Goodwood reaffirms itself in Page's affections

| 17 Sep 2012

I was ready to be a bit cynical about the Goodwood Revival this year. As the event continues to grow, there is always the fear that it will be diluted too much, that the peripheral hoopla will be allowed to take the edge off the meeting's period feel.

It has undoubtedly become ever-more corporate and there is a tendency for the lines between period dress and fancy dress to become somewhat blurred. Surely it is only a matter of time before 'comedy' stick-on moustaches are banned…

Despite all that, however, it is still – by some distance – my favourite meeting of the year. In July, I went to the Le Mans Classic for the first time. This is a firm favourite with the C&SC team, and as an overall trip it was good fun. The camping, the drive down in convoy, all the other old cars on the ferry – it added up to an enjoyable few days.Personally, though, I didn't think the circuit was a good one on which to watch historic racing. It's necessarily been 'modernised', so as a spectator you're a long way from the action and anything slower than a Jaguar C-type looks a bit lost. Silverstone suffers from the same problem.

In contrast, Goodwood offers fabulous viewing all the way around the lap. There's the 'yump' at Madgwick that unsettles the cars just when the drivers are getting on to the throttle, the all-or-nothing balancing act through Fordwater, the scramble through St Mary's – wherever you go, and you can go everywhere, you fully appreciate how hard the drivers are working.

This year, the racing offered an embarrassment of riches – from the frenzied action in Saturday's half of the St Mary's Trophy, to the 'big banger' sports-racers in the Whitsun Trophy and the permanently oversteering 1950s sports cars in the Sussex Trophy.

Whatever else the organising team does, it must always keep in mind that, for enthusiasts, the Revival's appeal lies in the fact that you can walk pretty much the entire length of the circuit with even a humble 'general admission' ticket, and enjoy superb viewing wherever you stop.

Another element that Goodwood does well is celebrate the sport's heroes, and it was a treat to see the great Dan Gurney make the trip to West Sussex. It was even better to see him being chauffeured by Tony Brooks in a Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa – the 1959 Tourist Trophy combination back together. First time past the pits during Saturday's parade, Brooks gave the Ferrari full throttle as a beaming Gurney held on to his hat alongside, waving to the crowd with his spare hand.

It says something about the quality of the race card that the Silver Arrows parade wasn't the runaway highlight that I was expecting it to be. To see the Mercedes and Auto Unions running together was undeniably magic, although it would have been nice if they'd let Jochen Mass off his leash and allowed him to really stretch the W125's legs.

But equally memorable was Jackie Oliver's drive in the BMW 700, Julian Mazjub wrestling with the Sadler-Chevrolet, Jean Alesi leading the early laps of the TT, Adrian Newey driving at 10-tenths to make up for an early spin, Gregor Fisken drifting his Maserati 250F. It goes on...Even though you can now stand at the exit of Madgwick and look across a sea of very modern-looking hospitality marquees surrounding the paddocks, it doesn't take long to be distracted when the on-track action is of such a high quality. And if the former keeps the latter going, so be it.