The West Sussex-based 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. Twelve years earlier, Goodwood’s very first motor sport event was staged within the grounds of Goodwood Park when a hill climb meeting was held for a small group of pre-war Lancia enthusiasts.

The 1948 opening of the now legendary Goodwood 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 huge pent-up demand for wheel-to-wheel competition saw 85 drivers and over 15,000 spectators turning up to Goodwood on 18 September 1948 to support the UK’s first professionally-organised post-War motor racing event. Over sixty years on, motor racing continues at the Goodwood Revival, based at the same lovingly-restored circuit, which celebrated its tenth anniversary in September 2008 and attracted over 125,000 excited visitors.

As with a number of other British motor circuits, the origins of the Goodwood track 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 300 years – and was donated by the 9th Duke to assist the War effort.

The 9th Duke of Richmond, known to many as Freddie March, was a renowned amateur racer, having won the Brooklands Double 12 in 1930, and went on to design both March sports car bodies and aircraft in his capacity as an engineer. When the 9th Duke was approached his by friend Squadron Leader Tony Gaze, who suggested using the perimeter road that bordered the aerodrome as a motor racing circuit, he seized upon the idea. The 9th Duke and Duchess of Richmond and Gordon thus officially opened the track in 1948 by driving around the circuit in a Bristol 400, then Britain’s state-of-the-art sporting saloon.

In August 1966, after 18 years of memorable competition, Goodwood closed its gates to contemporary motor racing, although the circuit remained in continuous use as a testing and track day venue. It was the end of a chapter in Goodwood history, but not the end of the story.

On 18 September 1998, exactly 50 years to the day since the Goodwood circuit first opened, the 9th Duke’s grandson, the present Earl of March, re-enacted the opening of the track at the very first Goodwood Revival meeting in the same Bristol 400 that his grandfather had used half a centaury earlier on the same track, untouched by the modern world. Prior to the first Revival meeting in 1998, the circuit was painstakingly restored to look exactly as it did in its heyday, down to the very last detail.

So was created the Goodwood Revival, which in the subsequent ten years has established itself as the world’s most popular historic motor race meeting, and the only event of its kind to be staged in the romantic time capsule of the Fifties and Sixties. As well as recreating the golden era of motor sport, over the last decade the Revival has entertained the huge number of racing enthusiasts with some exceptional wheel-to-wheel racing at the classic circuit. Enhancing this unique time warp experience is the fact that no modern, post-1966 vehicles are permitted on site during the event, and all competitors and staff – along with the vast majority of spectators – dress in period fashions to adds to the special nostalgic atmosphere of the world’s most authentic historic motor race meeting.

The first decade of the Goodwood Revival has given enthusiasts some of memorable historic motor racing performances from competition stars such as Sirs Stirling Moss, Derek Bell, Damon Hill and late, great Barry Sheene. The past decade has also seen tributes to Sirs Jackie Stewart and Jack Brabham, Jim Clark and Phil Hill, among others, as well as special demonstrations of iconic racing cars and vehicles, as diverse as pre-1966 microcars, caravans, coachbuilt Minis and the Cosworth DFV engine.

Goodwood’s other famous motor sport event, the Festival of Speed, was established in 1993 and has gone on to become the world’s largest celebration of motoring culture. Staged every summer in the grounds of Goodwood Park, the Festival attracts the best drivers and vehicles on the planet, including most of the current Formula 1 teams, plus Le Mans winners, racing motorcycles, supercars, and much more besides.

This year the spectacular Goodwood Revival Festival is to take place on the 17-18-19th of September. Advanced tickets are available through the Goodwood website and other enquiries can be made by calling 01243 755000

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