A Lister with Mister Attwood

Andrew Frankel was teamed wlth the sports car ace for the Goodwood TT both a thrlIllng and nerve-wracklng prospect

THERE WERE LOTS OF EXCUSES FOR QUALIFYING poorly. A misfire on Friday, a lack of third gear on Saturday and the preposterous pace of the Cobras all weekend being just three, but all that mattered was the Lister Costin Coupe I was to share with Richard Affwood in the Goodwood if lined up 19th out of 32 starters. I was to start because I’m fatter than Richard and during a pitstop belts are easier to tighten than loosen.

I’d chosen to leave the Lister on dry settings because while the track was wet, it was not raining at the start. Play the weather you have, I thought. And so the Monaco Grand Prix of the historic racing world began.

Being in the midst of the best part of £100 million of machinery as it slithers off towards Madgwick is one of the more surreal moments of my life. In the Lister it was going surprisingly well. I remember passing Brian Redman’s Cobra (how ridiculous does it feel to write that?), fending off an Aston and nipping past a few more as the grid shook itself into order over those first few laps.

But going off-line and into the puddles in the stiffly-sprung Lister was altogether too entertaining, so I waited for those ahead to make a mistake. But they didn’t and, given the calibre of the average if driver, perhaps it was naive to hope they might. Worse, Barrie Williams in a 2505WB came skittering past followed by Alain de Cadenet’s 250GT0. So I sat out my stint watching a GTO being driven immaculately, which, let me tell you, is one of the better ways I’ve found of passing the time.

We were 14th on the lap I handed over to Richard, which was also when God decided to empty his bath tub over Goodwood. Who better to have in the car? This is the man who took on the deluge that was Le Mans in 1970 to win in a Porsche 917. The Lister could not have been in safer hands. With metronomic consistency, Richard braved the floods to bring the car home 12th, just behind Eddie Cheever’s Cobra.

In parc fermé multiple World Champions and Le Mans winners climbed wide-eyed from cars, more relieved than anything else to have made it through. And the fact that the race could be run in those conditions without serious incident speaks volumes for their talent and respect for the extraordinary motors that were their temporary charges. Me? The memory of being on that grid, in that car and gaining more places than I lost will live forever along with briefly being able to call Richard Atwood my team-mate. The look on the faces of the two mechanics who’d worked consecutive nights to get it on the grid and the car’s owner who’d put it all on the line for us was special too. All in all, one of the better weekends, then.