Goodwood festival of speed set to continue

The future of Goodwood’s festival of speed is said to be secure, although safety measures will be reviewed in the wake of the accident on 24 June which claimed the lives of competitor John Dawson-Damer and marshal Andy Carpenter, and left another marshal, Steve Tarrant, with serious injuries.

Dawson-Damer lost control of his ex-Mario Andretti four-wheel-drive Lotus 63 exiting the final corner of the 1.16-mile hillclimb course, and crashed through the finish gantry, behind which the officials were standing. An inquest will determine the cause of the driver’s death.

The 59-year-old Australian-domiciled Briton, making his third appearance at the annual event, is known to have had a heart condition fuelling speculation that he might have suffered a coronary.

Organisers have defended the safety record of the Festival, run through the grounds of Goodwood House. The one previous fatality, that of motorcyclist Chas Guy in 1993’s inaugural event, was put down to a medical problem.

Competitors have also rallied behind the Festival, which continued on the Sunday at the insistence of the families of the deceased. Remarkably, Jacqueline Tarrant, wife of Steve who lost a lower leg in the accident, returned to marshal the following day. Her husband continues to make progress in hospital.

Festival founder Lord March, a friend of Dawson-Damer, was convinced that the Motor Sports Association-licensed course was as safe as any temporary venue could be. “We work continuously with the MSA and the BARC to make sure that every appropriate safety standard is in place.” A spokesman for the MSA told our sister publication Autosport that the crash “was not, in our experience, a foreseeable accident.” Naturally, a detailed review of procedures — including the siting of marshals’ posts — is underway. Suggestions that future Goodwood Festivals of Speed should not be timed, and that the track should be shortened to reduce speeds over the flying finish, will doubtless be among the subjects for discussion. MP