Easter. A time for renewed hope and energy. And motor racing on Easter Monday, one of the sport’s great traditions.
For me, nothing will ever be as good as Goodwood on Easter Monday. Yes, I know we haven’t been there since 1966, but it was such a wonderful event. We went as a family, took a picnic, and sat in our usual seats in the grandstand at the famous Chicane. Anyone who was anybody was there. I savour today the memory of Graham Hill and Jimmy Clark fighting for the lead of the Sunday Mirror Trophy in the spring sunshine of 1965, the last year in which Goodwood held a proper race for Formula 1 cars.
The BRM and Lotus were rarely more than 20 feet apart for the first few laps, with Dan Gurney’s Brabham tucked in behind them. Then Clark passed Hill on the Lavant straight and pulled away, setting a new lap record. The BRM began to falter and Hill dropped back behind Gurney and a young Scot called Jackie Stewart. But the race was far from over. Both Gurney and Stewart retired, leaving Hill in second place, while Clark took victory for the second year running. Fabulous stuff.
Later in the day a spectacular hailstorm came over the Sussex Downs and flooded the circuit just in time for the saloon car race. But this didn’t bother Jimmy Clark, out again in his Lotus Cortina, and winning a waterlogged race from Jack Sears in another Cortina. Those were the days, my friends.
Easter is here again and, away from all the lies and videotapes of Formula 1, there will be plenty of good, honest club racing around the circuits of Britain. And despite the anxieties of this recession, fans and families will make their annual pilgrimage to one of these traditional events. The Formula 3 cars will be at Oulton Park, the Superbikes at Brands Hatch and just up the road from us, at Thruxton, there’s a decent programme of national championship racing run by the BARC, which would in the old days have been orchestrating the events at Goodwood. There I go again.
Further afield, the A1GP series will be at the new Portimao circuit in southern Portugal, where Tonio Liuzzi will race for Team Italy. Liuzzi’s talent is largely wasted at Force India where he is test driver at a time when testing is banned during the season. But don’t be too surprised if he takes over from Giancarlo Fisichella before we get to Abu Dhabi in November. By all accounts, the new Grand Prix track in the Algarve is pretty impressive and there will be a good crowd there this weekend to cheer on Felipe Albuquerque at his home race.
So Happy Easter everyone, wherever you are, whatever your plans for this welcome break from the usual schedule. I doubt, however, that there will be much rest at Brackley, where the opposition is growing gradually larger in the mirrors of Jenson Button’s Brawn-Mercedes. Speaking of Mercedes, it must surely be pinning its hopes on an older, wiser young man from Britain this year.
Newsprint is tomorrow’s cat litter. Broadcasts come and go. But damage has been done. Eggs (well, it is Easter) have been broken and egos dented. Easter Monday at Goodwood suddenly seems like a very different world. Yet the sport survives and there’s much to look forward to in the coming months.