GOODWOOD REVIVAL, 02 SEPTEMBER 2007

GOODWOOD REVIVAL 2007

Goodwood Revival Meeting

 

Crash Bang Wallop - What a Picture

 

August 31st to September 2nd 2007.

Everyone gets very excited when the beautifully presented invitation to the Revival arrives.  Lord March puts on a unique experience at Goodwood and of its type it is clearly the greatest anywhere in the world.  This year was no exception and for us the whole year had focused on racing the Lola Mk1 after its yearlong restoration.  As many will know by now this has not been the work of a moment, involving a complete nut and bolt strip, chassis modifications, fabrication of new aluminium panels all round (held together with over 2000 rivets) and of course a rebuild of the engine and gearbox.

This last bit was farmed out to ace firm Hall and Hall, which is where one of the problems started.  Basically, despite their very best efforts, the engine did not get on to the dyno until the Friday morning before Goodwood and did not arrive up to Don Haldenby until Sunday morning.  Now Don is good, but he is 81 after all and working on his own, so there was still a lot to do.  The first crisis was that there was no starter motor as the suppliers had let down Rick Hall and his team.  It arrived by courier just after midnight on Thursday morning – and was the wrong one!!  (Strike one)  Then the rear wheels had the wrong offset – only on one side of course just to add to the confusion – and fouled the radius arm.  This meant we needed a spacer and also had to change the wheel studs (strike two).  When there seemed to be no oil pressure on firing the car up we decided on strike three and withdrew the car.  I know this sounds a bit pathetic and after such a Herculean effort by all concerned this was a massive blow, but Goodwood is not the place to be taking a dubious car out of the box to go racing.

Just for your information, the oil pressure was a gauge problem and the starter motor has been re-machined to fit and the car is now ready to go with wheels that fit properly!!

A Bearded Fairy Godmother

All of this meant that I arrived very sad and embarrassed to a sunny Goodwood knowing that I faced a weekend of jealousy explaining to people every five minutes about the Lola saga.  However, there was a fairy godmother out there looking for me.  Late Friday morning I received an urgent call asking me to attend the drivers club where I found our old friend Ean Pugh looking very distressed and agitated.  It seems he had had a falling out with his nominated driver and wanted to know if I would drive his Anglo-American Cooper in the Glover Trophy – another old friend from several years ago.

It took no time at all to accept the incredibly generous offer and off we went to do the relevant paperwork.  Having sorted that it was down to checking out the car with the ever faithful and somewhat long suffering Chris Davies.  Since I last drove it the engine has received a new head to stop the water leak that intervened in 2003 but otherwise the car was unchanged and came with the usual health warnings about the gearbox.  The car runs with the infamously weak Ersa/Citroen box from period where 1st is far right and forward and 2nd is far left and forward!

Practice was a simple affair – the main challenge was staying out of the way of the fast guys – which is this case was almost everyone else!  The car it still a struggle to drive fast because of the heavy steering (bad castor angle is the problem here) but the engine ran well and the brakes were fine.  We were not last – OK 4th from last – but Ean was pleased that the car returned safely (as was I).

The problem with Goodwood is the waiting around – more than at any other event to be honest.  My race was the last one of the weekend so there was plenty to watch in between.  The Madgwick race – the one I should have been in – was a terrific affair with the Cooper Monaco’s battling with the very rapid Lotus 15 of Jac Nellemans.  The weekend started badly for everyone’s favourite villain Frank Sytner.  Battling hard for the lead he took a very optimistic lunge down the inside of the Lotus at Woodcote on the last lap, tapped the leader and managed to spin him self from 2nd place down to 4th.  On balance I think justice was probably done all round and for Frank it was a sign on things to come.

He drove beautifully in the Whitsun Trophy, hurling his Lola T70 Spyder around at great speed to hold off Ray Bellm in his GT40 in what was a two-part affair.  Julian Bronson smashed his ex-Masten Gregory McLaren M1B to pieces in a nasty high-speed accident approaching Woodcote and the red flags appeared.  At the restart Sytner held the lead until the last lap again (!) when he simply lost it exiting St. Mary’s, spinning across the grass and clouting the only barrier available.  Justice again I think as Bellm was piling on the pressure in a big way.

Finally for Frank came the Glover Trophy (my race).  Pole sitter, Martin Stretton was in hospital at that stage after a mammoth shunt in the RAC race where he went headlong into the tyres at Madgwick in the very rapid Bizzarini and managed to break his arm.  So Sytner and Barrie “Whizzo” Williams shot off into the lead only for Barrie to spin and drop to 4th.  In a charging drive he battled back to take the lead on the last lap and beat Frank into second by less than 0.2 seconds – great stuff.   By the way, Martin is well, having got away with a relatively minor fracture in his arm.

Of course I only saw flashes of this as I was lapped because the Cooper was not quite in their league.  All went pretty well really until two laps from the end when the engine dropped on to three cylinders exiting the chicane.  With the gauges all present and correct I toured around slowly and parked in the holding area and switched off only to find oil flooding out of the gearbox!!  Terrified that I had done the deadly deed to the box I was mightily relieved to discover that the plug had fallen out the back.   A notorious failing in period, Ean told me that this was the fifth time it has happened in recent years!!  As it happened then, the lead falling off the distributor was a blessing in disguise because I am sure two laps with no oil would have done some serious damage even if I hadn’t crashed on my own oil before that!

So a bittersweet ending to a frustrating weekend.  The Revival has rarely been kind to us over the years but it still remains one of the truly special events.  This year was full of really great racing –very hard and nearly all fair.  Quite a few bad crashes though which serve to remind everyone how unforgiving the circuit can be at times.  Oh, and the demonstration of DFV engined cars was the best I had seen at the Revival – mainly because the pace car was a GT40 driven lustily by Jackie Ickx and the drivers ignored the instructions about staying below 70mph.  Quite right don’t you think?

I have thanked him before but it warrants repeating, so once again my blessings on Ean and Tess, along with Chris Davies and of course Anthony and Richard Taylor who looked after me on the Sunday.  They saved the weekend after all.

 

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