An unexpected invitation to the Goodwood Members’ Meeting led to an emotionally charged race for Nick Trott
If you read last month’s report, you may recall that the rebuild of the ex-works MGB I share with former Motor Sport man Ed Foster is delayed, after a winter refresh, so it looked like my season would start in late April at the earliest. However, a late call-up to race in the Moss Trophy at the 76th Goodwood Members’ Meeting led me to dig out the Nomex earlier than expected.
The invitation scrambled my emotions. It arrived the same day I learned that dear Henry Hope-Frost had lost his life, and the idea of racing at Goodwood – where I’d expect to find him commentating and supporting all present – was too much to bear. A brotherly word from Dickie Meaden shook me out of it, and reminded me that racing would be the best possible tribute.
The car would be a ’65 TVR Grantura Mk3, owned by the amiable Barry Dye. It had just had a winter tune-up and, as Simon Arron rightly said, it was effectively a lighter, TVR-shaped MG – sharing its engine and many components with a B. At least, I thought, it should feel relatively familiar. Barry hadn’t driven the car before either, having purchased it only a few months earlier, and we hadn’t the time to test or work on set-up, so it was a true deep-end moment for both. We hoped and prayed for good weather… and inevitably it was terrible!
Snow, freezing wind and a colossal oil slick greeted us during practice – 100+mph wheelspin in fourth gear and snap oversteer were the order of the day, with multi-million pound Ferrari, Astons and Jaguars screaming past at nearly every corner. Barry did exceptionally well to keep the car on track, then it was my turn. I can’t say I got a clear or a clean lap at all, and certainly didn’t go for a time, so we lined up on the back row. There was no sense of disappointment, just relief that we hadn’t skated into a tyre wall.
Barry elected to start and drove neatly and consistently for the first half. A dry line was forming and things were looking up when I took over. Barry explained at the driver swap that he felt the car was down on power, and sure enough it was. The engine note sounded a little rough, too, but I cracked on and to my surprise started to catch a lovely Lotus Elite ahead. Then, planning a move on the exit of St Mary’s, the engine note suddenly dropped from a rough scream to a deep, horrible grumble. Concerned that it was a serious problem, I steered away from the tarmac and switched off. Later, with the car back in the paddock, a marshal approached me and said “I’ve brought your exhaust back.”
“Pardon?” I replied. “What exhaust?”
The whole section from the bottom of the branch manifold to the tailpipe – about two metres – had deserted the car and found solace on the grass near St Mary’s. You’ve got to love historic racing…
I’m convinced, however, that Barry’s TVR is a peach, and I hope to have the chance to try it again later this year in the Equipe GTS series – with some prior testing next time, of course.
Thanks to: Barry Dye, Roy Gillingham of Chequered Flag Motorsport, Rob Cull for the track pointers, John Pearson and Dickie Meaden for encouragement. And no thanks to Ed Foster, who sent me a ‘track guide’ video that turned out to be a Goodwood accident compilation…