We thought we had the pinnacle of well-heeled motorsport with the Watkins Glen Indy Car series, but the highlight reels from the Goodwood Revival in Britain reveals a much more gentlemanly pursuit.
Held in September, the 18-year-old event features vintage racers from the glory days of the Goodwood Circuit, which ran the fastest cars between 1948 and 1966.
The revival brings back not only the cars, but the attitudes and dress from the period.
And here’s the difference: Where the cars today are high-octane, purpose built insanity machines driven by hyper-funded rockstars, the Goodwood circuit were nice, rounded machines, painted maybe forest green, with offset numbers on the bonnet, driven by the type of sportsman that might also enjoy a fox hunt.
In fact, the 9th Duke and Duchess of Richmond and Gordon started the racing series, fielding a 1948 Bristol 400, which was state-of-the-art back then, with a top speed of 92 mph.
That’s right, 92 mph. A 1,971 cc six-cylinder pushrod engine with extra short exhaust brought 80 horsepower to the machine.
I can remember hitting 120 in my 1985 MR2 in the deserts between Phoenix and LA. Of course, speed is relative, and if you’re a Duke, and in 1948, that may be all that matters.
And anyway, to watch the races gives a great sense of what it was like to race in those calmer days. Even the announcers sound as though they’re sipping Port and smoking from briarwood pipes while they politely discuss the race.
It’s a fine spectacle indeed, the Goodwood Revival. And maybe the best was the Chichester Cup, where the Formula Junior cars race, with their tidy 500 cc engines.