SEP 15th 2015

Henry Hope‑Frost: the best bits of another cracking Revival

Another magical, time-warp Revival retrospective is at an end and, having landed back on planet earth, it’s time to whittle down scores of memorable moments from the 18th edition of historic motorsport’s finest extravaganza into a list of the very best of the best bits.

Revival 2015

From my privileged position, armed with a microphone and cameraman, among the finest collection of racing cars and bikes and the heroes who guided them to victory in period, I had front-row seats for as inspiring a history lesson as it’s possible to have. To pore over priceless machinery and chat to many of the aces associated with them is indulgence on an epic scale. And that’s before any of the typically exhilarating on-track combat gets under way.

Here, then, are the 10 stand-out moments that made the 2015 edition of this fantasy formula so engrossing:

Lap Record Demo

Scots on parade

On April 19, 1965, Jim Clark won the Sunday Mirror International Trophy at Goodwood in the Lotus-Climax 25. Fastest lap that day – a 1m20.4s – was shared by Clark and the BRM P261 of fellow Scot Jackie Stewart, not yet a grand prix winner. To see JYS back in the BRM alongside Clark devotee Dario Franchitti in a Classic Team Lotus 25 and wearing a trademark midnight-blue helmet was surreal. Their formation demonstration laps were sublimely authentic.  

Isuzu Bellet Ford GT40

McLaren family fanfare

The Bruce McLaren Tribute, held twice during the weekend, was a typical Revival tear-jerker. Forty-five years after the great Kiwi innovator, engineer, racer and champion lost his life in a Can-Am testing crash at Goodwood, his legacy was fanfared. Chatting on air to Bruce’s charming daughter Amanda – who was just four when he died – from the cockpit of her father’s road-going M6GT prototype was humbling in the extreme.

Daytona Coupe on track Revival

Shuddering Shelby Snakes

All six of Carroll Shelby’s Peter Brock-designed Cobra Daytona Coupés, built to take on the prototype challenge from mid-60s rival Ferrari, were paraded on track, when not housed in their stunning pit-garage recreation in the paddock. To meet and grill the effusive and youthful Brock, and then have a mini-tour of the beasts, during which the American outlined their subtle styling differences – was a huge box ticked.

Bruce McLaren mini

McLaren veterans back on duty

Bruce McLaren’s loyal servants, designer Gordon Coppuck and one of his very first employees, Wally Willmott, joined the tributes to the Kiwi. Veteran mechanic Willmott, who still engineers young racers in his native New Zealand, saddled the M6B Can-Am beast in which Bruce won the title in 1969, while Coppuck, who penned world-beaters for the team, rode in the back of the Mini ‘Van-Am’ used to test high wings. Priceless.

St Mary's Trophy Revival

Great Dane delivers again

Nine-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Tom Kristensen wowed Revival crowds when he first raced here, winning his St Mary’s Trophy heat in an Austin Westminter he’d never sat in. And his stock rose further when he won a sodden RAC TT in 2011 in a Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé. Following this year’s burn-from-the-stern victory in the St Mary’s in the thunderous Alan Mann Racing Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt, it’s unlikely TK’s stock can rise any more.

Barry Sheene Memorial Revival

Leather-clad legends rub shoulders

Grand Prix, Superbike and Isle of Man heroes go head-to-head with retired aces and contemporary historic champions in the two-rider, two-part Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy bike races. This year’s was super-competitive and the dice for heat-two victory between GP winner Jeremy McWilliams and Superbike top name-turned TV presenter/pundit James Haydon was gripping. They even had time, with throttles pinned, to reach over and tap each other on the arms while side-by-side.

Revival Henry Hope-Frost

Bird’s-eye view from a Whitsun winner

‘If you win, you have to take me on the victory lap!’ That pre-event challenge to Lola T70 Spyder pilot Nick Padmore seemed to do the trick, for the Goodwood lap-record holder triumphed in the event’s fastest race, the Whitsun Trophy for early-’60s prototypes, in the ex-John Surtees Can-Am winner. Wedged into the Chevy V8-powered sled, I accompanied Padmore for a unique, if a little slower than usual, perspective on Madgwick, Fordwater, St Mary’s, Lavant and Woodcote. I now like Nick even more and love T70 Spyders even more.

Earl of March Trophy Revival

Feisty F3 racers give it their all

The Earl of March Trophy, making a welcome return to the Revival programme after a four-year lay-off, pitted a horde of 500cc bike-engined chassis against each other, recalling the early years of Goodwood when Stirling Moss topped the category at the opening meeting in 1948. An engaging scrap between the Cooper-Nortons of George Shackleton, Nigel Ashman and Peter de la Roche that led to spins and spills – and a maiden win for teenager de la Roche – was an accurate copy of period battles.

Henry Hope-Frost Revival

Credit Suisse Forum fun with race aces

For the fourth time I took delight in hosting Revival sponsor Credit Suisse’s annual Historic Racing Forum inside the recently restored Race Control building in front of invited media and guests. This year’s panel comprised regulars Sir Stirling Moss, Derek Bell, Jochen Mass and Alain de Cadenet, with VIP additions in the form of Dario Franchitti and Jackie Oliver. The debate centred on the cultural differences between racing in Europe and America and was, as I knew it would be, mesmerising.

Spitfires Revival

Battle of Britain remembered

The sight and sound of a dozen warbirds, comprising Spitfires and Hurricanes, circling above Goodwood as Lord March paid tribute to the veterans who served at RAF Westhampnett during the Battle of Britain in 1940, was spellbinding. I was particularly moved by 94-year-old Wing Commander Tom Neil, who sat on the grid in the back of a military car, his eyes remaining closed as a guardsman played the Last Post from the roof of the commentary tower. Heaven knows where his mind wandered to during the poignant tribute to his fallen comrades.

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