Matt Jacques of Matt Jacques Photography visited the Goodwood Revival festival and documented how the fashion sense of the spectators brought back this historic motorsport event to life.
How I Got to Goodwood
I first met Halifax, Nova Scotia artist Paul Chenard just over a year ago, while commuting on the bus. I quickly discovered that he shared my growing passion for motorsport, and was immediately struck by the quality of the artwork he was able to show me on the spot.
Little did I realize that this chance connection would eventually lead me across the pond and transport me back more than sixty years to the golden age of racing, brought back to life right before my eyes. While my experience photographing automobiles was kick-started by the modern-day mayhem of short track racing via the Parts for Trucks
Pro Stock Tour, Paul is a veritable historian of all things automotive. In particular, he is keenly focused on grand prix of the 1930’s through 1980’s. He is a self-taught artist, and enjoys discovering novel techniques and materials to communicate his vision of racing’s heyday. Over subsequent conversations, I kept hearing Paul’s refrain of “You’ve got to get to Goodwood”. Despite his encouragement, I just couldn’t make a trip to the UK work last year. But upon Paul’s return from the 2011 Goodwood Revival, I was blown away by his stories of endless fields of automotive history, not just sitting there for show, but firing up and racing flat out. Although I enjoyed an initial taste of vintage racing a few years back at the wonderful Lime Rock Historics(Torrington, Connecticut), I must admit I remain a novice when it comes to the more historic side of racing. So, I decided some research was in order.
Goodwood Motor Racing
The Goodwood motor racing circuit (West Sussex, United Kingdom) first saw wheeled competition in 1948, when the perimeter roads around WWII’s RAF Westhampnett airfield were re-purposed by then land-owner, the Duke of Richmond. The circuit was an immediate smash success for British racing from Aston-Martins to Coopers and early Formula 3’s. A long list of motorsport legends piloted these cars around the track, including Sir Stirling Moss, Sir Jack Brabham, John Surtees, Jim Clark and Graham Hill. But the track ceased operations in 1966 when owners refused to undertake required modifications to the beautiful circuit’s shape in order to reduce the risk of serious crashes. This meant the circuit became an unfortunate but seemingly inevitable casualty in the battle between rapidly advancing speeds and an increasingly safety-conscious society. Everything changed in 1998, when the Earl of March and Kinara launched the Goodwood Revival not just as a car show or a single race, but a three-day motorsport festival celebrating the track’s golden age. The first notions of a full-on revival gathered momentum swiftly on the
heels of the newly-minted Goodwood Festival of Speed, which began in 1994. Lord March felt that the single-vehicle timed runs of the Festival of Speed were missing the critical element of racing competition. With concours-quality cars from each of the three decades the circuit was originally operational, the Revival presents a series of races held amid a vintage carnival atmosphere where guests are strongly encouraged to dress the part.
The Silver Arrows
If I wasn’t already sold on the 2012 Revival, the clincher came when organizers announced that 10 of the legendary 1930’s Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrowsgrand prix cars would make a special appearance on the race track. Yes, I have got to get to Goodwood!
The Revival spectacle is something that no mere photograph or story can convey.
Driving on the winding roads approaching the circuit, one suddenly begins encountering more and more vintage E-Types, Astons, Cobras and even pre-war Bentleys. But it’s not until you cross those front gates that the scale and complete time-warp of the event become apparent.
Goodwood: True Revival
The Revival isn’t just a festival celebrating the vehicles of a bygone era, but a complete immersion into the culture of the time. Cross that line into the Goodwood grounds, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anything that gives away that we are actually in 2012. A complete village of vendors pops up overnight, reproducing the look and feel of shopping in the 1940’s. Organizers take this reproduction of the era so seriously that during the entire festival,
no vehicle later than 1966 is allowed to enter the festival grounds, and to ensure people wear appropriate attire, they created the Goodwood Dress & Style Guidewhich explains on more than 100 pages how to choose period appropriate clothing! And visiting the Revival is no spectator sport.
Guests might merely be ‘encouraged’ to adopt a vintage look, but my best guess would be that somewhere around 95% of the 150,000 petrol heads in attendance donned period garb. You don’t go merely to watch Goodwood.
When you go, you become Goodwood. And the reward for this participation is extraordinary.
The 2012 Revival paddock was estimated to be worth somewhere north of a billion dollars. Yes, billion. Not only did the Silver Arrows show up as promised, but a jaw-dropping dozen of these absolutely priceless vehicles were in attendance. Each of the three days, Type C and Type D Auto Unions, along with their W25 and W125 Mercedes Benz counterparts, would fire up and thunder around the track together for the first time in over 70 years.
These were the same sleek-yet-monstrous 600 horsepower beauties that Rudolf Caracciola, Bernd Rosemeyer, Hermann Lang and piloted to victory in their day. And the GTOs! Ferrari produced a scant 39 examples of the iconic 250 GTO between 1962 and 1964. Fifteen of these were present at Goodwood, carrying a $450M price tag. And they weren’t there to just look pretty. Several of the 250’s took part in the hour-long RAC TT race.
As Ford GT40s, AC Cobras, pre-war Maseratis and Alfas raced around the circuit, historic aircraft provided astonishing intermission displays. Spitfires, P-51 Mustangs, Hurricanes and one of only two airworthy Avro Lancasters in the world flew in formation overhead, and landed inside the circuit. Take a look!
My head was spinning with the scale of the event, so I paid my friend Paul a visit at his vendor booth to thank him for prodding me into making the trip. I find Paul and Belgian artist Nicolas Cancelier entertaining passersby with a live art display. “Goodwood is a great way to connect with passionate, racing-minded people.
There’s nothing like it on the planet.” A graphic designer by trade, he connected with Cancelier online over their appreciation of vintage motorsport art, and the two soon collaborated to found the Club Artistes Auto. “It’s very difficult to be a vendor here, because we’re at our booth and there is so much other wonderful stuff happening all around us.
I need to come back one year just as a spectator to take it all in, but to see people’s reaction to my art in person at the booth is amazing.” The crowd that gathers as he sketches out the engine bay of a twin-supercharged Auto Union Type-D certainly enjoys the show he and Cancelier have put on. There may be other vintage or historic events that celebrate the golden age of racing, but it’s hard to disagree that the Goodwood Revival is one of a kind.
The cars, the people, the music, the carnival all conspire to create one magical step back in time. If you are a car lover you must definitely attend the Goodwood Revival 2013 – I will certainly be there!
For more fabulous pictures of Matt, please take a look at the gallery below and his website with 127 pictures of the event. If you are a photographer / reader / subject matter expert and would like to contribute to the Gentleman’s Gazette, please get in touch with us, thanks.