Goodwood Revival Is a Trip Down Motorsports Memory Lane

goodwood revival 2023 cars at starting line
A Very Good Goodwood Revival!Goodwood Revival Photo by PA

We do well here in the US when it comes to concours and historic races. We each have our favorite events and there isn’t really a bad one among them, from the Rolex Montery Motorsport Reunion to the Targa 66, the Colorado Grand and many more.

However, none can really compare to the Goodwood Revival, held on the grounds of the Goodwood Estate and lapping the very track on which so many racing greats lived out their full glory. Plus, everyone at the Goodwood Revival—and I mean everyone—dresses up.

“The Goodwood Revival is the world’s greatest historic motor race meeting, and the only sporting event of its kind to be staged entirely in a period theme,” organizers explained.

tom kristensen derek bell and stephane darrocq attend the goodwood revival at the goodwood motor circuit in west sussex picture date saturday september 9 2023 this year the event celebrates its 25th anniversary and takes place from september 8 10 the goodwood revival is the worlds greatest historic motor race meeting and the only sporting event of its kind staged entirely in a period theme a celebration of craftsmanship and sustainability from an age when possessions were made to last and be cherished the revival promotes a thoroughly modern ethos to reduce reuse repair restore and recycle
Tom Kristensen, Derek Bell, Stephane Darrocq.Kieran Cleeves

“More than just an unrivaled weekend of historic racing, it is an immersive celebration of a less disposable world, where ‘make do and mend’ was a way of life rather than a casual slogan. The Revival is, at its heart, a celebration of craftsmanship and sustainability, from an age when possessions were made to last and be cherished.


“It promotes a thoroughly modern ethos—to ‘reduce, reuse, repair, restore and recycle’—in the most authentic way possible. All the cars are original, having been lovingly maintained since new. Many of the outfits have been handed down through generations, and even the retailers specialize in pre-owned artifacts—everything from clothes and accessories to automobilia and books. It is, proudly, the world’s biggest and most glamorous second-hand event.”

This year the Revival paid tribute to the centenary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with multi-time winners Derek Bell, Tom Kristensen, and Jacky Ickx in attendance. Ickx was the Grand Marshal, waving the very same French Tricolore that had been waved by basketball great LeBron James to start this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans back in June. Ickx, as you know, won Le Mans six times, Bell five times, and Kristensen a mind-boggling nine.

Three-time F1 world champion Jackie Stewart was also honored, when he took a lap in one of his title-winning Tyrrells.

goodwood revival 2023
Cars line up for the Shelby tribute.Goodwood Revival Photo by PA

The event served as a tribute to America racing great Carroll Shelby, who also would have been 100 this year and who also raced at Goodwood back in its heyday.

“It’s such a privilege to be celebrating Carroll Shelby at the Goodwood Revival this year,” said the host of the event, the Duke of Richmond, when Shelby’s part in this year’s Goodwood was announced.

participants in the women's best dressed competition show of their vintage fashion at the goodwood revival at the goodwood motor circuit in west sussex
Period-correct costumes were the order of the day.Kieran Cleeves

“He was a good friend and I remember when Carroll first came to the Revival back in 2000—having raced and famously won at Goodwood in the 1959 TT—bringing with him his infectious personality and competitive spirit. It will be wonderful to see those glorious cars that Carroll raced and designed in action at Goodwood once again over the weekend.”

And then there were the costumes, the period-correct dress. Everyone gets into the spirit of the time period when Goodwood first held motorsports events, from 1948 to 1966. How do they manage to get everyone in the spirit? His Grace, The Duke of Richmond, explained:

“Well, we started off thinking, ‘Let’s put the buildings back how they should be.’ And I thought, ‘Why don’t we go dressed appropriately?’ And a lot of people thought it was a very bad idea, actually—they thought, ‘No one will come.’ But we did it and they came and the next year more came and the next year more came and it wasn’t too long before everyone got the hang of it. And before you know it if you don’t come making some sort of effort (to dress the part) you feel a little bit out of place. The great thing about it for me is everyone participates in it and that makes it feel very different.”

a duo of spitfires fly as the sun sets during the goodwood revival at the goodwood motor circuit
The planes were period-correct, too.John Nguyen

And then there are the planes. Goodwood airfield was used during WWII and hosted numerous aircraft involved in the Allied war effort. A surprising number of those planes are still flying, and many of them made it to the Revival. In fact, it was the perimeter road that circled the airfield that became the race track.

All told, there’s nothing else like the Goodwood Revival anywhere in the world. Start planning now to attend next year, or some year before you die.