For two decades Goodwood served as a proving ground for racers, team owners and mechanics. Mark Hughes asks some to recall the lighter times at the track.
Rob Walker – renowned privateer team owner
“In 1957 after practice was over, Stirling came over to me. In those days you’d have a general mixed session for half an hour at the end of the day where anything could run, so there were MGs mixed up with F1 cars. Stirling said he was thinking of buying an F2 car for the following year but didn’t know whether to buy a Cooper or Lotus and could he try my F2 Cooper. Well, we had the F2 and the Fl Cooper there and they looked identical, just had different engines.
So we sent Stirling out in the F1 car without telling him. He did one opening lap and on the next lap was under the outright circuit record, while weaving his way round MGs and what have you. It was as a result of this that he agreed to drive the car for me in Argentina in ’58 when Vanwall pulled out.
“In one of the very early meetings, the Duke of Richmond was giving drinks at the house on the Saturday night. It was said that Froilan Gonzalez asked the Duke if he could take his daughter to bed.”
John Dabbs – mechanic for racer Dizzy Addicott
“We were a couple of pits up from John Campbell-Jones in the ’59 Tourist Trophy. He was running a Lotus 17 completely on his own. He came in after a few laps with the car needing water. He opened the front which was the whole front of the car from the windscreen and he realised he didn’t have a water can. So he jumps over the counter and is rushing round shouting ‘Anyone got some water?’. While all this was going on the prevailing wind blew his car away down the pit, the bonnet acting like a sail. Nobody stopped it, but it started veering towards the pits, so someone leant over and tweaked the wheel so that it carried straight on. It went right down the fin end to the Aston Martin pits and they pushed it off onto the grass. Campbell-Jones eventually comes back with his watering can saying, ‘Where’s my bloody car?’
“Dixon Cade was the Clerk of the Course. He was always referred to as ‘Gloves Cade’ because he always wore a natty pair of Les Leston string-backs. He used to open the circuit by driving round before each race in his Austin Healey 3000. He spun it off once, ended up in the cornfield, disappeared for ages. He was a real stickler for everything being right. If you put two wheels on the grass you got docked time and if you spun you were hauled in.
“Dizzy Addicott fell asleep on the startline once. He was a test pilot but he suffered a sleeping sickness! There was a bit of a hold up and he nodded offsitting in this Lotus 15 with a Buick engine. Next thing I knew Gloves Cade is shouting ‘Get that man off the grid, he’s asleep!’ One year Dizzy broke the up-to-1500cc sportscar lap record with a Lotus 11-1220 Climax at 1m 35s dead and they refused to acknowledge it because that record was held by Behra in an RSK Porsche and they didn’t believe Dizzy could’ve done the time. But he had.”
Paul Vincent – mechanic for Connaught and Brabham
“I worked on Archie Scott Brown’s car at Goodwood in 1956, doing whatever jobs I was told to do by my seniors. 1 was the boy they’d take on a boy every two years.
“I’d first met Archie the previous year at a test and no-one had told me he was disabled. My first job was to tape his stump up. He didn’t turn a hair and chatted away to the others but I was totally embarrassed. It was only then that I realised what the special scat with a Scottish tartan on I’d seen in the truck was for.
“He was a fantastic driver. At Goodwood that year, in the Connaught B, he just buggered off and left everyone behind, even Moss in the 250E. Every lap he pulled out a bigger chunk. It wasn’t just a little bit it was massive. It was most of Woodcote and the whole of the chicane before the other cars arrived. But then it threw a rod.
“He was very honest about what had happened. He came and apologised in front of me, just a boy and said ‘I’m terribly sorry, terribly, terribly sorry. I hooked it between two balls’. It had a Wilson pre-selector ‘box and it was possible to hook the lever so it wouldn’t go to the next detent. Then they’d press the clutch and bang their foot down on the throttle and those engines only used to tolerate an extra 200rpm before letting go.”
“At Brabham, Denny (Hulme) used to test all the customer cars before they were delivered. We went down to Goodwood in Denny’s Zephyr with this F3 car on a trailer, did a bit of sorting then brought it back and delivered it to the customer build shop. Denny asked who it was for and they said ‘Oh, he comes from up north somewhere, Cr, Roy James.’ It didn’t ring a bell with any of us.
“Then I went down to the Goodwood meeting and there’s James’ mechanic sitting there with the car all ready but no driver. I asked what was happening and he said Dunno, haven’t a clue’. Of course, James had scarpered because his name and picture were in the papers as one of the great train robbers.”
Chris Amon – Grand Prix driver
“I was just a teenager and I’d never been out of New Zealand. Reg Parnell had been out there for the Tasman series and had seen me when I was driving a 250F Maserati. We spoke again the following year and he asked if I’d be interested in coming to Europe. He went home and about 10 days before the 1963 Easter Goodwood meeting he called and said `Get,on a plane and get over here’.
“I was only 19 years old. I got on this piston-engined thing out of Auckland and when I got to Fiji I saw my first Boeing 707. I arrived in England just in time to have a seat fitting and I was making my Ft debut in practice the next day. I finished fifth in the race on Monday. I didn’t get to go home again properly for another 14 years.”
