Among the worldâ€™s great circuits Goodwood has always held its own unique lustre. It was one of the first post-war airfield circuits to spring up in Great Britain and instantly became a favourite of drivers and fans alike. Since closing its doors to full-time racing in 1966 it has remained largely unchanged, but with the ever-increasing popularity of the Goodwood Revival the restoration of its buildings has gained momentum.
This year the old race control is undergoing a rebuild and on July 8 Lord March and Credit Suisseâ€™s Ian Dembinski hosted a â€˜Topping Outâ€™ ceremony to celebrate the new building. The Swiss bank has announced its commitment to Goodwood for the next seven years, which means the preservation of the circuit can continue apace.
In attendance were Sir Stirling Moss, Jochen Mass, Alain de Cadenet and pupils from the March Church of England Primary School in Chichester. The children were winners of an art competition, their entries being selected to be placed in a time capsule with racing artifacts which will be buried under the gate to the new race control building.
Architect Brian Beardsmore has kept the exterior of the building faithful to its predecessor but a reworked interior will be a more relaxing and efficient place for the drivers to spend their down time. Itâ€™s still very much a building site, but Lord March is happy with the progress and says itâ€™ll be finished before the Revival in September.
Motor Sport sat down with Sir Stirling overlooking race control and the pits, with the roar of â€˜60s sports cars providing welcome interruptions to our chat. â€œI never spent that much time in there,â€ he says, gesturing to the new building. â€œWhen I did, it was only because Iâ€™d done something wrong â€“ passed under a yellow flag or whatever â€“ and theyâ€™d haul me over the coals. Theyâ€™ve done a fantastic job with it though, very in keeping with the spirit of the circuit.â€
Moss began racing at Goodwood in 1948, driving a Cooper 500, and ended his career there after a monumental shunt in the 1962 Glover Trophy. â€œIâ€™ve always loved it here. My favourite races were probably the Nine Hours and the Tourist Trophy.â€ The TT was held at Goodwood between 1958 and 1964; Moss won the first four on the trot. â€œYou could really get stuck in to the longer races here and you never stop learning. If you get Madgwick wrong, youâ€™ll lose time through Fordwater and all the way round to St Maryâ€™s. You have to get a good flow going.
â€œIt was never an especially dangerous circuit, no more than others of the same era. If you made a mistake, youâ€™d pay for it and if you were going fast enough you could hurt yourself. Thatâ€™s what motor racingâ€™s all about. Iâ€™m glad the place hasnâ€™t changed and that Hermann Tilke hasnâ€™t got his hands on it. To my mind, that manâ€™s done more damage to racing than anyone else over the past 20 years.
â€œGoodwoodâ€™s maintained the feeling itâ€™s always had. Itâ€™s powerful. Itâ€™s a feeling that people of all ages enjoy, you can tell that just from the sheer number of people who come here for the Festival of Speed and the Revival. It amazes me the way people are willing to spend their own money on getting dressed up for the Revival, for no reason other than to feel part of the history.â€
Itâ€™s one of the reasons Sir Stirling loves the Festival of Speed, celebrating its 20th anniversary this weekend. â€œTo be honest with you I donâ€™t really care about the hillclimb, itâ€™s boring. But when you get to the top the atmosphereâ€™s incredible, with all the drivers and fans together. Thatâ€™s what itâ€™s all about, a love of cars and the sport.â€
Heâ€™ll be driving a Mercedes W196 and the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut CoupÃ© this weekend. â€œI remember taking the Uhlenhaut on holiday to the mountains, if you can imagine skis strapped on top of it. 722 [the SLR in which Moss won the 1955 Mille Miglia with Denis Jenkinson] wonâ€™t be coming out, I hear itâ€™s installed in the Mercedes Museum now, which is a shame. Itâ€™d be great to drive it again in front of all the fans.â€
Therein lies the attraction of the Festival of Speed. It might have its share of corporate trappings these days but it retains the buzz that comes from the drivers and enthusiasts sharing the enjoyment.
Source: Motor Sport Mag