Racing at Goodwood

Return of the “Real Thing” at J.C.C.’s New Track. Parnell wins the Goodwood Trophy. Gerard Sets Lap Record. “Daily Graphic” backs Meeting

The advent of Goodwood track opens up a new era in British motor-racing, and next year many happy meetings should be possible at this very pleasant place. The course seems compact, but, nevertheless, measures approximately 2.4 miles to the lap, compared to the 2.267 miles of the Brooklands’ Campbell circuit and the 2 miles of the Crystal Palace circuit, for instance. As the circuit is laid on the site of a disused aerodrome the ground is level, precluding a view of the far parts of the course. At present no grandstands, paddock shelters or even scoreboards are available, but the organisers were quite frank about this, and hope to provide these things next year. The Paddock was grass-grown, but with an anti-skid “carpet” along its centre, sports cars being parked on one side and racing cars on the opposite side. Officials operated with a seemingly casual efficiency during the Friday and a happily informal atmosphere prevailed. In view of the great help which the popular Press can be toward selling motor-racing to the masses, the J.C.C. deserves further warm congratulations for enlisting the support of the Daily Graphic, who presented the prizes and trophies, thereby enabling the British Motor Racing Fund to remain intact. They, in turn, thank the Hon. Denis Verry, a director of Kemsley Press.

Apart from the Goodwood Trophy, the big race of the day carried a 50-guinea first prize and all other races 20-guinea first prizes, the total amounting to over £500 – not, however, to be compared with the prize money put up to Brooklands’ first meeting in 1907, which totalled nearly £5,000! Goodwood entry fees were three guineas for the big race and two guineas for the other. Incidentally, bookmakers were present and probably bewildered.

The Goodwood race-groupings were very cleverly worked out, but the large unsupercharged cars were not catered for, while Formula 2 cars had to run with the blown eleven-hundreds. Whereas at Brooldands cars were lined up across the track and flagged away on handicap, at Goodwood all started together from a grid-formation line-up, as the road wouldn’t accommodate twelve cars abreast. In a race of only just over seven miles cars in the front row were at some advantage, especially on this course of many corners, and it is debatable whether grid-positioning on practice lap-times would have been preferable to deciding the matter by ballot. Some people would have liked a Le Mans (drivers out of the cars) start for the sports-car races, but it seems possible the organisers discarded the idea in case some late starter, drawing away, should impede those completing the first lap – remembering that only about 2.5 minutes’ hesitation would produce this danger. What we would like to see is sports cars made to lap really slowly behind a pilot car before being started, Indianapolis fashion as a means of discouraging those entering racing cars endowed with road-equipment, for such cars hate slow going on “hot” plugs!

“Bunny” Dyer was a highly efficient chief marshal at this brave experiment. A Jowett “Javelin” acted as a smart and sprightly official car (its cornering good to observe), and a venerable Austin Six ambulance was standing by.

The programme was in many ways reminiscent of the Brooklands’ race cards, which added to the nostalgia.

The public enclosures offer an excellent view but are rather close to the road in places. Presumably the R.A.C. is satisfied, but safety banks might well be built in the fullness of time. At present the enclosures are fenced-off with wire fences, so easy for small boys to penetrate, but doubtless a paling-fence will replace the wire by next season. We have long agreed with the policy of keeping unwanted persons off the course, but at Goodwood, where cornering could not be observed from the Press enclosure, it was rather unfortunate that only photographers were issued with track passes, especially as wide grass verges existed where reporters could safely be accommodated well away from decidedly interesting corners.

As to the course, it is sporting, located in beautiful country, the surface looks durable and it can be lapped really fast at 88.4 m.p.h. compared to 77.79 m.p.h. for the Brooklands’ Campbell circuit. In short, Goodwood is the best thing that has happened to British motor racing since the war. Warmest appreciations to the J.C.C. and the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, who has sanctioned the course.

RACE 8 : Goodwood Trophy Race (5 laps) Invitation Up to 1.5 litres

This was one of the best straggles seen in this country since the war. Parnell’s new Maserati was a centre of pre-race attraction, attended by Mrs. Petre and Charles Martin on the grid. Last minute air-pump trouble caused a sensation and sent “Wilky” hurrying for tools, but all was well. They lined up, a brave splash of colour on the grey road, with Harrison’s E.R.A. and Barings Maserati in in front, Hampshire’s E.R.A. beside Hamilton’s Maserati behind, then Gerard and Parnell, then Salvadori’s four-cylinder Maserati and Ansell’s E.R.A., with Walker alone at the back. As they left the start in a magnificently bunched turmoil Parnell nosed through, Geoffrey Ansell right beside him. Soon the red low-chassis Maserati was out ahead, but Hamilton was a close second. The crowd – estimated at 25,000 – was on its toes by lap three, for Gerard was right behind Parnell and gaining on him into the corners, so that at Lovvrey’s Corner they were all side by side. But try as he might, Gerard just couldn’t do it, being a mere 0.4 sec. behind as they roared over the line – an immensely exciting race. Hampshire came strongly into third place.

Parnell was presented with the Goodwood Trophy by the Hon. Denis Berry; he and Parnell had a drink from the cup, and, not to be outdone, the Duke of Richmond and Gordon did likewise. All three then made delightfully informal speeches, “God Save the King” was played, and the first Goodwood motor-race meeting came to a highly successful conclusion. This programme of short races offers excellent value to all concerned. Please, Mr. Morgan, let us have a repeat just as early as possible in 1949. It is significant that this keenly-contested racing on a new circuit cost, in casualties, only a cut thumb, whereas in “Battle of Britain” Air Displays on the same day fifteen people lost their lives and thirteen were injured. One hesitates to make this unfortunate comparison, but just visualise the fuss that would have arisen had a car gone into the crowd at Goodwood. The Sunday Graphic gave a centre-page illustrated report by Mrs. Petre, in which she described the meeting as the J.C.C.’s first post-war meeting (forgetting jersey, etc.) and Lowrey, delightfully, as a veteran-driver. Goodwood was a great success – we want more!