When I meet people for the first time I often describe myself as an “Autoholic”. I have loved cars for all my conscious life and been fortunate enough to work in the vehicle industry for almost 50 years. Every aspect, from the people who own and drive them, to the businesses who sell and fix them and the industry that designs and builds them, holds a curious fascination.
For the last 30 years I have also tried to capture their speed and beauty through the lens of a camera. My job gave me the opportunity to photograph besides the track at over 30 of the world’s race tracks including great places like Indianapolis, Daytona, Le Mans, Silverstone and the Nurburgring.
Ever since 1998 the “must go to” event, standing head and shoulders above the rest, is the Goodwood Revival
It has a breadth of appeal way beyond that to the “petrolheads” that are usually in the vast majority at other events.
It draws you back every year (apart from 2020 of course) and I often wonder why the need to be there is so compelling. The conclusion I have reached is that the magic ingredient is the active presence of Lord March, or, as he became more recently, The Duke of Richmond.
The Duke is, by original profession, a photographer. He is acknowledged as having had a passion for photography and film since the age of 10. From the age of 17 he pursued a successful career in the genre.
To make a living from photography requires a certain set of skills. Amongst these are a knowledge of the principles of art, such as the use of light, perspective, composition and colour. It also requires a great eye for detail and an empathy for people, both in capturing the best (or sometimes the truth) in them and of understanding what is appealing to them.
Every time I visit the Revival I see the mind of a photographer at work. Wherever you stand or in whatever direction you look in you can see a picture. It provides a continual stimulus to be creative. Since the advent of smartphones the majority, rather than a minority, have also become photographers.
As the years have passed and “dressing the part” becomes ubiquitous, the Revival guests have increasingly become the models. The whole place becomes one glorious film set, and the Sky Studio offers the real thing.
It all creates a sense of bonhomie that simply does not exist elsewhere.
To my mind the real challenge and excitement is to be found on the track. Many are very adept at capturing the beauty of cars when they are at rest – but they were designed to move, and move fast. For me capturing that sense of speed brings out the best in them. They become lithe and alive when the wheels start to turn. The faces of their drivers show true emotions: such as the joy, concentration and sometimes fear that comes with taking their cars to the limit or beyond.
The mindset that created this naturally attracts cars and drivers that are rarely seen elsewhere.
Their children are also encouraged to join in the fun with the Settrington Cup. The competitiveness of the kids indicates that classic car racing has an assured future.
As a AC owner (as is the Duke) it was great this year to see so many of their cars in action – Ace’s in one race and Cobras in no less than three.
Even better was to see a Cobra winning the Stirling Moss Trophy and three of them on the podium for the most popular of all the races, the RAC TT Celebration.
There are no prizes for post race burnouts but if there were the TT’s 3rd placed finisher would certainly have been a contender.
Driving home in my own Cobra always puts me in awe of the skill and bravery of the those who race them. They can be quite fearsome, even at road legal speeds. Full throttle can only be maintained for very brief periods before the beautiful West Sussex scenery starts to go by very fast and seems to close in on you.
While it is reassuring to know that my engine and suspension was set up while sitting next to the TT winner during its restoration some time ago, the thought of continuing to press the right hand pedal for much of a full lap is quite scary.I would recommend to everyone who has not done so look at the many in-car YouTube videos of Cobras lapping Goodwood to see what I mean.
On the drive home I metaphorically take my hat off to the talents of The Duke for achieving BT Barnum’s dictum to “Always leave them wanting more”.There is a determination, shared by my wife, to be back next year.
The sentiment also seems to be shared by our daughter and son-in- law. They have recently just bought a very nice house close to the track – so we don’t even have worry about booking accommodation any more!
A picture is worth a thousand words so here are some more shots of the on and off track action from this years event.