A good turnround

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Sir,

Paul Fearnley CA Blast from the Future’, September issue) is a bit wide of the mark when he says the Hawthorn Rileys were ‘tatty and outdated’. The cars were actually superbly prepared and better turned out than most club racers of 1951 and, at that time, at least half the cars in club racing were of pre-war origin, so they weren’t necessarily outdated either. I was helping a friend who was racing a Riley and competing against Hawthorn that season. At two Goodwood meetings we had adjoining paddock bays and I formed a slight acquaintance with Hawthorn. We were once standing together at the paddock railings watching practice when he nodded to some Meteors from RAF Tangmere which were circling overhead.

“I would rather be up there than down here,” he said, nodding to the track.

I expressed surprise but did not follow up the remark. It has not been recorded, but his health could even then have been causing slight problems, and it is possible that the RAF had already turned him down. If so, the RAF’s loss was motor racing’s gain. I am certain his health was largely responsible for his erratic performances in grand prix racing later on.

Much has been made of the party atmosphere at Goodwood in its heyday, but I feel this exists more in the minds of modern PR copywriters than it did in reality. As a competitor’s dogsbody, spectator and occasional marshal at Goodwood in the ’50s and ’60s, I found it was a pleasant place, with much more physical charm than Silverstone or Brands Hatch, but the atmosphere was more ‘cheerful beer tent’ than ‘garden party’.

I knew one driver who came second in a race at a Goodwood Easter Monday meeting in the early ’60s and left the circuit immediately after his race to drive across country to Brands Hatch, where he arrived just as their Easter meeting was finishing.

His reason? He said he knew the post-race party would be better at Brands!

I AM YOURS, ETC.

David Venables, Hove, Sussex

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