How Goodwood is celebrating UK motorsport in a tough year

Since some of the world’s greatest drivers first attacked the Duke of Richmond’s driveway in anger back in 1993, the Goodwood Festival of Speed has been an annual highlight, a celebration of automotive culture and Britain’s de facto motor show. Meanwhile, the Goodwood Revival, first staged in 1998, is the centrepiece of the historic motorsport calendar as a retro-fuelled showcase of insanely intense racing.

Former British Touring Car champion Andrew Jordan is a regular at both events, having driven some of his tin-tops up the hill at the Festival and often competed at the Revival. “You don’t get the variety of cars and drivers at either event anywhere else,” he says. “They’re both brilliant.”

This year, of course, both have joined the depressingly long list of cancellations. But rather than just pencil some dates into a 2021 year-planner and crossing their fingers, Goodwood’s organisers are trying to keep the magic of both events alive with the one-off Speedweek event. Running from Friday until Sunday on the West Sussex estate’s race circuit, it merges the Festival’s demonstration runs, shoot-out and rally action with the Revival’s flagship historic races.

The event will benefit from the incredible ability of the Duke of Richmond and his team to draw in big-name racers and a fantastic array of classic and modern road cars and racing machines.

Jordan, who runs a historic race team with his father, Mike, will drive an AC Cobra, a Ford Cortina Lotus and a Mini 1275 GT in various races against some of the sport’s biggest names – and he expects the action to be as intense as usual.

“Some of the best races I’ve had have come at Goodwood,” he says. “It’s always hard but fair, and you can trust the people you race against. People are there for a good time – but they all want to do well.” Staging Speedweek on-track will help. While the cars performing demonstration runs at the Festival are usually limited by the tight constraints of the hillclimb, there will be much more space to push on the fast, flowing circuit – as shown by the quality of racing at the Revival meeting.

“Goodwood is a proper old-school circuit,” Jordan says. “You have to attack it. To do a quick lap round Goodwood in a Cortina, you need to be right on the edge, which means the car is sliding all over the place. It’s really hard work, which makes it spectacular to watch.”

Speedweek won’t admit spectators, although the action will be shown online and highlights on TV. But will the intangible magic atmosphere be lost?

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Matt Saunders – Bike heroes battle

I’ve been attending the Festival of Speed for the thick end of two decades now, but my first time at the Revival was only last year. Somehow the idea of dressing up and watching old cars never appealed to the twenty-something in me. Lordy, did I ever get that one wrong.

I found the Revival a much more special event; more atmospheric, of course, but also smaller and better contained at the Motor Circuit. Just getting to watch the racing from the paddock grandstands, at up-close-and-personal terms with the cars and drivers just a few feet below in the pit lane, is a treat like little else you will find in modern motorsport.

The car racing was wonderful, particularly watching brilliantly driven Minis beating much more powerful cars, but the bikes of the Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy were the highlight. I couldn’t take my eyes off all the star riders – Dani Pedrosa, Peter Hickman, Lee Johnston and James Haydon – just standing around on the pit wall and having the time of their lives, as if they were at some mad weekend club meet. Which, for them, is probably exactly how it felt.