Founded by the 11th Duke of Richmond in 1998, the Goodwood Revival has since become synonymous with vintage glamour and the world’s most beautiful motorcars. In his last year as general manager, Henry Bass tells Access how the event has been steered firmly toward a more sustainable future.

Car boot sales, allotments, bicycles and rewilding may not be the first things that spring to mind when considering Goodwood Motor Circuit and its hugely popular motor racing events, but for Goodwood Revival GM Henry Bass and his team they have become a major focus this year.

The three-day Goodwood Revival celebrates motorsport between 1948 and 1966, and each year sees around 150,000 attendees don period dress and descend on the West Sussex site as it echoes to the roar of stunning vintage vehicles competing on its 2.4 mile racetrack.

Uneconomical vintage vehicles are hardly synonymous with environmental sustainability, but Bass is keen to emphasise the event celebrates re-use and the treasuring and maintenance of pre-existing equipment and materials.

He says that while the event’s theme is backward looking, in many ways it is embracing the modern world – not least the move away from single-use items and a focus on reducing the consumption of new products.

This article was published in the October edition of Access All Areas. Read it here, and/or subscribe for free here

“There has been a significant step change with the event and its focus in recent years, the phrase Revive and Thrive is now at the heart of everything we’re thinking about,” says Bass. “What we mean by that is that Revival is a celebration of sustainability as it was in between 1948 and 1966, when people carefully looked after the items they owned. Back then there wasn’t the consumerism and throwaway culture that exists now. With Revival we want to remind people of that culture and encourage similar behaviour.

“The whole event is about celebrating the fact that the old racing cars have been restored and rebuilt thousands of times in their lives, while also celebrating the vintage fashion and the fact that everyone comes wearing clothes that have been handed down through generations.”

With the aim of encouraging people to repair things that may have broken rather than throwing them away, and to invest in quality craftsmanship rather than items with built-in obsolescence, Bass helped oversee the introduction of a number of new sustainability initiatives at Goodwood Revival this year.

They included a new Make-Do and Mend area that proved popular with guests across the weekend, and involved talks and appearances from Richard Hammond about his new restoration workshop The Smallest Cog, and Dominic Chinea – the star of TV show The Repair Shop. As well as hearing from speakers, visitors were also able to take part in a series of workshops on subjects such as making clothing and furniture out of used materials.

“We see the event as an opportunity to encourage and inspire visitors to be more environmentally conscious by immersing them in this whole mindset of revive and thrive.”

Says Bass, “We took a whole lot of sustainability measures behind the scenes, such as using biodiesel in the generators, but we also see the event as an opportunity to encourage and inspire visitors to be more environmentally conscious by immersing them in this whole mindset of revive and thrive.

“So, we had several stands with classes on things such as sewing techniques and how to repair items including bicycles, and we had the Heritage Skills Academy who invest in apprenticeships for people.”

He says the ambition with the Revival’s new car boot sale, which took place on the Sunday of the event, was to create the world’s biggest and chicest second-hand vintage experience. The inaugural sale involved around thirty vendors including Liberty, The Circle, EarlyBird Club and The Circle of Style that collectively offered an array of vintage designer clothes, homeware, books and trinkets.

“It was the first year of the initiative, and by next year we should certainly be well on the way to creating an experience like no other,” says Bass.

This year’s Revival also saw the introduction of a 600-square-foot allotment where experts were on hand to teach people about growing their own vegetables, while reflecting on the World War II Dig For Victory era’s culture of not wasting food.

When it comes to green fingers, Bass says the Goodwood Motor Circuit team has also set about re-wilding areas of the site: “It looks great and is great for the wildlife.”

For a short time during this year’s event the motor circuit fell quiet as vintage vehicles of a more sedate kind became the focus of attention. On Sunday, multi-Olympic champion cyclist Sir Chris Hoy led 150 vintage cyclists in a lap of the circuit following a preview event for the Eroica Britannia cycling festival.

The inaugural, full, Eroica Britannia event will take place at next year’s Goodwood Revival, with the vintage cycling festival being relocated from the Peak District.

Aside from making environmental sustainability part of the entertainment, less glamorous sustainability steps included the near banning of single-use water bottles.

Says Bass, “We quadrupled the amount of drinking fountains across the event site and staff are no longer issued with bottled water, instead they are given reusable bottles. There has also been a huge push to ensure that the vast majority of waste is recycled. Among the things the team will be looking at next year is implementing a greywater waste recycling initiative.”

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“There has been a focus on really evolving the Revival in a huge way post-Covid on a number of fronts, including site layout.”

Bridging the gap

 A huge operation, each edition of the Goodwood Revival is the result of 14 months planning, which results in an enormous temporary infrastructure including 10 large hospitality structures, supplied by the likes Losberger De Boer, grandstands with seating supplied by Arena, a vast array of tents from Chichester Canvas, around 400 shedding units, a full suite of generators and major temporary plumbing works.

“We start planning more than a year in advance and the reason we do that is if we’re looking at moving a structure or making a significant change for part of the event, it means we can go into the event we are about to have and really analyse what’s going on in that space. So we have got the best possible information before we make the final decision. We try to keep planning very far ahead.”

With the pandemic leading to the cancelation of last year’s event, Bass says the team took the opportunity to make some of the biggest changes to the Revival since it was launched.

He says, “There has been a focus on really evolving the Revival in a huge way post-Covid on a number of fronts, including site layout.

“The pandemic gave us the opportunity do what we have needed to do for some time, spread some of the site out and deal with pinch points in terms of overcrowding. For instance, we put a new bridge over the track because previously there had only been one main pedestrian tunnel for the public to service everyone going under the track so it was the biggest pinch point at the event.

“Covid allowed us time to invest in the building of a new clear-span bridge across the track in order to ease the congestion around the tunnel and enable a much better flow around the event.”

The resulting new footbridge by Madgwick Corner is the first bridge to cross the track in the circuit’s 73-year history, and it has opened up a new public viewing areas in the Madgwick infield.

With the crowd at the event given plenty of room for manoeuvre and it being an outdoor show Bass says the risk assessment did not lead to a requirement that attendees show a Covid Pass to gain entry.

“There was no requirement at the gates to show any form of vaccination or lateral flow tests,” says Bass. “We advised people to take precautions, as they would do going anywhere, but the big thing for us is that we have been able to about 30% more space into the event, so naturally people felt more socially distanced.”

While there have been numerous cases of supply chain related challenges due to the impact of the pandemic and Brexit on the availability of infrastructure, materials and staff, Bass says the Goodwood Revival was fortunate in that no major impact was felt: “We faced some staffing challenges mainly across our catering areas but despite this the teams pulled together to deliver great service throughout the weekend.”

With the event’s audience spanning young children to octogenarians, and including all age groups in between, the hugely popular event certainly looks set for a bright, and more sustainable, future.

Says Bass, “It is an event that is quite backward looking in lot of ways, it’s a celebration of the historic, so our focus has been very much on how to embrace the modern world in line with our customers’ interests and how they have changed over the last 23 years.

“We’re really trying to shift the Revival into the next of decade, and sustainability is a key part of that.”

Key suppliers: 

Qdos – cabins, toilets and stores

Losberger – structures

Collaborate Global – production and scenic structures

S3K Group – on site logistics 

Arena Seating – grandstands 

Chichester Canvas – traditional tents

EEP – security

SEP – traffic management 

Proclean – cleaning services


This article was published in the October edition of Access All Areas. Read it here, and/or subscribe for free here