For anyone who loves motorsport’s history, there’s quite simply no other place to be come mid-september. Marcus Pye looks ahead to the greatest event on British racing’s calendar
The aces could always make their cars dance at Goodwood, bobbing and drifting on that narrow cusp between adhesion and disaster at one of the fastest circuits of the era. For 19 seasons, starting in 1948, enthusiasts flocked to Sussex to pay tribute to their sporting gods. Farina, Fangio, Moss, Hawthorn, Hill, Clark and Stewart entertained crowds of 60,000 with their mastery.
This high-speed airfield track stood out from a genre noted for flat, featureless and bleak venues. Goodwood, at 2.4 miles and nestling at the foot of the lush green Downs, was a tough challenge with its tricky cambers and gradients. But most of all it had class. Run by aristocratic racer Freddie March, Duke of Richmond and Gordon, it was beautifully detailed with its white buildings and manicured greenswards. And apart from the racing, everybody went for its party atmosphere.
It was a very sad day in July 1966 when it fizzled out, quenched by increasing bureaucracy. All that was left were memories, and a 107mph lap record held jointly by Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart.
Charles March, Fredclie’s grandson, was 11 when the sport he adored ceased on his doorstep. But his dream of bringing racing back saw him triumph in a world ever more hostile to environmentally sensitive issues. Twenty-two years on, in 1998, Goodwood’s Revival Meeting was an unqualified success. The charisma, camaraderie and civility of a golden era of motorsport was faithfully recaptured, and today’s fans could hardly believe it or the quality of the racing.
Last year, vast numbers espoused the paddock dress code (classic jackets and ties for gentlemen, ’50s dresses for ladies), and enjoyed being part of the spectacle, adding to the unique spirit of Goodwood. Better start raiding your attics!
Stirling Moss celebrates his 71st birthday on track this year, and there will be features and cavalcades of cars to celebrate British world champions Clark and John Surtees. It’s 40 years since they fought tooth and nail in the latter’s sensational fourwheeled bow in Formula Junior cars at Goodwood.
Alan Jones, world champion of 1980, tested at Goodwood in the 1970s, and is back from Australia to make his debut in a star-studded cast for the RAC Tourist Trophy Celebration, hub of the 13-race card, in a Fenari or a hairy Chevrolet Corvette. Seven-time winner Moss is in, to be joined by Richard Attwood, Derek Bell, Jochen Mass, Henri Pescarolo, Brian Redman, Danny Sullivan, Trevor Taylor and 1961 world champion Phil Hill if the ‘wish list’ is granted.
Sunday’s one-hour double-driver RAC TT Celebration holds the prospect of Ferraris, Aston Martins, Corvettes and Shelby Cobras endeavouring to knock Jaguar E-types from their winning perch a task eased by this year’s non-appearance of Nigel Corner’s almost unbeatable car.
Moss drives a Ferrari 250GT SWB /C, as he raced to victory in 1960 and ’61. Surtees and Bell should be in wailing GTOs, and Peter Hardman in a 330LMB. All three of the Aston Martin Project cars are reunited, with Tiff Needell among their pilots. Redman may chive a DB4, or the ex-Red Rose Racing E-type, 4WPD, in which he cut his teeth.
Hill and Pescarolo should handle Daytona Cobras, as might Sullivan, while Attwood shares Nigel Hulme’s ex-Willment AC. John Fitzpatrick is back in Irvine Laidlaw’s nippy Porsche 904 GTS and Taylor co-chives Malcolm Ricketts’ Lotus Elite.
Three Aston Martin DBR1s are slated for the Lavant Cup showpiece, which focuses on the TTs of 1957-60, but a lot of quick Ferraris and Jaguar D-types are out too, with a trio of ‘Birdcage’ Maserati T61s. Goodwood Nine Hours cars take centre stage in the Freddie March Memorial Trophy in which Adrian Hamilton’s 1953 Le Mans-winning Jaguar C-type (victor for the past two years in Gary Pearson’s hands) will be hard to topple. Mac Hulbert’s ex-Tony Gaze HVVM-Jaguar shouldn’t be far behind.
The most photogenic line-up of the weekend, though, is for the Goodwood Trophy, which might see two Lancia D50 recreations take on Alfa Romeo 159, Ferrari Super Squalo, two BRM V16s and the Ferrari Thinwall Special in the thick of the pre-55 Grand Prix car action. Ludovic Lindsay will have his work cut out to win for a third year in ERA R5B ‘Remus’.
The Intercontinental Formula and F1 cars of 1957-61 D+ play in the Richmond and Gordon Trophies event, in which Nigel Comer’s V12 Ferrari Dino attempts to fend off the brutish Offy-engined Scarabs of Redman and Don Orosco, with Lotus 16s, Maserati 250Fs and Rod Jolley’s Cooper in pursuit.
After last year’s 3-litre experiment, the Glover Trophy reverts to 1.5-litre Fl and Tasman cars. The 2-litre BRM P261s of Attwood, Paul Alexander, Rick Hall and Bathe Williams enjoy a power advantage, but don’t rule out the Climax V8-engined Fl cars of Duncan Dayton (Brabham BT11), 98 winner Sullivan (Lola Mk4), Martin Stretton (Lotus 25) and James King (B17).
Early front-engined Formula Junior cars get the call-up this year, trading serious competition for mechanical intrigue. Nothing can live with FIA Lurani Trophy champion Tony Steele’s Lola-Ford Mk2, although Benetton Formula One team engineer Ian Scott cannot stop chasing in his Elva-BMC. Watch also for Fiat-OSCAs, a works Stanguellini and Volpinis from Italy and listen for the East German three-cylinder two-stroke DKVVs.
Celebrating 50 years as an international class, the 500cc F3s return, with Julian Majzub’s Cooper-Norton Mk8 gunning for a Goodwood hat trick. Nick Leston, son of 1954 British champion Les, heads the pursuit again in Pete Wright’s ex-Alan Brown Cooper Mk5, with Reg Hargrave’s rapid ParkerKieft and Richard Utley’s IBS among the challengers.
The Sussex Trophy event for Production Sports Racers of the 1950s guarantees a real dust-up between Lotus 15s (Robert Brooks, Win Percy), Cooper Monacos (John Harper, John Beasley, Frank Sytner) and no fewer than eight Listers.
The Ford Mustangs of Gerry Marshall, Jackie Oliver and Nick Whale should have the legs on the diverse Group 2 Saloonfield. David Clark’s Fond Falcon, the fishtailing Jaguars of Grant Williams, Justin Law and triple British champion Percy could keep them in sight while repelling the quickest Lotus Cortinas, Alfa Giulias and Mini Coopers, John Rhodes among them.
New this year is the Fordwater Trophy race for productionbased Sports and GT cars, the lifeblood of Members’ meetings from the late ’50s. Alessandro Ripamonti’s Alfa Romeo SZ heads a pack which embraces OSCAs, Roger Saul’s Mercedes 3005L, Porsche 356s, and a host of British machinery including works MGAs and Midget, and Richard Lloyd’s recreated Gold Seal Spitfire.