Fast Times

07th July 2018

As the Goodwood Festival of Speed celebrates its Silver Jubilee, the Duke of Richmond looks back on his top ten FOS moments

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1.

1995

Moss & Jenks

It was important for me that we should celebrate the 40th anniversary of one of the most famous victories in the history of motor racing. On May 1st 1955 Stirling Moss and Denis “Jenks” Jenkinson won the legendary Mille Miglia in their Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR number 722, crushing the opposition in an incredible display of skill and bravery – averaging just short of 100mph for 1,000 miles on public roads. The victory was a combination of Stirling’s supreme talent at the wheel and the navigation skills of Jenks, who had painstakingly written all his notes on a roll of paper attached to the dashboard of the Mercedes, spooling through them as they raced around Italy. To see the two men reunited with the car, and the “loo roll holder”, for the first time in 40 years was highly emotional. There wasn’t a dry eye in the paddock. Not in the best of health, the diminutive Jenks was overcome when they got back after their historic run. We had to lift him from the Mercedes and, as we carried him like a child to the house, he was cheered by the fans. Everyone knew they had witnessed something extraordinary; something that would never happen again.

To see Stirling Moss and Denis ‘Jenks’ Jenkinson reunited with the car for the first time in 40 years was highly emotional

Duke of Richmond

2.

1995

Dan Gurney

Bringing Dan to the Festival was always a priority for me. To see him reunited with the Eagle-Weslake in which he won the Belgian Grand Prix – to become the first American to win a Grand Prix in a car of his own construction – was just so special. The car was misfiring on his first run but Dan, a great engineer as well as driver, went to work on the engine and soon had it running perfectly. I remember well seeing him in the middle of the paddock, leaning over the car, spanners in hand, listening carefully like a doctor to a patient. The All American Racers Eagle is perhaps the most beautiful Grand Prix car ever and Dan was a boyhood hero, so this was a memorable moment. He and his wife Evi came back to Goodwood many times and we became good friends. Dan was a very special man, a true legend of the sport.

3.

1996

Scuderia Ferrari


Formula One is an important part of the Festival, and no line-up is complete without Ferrari, the red cars from Maranello having been part of the World Championship since it began in 1950. I decided to go straight to the top and arranged to see Luca di Montezemolo, who was then the man in charge of the race team. He seemed enthusiastic about the idea and on a snowy morning he drove me, in his Ferrari, from his house in Bologna to the factory – in itself a great experience. Luca summoned the F1 team management, via the telephone in his car, to his office and told them, “We are taking the car to Goodwood.” And that was that. There was some very senior muttering about winning races and impending Grand Prix, which were swiftly dealt with by the Presidente. I couldn’t believe it was actually going to happen, but in the summer of 1996 the Ferrari transporter rolled in through the Goodwood gates and Eddie Irvine drove the car. Fantastic.

4.

1997

Chaparral 2A and 2E


This was a dream come true for me, seeing those ghostly white Chaparrals with their space-age high wings at Goodwood. On the first morning of the event a man literally ran into me outside the house, and said, “So sorry, man, I’ve come all the way from Chicago and I just gotta see those great Chaparrals!” The cars had not been seen in public since they raced back in the 1960s and caused such a sensation with their revolutionary aerodynamics. I was thrilled when owner and designer Jim Hall agreed to take them out of storage at his Rattlesnake Raceway base in Texas and bring them to the Festival. To top it all, he invited me to drive them, first the original Chaparral 2A in 1997, and later the 2E with its rear wing operated by a foot pedal. Jim gave me the gold pin of the famous Roadrunner cartoon character, the Chaparral mascot that he gave to all his drivers. I felt very honoured.

The Chaparrals had not been seen in public since they raced back in the 1960s and caused such a sensation with their revolutionary aerodynamics

5.

