One of the joys of Goodwood is the chance to chat to your heroes. A couple of years back I was to share a car with John Fitzpatrick at the Revival but its engine blew before we got the chance, so it was wonderful at last to sit down and talk with this legend.
The conversation fell to Porsches in general and the 956 in particular. In 1983 John’s newly formed John Fitzpatrick Racing was the first privateer team to take delivery of a customer 956, which shows the high regard in which he must have been held.
The finest hour came that year when he shared with Derek Warwick to win the wet Brands Hatch 1000Kms, beating the works Porsche and Lancia teams. “Looking back I guess it was the greatest moment of my career” he says.
In his last race in a 956, at Fuji in October 1983, he suffered a puncture at a near-flat right curve. “Derek (Bell) was following me in the works car and I have a photograph of him going underneath me, with me upside down above him. Luckily it landed on its feet and, save some bruising from the belts, I didn’t have a mark on me.” Others who continued to race in Group C were not so lucky.