Have you ever wondered what it might be like to step back in time? To dress to impress, meet your childhood heroes, soak up the vintage aroma of classic cars and Castrol R, and sit back and revel in good old-fashioned motor racing. Now, I’m not suggesting I stepped into Doctor Who’s Tardis and woke up in 1945. No, I did something even more exciting.
There’s only one place where each of these rare elements blend together to create one of the most prestigious motorsport events on the calendar, and it’s called the Goodwood Revival. The moment I entered the paddock and watched as a gird of historic machines hurtled past me, I could smell the sweet redolence of past decades of automotive genius. The skies were blue, the crowds were cheering and for me, the champagne was certainly flowing. The Revival festival perfectly captures the atmosphere and culture of a variety of eras; the war-struck 40s, the Fabulous ‘50s and the Swinging ‘60s. I must have engaged in conversation with at least 10 strangers – wouldn’t it be fantastic if we did that every day?
Dressed as a land girl, red lips and green dungarees, I was already in the Goodwood spirit. Dressing for the occasion certainly puts you in the mindset of the character you’re trying to portray. “Young women with old machines” is one particular phrase I couldn’t remove from my thoughts. Back in World War II, which ended less than 70 years ago, young women were getting dirt on their hands and proving their place in service to help protect our country. No longer were they simply ensuring that their working husbands had a hot dinner on the table when they arrived home, women were now an important cog in flying Spitfires, fixing cars, farming land and building bombs.
I started my day in the passenger seat of a B-plate 3.4-litre Jaguar S-Type, a genuine ex-metropolitan car owned and driven by serving PC, David Butler. That’s right, I was heading out on track with “the law” to celebrate 50 years since the famous Mods and Rockers clashed at British seaside towns during the summer of 1964. On this occasion, I didn’t have to arrest anyone. I was simply along for the ride, waving at crowds of more than a thousand spectators as we carried out a two-lap parade, hunted by a wild pack of Mods and Rockers on their classic motorcycles; now that’s a site you don’t see every day.
Aside from gazing up at the skies to watch as the world’s only two airworthy Avro Lancasters crossed overhead alongside three Spitfires, one of the highlights of my time at Goodwood has to be a lunchtime gathering with the one-and-only Sir Stirling Moss and his lovely wife, Lady Susie. I couldn’t help but feel slightly underdressed in my glorified rags, but it was compelling to listen to the many stories he had to share with us. One person asked “Sir Stirling, my dad is a scouser – were you really stopped for speeding in the Mersey Tunnel?” he replied “No, it was for crossing the white line. I was probably speeding as well, but it cost me £90 and I had to ride a bicycle for two weeks!”. Another asked “Stirling, could you envisage Lewis Hamilton lending his car to Nico Rosberg as drivers did back in the day?” he replied “Not blooming likely!”