Good vibes at Goodwood

Historic Racing

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The beginning of the Grand Prix season in Europe always seems to represent some kind of turning point in the year. It’s Spring time, sunny days are warm enough for sitting in the garden, and even the cats wake up for at least part of the day. Yes, I know there’s lots of other motor racing going on, but somehow the arrival of the transporters in Barcelona seems to mark the end of PREviews, and the beginning of the long stretch before the REviews. Such is the year for those with deadlines.

So, what am I doing to keep myself out of mischief? Writing previews, of course, the last two before the truckies roll across the Pyrenees. There’s Audi versus Peugeot at Le Mans to examine and there’s the Goodwood Festival of Speed to consider, the Earl of March having just held his ‘press day’ at his home in West Sussex.

It’s such a nice day, the Goodwood press day, especially when you’re a guest and not an organiser. I speak from experience. Apart from keeping a hand on the forthcoming TV coverage, and making a short video for the Festival website, I was able to enjoy the special atmosphere of Goodwood Park on a beautiful English Spring day.

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The hard work is yet to come. For now there’s time to enjoy a blue sky, the odd fluffy white cloud, and the sound of racing cars warming up in the early morning air. And not just any old racing cars. There’s something very special about a 1906 Mercedes being warmed next to a 1997 Penske-Ilmor, a 1953 Ferrari 375 MM Berlinetta being given its final polish, while a few feet away the oil is warmed within the mighty 12-cylinder engine of a 1990 Le-Mans-winning XJR Jaguar. Fried eggs and bacon are served on a huge barbecue next to the startline on the hillclimb while butlers offer steaming coffee, or Bull Shot, on silver trays. If only every event preview could be like this, but we know that won’t happen.

Anthony Hamilton was there, straight off the plane from Bahrain, and paying close attention to a McLaren F1 GTR parked a few yards from a replica of his son’s 2008 McLaren Mercedes-Benz. Does this mean Lewis will appear at the Festival in July? Nobody knows. Up in the woods Rauno Aaltonen flung a Mini Cooper S around the rally stage while World Champion trials rider Dougie Lampkin did impossible things with his new Beta bike before appearing on the balcony of Goodwood House, still on the bike. Yes, he rode it up the stairs. Only at a Goodwood press day.

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Sir Stirling Moss was there, looking as sharp as ever, and giving interview after interview. The man is a star in every sense of the word. Every young driver should aspire to this.

There were James Bond cars, and Bond girls too. A collection of 007’s cars will be a highlight of the Cartier Style et Luxe exhibition – a tribute to the secret agent’s creator Ian Fleming.

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None of this is real motor racing, it is not a series or championship, it is not political and it is not under the jurisdiction of a governing body. It is entertainment. My colleague Nigel Roebuck – who spoke at length to the Earl of March – and I will be previewing the event in Motor Sport in June, by which time the season will be well and truly underway.

Spring is here, the lambs are in the fields, and the trees are beginning to flower. Lots to look forward to, certainly, on and off the circuits. Our Prime Minister still looks pretty miserable so maybe it’s time for votes of confidence in the real world too.

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