Goodwood Revival 2003 - Review

“I've visited racing events all over the world, but this event really is as good as it gets…” Well, that was Sir Stirling Moss’s opinion of this year’s Goodwood Revival and who would argue with him? Blessed with good weather and the usual immaculately attired and behaved audience, (‘crowd’ does not seem to be quite the right expression at Goodwood), the event once again exceeded expectations with the Saloon and GT races, in particular, being quite sensational.

In our preview we offered a personal opinion of the meeting, highlighting certain races that were likely to offer the most spectacular action. By and large they did not disappoint, the excellent website of the event will give you detailed results of each individual race but here follows some subjective views on some of the best racing (Historic or otherwise) that your author has seen in recent years.

Friday was the first day of track activities opened by an oh-so-low pass by Ray Hanna in the Spitfire, part of the Old Flying Machine Company’s ‘squadron’ of piston-engined fighters from WW2 that have now become a firm favourite at the event. The day was for practice, free and timed, proceedings being curtailed due to a serious accident involving a C-type Jaguar late in the day. The Bonhams Auction finished the day’s action, Bonhams director James Knight relieved that the rain held off until the start of the Auction - whereupon it bucketed down in torrents.

The following day saw bright sunshine, and further timed practice sessions gave way to racing after lunch with the Goodwood Trophy for early post-war single seaters, won at a canter by Barrie ‘Whizzo’ Williams in a Connaught A-type. The Madgwick Cup for under 2.5 litre sports cars followed, John Harper taking a decisive win in his familiar red/white 1959 Cooper-Climax T49 ‘Monaco’. With an intervening motorcycle race efficiently run, sports cars were back on the agenda for the final race of Saturday – the Freddie March Trophy for cars in the spirit of the Goodwood Nine Hour Races of the early Fifties. Martin Walford, driving Dean Butler's Allard J2R Cadillac was the winner, but not before Michael Steele’s 1954 HWM Jaguar had kept him on his toes for half the race – when the HWM’s brakes cried ‘enough’! Oliver Leyba’s tenth place in the ex-Team Aston Martin DB2 was a noteworthy effort against very experienced opposition, he did in fact beat two DB3Ss, much faster cars.

Sunday was the ‘big day’ and it should be noted at this point that, unlike the Festival, tickets were available for people to purchase on the gate. Arriving at 8.00 the circuit was already filling up, the car parks resembling overspill parking at The Dorchester as ladies teetered on high heels and in ‘pencil’ skirts across the grass, while their partners made those all-important adjustments to bow-tie, braces and bowler. With the opening Formula Junior event completed it was time to grab some trackside space, or re-take one’s Grandstand seat, for one of the eagerly anticipated events, a new one this year, the Fordwater Trophy now for small-engined, streamlined endurance sports and GT cars from 1960-66. Willie Green wasn’t on pole in Said Marouf’s Alfa Romeo TZ2, but he soon made amends for that on the first lap by overtaking Irvine Laidlaw in his Porsche 904 and then proceeding to drive away from the rest of the field. These little cars were fast and exciting to watch – let’s hope there’s a re-run in 2004. One of the favourites of the crowd was the tiny Mini-Marcos GT of Rae Davis which finished a fantastic fourth. Just goes to show you don’t need a GTO to enjoy yourself at Goodwood.

The two-driver St Mary’s Trophy for production saloon cars from 1960-66 was always going to be a good one and my goodness it did not disappoint. With the cars being shared by the owner, or at least an ‘amateur’, and a professional driver, and there being a mandatory pit-stop and driver change, the possibilities for excitement are endless. Four Ford Falcons were entered and they made the early running, despite the Barrie ‘Whizzo’ Williams/Norman Grimshaw Mini Cooper being on pole. Pursued by the even larger Galaxies the growling V8 Falcons supplied the eventual winner in the Bacon/Voyazides car, but with pit-stops coming into operation the latter half of the race saw a titanic battle between the leading Falcon, Grant Williams having taken over from Derek Bell in ‘BUY 1’ the Jaguar Mk1, and ‘Whizzo’ in the Mini showing prodigious straight-line speed for its size. Last year’s winner, Grant Williams had to make do with second place (and the award for the most entertaining driver in the St Mary's Trophy, presented in honour of the late Will Hoy who died of cancer last year). Truly no-one knew if the Jaguar would catch the Falcon or if the Mini would catch both. It was that close.

