TENS of thousands of spectators and competitors at the Goodwood Revival were transported back to the dark days of the war when 10 Spitfires took to the skies for a memorable flypast.
The iconic fighter planes scrambled en masse yesterday at the motor circuit near Chichester – which used to be the wartime airfield RAF Westhampnett, from where heroes including Douglas Bader took off to play such a crucial role in winning the Battle of Britain.
The display was delayed by heavy rain, but then the sun came out and the clouds lifted enough for the Spitfires to get airborne to commemorate the 75th anniversary since the very first one flew from Eastleigh airport.
As the Band of the Royal Marines played down on the track, the combined roar of the Merlin engines overhead was something to behold.
The 10 planes that flew in formation was believed to be the highest number that had been seen at one time since the Second World War.
Goodwood owner Lord March told the big crowds: ‘The Spitfire was, and remains, an absolute thoroughbred. Rarely can a design team produce something that not only is right but looks right.’
He added: ‘Production continued for 12 years until 1948 and the surviving aircraft are a monument to all those who built, maintained and flew them.’
The other highlight at the third and final day of this year’s Revival meeting was an action-packed, two-driver RAC TT race, featuring exotic closed cockpit 1960s GT cars worth a combined £200m and piloted by a host of famous names.
Eight-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen and his team-mate Kenny Brack emerged victorious in their Shelby Cobra Daytona, with F1 commentator Martin Brundle and Mark Hales second in Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason’s Ferrari 250 GTO.
The drivers had to contend with a downpour mid-race that caused standing water and great plumes of spray. Crowds watched from beneath a sea of umbrellas as the field used all their skill to stay on the Tarmac and avoid collisions.
Brundle said: ‘You couldn’t see anything out there, but I really enjoyed it.’
Celebrities soaking up the atmosphere included DJ Chris Evans and chef James Martin.
Evans smiled: ‘This event is unbelievable. The girls love all the dressing up and the boys love seeing the cars.’