Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Racing

Jenny Kennedy24 Aug, 2023 5 Min Read
Just stop interfering.

My work to save the planet continues and so I've headed to West Sussex for my next big event—Goodwood Revival.  Goodwood is a historic motor race staged entirely in period theme and believe me, everyone who is anyone will be there! The racetrack itself was opened by the eighth Duke of Richmond in 1801 and starts with a nine-hour race followed by a rally that includes every important race car since the beginning of time.  

I’m arriving several days early but to be honest I can’t get there soon enough. I’m adamant about beating the crowds because ever since Downton Abbey featured a race car scene, the Americans have been flocking to Goodwood. I don’t disparage Americans coming— it’s just that I’ve worked so hard at making this a green event I hate to increase our carbon footprint. Which reminds me… I keep meaning to ask Daddy if the night portion of the nine-hour race makes the cars more energy efficient.

And away we go!

As we landed at London City Airport and all I could think about was plopping down for a couple of hours in my childhood room. I texted my parents to tell them I was on my way and might I have a bowl of soup or some eggs when I arrived but there was no response. I had to stop at my childhood home in St John’s Wood to pick up some period clothing I had shipped there. Every day of the event will be fancy period dress and this year we were calling it ‘Revive and Thrive’. Clever, right? It’s meant to underscore the fact that we are reusing vintage clothes and cars, making it the most green-minded auto race on the planet! 'Revive and Thrive’ was my idea… not just recycling but revisiting a time when people cherished their clothes and cars for a lifetime of use.

As I like to explain, Goodwood Revival is like going to an art gallery except the art goes past you at 150 miles an hour, and for this, I’ve hired a restoration champion and a modern icon of sustainable craft.  They will be conducting ‘Revive and Thrive workshops’ in the ‘Revive and Thrive Village’. My parents, as it turns out, were nowhere to be found and Daddy’s car was also gone, so I assumed they’d gone to the country. Boo!

After packing up my new-to-look-old vintage clothes, I set about booking  the train to Goodwood. Technically it was my only choice now given Daddy’s car wasn’t here, but in truth we’d partnered with Train Hugger—a booking service for train travel that plants a tree for every train ticket purchased.  And I just loved the idea that so many trees would be planted just by being en route to the racetrack. Our footprint was getting greener by the minute! 

Plus ça change...

After a long day of travel I arrived at Goodwood House and thankfully the check-in process went smoothly because I’d booked a lesson and two hours of driving an F1 on the motor circuit. It’s gutsy I know but when in Rome, right?  The driving was both exhilarating and terrifying, but what I hadn’t counted on was the acceleration, fear of over- shooting a corner, and the nausea. Bloody hell! This was not good. I skipped the tea on offer and went straight to a G&T and prayed to the quinine gods. It was well past midnight before I felt well enough to sit up so I just fished a protein bar out of my bag and went back to sleep. 

After breakfast I went to check on the progress of the ‘Revive and Thrive Village’—pretty standard stuff so I wandered over to the amusement rides at ‘Over the Road’. Normally I’d want to take a turn on the carousel but I thought best to avoid all forms of movement… even a painted wooden horse. In the corner of my eye I spotted an odd gathering of people, all either very young, or very old, and all very strange looking. I couldn’t figure them out and then I remembered seeing them yesterday at the track… or at least I thought I had done. Eventually one came over to me and said they recognised me, that they were environmentalists, and wished to talk about collaboration. Really??

I wanted to talk more but I stepped away to take a FaceTime from my father. He and Judith had indeed gone to the country and asked how things were going. I said well, (omitting yesterday’s driving debacle) and held the phone so he could take in the retro-fairgrounds. One of the older people in the group darted out of frame and then... the lights went out.

Wouldn't you know it: those wretched ‘Just Stop Oil’ protesters! While they would have you believe they are committed to saving the planet, their disruptive antics spanned society weddings, Wimbledon, blocking London streets, throwing soup on priceless works of art, and now apparently racing events. Their myopic and selfish hijinks know no bounds and  served only to turn public sympathy against them—and by extension me! Oh how I wished they would die. These were such dreadful people, the lowest of the low, attention seekers who enjoyed getting arrested, all while costing taxpayers £8M and scuttling my green movement. They had to be stopped. Hmm. ‘How can I help?’ I asked, drawing them in with a smile.

Off you go.

‘In order to get away with this…’  (I lied),  ‘We’ll need to make dead-certain none of the tell-tale orange t-shirts are visible. And you’ll need to really dress the part. When you leave me head straight to the racetrack merchandise shop and load up on Goodwood clothes—jackets, hats, coveralls, leather flight jackets… the more expensive the better. And PINS! Buy every available pin, and the patches from past years… load up your clothes and hats with as much as you can fit! You really want to look the part of a fan. And how many are there of you?  I’ll get VIP Hospitality passes—then tomorrow, you’ll enter from the car park and head straight to the Assembly Rooms’.

I had a tough time sleeping that night. I wanted to burst. Finally someone was turning the tables on them. I also wanted to tell my father but feared he’d talk me out of it.

In the end they were good little soldiers, and unmistakable as they approached the VIP entrance, laden with Goodwood merch. A wretched bunch, and sadly their banners would remain unfurled as their tickets were marked, and police apprehended them as fast as you could say Jack Robinson. As the police van pulled away I toasted myself for a job well done. One small step for the race, and one giant step for my beloved planet, because every once in a while, a girl's gotta have a trick up her sleeve. 

Born in British Hong Kong, Ms. Kennedy grew up in London and attended Cheltenham before completing her studies at the University of Southern California. A three-day eventer on the British Olympic equestrian team, Jenny has worked as a dressage coach in Hampshire, Findlay, Southampton, Palm Beach, Hoboken, and La Jolla. She has consulted on multiple commercial shoots, and film projects. She is currently working as a life coach with a focus on beauty, holistic rejuvenation and international travel. Follow her @jenny_kennedy1.


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