BMW’s tin-top teaser

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The editor joins the marque celebrations on the famous hill

Friday morning and I’m late. Not the ideal preparation for a run on Goodwood’s hill in front of thousands of people in a car I’ve never even set eyes on. Jumping the queue for driver sign-on, ahead of the likes of David Brabham and Oliver Gavin, makes me blush (they don’t seem to mind, decent chaps that they are), then it’s over to the scrutineering tent to check my kit.

Mechanic Hans from BMW’s Classic division is waiting for me beside my ride: a pristine 1800 Ti/SA that looks like it was built yesterday. Quick change at the back of the car, then clamber into the bucket seat. It’s snug, as is the too small helmet that I squeeze into in haste. “Plenty of time,” says Hans, with a shrug. Oh. And breathe.

The run is spectacular – from where I’m sitting. A friend videos me and it looks a little less so on playback. But I shoot off the line and don’t fluff the change to second as the 1800 buzzes with abandon. Lovely noise. I am trying, at least – but not too hard. A lock-up into Molecomb thrusts heart into mouth, but before I know it the infamous Flint Wall looms over this fab little car. 

I’m paranoid about being caught by the Harold Grohs-liveried CSL that is next up – but to my surprise I’ve done the catching. The 328 Mille Miglia roadster is right ahead of me and we trundle in tandem along the final straight.

At the top, I soak up the moment. It’s not a bad view as M1 Procar, V12 LMR prototype with Yannick Dalmas up and longtail McLaren F1 GTR emerge into the sunlit turning circle. For the pros it’s just another run on the familiar hill. For me, it’s a rare taste of what it’s like on the other side. 

Ninety minutes ago I was listening to David Cameron’s resignation speech in a traffic jam. Now look where I am. I don’t belong here, but for these few minutes, who cares? Damien Smith

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