Letter from a Reader
"The 6 1/2-Litre Bentley" Sir, I have read with a great deal of interest your…
Picture the scene: on the southern slope of the Sussex Downs a Ferrari GTO races through a right-hander shortly after the start, the corner lined with straw bales, while the crowd cranes forward from behind tapes and paling fencing, basking beneath a clear, blue sky. Shortly afterwards, it is followed by another GTO, this time in the livery of Maranello Concessionaires, which wails off into the distance lost from view behind a line of spectators.
The time and place?
Surely, it’s obvious? It must be 1963 Goodwood Madgwick Corner the Tourist Trophy.
Wrong. It’s June 20 1993. The venue is Goodwood alright, but it’s Crossroads Corner on the Goodwood House hillclimb course, across the road from the old racing circuit, and the event is the first Goodwood Festival of Speed, masterminded by Charles, Earl of March, President of the BARC, who upholds the family’s passion for speed.
Back in 1936, the present Earl’s grandfather, Freddie March, organised a private hillclimb for the Lancia Car Club on the drive in front of Goodwood House. He had been a successful amateur racing driver, winning the 1931 Brooklands Double Twelve in an MG, and perhaps unsurprisingly he won the inaugural hillclimb on his own doorstep. Post-war, as Duke of Richmond and Gordon, he opened the Goodwood racing circuit on the perimeter road of the former Westhampnett airfield, and from 1948 until its closure in 1966 it became famed for its garden-party atmosphere as much as for its classic sports car races (the Goodwood Nine Hours and Tourist Trophy), numerous non-championship Formula 1 races and countless club meetings. With such a past still fondly remembered by both drivers and spectators, the present Earl decided to recreate something of the old Goodwood atmosphere by reviving the hillclimb and inviting cars from the circuit’s heyday together with some of the famous names from its past.
To say that the meeting was a success would be a gross understatement. It exceeded everyone’s wildest expectations, with crowds estimated to be in excess of 20,000 and an incredible entry in terms of quality. Here we had a pair of V16 BRMs, courtesy of Tom Wheatcroft and Nick Mason, the Thinwall Special, Carol Spagg’s exquisite 158/159 Alfetta, a raft of Maseratis (250F, 250S, 300S and Birdcage) and Ferraris (166, 250MM, 500TRC, 275LM and 250GTO), not to mention six D-type Jaguars and various Astons (DB3, DB3S, DBR1 and DBR4, DB4GT and Zagato). The list went on and on, and incorporated a class for 500cc F3 cars and four for motorcycles.
Among the personalities, 1962 TT-winner Innes Ireland with his bride of one week, the former Jean Howarth, drove an Aston Martin Vantage in the modern supercars demonstration, while Roy Salvadori drove Tony Brooks up the hill in Simon Draper’s DB3S 63 EMU. Elsewhere to be seen were Henry Taylor, Cliff Allison, John Cooper and John Coombs, who entered his D-Type for Mike Salmon and his Mk11 Jaguar BUY 12 for former hillclimb champion Mike MacDowell, while Damon Hill made a run in the car of the type frequently driven to victory by his father on practice day. Event patron John Surtees was scheduled both to drive and ride in the competition, but after a fall from his 1952 Vincent in practice decided to sit out the timed runs.
Sadly. the event was marred by the death of motorcyclist Chas Guy, who fell from his 1948 Vincent after crossing the finish line on Saturday.
After practice, Brooks hosted its ‘Summer Vintage’ sale of aircraft and automobiles, which included Vanwall VW10, ERA R4D, the ERA-Delage, the ex-Reusch/Seaman/Poore Alfa 8C-35, ‘Old Faithful’ 1962 BRM P578 and the lobster-claw Brabham BT38, many of the lots coming from the Mayman collection. Of those sold, the Vanwall made £528,000 and the ERA-Delage £140,800.
Traditional Goodwood summer weather graced Sunday, the opening class for pre-1953 production sports cars falling to David Cottingham’s pristine Jaguar XK120 lightweight, a second quicker than Brian Classic’s Le Mans Replica Frazer Nash. Gordon Bruce hustled his enormous Alan Mann-liveried Ford Falcon to the top a fraction faster than John Atkins’ AC Cobra with Richard Longman completing the top three in the 1954-66 production car class, driving his 1965 Cooper S. The early sports racing car category was narrowly won by the ex-Phil Scragg HWM-Alta of David Clark from Soames Langton, who pressed on to good effect in Jeremy Agace’s Tojeiro-Bristol LOY 500, a car with impeccable Goodwood pedigree in the hands of Cliff Davis.
