The best way to appreciate the early single-seaters that every year thrill Revival fans in the Goodwood Trophy is to be trackside… The second best way is to watch our video highlights of last year’s race.
Alas, a video won’t allow you to smell the hot mineral oil or let you hear the magnificent roar of their mighty engines as they gulp down their methanol (our video has an excellent race summary from Revival commentator Marcus Pye instead).
But even when viewed on a small screen, it’s easy to appreciate the power and glory of these spectacular racers, the ERAs, Maseratis, Bugattis, Alfa Romeos, Talbot Lagos and Frazer Nashes, all so familiar from the grainy films and black and white pictures of motor racing in the 1930s and ‘40s.
The joy of the Goodwood Trophy is not just to see these cars driven as they were designed to be driven, but to be able to see the drivers in action. It’s rare to watch man and machine in such perfect harmony: the pilotes – most of them without seat belts – sawing away on the steering as the cars slide, often wheel to wheel, through Goodwood’s sweeping curves.
Just as they did in period. The GP cars and more nimble voiturettes of 1930-1950 were the mainstay of early international races at the Goodwood Motor Circuit after its opening in 1948. Based on distinctly pre-war, sit-up-and-beg designs, the majority of cars may have been from a different era, but they represented the fastest machinery available in a Europe still emerging from six long years of war.
This year’s field features some of the most historically important cars of that era, including classics like the Maserati 8CM, Talbot Lago Type 26C, Alfa Tipo B and Bugatti Type 59.
They will all have to go some to beat English Racing Automobiles. There are no fewer than 10 ERAs taking part in the Goodwood Trophy for 2015, including famous cars like the ex-Prince Bira/Tony Rolt R5B ‘Remus’. You can see Raymond Mays driving an ERA, in this short video from Brooklands in 1937:
Also in the field in 2015 is the ERA that won the Goodwood Trophy last year, R3A. This was Mays’ 1936 Works car, powered by a 2.0-litre version of the supercharged six delivering 240bhp at 7500rpm to its Wilson pre-selector gearbox. Which makes it pretty quick, at least in the hands of Mark Gillies, who enjoyed his fourth Goodwood Trophy victory in it in 2014.
Will he be able to make it five wins? Make a date with Race No2, the first race on Saturday (12 September), and all will be revealed. You too will love the smell of Castrol R in the morning…