Beauty and The Beast - the famous 'Cut 7' Low-drag E-Type alongside Bob Sherrings's mighty 7-litre Ford Galaxy
Goodwood, Wednesday 10th August. Only five weeks now separate us from what is likely to be another bumper Goodwood Revival. The grids are taking shape, and as usual your Editor has taken the opportunity to sample the flowing South Downs circuit from the best possible vantage-point - the passenger seat of a Ferrari 250GT driven by multiple-Revival winner Tony Dron.
Following last year’s successful (103,000 visitors - a record) precedent of removing free practice in order to allow two full days of racing, the Organisers are now able to offer an extra race on the Saturday in addition to the Revival’s oh-so-popular regular races for pre-1966 cars, all appearing at the Goodwood Circuit very much ‘by invitation’.
Of course the Revival has become synonymous not only for the fabulous collection of cars, and ‘like it was’ door-handle action, but also for the period-theming that sees everyone within the circuit perimeter dressed in authentic 1950s and ‘60s clothes; and that includes the drivers, spectators, marshals, mechanics and Pressmen alike. There’s not many other places in a high English Indian Summer that you can see a be-tweeded deer-stalker accompanying a magnificently-coiffured debutante dressed for a cocktail party in Mayfair. The food and facilities are superb, the location is picturesque, and the cars are to die for. In short it’s the world’s best historic racing event that Britain’s leading broadsheet newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, described as ‘a weekend in heaven’. I would not disagree.
As usual, just a month or so prior to the Revival, Goodwood Events collect a few of the likely cars and drivers together to demonstrate to the members of the Press the look and feel of the forthcoming meeting. Longstanding Goodwood Revival aficionados will be familiar with Tony Dron’s many (three to date) wins in the Sussex Trophy driving the 1960 Ferrari 246S Dino, as well as his regular drives in the Royal Automobile Club TT Celebration and St Mary’s Trophy. Paul Osborn had brought along his 1964 Ferrari 250GT Lusso, a car entered for the ‘TT’, and Tony was on hand for the chauffeuring.
Last year of course I was fortunate enough to passenger legendary German driver Jochen Mass in the famous low-drag ex-Jaguar Experimental Department E-Type ‘CUT 7’. That car will be at the TT again, and I can remember Mass’s comment that it was not ‘that fast’ when considering the other ‘E’s. The Lusso in period was a car with infrequent competition outings compared to its more competition-oriented 250GT brothers; the SWB and GTO. Osborn’s car has been developed by ex-Autodelta works driver, Rhoddy Harvey-Bailey (and Dron) into a very fine handling car that would benefit from just a little more - probably non-period - power.
Using his years of Goodwood experience, Dron can clearly get the best out of it, and seeming to effortlessly drift the car through the fast corners, maintains a speed that is vital when up against more powerful opposition (as Tony has proved time and again with the little 2.4 litre Dino against the 3.4 litre D-Types and Listers). Every nuance of camber and curve is despatched with ease. Coming past the pits (in 3rd gear) the first corner, the double-apex Madgwick, is tackled with foot very much down and slight steering corrections allowing the car to drift, occasionally in ‘tail-out’ attitude.
Grabbing 4th on exit (6,800 rpm) the Fordwater kink with dropping gradient is taken flat, while our approach angle at the right-hand entry to St Mary’s brings back memories of watching last year’s TT from the outside bank. He’s braking but is almost instantly back on the power and running very close to the edge of the track in another slide before more firm braking and throwing the car the other way over the raised apex on the left. All in 3rd and powering through the dip to Lavant where 2nd is used for more tail-out drifting through to the straight. It’s on the exit of Lavant that the car’s one drawback becomes apparent - the four-speed box reveals a big ‘hole’ from 2nd to 3rd, and you can really feel the loss of momentum. Osborn explains that the fitment of a five-speed ‘GTO’ ‘box would cost around £25,000 - not to mention being non-original...
Steady hands at the wheel
Lacking the outright oomph of the Aston Project Car we experienced in 2003, the Lavant Straight doesn’t appear as downright fast. But boy does Tony make up for it under braking and through the final pre-chicane corner, Woodcote! Very late on the brakes, and taking a millimetre-perfect entry to Woodcote, another double-apexer is taken in 3rd with accompanying sliding racing Dunlops. Hard on the brakes again and down to 2nd for the chicane where but a sliver of paint separates me from the tyres. Up to 3rd and past the pits on to Madgwick again . Wow.
And come Sunday 18th September, Tony and his ilk will be doing all that with 29 other drivers, many ex-F1 or Le Mans, piloting cars such as the Lusso, 250GTO and SWB, Cobra, Corvette, and E-Type. I can smell the tyre smoke at St Mary’s now.
You can CLICK HERE for a provisional timetable and detailed race breakdown, but be assured all the favourites will be there. The £30,000,000 grid for the TT, the ‘pedal-to-the-metal’ action of the St Mary’s Trophy for saloon cars (this year from the later 1960s period). Sadly Gerry Marshall will not be present in 2005, but you can expect dramatic driving from the rest, many ‘big-banger’ mounted in Galaxies, Falcons and the Dodge Dart and Plymouth Barracuda making their Revival debuts. And did I see a Toyota circulating today?
Likely entry for the Sussex Trophy, James Knight's Jaguar D-Type sits in the pits
The Sussex Trophy for 1950s World Championship Sports Cars will see Dron re-united with ‘his’ Dino, battling against ‘the usual suspects’; Barrie Williams (Tojeiro-Jaguar), Stuart Graham (Lister-Chevy), Tiff Needell (Lister-Jaguar), Peter Hardman (Aston Martin DBR1) et al. This race is closing the event on Sunday, and it should be a stunner.
Another personal favourite is the Whitsun Trophy for 1960s sports racing cars such as the early Lola T70s and Ford GT40s, while there will be a repeat of last year’s inaugural Brooklands Trophy, for cars of a type that raced at the Surrey track prior to 1939. And the ever-popular ‘bikes will have a Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy race on both days.
Nigel Webb's Jaguar D-Type, driven today by Gary Pearson
Pre-war cars will feature in the Brooklands Trophy
And of course let’s not forget that the circuit’s life as a WW2 airbase is celebrated with amazing air displays by vintage aircraft such as the Spitfire, Hurricane and Mustang. Plus Bonhams will be holding an auction on Friday 16th at 17.30 when a hand-picked catalogue (that this year features two stellar Bugattis) will try to beat last year’s £7.7 million auction. Full preview to come nearer the time.
In case anyone needs reminding, admittance to the 2005 racing event is by advance ticket only. It’s very easy to do, you can buy on-line by visiting the Online Shopping & Tickets section of www.goodwood.co.uk or ‘phone them directly, the the Booking Office is on +44 1243 755055.
The website also has the latest news, press releases and a timetable of events. It's updated over the whole event, in real time, so if you can't make the whole weekend, every day's action is recorded for you.
With grateful thanks to Tony Dron and Paul Osborn, of Cars International
Goodwood at its most Glorious
Photos: Classic Driver - Strictly Copyright
ClassicInside - The Classic Driver Newsletter