The winner of the 1955 Goodwood Nine Hours, Draper’s Aston DB3S, took the 1955-56 sports racing car award in the hands of its owner, ahead of the similar car of Genesis manager Tony Smith. Klaus Werner justified his trip from Germany by taking his Maserati 300S to third. Winding down after his sale, auctioneer Robert Brooks led the 1957-59 sports racing cars after the first run in Evart Louwman’s D-type from Frank Sytner in the Bamford version, but Frank found another two seconds to secure the class. Tony Dron was third in another D.
Eddie Arundel dusted off his overalls and finished a promising sixth in this very competitive section, at the helm of Michael Pearson’s Ferrari 500TRC.
The honour of the first sub-minute time for the 1.16-mile hill went to Danish Baron Otto Reedtz-Thott, who stormed up the course with his nimble Lotus 23. There was uncharacteristic success for a Lotus 40, in the hands of Peter Denty, taking second from the Lotus 30 of Rob Drewett. Ferraris dominated the pre-1966 TT Cars two to three-litre division, Frank Sytner taking his second class win with Sir Anthony Bamford’s ex-Maranello Concessionaires GTO, chased home by Tony Merrick’s similar ’64-type GTO, in spite of a practice mishap which creased the nose. Michael Pearson’s vivid yellow Tour de France 250GT was only a second adrift in third impressive for a 1959 car with Annette Mason the third GTO home in fourth.
Simon Draper took his second class win for over three-litre TT Cars with yet another Aston Martin from his definitive collection. Project 214 finished comfortably clear of Nigel Corner (Lightweight E-type) and Steve O’Rourke with his rarely-seen ex-Equipe Endeavour DB4GT. For once, Frank Sytner failed to feature on the leader board, on his first acquaintance with 1 VEV, one of the pair of Essex Racing Team DB4GT Zagatos with TT history in Salvadori’s hands.
The pre-1954 F1 and Formule Libre class was probably the most keenly anticipated, and it did not disappoint. Willie Green gave a masterful display in Carol Spagg’s 158/159 Alfetta in its first competitive outing since being traded by the factory and subsequently rebuilt by Carol and Mike Sparken. Second and third places were filled by Rodney Felton, firstly with Tom Wheatcroft’s Thinwall Special again a first competitive outing since being sold by Vandervell and secondly with the BRM V16. To crown it all, Nick Mason took fourth with his BRM the noises of this class alone will long be ringing in the ears of those who were within miles of the place.
Tony Merrick took the Voiturette and F2 class with the recently-sold ERA R I A from Mike Lester’s Cooper-Bristol and Tony Smith’s A-Type Connaught, while Nigel Corner pipped Rod Jolley’s 1958 CooperClimax T151 to wrest the class for 1954-59 F1 and F2 cars, Nigel’s ex-Fangio ’57 Monaco GP-winning Maserati 250F just dipping under the minute-mark. Green set official FTD with Cedric Selzer’s ex-van der Vyver Lotus 18 in the post-1960 F1, F2 and Libre category, leaving it at 57.59s. Patsy Burt brought out her one-owner M3A McLaren-Oldsmobile hillclimb car still on original Firestones for demonstration runs only, and in terms of originality it was surely peerless.
The Earl of March Trophy for 500cc F3 cars was won by Ewan Cameron, who, with only one run in his Mk11Cooper, demolished the opposition.
Quickest motorcyclist was Ian Lawton with his 1966 Aermacchi.
A class for post-1966 F1 cars was included as a demonstration, to illustrate Goodwood’s popularity as a test-track, and this featured machines such as Matt Aitken’s ex-Johansson Ferrari 156 Turbo, Lorina McLaughlin’s ex-James Hunt McLaren M23 and Ron Dennis making his debut in a McLaren M14A. However, it was Green (Surtees TS20) who set the pace once more with an outright FTD of 56.34s, illustrating the tight confines of the course. Jonathan Palmer served notice of how much road car technology has advanced, meanwhile, by lapping just 0.01s slower in the McLaren F1 supercar. ASDC
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