic Le Mans are also too busy now, but at least the French events are realistically priced. Le-Mans was 50 euro for a 3 day pass.

I would rather fill the tank of my Alvis for the price of entry to Goodwood, and go for a long run on the back roads!

However, Goodwood raises the profile of our hobby and does it more good then harm so, long may it attract media attention.

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