Welcome to the 1950s.
The Goodwood Revival is most certainly a unique event. For a few days each autumn, this historic festival in southern England transforms the Goodwood race circuit and surroundings into a perfect recreation of an era past.
Launched in 1998, the Revival features races for cars and motorcycles that were competing during the circuit’s heyday from 1948 to 1966. All the buildings are given a period makeover, some structures are built just for the event and – most importantly – the vast majority of people attending are dressed in the attire of the day.
It truly is like stepping out of a time machine, and racing here is a one-of-a-kind experience.
One of the fastest women on two wheels.
Maria Costello has a long and storied history with the Goodwood Revival. She was the first woman to be invited to race a motorcycle here and has since returned many times; it never ceases to amaze her how fantastic the event is. In 2018 Maria piloted a 1929 R 57 – a bike legendary for being both powerful and somewhat tricky to ride – for the BMW Group Classic motorcycle team. Mastering a supercharged machine with a hand shifter certainly isn’t easy, but Maria was up for the challenge.
A passion for speed.
Of course, Goodwood isn’t the only bike event with which Maria Costello has a lot of history; after all, she is an accomplished racer with a career stretching back more than 23 years. Maria first started riding as a means of getting around, but soon got hooked on doing so quickly and began plotting a route into racing.
Somewhat ironically, she was able to buy her first racing bike with compensation money awarded when an inattentive driver hit her while out on the road. Her mother was duly horrified, but Maria knew what she wanted and used the cash to kick-start her track career.
Maria started out on short circuits but rapidly graduated to bigger and more intimidating races. She became the fastest woman to lap the Isle of Man TT course, her Guinness World record standing until 2009. In 2005 she was also the first woman to climb onto the podium at the Manx Grand Prix – a race around the TT. Having backed up those performances with top-3 finishes in a host of races since, she stands as one of Great Britain’s foremost female motorcycle racers.
A very special day.
In 2009 Maria Costello was anointed as a Member of the Order of the British Empire, which she recalls as one of the happiest days of her life. To make it to this very special event on time, though, she needed a helping hand. Realising she might be late after getting stuck in gridlocked traffic en route to Buckingham Palace, Maria phoned a friend – who duly arrived to pick her up on a motorcycle. Leaving her family behind, she jumped onto the back of the bike in her little black dress and arrived for the ceremony with time to spare. As she followed the procedure leading to the reception with Prince Charles, Maria feared her family might not have made it to their seats in time. When the doors opened she was therefore delighted to see them already in the hall and able to celebrate this very special occasion with her.
Time to race.
Fast forward to 2018, and Maria’s focus was very much on her race at the Goodwood Revival. She had been to the circuit about two weeks earlier for testing with the BMW Group Classic team, but bad weather limited their track time. Essentially, Maria had to figure it all out in the race, which wasn’t easy considering how much of a handful the R 57 can be to ride.
The Revival race takes place Le Mans-style, which means at the start signal the riders sprint over to their motorcycles, engines already running, then come into the pits at half-distance for their team-mate to take over. Maria shared her BMW R 57 with Claus Clausen, who rode the opening leg. Claus and Maria both gave it their best and finished well.
See you next year.
More than the result itself, it was the overall experience of being at the Goodwood Revival that has lodged itself in Costello’s memory: seeing all the historic vehicles, meeting old friends and making new ones, and living in a different era for a weekend. Maria enjoyed the event immensely and is already looking forward to returning to Goodwood next year – more than likely on a classic BMW motorcycle once again.