The spirit of Brooklands in Sussex
The well-known Goodwood circuit originated in 1948 on September 18 as an experiment because Brooklands had been ruined by the wartime damage inﬂicted by military vehicles, and Donington was still an army depot. The circuit followed the perimeter road around the decommissioned Westhampnett airﬁeld, measuring approximately 2.4 miles to the lap. The course was located in beautiful Sussex, within a mile and half from The Duke of Richmond and Gordon’s home and the ‘Glorious Goodwood’ horse racing course. With a newly laid surface it made for fast lapping, and F R Gerard in an ERA achieved 83.4mph in practice on the Friday. It had wide grass verges and only wire fences around the public enclosures, giving the public good views but rather close to the track in places; no grandstands, paddock shelters or even scoreboards were available but the organisers hoped to provide these things for the following year.
The paddock was grass with an anti-skid ‘carpet’ along its centre, sports cars one side and racing cars on the opposite side. It was rather cramped but ofﬁcials operated with a casual efﬁciency so an informal atmosphere prevailed. The Junior Car Club had the support of the Daily Graphic which provided and presented the prizes totalling £500 and the Goodwood Trophy. The races were of short duration, three laps except the last race which was ﬁve, and all scratch events, for a good variety of cars. The race groupings were cleverly worked out, but Formula 2 cars had to run with the blown 1100s and the large unsupercharged cars were not catered for. All cars started together in a grid formation but I suggested that an Indianapolis start would have been preferable. ‘Bunny’ Dyer was the chief marshal and a Jowett Javelin and numerous Mk VI Bentleys were used as ofﬁcial cars.
After my friend Monica Whincop presented a bouquet to the Duchess of Richmond and Gordon, the Duke opened the course by driving round it in a Bristol. Seven races followed for racing cars of various engine capacities. Stirling Moss in the under 500cc class won his ﬁrst-ever road race, in a Cooper at 71.92mph, and Reg Parnell in a Maserati won the Goodwood Trophy Race at 80.56mph.
On my way home from this very successful day’s racing I drove past a notice proclaiming ‘Safety in the air – danger on the road’ but sadly on this same day at a Battle of Britain Air Display 12 people were killed and 13 injured when a De Havilland Mosquito crashed into the crowd.