There’s no other event like the Goodwood Revival, which offers visitors of all ages and backgrounds a chance to experience the romance and glamor of motor racing as it used to be. Always a sell-out social occasion, nearly 150,000 people dressed in period clothing last weekend (September 13-15) and relived the glory days of motoring. As part of its 90th anniversary celebrations, BMW Motorrad was very much part of the action.
Dressed to impress in suitable attire from the ‘40s, ’50s and ’60s, visitors to the Revival really get into the spirit of the event, which manages to effortlessly blend period lifestyle with magnificent on-track sporting action. For fans of historic motor racing, three days just aren’t enough to see such a huge number of amazing and sought-after cars and motorcycles from the past – many of which can be found simply by wandering around the car parks, as well as in the paddock and on the grid, of course.
Hundreds of priceless legendary cars and motorcycles are brought together at Goodwood to recreate the sights, sounds and spirit of some of the greatest races of yesteryear, many of which took place on the fast 2.4-mile circuit that opened in 1948. While classic planes roar overhead, spectators are treated to racing grids featuring hundreds of millions of pounds worth of internationally-renowned historic and rare cars, not to mention famous racing drivers and riders of all ages keen to show they still have what it takes to beat the rest.
Fans of two-wheeled action were treated to the Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy races, in memory of the famous British Grand Prix ace who died 10 years ago. With one race on Saturday and another on the Sunday, and the overall result decided by aggregate timing, this two-part, two-rider challenge featured bikes from 1960 to 1966, including iconic brands like BSA, Triumph, Norton and MV Agusta.
Several classic BMW motorcycles were brought across from Germany especially for these special Trophy races that attracted the likes of former 500cc world champions such as Wayne Gardner, current TT heroes Bruce Anstey, Cameron Donald, Gary Johnson and Michael Rutter, and former British Superbike and Supersport champions including Tommy Hill and Glen Richards.
The boxer ‘specials’ included two Kaczor BMWs, a BMW RS 54 and a BMW RS 500 factory racing machine. On a weekend away from his duties in the 2013 FIM Superstock 1000 Cup, BMW Motorrad Goldbet STK team rider Sylvain Barrier had a chance to race the 500cc racing boxer, built in the 1960s by former BMW engineer Ferdinand Kaczor.
Along with his co-rider Lothar Singer (each owner/rider is paired up with a professional racer for each race, changing over in the pits around half distance), Barrier finished Saturday’s race in fifth place, and Sunday’s race in ninth, giving a combined classification of sixth overall. Commenting on the experience of riding the lightweight classic sports boxer that was around twice as powerful as its standard production sibling of the time, Barrier said that, “the bike I’m riding is an amazing old BMW – completely different to the HP4 I’m riding in Superstock 1000. I really enjoyed the qualifying and races here. It was the first time I rode an old boxer like this and it takes some getting used to, especially the engine, tires and brakes. I had a real struggle with the brakes, because my hands aren’t so big and I had to really focus to not make any mistakes, closing the throttle completely before squeezing the lever!
“All the bikes on the grid are at different performance levels, so we were out to have some fun and put on a nice show. Next weekend I have the 24 Hours World Endurance race at Le Mans with the BMW France team and then I have a chance to win the Superstock 1000 championship at Magny-Cours, so I wasn’t going to risk too much here at Goodwood – I just wanted to stay calm, focussed, put on a nice show and not get injured…”
The second Kaczor BMW was ridden by Mike Farrell and Sebastian Gutsch, while Claus Clausen and Wolfgang Maier (the nephew of the legendary Georg Maier – the first foreign rider on a foreign machine ever to win the Isle of Man Senior TT in 1939) teamed up to ride the BMW RS 54. This was the first BMW racing machine to go on general sale and while it failed to secure world championship status as a solo machine, in the ever popular sidecar class it became the most successful competition bike in the history of motorcycling sport. Between 1954 and 1974, RS 54-powered sidecars secured 19 World Sidecar Championships. This amazing feat has never been beaten to date.
