The opening Goodwood meeting



So early in the year does motor-racing start these days that there was still snow in the Paddock as I drove to Goodwood for the Opening Meeting in that altogether admirable mopper-upper of tangled traffic, the Sunbeam Tiger V8, which took S. Harting Hill effortlessly in its 2.8-to-1 top gear – a serious appraisal of this new Ford-powered sports car will be found on page 255.

Whereas at the Brooklands Opening Meeting of say, 1935, one would have been anxious to discover what alterations had been made to the Barnato-Hassan, whether the Bainton Special still had a 30/98 engine and see whether the Austin Seven single-seater had the twin-cam engine, at Goodwood it was a question of what engine Doc. Merfield had coaxed into his Ford Cortina (its a 4.7-litre Ford V8), how Reader had stretched the engine of his Anglia to 1,718 c.c. (it has an 85-mm. bore and slightly lengthened stroke), and of finding six modified, Amal-carburetted 250c.c. Ariel Arrow air-cooled engines in the tail of Hill’s Lotus R.D.A., driving through a Hewland gearbox. Incidentally, Merfield’s Ford was on 6.00 x 13 rear Dunlops, whereas Reader’s Ford had enormous 7.00L x 13 rear tyres.

Miles in a Diva GT led the 10-lap scratch race for GT cars without being challenged, drawing away from a tight-packed foursome behind him, led by Mockford (Diva), from Wingfield (T.V.R.), Campbell (Elva) and Scrimgeour (Turner). Smith spun in his Ginetta at Fordwater and Marker’s Emery was in trouble. Four more 10-lap scratch races, a 7-lap saloon-car scratch race, and a 5-lap handicap followed.

Williams led all the way in the Formule Libre race in the 2-litre Lotus-Brabham-B.M.W., his yellow helmet protruding from this as-yet unpainted car. For two laps Lumsden’s lightweight Jaguar E-type challenged him but a spin out of Woodcote eventually dropped the Jaguar to fourth place, although it resumed racing just before the third man, Dangerfield in an A.C. Cobra, came past. It was Moore’s little Cooper-Ford which emerged into second place, holding off Dean’s Lotus 30 until the 4.7-litre car came round Woodcote side by side with the Cooper on lap seven and accelerated ahead of it.

Doc. Merfield at last got his Ford Cortina V8 going properly for the Saloon-Car Race, which he led for five laps, pulling out a fair lead over Dodd’s 3.8 Jaguar. But on lap six the Ford spun at Fordwater and its bolt was shot. Dodd ran on to win easily, lapping Jacobs’ similar Jaguar, pursued by Cave’s well-known Austin A40, which just held off Nicholls’ Ford Lotus-Cortina. The Fords of Swanton (Anglia), Drury (Reader’s 1.7-litre Anglia) and Merfield came home next, in that order. So there is still variety in saloon-car racing at a Goodwood Members’ Meeting, especially as Clifton’s Cooper-S won its class from an Imp and an A40.

Rain made the Sports Car and “Clubman’s” Sports-Car race tricky, but the American driver Hitchcock drove well to pull away in his Brabham BT8 Climax from Williams in the Lotus-Brabham-B.M.W., which in turn got away from Dean’s Lotus 30. After the last-named had spun at St. Mary’s his place was taken by Beckett’s big Lister-Jaguar, with Widdows’ Lotus-Ford close on its tail, until Stiller’s Lotus-Ford moved up, only to be out-accelerated to the line on the run-in by the 4.7-litre Lotus 30. The course was abnormally slippery and everyone was very cautious, the fastest lap, by Hitchcock, being 86.4 m.p.h. The rain turned the F.3 race into a slow procession, with many spins, including that by Bell (Lotus-Ford) out of the chicane on lap three, while in the lead. He held the car with consummate skill and continued, but lost the lead to Stirling Moss’ entry, a green Brabham-Ford driven by Crichton-Stuart, who went on unperturbably, to win from Bell and Baker (Cooper-B.M.C.). The winner set fastest lap, at 82.92 m.p.h.

The wet weather was now in earnest, but this only served to emphasise the excellent driving of Bernand who won the GT race in his Lotus Elan when all about him were sliding and spinning. Lumsden lost the race by letting his Jaguar take control at Woodcote on lap four, and although he worked back to second place, he failed to catch Bernand by 27.6 sec. Mrs. Tudor-Owen spun her Elan while in third place on the opening lap. The superior Elan road-clinging showed up, St. Quintin’s Elan beating Gould’s Ginetta G4 to third place, with Konig’s Elan fifth, ahead of Runham’s Jaguar E-type.

The miserable March afternoon concluded with a handicap led initially by the Chairwoman of the British Women Racing Drivers’ Club – at the wheel of a Vauxhall VX 4/90. Negus’ 1,297-c.c. Cooper-S pulled it off, with Miss Smith’s 970-c.c. Cooper-S second, Lawrence’s 1,297-c.c. Cooper-S third, just before Digby came roaring up in the Cave A40. The successful ones were :–

10-lap GT Race : J. Miles (Diva GT) … 85.17 m.p.h.

10-lap Formule Libre Race : C. M. M. Williams (Lotus-Brabham-B.M.W. … 94.95 m.p.h.

7 lap Saloon-Car Race : P. Dodd (3.8 Jaguar) … 84.90 m.p.h.

10-lap Sports Car and “Clubman’s“ Sports-Car Race : T. Hitchcock (Brabham BT8 Climax) … 83.88 m.p.h.

10-lap F.3 Race : C. Crichton-Stuart (Brabham-Ford) … 80.93 m.p.h.

10-lap GT Race : H. K. Bernand (Lotus Elan) … 71.67 m.p.h.

5-lap Handicap : D. Negus (Morris Mini Cooper-S) 71.01 m.p.h.

Fastest lap of the afternoon : J. W. Dean (Lotus 30-Ford), 99.31 m.p.h.

Leaders in the Motor Sport Brooklands Memorial Trophy Contest – next round, Goodwood, April 3

C.M.M. Williams (Lotus-Brabham-BMW), 7 points; P.J.S. Lumsden (Jaguar-E), J.W. Dean (Lotus 30), P. Dodd (3.8 Jaguar), C. Crichton-Stuart (F.3 Brabham-Ford), J. Miles (Diva GT), H.K. Bernand (Lotus Elan), T. Hitchcock (Brabham BT8-Climax), 4 points each; D. Mockford (Diva GT), Miss J. Smith (Morris Mini-Cooper S), M.H. Cave (Austin A40) and D. Bell (Lotus-Ford), 3 points each.