One of the more startling sights of the last Goodwood Revival Meeting was Richard Butterfield’s majestic Willment-liveried Ford Galaxie cavorting about on its own oil and coolant in Woodcote Corner, having trailed a glittering spray of flame behind it down the latter half of the Lavant Straight. When the great car finally came to rest on the brand-new asphalt run-off apron everybody – not least its intrepid driver – heaved a sigh of relief. Crashing a Galaxie is seldom a fleeting instant, as no less a racer than Sir Jack Brabham recalled.
He was practising in entrant Alan Brown’s car at Goodwood prior to the 1964 Easter Monday meeting when he sensed that all was not well leaving the chicane. He’d previously won in what he describes as “the two-tonner” at Snetterton in torrential rain, when on Dunlop R6 tyres the 7-litre monster actually won at a higher average speed than Innes Ireland’s BRP-BRM in the Formula 1 feature race. But now as he thundered the Galaxie out of the chicane it felt simply queasy, and so he braked a little early for the next corner, at Madgwick. “Sure enough, I had a puncture”, he recalled. The tyre collapsed and the car careered straight off into the bank, where upon impact it reared up and rolled over. I looked out the side window and found myself eye-to-eye with a group of white-faced spectators.”
He clambered down from the rolled Galaxie’s perch on top of the bank and was walking back towards the pits when he saw a concerned Alan Brown jogging towards him: “I said something like ‘I’m all right’, but without looking at me he ran straight past bawling ‘How bad’s my car?’. To be honest, it had been better…”.
Subsequently, another Antipodean driver, the late Brian Muir, also mangled a Galaxie mightily at Oulton Park, while when a couple of the great cars ran in the touring section of the gruelling Tour de France Automobile, there was again a fair amount of damage done to those acres of Detroit panelwork. Seldom has the phrase ‘The bigger they are, the harder they fall’ seemed quite so apt.