The final BMW racing bike on the grid at the Revival was the RS 500 of 1956, which was a factory version of the RS 54 that Walter Zeller rode to second place in the solo world championship the same year. This was ridden at Goodwood by the all-female pairing of former TT lap record and Guinness world record holder Maria Costello, and BMW Motorrad employee Fabienne Hoffmann, who commented on the privilege of riding at the Revival.
“It’s great to be here because the effort from everybody is special,” she said. “I love to see all the people dress up like the old times. I came here a few weeks ago to get some track training with my teammate Maria. We had a great time and I was following Maria around, who was very fast and giving me lots of tips. That day, I was riding a BMW S1000RR sports bike and it is completely different to the Zeller 500 we’re racing at the Revival. It’s an old bike but it has a great history and I am very proud to ride it.”
Away from the racing, there were many treats in store for the thousands of enthusiasts to experience, including a ‘Spirit of Aviation’ concours for historic aircraft, an Earls Court Motor Show recreation and countless exhibitors and reconstructions of period shops, scenes and performances.
BMW fans had plenty to experience, including a period reconstruction of a Jock West BMW motorcycle dealership. West was the last surviving rider to have won a major motorcycle grand prix during the 1930s and the only non-German speaker to have won a grand prix on a 500cc BMW. He worked as sales manager of the then new BMW import business in Isleworth, commuting to work on a 750cc BMW bike, often picking up speeding tickets as he did so. He sold a new BMW motorcycle to Freddie March, founder of the Goodwood Motor Circuit, and this very machine is now owned by the present Lord March.
The Jock West Motorcycles shop was adorned with a selection of notable BMW motorcycles from the early decades of the brand’s history that had been brought over especially from the BMW Classic collection in Munich. These included an R57 and R63 from the late 1920s; R2 and R3 single-cylinder models from the early 1930s; an R12 with sidecar from the late 1930s; sporty R5 and R6 models from 1936-7; an R71 from the end of the 1930s; and landmark racing machines such as the pre-WWII RS 255 Kompressor and the later Rennsport RS 54.
Fans of wholesome German food were catered for in the BMW Revival-fest where they could sample a variety of grilled and smoked sausages, sauerkraut and Bavarian beer, while planning their next port of call. There was no need to go too far though, because just around the corner, other parts of the BMW Group were putting on their own shows, with some incredible attention to detail.
Rolls Royce recreated a central London dealership, where a film set dominated proceedings with a behind-the-scenes staging of ‘The Yellow Rolls Royce’. This was a 1964 film set in 1931, starring Rex Harrison, Ingrid Bergman, Shirley McLaine and Alain Delon. In the opening sequence, the character Lord Frinton (Harrison) is seen buying an R-R Phantom II Sedanca De Ville from a London Showroom.
Next door, in the BMW March Motor Works, three BMW 1800 Ti race teams were staging a reconstruction of their preparations for a Touring Car race back in 1966. Interestingly, as well as acting their parts – with work benches, oil drums, wheels and tyres, air bottles, and other relevant period race equipment – the teams were in fact also preparing for the St Mary’s Trophy race especially for 1960s saloon cars at this year’s Revival.
BMW Group Classic actually lined up with two different cars in the St. Mary’s Trophy. In addition to the BMW 1800 TI/SA racing touring car, steered by former motorcycle world champion and multiple touring car champion Johnny Cecotto, together with Jörg Weidinger, there was an Austin Mini-Cooper S Competition. This was driven by multiple Dakar Rally winner Stephane Peterhansel and Max Partl, and was part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the MINI Cooper S.
With MINI occupying the outer area of March Motor Works and featuring early examples of MINI commercial vehicles, such as the van, pick-up and Traveller estate, enthusiasts were able to reminisce about the glory days of all of these once quite separate brands and enjoy looking at the period posters, signage and photographs of the time, depicting life as it used to be.
Those lucky enough to attend the 2013 Goodwood Revival witnessed a unique event that brought to life an era of adventure, excitement and constant innovation in motor sport where anything was possible. Without a doubt, a trip to this amazing classic motor sport event is highly recommended for all the family, so why not plan your visit – and your outfit – for the 2014 edition now?