1997

Auto Union

Hans Stuck understands what we do at the Festival of Speed. Invited to drive his late father’s Auto Union Type C/D V16 Bergwagen, he brought a cloth helmet and period overalls, just as Grand Prix winner Hans Senior would have worn in the 1930s. We had been scouring the world for a real Auto Union ever since the beginning. In those days these legendary machines were still enshrined in mythical tales of being hidden or lost behind the Iron Curtain. So to actually have one in the paddock was a huge moment. Like Mercedes-Benz with its Silver Arrows, Audi now generously brings its heritage collection to the Festival and these titans of pre-war motor racing attract huge crowds of fans who never saw them race. With its rear engine in full song, and Stuck crouched over the steering wheel, the car was a wonderful sight, and sound.

Hans Stuck brought a cloth helmet and period overalls, just as Grand Prix winner Hans Senior would have worn in the 1930s

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6.

2001

Bob Riggle


American Bob Riggle does seemingly impossible things with a car and he knows how to entertain the fans in style. His Plymouth Barracuda Hemi Under Glass has its engine in the back, allowing Bob to give it full revs, drop the clutch, and stand the car on its rear wheels before setting off in a shower of sparks. We decided to bring the car over for a test before the Festival and I didn’t think much of it until Bob fired it up. It was just me and the children watching and it was a completely mind-blowing moment. I had no idea it was going to be quite so spectacular and we ran for cover as the car reared up and roared away. This was his first ever visit to England and the crowd absolutely loved this amazing sight. Bob steers by looking through a window in the floor, which is fine in a straight line but not so good in a corner. Always the great showman, he had the fans begging for more – like a rock ’n’ roll encore rather than a run up the hill.

7.

2011

Lotus 56


The wedge-shaped Lotus 56 certainly demanded all my attention. Powered by a Pratt & Whitney gas turbine, and built for the Indy 500, where it very nearly won in 1968, it has fourwheel-drive and enormous power from what is essentially an aircraft engine, but no clutch or gearbox. As soon as you take your foot off the brake it surges forward and gathers speed extremely quickly as the jet spools up. I was given a briefing before setting off up the hill: “Don’t touch the button on the left or the car will shut down. And don’t hit the red button on the right. That’s the power boost for when you need to overtake at over 200mph!” From the startline, the car launched me towards the first corner where, steering to the right, my left hand knocked the button on the left and the car rolled to a halt. Not my finest moment, but a unique experience of a revolutionary car.

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8.

2011

Fiat Mephistopheles

My first experience of this extraordinary red monster, which set a new Land Speed Record of 146mph in 1924, was at Alfa Romeo’s test track at Balocco, where it was unleashed for a test run prior to its first appearance at the Festival of Speed. I was flattered to be the first to take the slot of the riding mechanic in the car following its five-year rebuild. This was an awe-inspiring experience as the Fiat test driver wrestled the furiously steaming machine around the circuit in the heat of an Italian afternoon. It was more like a locomotive than a car, the rattling 28.5-litre engine requiring vast amounts of water and fuel as it staggered around, spitting flames and smoke. Just starting it was a major performance of operatic proportions.

9.

2008 and 2013

Porsche 908/3

What a privilege this was. I have always loved Porsches and have driven this one at the Festival more than once. It’s the famous 908/3 Targa Florio car in Gulf livery and it’s just perfect for the Goodwood hill. It looks sensational and the 3-litre flat-eight engine makes a wonderful and massive amount of noise right behind your head. This compact yet super-quick little car is simply exhilarating to drive. You sit very far forward, your feet on top of the front axle, so it’s pretty important not to hit anything! The Porsche came into its own on twisty tracks like the Targa Florio road race through the mountains of Sicily and felt immediately at home on the Goodwood hill – it was just so precise and predictable.

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10.

2015

Valentino Rossi

Valentino had been high on my wish list of people to bring to the Festival. He’s an absolute hero for motorcycle racing fans across the world. And he did not disappoint. Having won the Moto GP race at Assen on the Saturday, he arrived quite late, but he’d brought his dinner jacket and insisted on coming to the party we host in Goodwood House on Saturday night. On a high after the race, he got stuck into the party but was ready to ride his Yamaha bright and early on Sunday. He loved the idea of riding into the front hall of the House before appearing on the balcony to be saluted by a huge crowd waving those familiar yellow flags. Keen to drive some cars, he changed his flight plans and stayed until the end of the day.

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This article is taken from the Goodwood magazine, Summer 2018 issue

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