Sunshine, clear blue sky and a lovely dawn chorus…of horsepower. This year’s Revival got off to the best possible start on Friday morning as 20 American beasts with names like Horrid Henry, Crowd Pleaser and Nasty Habit were slowly awoken from their slumber.
It wasn’t a sight, or, especially, sound that anyone within earshot (probably most of West Sussex) will quickly forget. Just 20 cars and around 10,000 horsepower between them… yes, the ‘gassers’ were in town.
It was the first time that hot rods rather than motorbikes and scooters have taken to the circuit to kick off proceedings (as they will of course be doing on Friday and Saturday as well). And they put on quite a show.
Lined up on the grid, engines burbling and a heat haze rising in front of the Sussex downs in the distance, they made made a spectacular sight; as Marcus Pye said over the Tannoy it really was a dream grid for anyone into their Americana (that, it appeared, would be all of Goodwood’s early arrivals then).
As head gasser for the weekend Greg Waters told GRR, there are only 30 or so cars of this type in the country and to have 20 of them in one place at the same time is probably a first in the UK, not just a first for Goodwood.
The cars are all American (apart from one), range in date between 1933 and 1966 and are V8 powered: big blocks, small blocks, hemis, most with blowers. Oh, and all have the most exquisite period detailing and paintwork, complete with those crowd-pleasing names.
‘Gassers’ is of course from the American gasoline and generic for a stock vehicle that was driven to the drags for quarter mile racing, and most of these cars do still race, with the quickest of them getting into the 9s.
We didn’t get to see a 9-second run (there are corners at Goodwood) but put 20 gassers on a grid and burnouts are always going to be on the cards. They didn’t disappoint as some of the top machines lit up their rear tyres and Goodwood disappeared in clouds of tyre smoke. (Almost) all of them even managed to keep things nice and straight as they rocketed away towards Madgwick.
It all amounted to a magic way to start the day; you can catch them again at 9am on both Saturday and Sunday. Highly recommended.
Photography by Tom Shaxson