The first ever Goodwood Revival

The date 18th September 1998 is a seminal one in the history of the Goodwood Motor Circuit. For on that late-summer morning 18 years ago, the West Sussex track, once the airfield perimeter road of RAF West Hampnett, reverberated to the sound of motor racing once more.

Not since 1966 had the super-fast, 2.4-mile venue held races. Sprint events, private testing, track days and racing-school activities had continued but racing had ended when Freddie March closed the doors after the last meeting on July 2, 1966.

Current custodian Lord March, grandson of Freddie, had introduced the Festival of Speed on the drive of Goodwood House to the estate’s portfolio in 1993, but in the background there was untold grafting, plenty of obstacle-clearing and many a sleepless night, not to mention a huge financial outlay, in an attempt to bring the circuit alive again. And then, 50 years to the day since its original inauguration, that tireless hard work and immense passion paid off.

Looking resplendent in its period dress, with renovated pit and race-control buildings and retro-branded grandstands, as well as a fresh coating of asphalt on an unchanged layout that now boasted additional run-off and extra spectator banks (that doubled as noise-blockers), the circuit played host to what would become the world’s premier historic race meeting: the Goodwood Revival.

That first meeting drew huge crowds, almost all of them in outfits befitting the 1948-1966 epoch, as well as scores of stars from motorsport past and present, including Sir Stirling, who features in the film.

This film, narrated by racer and TV presenter Tiff Needell, a loyal supporter of the revived venue from day one, looks back at the best moments of the 1998 event, and showcases great racing, stunning aviation displays and the film-set backdrop that has come to characterise the Revival. The 1998 Revival will also be remembered for the late Ray Hannah’s famous Spitfire flypast down the home straight at grandstand level.

What’s incredible is that the new-look Goodwood has already been in existence longer, by just a few months, than its predecessor. And, fortunately for the fans, competitors, organisers and officials who have been coming here for the past 18 years, it’s lost none of its magic. And that’s probably true for those lucky enough to have been there first time round.

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