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A day at the Goodwood Revival motor racing festival

The Goodwood Revival is a three-day motorsport event celebrating the iconic cars from the heyday of racing at Goodwood motor circuit in the 1950s. Independent mobility consultant Helen Dolphin MBE attended this year's event and gives her review.

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Back to the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s

Goodwood body 1The Revival recreates the circuit's glory years from 1948, when Goodwood hosted the first post-war motor race at a permanent venue to 1966 when Freddie March deemed that cars had become too fast for his track. This year the revival attracted crowds of over 100,000, many of whom came dressed in period costume from this golden era of motor sport. My husband and I were no exception - I dressed in 1950’s ensemble and my husband wore an army uniform from the Second World War. In fact walking around the circuit you really did feel like you had gone back in time. Not only were the people, cars and motorcycles historic, but everything else too including the support vehicles on the track, food outlets, shops and even hairdressers. If it wasn’t for the occasional person wearing trainers there was nothing to indicate it was 2016, well except the prices maybe!

Getting there

Goodwood body 3The Revival takes place in September each year and if you wish to attend you will need to book your tickets well in advance, as they sell out very quickly. If you receive Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or an equivalent mobility allowance your carer will be entitled to a ticket free of charge. Unfortunately what you cannot book in advance is the weather and, as we drew into the car park for disabled visitors, the heavens opened. You should be aware that parking is on grass. Fortunately there was a shuttle service from the disabled car park to the circuit so I was quickly picked up. If you’re unable to transfer from your wheelchair there is an accessible minibus available.

The car dropped us off outside the mobility tent where I’d hoped to hire a mobility scooter. Due to my own lack of preparation I had not booked one in advance and it seems this is an absolute must as there were none left for me to use. Not being able to hire a scooter meant my husband had to push me around in my manual chair. This would normally have been fine but as the grass got progressively soggier it was quite hard work for him and my lovely 1950’s outfit was somewhat muddy by the end of day. However, having got hold of a waterproof poncho we decided it was time to watch a bit of motor racing.

The races

Goodwood body 5For disabled visitors there are three disabled viewing platforms which give great views of the circuit. As it was raining I wanted to be under cover so we headed to the platform opposite the main pit lane on the Old Control Tower side of the circuit. These viewing platforms are first come first served but there are people coming and going all the time. If the person with you wants to sit they would need to bring their own seat as wheelchair/scooter users sit at the front and other guests stand at the back.

The first race we watched was the Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy. This was a twenty-five minute two-rider race for motorcycles up to 1000cc of a type that raced up to 1954. It was fantastic to watch as these historic bikes raced around the track with several nail biting moments as a few riders skidded off in the wet. In the end the race was stopped early due to the terrible conditions. It didn’t matter that you couldn’t see the entire track as there are big screens up and you can buy an ear piece so you can hear exactly what is going on.

The next race we watched was the St Mary’s Trophy. This was a twenty minute race for mechanically identical Austin A30 and A35 saloons. This race had a number of drivers whose names I recognised such as David Coulthard, Rowan Atkinson and Tiff Needell. These little cars managed to reach quite spectacular speeds and there were many occasions when I was on the edge of my seat.

Although the viewing platform was covered the rain was coming in at all angles so we decided to watch the next race indoors. This was the Lavant Cup for drum braked BMW and Bristol-engined sports cars of the 1930’s -1950’s. This was probably the most exciting race with cars missing each other by a hair’s breadth.

Helen’s verdict 

Goodwood body 2Although the Revival is really about the cars there were also air displays scheduled but sadly due to the weather these were cancelled. Because of the weather we didn’t watch as much racing as we would have done if it was dry but this did give us the opportunity to look at some of the other exhibitions and stalls. After a great day at the Revival we made our way back to the mobility tent to pick up the shuttle to take us back to our car. In spite of the weather we still had a really great day and the access had been excellent. However, a mobility scooter would have made life a lot easier especially in the wet - must remember to book in advance next year!

For information on the attending the Goodwood revival visit in new window

For more information on access at Goodwood visit in new window


Photo credit for banner image: Drew Gibson, Goodwood