75 years after the Silver Arrows won the Donington Grand Prix, they are back on UK soil at the Goodwood Revival.
The Goodwood Revival is one of the most important annual events on the historic racing calendar. This September it will host at least 10 Silver Arrows racing cars, the streamlined and powerful German racing machines that ruled European motor racing from the mid 30s to the outbreak of World War II in 1939. Usually the Goodwood Revival is a celebration of British and European motor racing of the '50s and '60s with races for Mini Coopers, 500cc single seaters, Jaguar E-types, and many more.
Despite the fact that racing is for post-war machinery, the atmosphere created by the event organizers is a mix of three decades. The drivers' lounge is designed as a huge dining room in a former World War II air base. Anti-aircraft guns are stationed at the entrance with a radar device and military police patrol the racing compound. Spectators are even encouraged to wear 60s period fashioned clothes. Garages are designed with '50s and '60s colors and insignias and a reconstruction of Earls Court, once the home of the now defunct British Motor Show, has been built.
The original Silver Arrows, what the Germans used as a propaganda tool to promote the Nazi regime and as a means to circumvent the prohibitions of the Treaty of Versailles, may be a bit out of place, though they certainly will be the attraction of the day, luring British and international spectators to the circuit. The official explanation for their presence is the 75th anniversary of the 1937 Donington Grand Prix, in which the German racing cars took part and easily won. Among the cars expected to demonstrate their performances will be the iconic Mercedes-Benz W25, W125, W154 and W165, plus examples of the Auto Union Type C and Type D.
The cars will be driven at race speeds with known drivers behind the wheels in what promises to be "the biggest thing in historic motor sport for decades," according to the official press release. Alongside the Silver Arrow racers will be many of the cars they competed against, such as the ERA, Maserati, Riley, Bugatti and MG. What is for sure is that for all of the '30s era racers, it will be their first acquaintance with the Goodwood racing circuit that was built, as were many other post-war British racing circuits, on an abandoned World War II airfield. Certainly quite a few ironies for just one event. Photography: Ya'acov Zalel