Acknowledged as the first official permanent racing track opened at the tail end of the 1940s, it was to witness some of the greatest names in motorsport history test their skills at its stunning setting over the course of nearly two decades.
Today, it is just as popular with enthusiasts who are drawn to its heritage that has been lovingly recreated with the Festival of Speed and upcoming Revival event starting tomorrow.
As former Top Gear presenter Sue Baker, pictured below, explains, its allure has seen hundreds of thousands of racing fans flock from across the world to soak up its unique atmosphere.
“Revival is just the most enjoyable motorsports event – it’s something you really want to go to. From seeing the drivers there and cars I’ve admired to seeing the planes and some of the icons of the racing world who attend, it’s quite fabulous. There’s just something about it that gets right to the heart of anyone who cares about motoring,” said Sue, who herself had the pleasure of checking out the circuit on a number of occasions with some of the world’s leading drivers including Pagham’s own Derek Bell last year.
“I think what makes it special is also its history as a former Battle of Britain airfield which has given it some real history. You don’t just go there as a spectator stuck behind a fence, there’s participation with everyone dressed up in their finery. I haven’t chosen my outfit yet, but I will have one for it,” added Sue of its strong vintage flavour which encourages visitors to don their finest 50s and 60s gear to add to its air of authenticity.
It’s this very quality which self-confessed petrolhead, Goodwood’s motorsport PR manager Gary Axon of Goodwood, believes is one of its strongest assets. He is glad to have played his part in staging what has become a spectacular season finale.
Clearly, when you’re expecting attendance from the likes of Sir Stirling Moss, former F1 driver Gerhard Berger and triple world touring car champion Andy Priaulx, you know it’s something well worth savouring – not least for the jaw-dropping machinery on display.
From its feast of classic Ferrari, Mercedes and Lotus to Jaguar motors, to name but a few which are on show, it would be easy to imagine Revival being a testosterone-fuelled scene awash with mechanics and aspiring racers. Refreshingly, it appears the event’s emphasis on creating a wider social experience has drawn a mixed crowd.
“What keeps people coming back to Revival is the quality of racing and we’re the most recognised historic race meeting in the world which also has wider attractions as well, enthused the circuit’s motorsport specialist of the event first staged in 1998.
He added: “Our audience is about 50 per cent who come for the racing, while the rest are here for the overall experience and day out. These are pretty grim times in the economy and it’s the kind of event you can just come to in order to get away from it all.”
As he explained, its vintage element, with a Revival High Street of more than 200 traditional shops (including a retro-fitted Tesco) has proved a big hit and this star-studded event will be enhanced by a number of local actors dressing in fashions of yesteryear to further enhance its strong air of nostalgia.
Beyond the four-wheeled thrills, organisers are hoping there will be a squadron of 15 Spitfires putting on a spectacular air display backed by performances by the RAF choir and classic 50s jazz.
The racing itself is, of course, key to the event, with one of the highlights being the Fordwater Trophy, contested exclusively by classic E-Type Jaguars. For many, these much-admired motors represent the pinnacle of 60s British sports car manufacturing.
Some of the key celebrations of the weekend include 100 years of Ford in Brtain, which started out from humble origins with a factory in Manchester.
To mark the occasion there will be parade of 100 Fords through the ages, plus a tribute to hugely-regarded 1950s racing champion Juan Fangio, who would also have turned 100 this year.
There’s a total of 17 fiercely-contested cups across the weekend which are destined to prove quite some spectacle.
“To take part in our races is quite something – it’s only by invitation and we believe we have selected the very best drivers to take part in the races and we don’t tend to find people not wanting to do it.
“Unlike some historic motorsport events, we aim to keep the racing authentic by checking the pedigree of cars – we only use those which are known to have raced and have been well prepared to be competitive,” added the venue’s racing expert, who like thousands of others is keenly awaiting another very special weekend.