Exotic fruits

After last year's inaugural Festival of Speed, the Earl of March had said that the event would only be repeated if he could guarantee that it would better its predecessor. An exacting demand, but not wholly impossible, and the 1994 Festival proved to be another resounding success. Whereas 1993's entries had been restricted to the type of cars which graced Goodwood in its days as a racing circuit (a few demonstrations by more modern GP cars excepted), this year's theme was widened considerably to celebrate '100 Years of Motor Sport'. Entries thus spanned a century, from the 1894 Paris to Rouen Trial for horseless carriages right through to Grand Prix cars and drivers from the current season. Although nostalgia was again a primary attraction, the current generation undoubtedly provided the highlight of the meeting when Martin Brundle claimed FTD in his works McLaren Peugeot MP4/9, a performance which also earned him the Driver of the Day award.

The Earl's myriad motoring contacts assisted assembly of an entry of extraordinary quality, those present including rarities from some of the world's great collections, many never having been seen before in the UK. An impressive American contingent included Philip de Lespinay's Cooper T54, which began the rear-engined revolution at Indy and which was to be driven by its original pilot, Sir Jack Brabham. George Schaevitz brought his Daytona Cobra and Miles Collier had Dan Gurney's 1967 SpaWinning Eagle with magnificent V12 Weslake for Richard Attwood. Sadly, his mighty Le Mans Cunningham C4RK failed to fire-up after its ignition was left on, cooking its coils.

The Alfa Romeo Museum withdrew three entries at the last minute, but Mercedes sent a 1937 W125 and 1955 W196 for John Surtees and Stirling Moss, and BMW was represented by a 1940 Mille Miglia 328 and Marc Surer's European F2 Championship Winning March-BMW 792, handled by its original driver.

Motorcycling legend, and former works Aston Martin racer, Geoff Duke was reunited with a DB3, belonging to Simon Draper, and the organisers' attention to detail even included the return of Raymond Baxter to the commentary booth.

Representing 1894 was the Peugeot Visa-Vis of Australian Peter Briggs, although he failed to record a time. The pre-1919 class thus fell to US Senator-cum-motoring enthusiast George Wingard in his 1911 FIAT, albeit only after he had enlisted the help of Ben Collings to maintain fuel pressure via the hand pump mounted on the mechanic's side of the car.

The Donington Collection's reconstructed Bimotore Alfa made a rare appearance in the hands of Rob Hall, and although it left the contents of its gearbox on the startline on its second run, it managed third in class behind an ERA needle-match, narrowly settled in John Harper's favour from Ludovic Lindsay.

John Surtees was a mighty impressive runner-up in the Mercedes W125, finishing behind the ex-Nuvolari Maserati 8CM of Robert Brooks, the auctioneer finding time to host his Summer Vintage sale as well as driving three cars in the Festival.

Willie Green, in the glorious Alfetta of Carol Spragg, dominated his class, in which Rick Hall took second in Tom Wheatcroft's BRM V16, which was the only V16 to contest the timed runs. BRM complexity (and folly) was also represented in the shape of the 1967 H16 of Peter Hannen, looking very 'works' and running most impressively. A small, but choice, quartet represented the rally fraternity with Erik Carlsson driving his Monte-winning Saab complete with original 1961 crash-helmet ("A Christmas present from Pat"), Gunnar Palm with the 1970 World Cup Rally Escort and Paddy Hopkirk in the Mini Cooper from the 1994 Monte. All, however, were not surprisingly outpaced by the 1994 works Escort Cosworth of Ford PR lady Sarah Perris.

Essentially a fun event, there was no shortage of competitive spirit in evidence which was brought home by a number of incidents, the most serious of which befell Mike Wilds, driving Nick Mason's Ferrari 312 T3. The former BRM and Ensign F1 racer struck a kerb near the paddock entrance with the leading edge of the tub, which spun the car round and brought it to an abrupt halt. Mike was carefully removed, suffering from serious leg injuries. Rick Hall went off at the tricky Molecomb Corner, folding back the front corner of Cedric Seltzer's lovingly rebuilt Lotus 25 into the monocoque, and the same corner also claimed Andy Wallace's Jaguar XJ220 the day before. The historic section of the Festival provided a superb build-up to a sensational climax which featured post-1981 Grand Prix cars (plus interloper Marc Surer from the 1966-79 category). The level of commitment with which drivers attacked the exceedingly narrow course, lined only with straw bales, flint walls and upwards of 35,000 spectators, was awesome.

Despite virtually no practice, Martin Brundle hustled his McLaren-Peugeot MP4/9 up the hill in 49.77s on his first run, closely shadowed by Surer, Christian Fittipaldi in the Footwork-Ford FA15 and Jonathan Palmer in the eccentric six-wheeled Williams FW08D. The McLaren driver then set the seal on a memorable weekend with a final run of 47.80s, and with an equally impressive performance Surer improved on his first run to close at 49.28s, beating Fittipaldi for second overall.

With the campaign for the return of historic racing to the Goodwood circuit now well underway (see MOTOR SPORT, April 1994), it is to be hoped that the Earl's ambitions will be realised.

It is difficult to envisage quite how this year's event could be improved, or indeed to imagine an appropriate theme for a third Goodwood Festival of Speed. A S D C