GRR

The bikes of the 2023 Goodwood Revival

12th September 2023
Andrew Willis

As Goodwood Revival’s sole motorcycle race, spread over two parts, the Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy naturally stands apart from the rest of the weekend’s car-dominated timetable.

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Of course, these 1960s machines may only have two wheels instead of four. But what really makes this small band of owners, riders, mechanics and their families so unique is the sense of heartfelt community within their midst. Enhanced by an ever-present buzz of devil-may-care rebellion, and a seize the day enthusiasm, this heady concoction often makes their paddock feel more like your best friend’s birthday bash, not a race event. But here, the party atmosphere is soundtracked by waspish, rip-roading 500cc GP motorcycles. What could be better?

For anyone lucky enough to attend the Isle of Man TT, the Manx GP, or even a modern British Superbike round, you’ll understand. Many of the teams and riders here this weekend make up the same tight-knit travelling circus, fully committed to a life behind bars. They are all competitive, obviously. But in it together. Helping out where they can. Sharing support, expertise, and spare parts to ensure they all have the best chance to race the machines they love. And what a bunch of machines…

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This weekend, the paddock is dominated by Norton Manx 30M bikes. Named after the Isle of Man and the Tourist Trophy event that, in the '60s, was still part of the 500cc World Championship. These single-cylinder, overhead cam, 499cc Norton Manx machines deploy an innovative Featherbed frame, with a low centre of gravity and short wheelbase. It made them perfectly suited to the challenging 200-plus flowing corners of the TT.  Securing many famous names, including Mike Hailwood, Senior TT victories. Honouring that heritage, modern-day heroes of the Mountain Course such as Michael Rutter, Davey Todd, and Michael Dunlop were all seen riding the Norton Manx 30M.

A quartet of TT winners in John McGuinness, Steve Plater, James Hillier and Dean Harrison were also here, trying their luck aboard some 1962 Matchless G50s. With a 496cc air-cooled single-cylinder engine, four-speed gearbox and famous corner speed, a G50s helped the rider pairing of Steve Plater and Glen English compete with the more powerful Nortons. Securing an impressive 2nd overall result in this weekend’s two-part event.

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Video: 2023 Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy highlights

09th September 2023

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In addition to these British bikes, BMW Motorrad also enjoyed a strong presence in the paddock, with several beautifully prepared pieces of Germanic exotica. Including a pair of BMW Kaczor R50S, a BMW RS54 Short Stroke and a BMW R54 Oskar Liebmann Special with their horizontally-opposed double overhead cam engines. Long-associated with early road and track motorcycle racing, the two-wheeled Bavarian marque is here celebrating their centenary.

From honouring a late, great double world champion in Barry Sheene, and an emotional retirement ride for Barry’s ex-teammate Steve Parrish. To the likes of Glen English paying an emotional tribute to a much-missed Sam Clews following his Part 1 race victory – Sam was a highly-respected bike man who enjoyed much success preparing and riding bikes at Goodwood – there’s a genuine, down-to-earth, heartfelt sincerity to everyone and everything within the 500cc bike Paddock. And all we desire is to be a small part of it for many years to come.

Enjoy the gallery of these brilliant, bonkers, life-affirming historic machines.

Photography by Lou Johnson, Joe Harding, Pete Summers and Jochen Van Cauwenberge.

  • Revival

  • Revival 2023

  • Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy

  • Motorcycles

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