Robin McKay Former Goodwood circuit manager
“There was a BARC members meeting coming up and Ecurie Ecosse came down with a Cooper Monaco driven by Jackie Stewart. There was this handicap race and all the others set off and Stewart had to sit there while the first lot were coming down the Lavant Straight. Anyway, off he rushed and I watched from St Mary’s. I was absolutely amazed at the way he was carving up through the traffic. His passing manoeuvres were so precise and drama-free, just like a top Grand Prix driver. Instant assessment, no hesitation and beautiful precision. It was very, very noticeable to me. I rang Ken Tyrrell who was starting his F3 team and the rest is history.
“A few of the drivers would fly themselves in and out of Goodwood for races. Jack Brabham actually learned to fly there. He’d take off from Fairoaks, go down the coast until it turned blue then turn round and come back up the Chichester by-pass, turn left and land. He was able to land at Fairoaks by using the reflection of the moon off the local greenhouses.”
Roy Golding – Cooper mechanic
“We were all just boys at Cooper in the first days of Goodwood. We’d go down with the Jap-engined 500s and see Grand Prix Alfas and it was like looking at a spaceship. It was almost beyond the imagination.
“Going to Goodwood meant driving the van with the trailer behind. On the way, we would stop at this hill where there were thousands of rabbits and I’d bag one with my .22 rifle, nip over the fence and pick it up. Another bonus was that Goodwood was under the plough and I’d rarely come back without a bag of potatoes.”
Trevor Taylor – Team Lotus F1 driver
“I used to fly down there with Mike Costin in his Tiger Moth, believe it or not. Once we went down there and met up with Colin Chapman and Jimmy Clark to test the Lotus 18 Formula Junior.
“Now both Mike and Colin were bloody good drivers and after Jimmy and I had been round Colin said, ‘Let me have a go’. He went out and did a time that was quicker than either Jimmy or I had managed. So then Costin goes out and, bugger me, if he doesn’t go and beat Chapman’s time!
“I said to Jim, ‘Hey, this doesn’t look too good, we’re supposed to be the professionals’. So then Jimmy went out and beat Costin’s time, then I went out and beat Jimmy’s time. And so it went on. I thought we were going to be there till midnight! By the end of the day Jim and I were quicker than those two by just two-tenths. I never thought I’d ever say it, but I was glad to get back in the Tiger Moth …”
John Cooper – racing car constructor
“I first went down there in 1946 when it was still just a perimeter road for the airfield. Someone from the BARC asked if we could take a few Cooper 500s down because they were looking for a track to replace Brooklands. The Duke of Richmond, Freddy, drove one of the can.
“At the Easter meetings we’d be invited over to the house on the Saturday evening. There were lots of horse racing portraits on the walls and Masten Gregory was looking at one, a Stubbs, the classic style where the horse is all stretched out and the proportions look wrong, but very highly prized. Masten says to me ‘Gee, that must’ve been done by one of the kids’, and the Duchess’ sister overheard and said ‘I’ll have you know, young man, that’s a Stubbs’ and Masten said ‘Who’s he?’
“We were testing there one day and not doing the times. Roy Salvadori said ‘Oh, it’s just a slow day’ and Masten was passing and said ‘Sure it’s a slow day — Mass and Brooks ain’t here.’ Roy got stopped for speeding on the way there one year and he gets chatting with the policeman who says ‘Oh, you’re a racing driver,’ and Roy says ‘Yes. If you wait here another 20 minutes or so you’ll be able to get Brabham and McLaren as well.’
“In the nine-hour race one year, there was a new bloke doing the circuit commentary, Anthony Marsh. As we were practising I saw him coming towards me in the pitlane and at that time our team used to get free Ribena as a promotional thing. So kook the top off a bottle and poured some of it into the radiator of the car. He came over and said ‘What are you doing?’ and I looked surprised and said ‘Nothing. You have not seep that, I didn’t do anything.’ He said ‘Oh, come on, what’s going on?’ arid I said, ‘Look, please. You have not seen me. Oh, if you promise not to say anything, it lubricates the water pump.’ And, of course, over the loud speaker it went, into the newspaper. Eventually the chairman of Beechams rang up and said ‘Thanks very much, we’ve had good fun out of this, but let’s knock it off now.’
“I remember going down there with Bruce to meet up with Ken Tyrrell who had a Formula Junior. Bruce was to do a target time for this new driver he was trying out, Jackie Stewart, who’d been recommended to us by the circuit manager Robin McKay. I went to watch down at Madgwick and straight away I thought, ‘Christ, this bloke’s fantastic’. Bruce had been simply driving the car, but this bloke looked different. I walked back to the pits and said to Ken, ‘You can put those watches away, he’s good isn’t he?’ and Tyrrell said ‘Not half.’
Tim Parnell – driver and team entrant. Son of Reg Parnell
“As a 16 year old I went to the first meeting in 1948 and my father won in his Maserati. He won BRM’s very first race there too, in 1950, and won the next year with the Thinwall Special Ferrari.
‘It was terrifically exciting for me, of course. Everyone used to stay at the Ship Hotel in Chichester and there was a terrific amount of camaraderie between the drivers. The Easter meeting was always special. It was the start of the season and it created a special atmosphere. On the Sunday one year we all went down to Butlins in Bognor Regis. Graham Hill was larking about, shouting ‘Hello campers’ to everyone.