I’ll admit it, I’ve never fallen for the rantings of opportunists like Al Gore & Co.,
but now I’m warming (sorry!) to the idea that man might have an affect on the
climate – well, one man actually.
No matter what time of the year Lord March organises an event he almost
always manages to summon-up the most perfect weather for the occasion,
and this years’ Media Day was no exception. You’d think planning the day for
mid-March in what has been one of the coldest winters in a while would
ensure us of a chilly reception, but what happened? A whole week of spring-
like weather ensured that our day at Goodwood was just perfect. Why, we
even basked in the sunshine whilst Lord March delivered his welcoming
speech from the front steps of the House – once compere Amanda Stretton
had alighted from the Royal Navy helicopter that flew her in, that is.
We learned that the theme for this years’ Festival of Speed (3-5 July) will be
‘True Grit – Epic feats of endurance’, as typified by Jackie Stewart’s victory in
the 1968 German Grand Prix, driving with a broken wrist, or Mick Doohan’s
courageous return to motorcycle racing in 1992, without full use of his right
leg. However, it is the always-breathtaking display in front of Goodwood
House that catches the eye of every visitor and this year the featured marque
is Audi, as the German manufacturer celebrates its 100th birthday. To
celebrate the occasion Goodwood are bringing together what is hoped to be
the largest collection of Silver Arrow racers ever seen together in one place.
Coming up to date with the modern interpretation of Silver Arrow racers,
reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton will be doubly honoured for his
charity, the Lewis Hamilton Foundation, which helps under-privileged
youngsters fulfil their dreams has been selected as the official charity. Lewis
gets to fulfil a dream of his own too, for he will drive a McLaren-Honda
previously raced by his hero Ayrton Senna.
It is amazing to think that is ten years since Audi last filled the prize location
with their ‘re-creation’ of the Avus banking. They have not revealed the precise
details of this years’ display but it is sure to be spectacular. There may be a
clue in the fact that the event poster features a Peter Hearsey painting of the
R10 TDI Le Mans winner. A number of Audi works drivers are expected to be
present, including Hannu Mikkola, Stig Blomqvist, Allan McNish, Emanuele
Pirro, Tom Kristensen and Frank Biela.
And indeed, a Type D Auto Union took pride of place in the static display on
the Media Day. “Does this (the steering wheel) come off? Lord March
enquired of Audi UK’s David Ingram as he attempted to squeeze into the
cockpit for a photoshoot. But before David could answer, he followed that
question up with, “it does now!
Photo shoots abounded, and with Bugatti’s centenary also being marked a
1937 Type 57C clothed in a copy of a stunning design by Gangloff that was
never actually built as the order was cancelled. The low-slung machine
comfortably upstaged the nearby brand new Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe and
provided the ideal backdrop for Jodie Kidd to pose with a poodle, the tall
model towering over both Lord March and the Bugatti.
Even the humble Mini has its’ day at Goodwood as Alec Issigonis’s little
marvel hits fifty, and so the early 1959 example found itself adorned with a
bevy of mini-skirted models, much to the delight of the assembled
photographers. No wonder the poor little chap needed propping up on bricks –
it was probably all too much for his Hydrolastics!
For many, the highlight of the day is a passenger ride up the Hill in one of the
variety of cars in action on the day. They ranged from Lukas Huni’s 1926
Bugatti Type 35C thru’ to that new Roller. Thrills came at all speeds, from
nearly getting sideways off the line in Gary Caroline’s 1928 Morgan Super
Aero three-wheeler (Morgan’s another centenary celebration, by the way) to
almost being the first to crash through Goodwood’s straw bales if you were
the lucky person riding with Richard Dodkins in Roger Wills’ McLaren-
Chevrolet M1B. After the season he had last year I don’t think Roger would
have been too happy with a repair bill this early in the season…
Also in action was Jacky Ickx, reunited with the Mirage-Cosworth GR7 he
drove in 1973, whilst Jochen Mass was back behind the wheel of the works
Ford Capri RS he also raced in the same year. The Porsche 917 is forty now,
and to mark the occasion former Le Mans winner Richard Attwood had a run
in David Piper’s green example. The Daytona Speedway also records its
fortieth anniversary this year and in honour of that Lord March has tempted a
selection of NASCAR racers across to the Festival, represented at the Media
Day by a Buick Regal used by Bobby Allison during his championship-
winning season in 1983.
