“So it's a bit like a Dark Age Society or Civil War Recreation gathering then,” said the future Mrs Prior as I packed my tweed and brogues last week.

“No my love,” I said. “It's about the motor racing. The period clothing is just part of the spectacle. It's all about cars and bikes going fast.”

“Ah,” she said. “But those civil war recreation types say the same thing. 'It's about the battle, not the dressing up.' What's the difference?”

Hmmph. I was fairly sure there was a difference, but as I drove towards Goodwood Motor Circuit on Friday morning, I started to wonder.

Maybe that's how Goodwood is perceived by non-motoring enthusiasts: a bunch of well-to-do tweedies, pootling around a circuit, pretending to smoke pipes and reminiscing about how great the 1950s and '60s were. You know: rationing, polio, the Cuban missile crisis and all that. Happy days, what?

So I directed the wireless towards Goodwood Radio, to be greeted by Barry Nutley commentating on the motorbikes' morning practice session. And all was well with the world again.

Whitham, McWilliams, Haslam and Haydon do not, it would seem, pootle. Steve Parrish was on board a Matchless G50, setting top-five times, a week after breaking his collarbone clean in two, which is a very bike-racerish thing to do.

Satisfied, I parked the car and lost myself in a fug of high octane motorsport nirvana for two days that I wish I could have extended to three. The racing at Goodwood really is superb. Put a racing driver (even an old one) into a racing car (even an old one) and he'll drive it as fast as it can go. No, it's not his, but then it wasn't back in the day and it didn't bother him then. And the owner drivers? Well, they don't want to be shown up, do they? So everyone is pretty much flat out and that, for me, makes it a better spectacle than the Festival of Speed.

And the outfits? More Royal Ascot than Battle of Bosworth I think.

Besides, I was dragged to a Dark Ages Society festive do once. I was dressed in a sack, drank terrible cider and ate big pork pies. Mildly embarrassing, but I've had worse nights.

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