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Paddock life

Not just racing around

Bob Franklin reports on Goodwood's Revival, held over 20-21 September

Goodwood - what a venue! It caters for all ages - those who were dressed up in forties, fifties or sixties outfits, and also those who were dressed in military uniforms made it very nostalgic, not only for the thousands that were there for the motor racing, but also for the small flying displays.

The public had the pleasure of seeing early motor racing around the Goodwood track, harking back to the glory days between the forties and sixties. As with a number of other British motor circuits, the origins of the Goodwood circuit derive from an ex-military airfield - RAF Westhampnett, named after the village bordering Goodwood, served as a Battle of Britain base during the War, and was the station from which RAF legend Sir Douglas Bader flew his last sortie. The airfield was created on land that formed part of the Goodwood Estate - home to the Dukes of Richmond for over three hundred years - and was donated by the ninth Duke to assist the War effort.

Goodwood Motor Circuit originally opened its gates to the public on September 1948 to host Britain's very first post-War motor race meeting at a permanent venue. The opening of the now legendary Motor Circuit was met with a rapturous response from enthusiasts, as the British public had been deprived of motor racing in Britain since Brooklands closed its doors in 1939 as a result of the Second World War. The first meeting saw eighty-five drivers and over 15,000 spectators turn up on 18 September to support the UK's first professionally-organised post-War motor racing event. In August 1966, after eighteen years of memorable competition, Goodwood closed its gates to contemporary motor racing, although the circuit remained in continuous use as a testing and tack day venue. It was the end of a chapter in Goodwood history, but not the end of the story.

Aircraft that participated throughout the day were many favourites for aircraft enthusiasts - P-51D Mustang, Rolls-Royce Spitfire and the Curtiss Hawk from the Old Flying Machine Company and Stephen Grey's Fighter Collection from Duxford. A small area of the grass airfield hosted a static display, which included the largest aircraft ever to land here, Air Atlantique's DC-6 in the colour scheme of British Eagle Airways, contrasting next to the Vimy.

The last couple of acts in the flying programme, interspersed with the racing during the day, were the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster, followed by the P-51D and Spitfire from the Old Flying Machine Co.

The last race of the day was at 18:30, finishing a marvellous day of events with a lovely sunset settling over this historic site. Mother Nature was very kind to one and all for the weekend, with perhaps the best weather of 2008's generally miserable summer. It was my first time at a Goodwood Revival - put it your calendar for 2009!


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