Whilst the action on the Hill is central to the Festival there is so much more
to see, such as the Forest Rally Stage, the Cartier ‘Style et Luxe’ concours
d’elegance, or the BP Ultimate FoS Tech technology pavilion. The latter
proved to be a fascinating display of future trends by several manufacturers
last year, and it drew a lot of interest from the public, but was let down by the
fact that few of the manufacturer displays actually had anyone on hand to
answer the many questions raised. It was a missed opportunity and hopefully
one that will be addressed this year. The exception was Tesla, who had
several representatives who were kept busy. They too were in action at the
Media Day, with “the only car here without an exhaust pipe” whooshing up the
hill. Having recently had the opportunity to drive an electric car, although not a
Tesla, I have to admit to being a bit of a convert.
You’ve got a couple of months to recover from all that before it’s time for the
Goodwood Revival meeting (18-20 September) at the circuit, where again
there will be one or two anniversaries to celebrate, not the least of them being
Sir Stirling Moss’s 80th birthday, which is actually the day before, on the
17th, but as Lord March says, “he’s probably using the opportunity to have a
Sir Stirling has been an integral part of Goodwood history from the very
beginning, having taken part in his very first race here in 1948 and of course
also suffered the terrible accident that ended his professional career in 1962.
He has subsequently competed in a variety of cars during the past ten years
of Revival events.
The big events being marked this year are the 50th anniversary of the 1959
Tourist Trophy race, the most famous single race to have been staged at
Goodwood in which Aston Martin clinched the World Sportscar
Championship. The traditional RAC TT Celebration race will of course be the
highlight event of the weekend, catering as usual for closed-cockpit GT cars
from the 1960-64 period, but the 60 minute, two drivers, Lavant Cup race will
honour that event from 1959 with a field full of Aston Martin DBR1’s, Ferrari
Testa Rossas and Porsche RSK’s evocative of the machinery raced on the
day by the likes of Roy Salvadori, Carroll Shelby, Dan Gurney, and of course
Stirling Moss. Moss led from the start in an Aston before handing over to
Salvadori only for the car to catch fire at a pit stop. With Salvadori needing
medical attention Moss was forced to take-over the second place Aston
Martin, and put in a stunning drive to win the race and the title.
The one hour, two driver Royal Automobile Club TT celebration event will
feature all the usual crowd-pleasers such as Derek Bell, Jochen Mass,
Emanuele Pirro, Richard Attwood, Jackie Oliver, Sir Stirling Moss et al driving
examples of Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato, AC Cobra, Chevrolet Corvette,
Ferrari 250 GT SWB and so on.
In recognition of the Mini’s 50th anniversary the St Mary’s Trophy race,
traditionally the ‘saloon’ car race, will be exclusively for Group 2 Mini Cooper
cars of a type that raced prior to 1966. That’s just put up the value of any Mini
out there ripe for conversion!
A full 30-car grid of the 1275cc machines is expected (including a few Riley
Elf/Wolseley Hornet variants) and given the giant-killing acts often displayed
by Minis in previous years some pretty spectacular racing is assured. The
race will be run in two parts on Saturday and Sunday with an aggregate
result, the car owners being paired with many Mini luminaries from the past
such as Rauno Aaltonen, Sir John Whitmore, Alec Poole, John Fitzpatrick,
Barrie Williams and the like, joined by such stars as Derek Bell, Jackie Oliver
and Bobby Rahal.
Wonder if they stage a repeat from a Mini demonstration at Silverstone’s
British Grand Prix meeting in 1960 when Graham Hill and some others
involved decided to set off in reverse when the flag dropped! Whatever, the
‘demo’ inevitably turned into a high-speed slipstreaming race and the cars got
dented and bashed as the cars ran four or five in line, bumper to bumper,
down Hangar Straight, and three abreast into corners – and these were just
standard 848cc saloons! You know what to expect…
Otherwise the rest of the programme features the usual fabulous delectations
of single-seat and sportscar action, and the ‘bikes of course. Away from the
track there will be all the period fashions and ephemera to feast the eyes. The
mock-up Earls Court Motor Show that debuted last year has been retained
and will feature stands from various manufacturers, including Maserati,
Jaguar, BMW and Ford, typifying a pre-1966 show. Then of course there’s the
air displays with Spitfires, Hurricanes, Mustangs and the like bringing back
memories from the site’s pre-race track era as RAF Westhampnett wartime
One could go on, but why not come and see for yourself? Two great
weekends are in prospect, the onus now being on Lord March to once again
come up trumps with the weather!
Tickets for both events are only available in advance and not on the day.
Tel: + 44 (0)1243 755055
Fax: + 44 (0)1243 755058
Website : www.goodwood.co.uk