14th October 2015
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Goodwood Revival 2015
Richard Jones enjoys a splendid event. Amid the classic motorcycles and cars, the racing, the historic planes, the shops with their huge variety of goods and the funfair, he reckons it's the visitors, especially those in period costume, who make Goodwood so special...
One of the disadvantages of retirement is that your former colleagues, unsurprisingly, tend to forget you when those interesting invitations come in – or so I thought. How delighted was I when my former boss called to say that Jeremy Day had a spare ticket for this year’s Goodwood Revival and wondered whether I would like to come along? Well what could I say? It would have been churlish to refuse and so I set out the night before to avoid the long queues to get in to the car park. Here’s a tip: if you go to the Revival then travel by bike. You then may avoid the log-jammed road, be able to negotiate the very narrow back lanes of the alternate route and then filter through the long traffic jam to the car park. Perhaps.
The Revival may be expensive but I don’t think there is anywhere else in the UK, or the world for that matter, that does anything on this scale and so well. My advice – save up and go.
Whilst waiting for Jeremy, who was even more trapped by traffic than I had been, I had a wander around the car park and came across a group of men having breakfast on a table alongside the van you can see in the photo. As they were all busy eating, and anyway appeared to be speaking French, I didn’t like to ask what this chunky looking V-twin was but the girder forks, rigid rear end and unsprung seat suggested that it had been transported in the aforementioned van rather than ridden to West Sussex from foreign lands.
Still in the car park and looking for breakfast – eventually found an organic Goodwood bacon roll that was excellent – I came across this Douglas Dragonfly that was just sitting there minding its own business. The 348cc flat twin seems too small in that high frame and there is a great deal of open space between the top of the engine and the tank. Is this a good thing – plenty of room for keeping those bacon rolls warm? The Earles fork front suspension is not to everyone’s taste but it was one of the few things I liked on my late but unlamented BMW R69S. The tank/headlight unit is also a like it or love it feature – I have to say it looks fine to me.
Unsurprisingly Royal Enfield saw the Revival as an opportunity to sell its machines which must surely appeal to the many retro-minded spectators at the event. There were two stands – one inside and one out – which must have required quite an investment; presumably sales of the Indian single are going well. I did ask the gentleman in the helmet and leather jacket about the possibility of larger capacity and/or twin cylinder machines being released but he remained very close lipped.
Perhaps I’m becoming jaded by going to too many motorcycle events. Perhaps I had missed the intention of the bike entrants, or perhaps I just didn’t look hard enough but where were all the road bikes? Yes - there were a lot of British machines from the 1950s and 60s, a few BMW’s and some custom bikes but Italian and other European exotica was conspicuous by its absence (yes – I know there were scooters but ….). Compare this with what the car crowd bring along and I think it’s fair to say that the classic motorcyclists are not pulling their weight at the Revival. Come on out there – let’s see some Italian machinery to rival the Ferraris, Lamborghinis and whatever else the four-wheel fraternity bring along to the event.
Anxious to find the required exotica I hotfooted it to the racing motorcycle pits to see what was on show there. If you are fond of Norton’s 500cc Manx or the Matchless G50 500cc then you would have been in racing heaven because they took up a large part of the pit area.
There were also several BMWs including this rather splendid 1963 Kaczor R50S 499cc that was being ridden by Claus Ottilinger and Lothar Singer in the Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy that is run in two legs on the Saturday and Sunday of the Revival. Ferdinand Kaczor was a racer and engineer who managed to get a 500cc BMW boxer engine to produce 50bhp, about twice as much as the road machine could produce. At 150lb it was also very light due to its extremely low weight, double-cradle frame and Kaczor took his machine to a new lap record of the Nürburgring circuit in 1969.
I didn’t manage to photograph any of the US racing stars who were to be present over the weekend – Kevin Schwantz, Freddie Spencer and Troy Corser – although I did manage to photograph James Whitham’s left ear (I was too slow to recognise him and he was gone before the shutter clicked). However I did capture these two gentlemen, both of whom have the same names as other stars making Googling them challenging. On the left is, I believe, Mike Farrell who has the misfortune to share his name with the actor who played BJ Hunnicut in the TV adaptation of M*A*S*H and who dominates the interweb.
On the right is Stan Woods from Helsby in Cheshire who, along with Charlie Williams, had a lot of success in endurance racing in the 1970s including winning the 1976 24-hour race of Barcelona, the 1977 eight-hour race of Nürburgring, the 1978 six-hour race of Zandvoort and the 500 mile Thruxton race in the same year. Stan also had a win in the 1972 500cc Production TT riding a Suzuki. However he also shares his name with the arguably more well-known Stanley Woods and is also within one letter of Stanley ‘Ginger’ Wood, another racer from the 1930s. Perhaps I should change my name to improve my riding.
The one machine that did go against the run of Norton and Matchless racers was this beautiful 1964 MV Agusta 500/3 which was entered by MV Meccanica Verghera Ltd, and ridden by Paul Curran and Glen Richards. It sounded almost better than it looked and in the qualifying event I watched on Friday it came second fastest. Dave and Mark Kay run the business which came about after they found replacement parts increasingly difficult to find for their race machinery and, as a result, they began manufacturing high quality replica parts for their 750cc race bike and 900cc sidecar outfit. They now offer high quality replacement parts for road and race machines as well as carrying out repairs and servicing.
There was also one Japanese machine on the track on Friday – a 1966 Hansen Honda CR450 being ridden by Justin Roebury and Ian Simpson. Bob Hansen was an important figure in US racing in the 1960s and 70s and under his direction Honda won its first Daytona 200 in 1970 with Dick Mann at the controls of a CB750. He also managed several racing initiatives with Honda’s lightweight and middleweight motorcycles, notably a semi-factory Honda entry at Daytona in 1967 with a trio of HRC prepared CB450s. Although Hansen died at the age of 93 Team Hansen is still around today.
Let’s finish with this 500cc McIntyre Matchless that was being ridden by Northampton’s own Mick Hemmings along with Nick Roberts. Perhaps better known for his association with Nortons, Mr H races this ex-Bob-McIntyre machine that the Scotsman built with ace mechanic and welder, Alex Crummie, employing an all-new chassis which they had designed to house the 500cc Matchless engine.
Please don’t get the idea that I didn’t enjoy the Revival this year – far from it because I had an excellent day together with excellent company. However the classic motorcycling fraternity could do a bit more on the road machine front – I need more bikes to photograph when I pay to go myself next time…
There are a many more of Richard's photos at www.flickr.com/photos/cerrig_photography/.
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