Time for a breather, but not for long as the Richmond and Gordon Trophy was another exciting one. Red-flagged once, it was won by Philip Walker in his Lotus-Climax 16, chased all the way by Brabham T45/52 mounted Rod Jolley until his final excursion into the Lavant gravel trap.

And so to the highlight event – The Royal Automobile Club TT Celebration, a two-driver race for GT cars of the early sixties, ‘in the spirit’ of those that raced in the original event. Another stormer. Pre-race favourite, and pole-sitter, Italian F1 driver Emmanuelle Pirro in the pale grey ex-Coombs E-type roared away at the start followed by Gary Pearson (E-type) and Peter Hardman in one of the two Ferrari 330LMBs entered – driving with his usual élan. A visit to the gravel trap by one of the two original racing E-types entered by Michael Cowdray at Woodcote led to a safety car period; and all its associated fun and games. Driver changes, cars in the pits and on-track drivers not speeding up to catch the tail of the pace car train, all led to disaster for Pirro, and when Gregor Fisken took the car over it had lost its lead. Amazingly the other E-type owned by Cowdray then proceeded to lodge itself in an identical place at Woodcote and the whole pace car scenario was repeated. The result was a dash to the flag of epic proportions with Pearson’s yellow E-type now piloted by Juan-Manuel Fangio II leading, followed by Ian Flux now driving the 330LMB, and Mark Hales in the Iso-Bizzarrini that ex-BRM F1 driver Richard Attwood had steadily brought up the field. No-one knew who was going to win as inch by inch all three closed to within a car’s length of each other, the Ferrari and Iso smoking quite badly. The die was cast on the penultimate lap when Hales just managed to slip the Iso past the Jaguar at Woodcote, while lapping a slower car. Try as he might, with all of his late uncle’s expertise, Fangio had to settle for second. On the grid for the prize-giving it was hard to see which looked the most exhausted – the drivers or the cars. The winning Iso had been so lucky with its oil-leak, the oil-cooler on the diff had gone and copious quantities of Shell’s finest were pouring out of the bodywork’s rear breather vent.

Corvette leads Aston DB4GT in RAC TT Celebration

Sir Stirling Moss in an Aston Martin DB3S

Attwood then managed to make it two on the trot with a win in the Glover Trophy in a BRM P261. The Sussex Trophy for late 1950s sports-racing cars posed the question – can Tony Dron and the Ferrari 246S Dino make it three in a row? And can Peter Hardman, driving the Sporting and Historic Cars Team’s stablemate 1959 Le Mans winning Aston Martin DBR1 give him a run for his money? Well pole-man Dron did do it again. After the familiar loss of a few places at the start Tony gradually picked them off and in an enthralling duel for a few laps with the then leader Hardman, slipped by to take the triple. When viewed from the pits balcony, the two drivers were an object lesson in driving style and car control, the wayward, constantly sliding and correcting Hardman matched by Dron’s very precise, on-the-limit handling of the Dino. Would Tony have won if the cars had been swapped, and Peter had driven the Dino? Difficult to call, very, very good drivers, one can only say the less-powerful Dino excels at Goodwood whereas the Aston has put up very good performances at other circuits. Perhaps in 2004 we may get the chance to see.

Final race of the day was the Whitsun Trophy for prototype sports-racing cars of the ’63-66 era. An early red-flagging of the race when Ray Bellm and Willie Green found the chicane was not big enough for two Ford GT40s meant a degree of bent metalwork and last minute repairs on the grid (not to mention the rebuilding of the chicane itself). Most of the top ten sadly exhibiting some sort of damage. The restart saw the first two in qualifying, Frank Sytner’s Lola T70 Spyder and Simon Hadfield’s Lotus 30, locked in a battle only settled in the closing stages of the race. Just a little further down the field, John Mayston-Taylor in the ex-Yamaha GT40 was having a battle royal with Carlos Monteverde, driving a Ferrari 206SP Dino in his customary yellow/green colour scheme. Honours went to Monteverde, but at least JMT had the consolation after the race of knowing his Ferrari Lusso had won at the Louis Vuitton in Paris that day in his wife Susan’s custody.

And so another Revival finished. A different event from the Festival, and many would suggest it is now the better one – but that may be down to personal preferences. As they say, if you are going to go to one racing event next year (F1 certainly included) this is the one. Roll on 2004.

Click HERE to see our Friday practice and atmosphere photo-gallery.

Words - Steve Wakefield. Photos - Roger Dixon - Strictly Copyright