GOODWOOD REVIVAL, 01 SEPTEMBER 2006

RAIN, WIND AND TOP CLASS RACING

When the letter arrives containing the invitation to take part in the Goodwood Revival I know that the season is not going to be all bad. The event is rightly regarded as unique in the world of historic motor sport and by universal consent the combination of selection of cars and spirited driving makes it the best in the world. Some may say that the weekend has become increasingly commercial and that there is a tremendous amount of hanging around for ever less track time. Honestly, I think both of these issues are real problems for many folk but to be completely frank none of that really matters. The advantages and special features of the Revival Meeting far outweigh the problems. The more I see of Lord March and his team the more I feel that he is a man of some genuine vision who most importantly has invested his own money to realize a dream – how many people can say that.

This year we received an invitation for both the Huffaker and the Elva Mk7S. However as you will already know the Elva was sold soon after and so I was once again slated for the single drive in the Chichester Cup for front engined Formula Junior Cars. You may be interested to know that the Elva was driven by Kurt Delbene on behalf of Mike Malone (the new owner). Kurt owns a similar car in the US and so was an ideal choice for the event. As it happened he acquitted himself very well in the Madgwick Cup – the very last race of the weekend which was comfortably won by Simon Hadfield in Marc Devis’ Elva Mk8.

Anyway back to the Huffaker. After the Oulton Park Gold Cup we knew we were in trouble regarding the engine. It was down on power and all we had was 24 hours before departure for Goodwood. The engine builder was summoned from Manchester and over he came to do his best – or worst. After several hours adjusting things such as the timing and jets the message was clear – Goodwood was going to be a real problem because the engine was no better. To say that we are unhappy with this experience would be an understatement because a so-called engine builder has delivered two unserviceable engines that are simply not fit for purpose. These engines have been provided for the two biggest historic race event of the year slated for the Huffaker. I am sure anyone will understand when I say that the issue has not yet been dismissed.

After the signing on and scrutineering – as well as the cricket match and drivers briefing – the car was due out on the Friday morning for official qualifying. Now the Chichester Cup contained what was probably the strongest field of front engined Formula Junior Cars since Monaco 2004 – when we finished second behind Joe Collasacco. Lots of Ford engined cars including several Lola Mk2s and a couple of U2s were here on a fast power circuit. Therefore I was pretty sure that we were going to be eaten alive on the straights. Sadly I was not wrong and after practice was marooned in 15th slot despite the cat being magic around the sweeping bends. All I could do was hope for rain in the race!

One small bright spot was the performance of the newly fitted Goldstar Racecam which was so expertly sorted by the ever helpful John Dunham. The film produced allowed me convince all concerned that it was indeed the engine that was at fault rather that a completely useless driver. I cannot recommend this product highly enough and have already used the footage to demonstrate where I am losing time in the F5000 car.

Friday afternoon also saw the strange crashes suffered by Adrian Newey and Dario Franchitti. Both crashed lightweight E-Type Jaguars at high speed and both suffered head injuries that required a trip to hospital. Thankfully they both left hospital after one night of observation and I am sure will give some thought to their weekend. Certainly, Christian Horner of Red Bull Racing will be thinking of his investment first before allowing Adrian out again in his GT40.

I went to the Bonhams Auction on the Friday night and reminded myself that there is no end to people’s folly when it comes to buying old cars. Part of the Bianco Rossi collection was on the slate and they were worth a look. However they mostly had dubious provenance and ALL needed a total rebuild. Despite this some of the prices were very impressive – for example £70K+ for a shed of a Lotus 11 and £350K for a Mirage that will need at least another £150K to restore!

Saturday morning – race day and it was raining at last!! How can I describe the race? Not wet enough for my tastes but wet enough to make up 5 places in a race that was stopped after six laps to allow a plane land! I have never experience that before I must admit. After reforming on the grid we all set off for a five lap sprint. The film of the race really tells it all. I was all over the cars in front around the corners before they simply walked away under power down the straights. I reckon we were losing at least a second per straight – more than three seconds a lap down to the engine alone before even considering my incompetence. However I did get into a great dice with Ned Spieker and Tony Steele in their Lola Mk2s. I did manage to get past them both through Lavant and ultimately finished a somewhat frustrated 10th. Robin Longdon won a close battle with Stuart Roach who was followed by Derek Walker.

The rain produced some stunning races later in the day – Derek Bell (Jaguar Mk1) fending off Tony Jardine (Austin A35) in the St. Mary’s Trophy was spectacular as was Gary Pearson’s win in the P25 BRM front engined GP car. However for me the best performance was Duncan Dayton and Bobby Rahal battling it out in evil conditions in a pair of Brabham BT11 racers. Right on the limit they demonstrated wonderful skill leaving almost everyone else far behind.

Other highlights included the usually fantastic gala dinner – an Indian theme this time around which ensured some spectacular outfits – the biggest collection of Spitfires since WWII and of course the most amazing array of historic cars available to look at up close and perhaps even touch in the right circumstances. I know it can be a pain but I can’t wait until next year when I hope the noble Lord and his team will once again look kindly on this humble outfit.

 

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