GRR

Doug Nye: A guide to Goodwood – with Mike Hawthorn

16th August 2018
doug_nye_headshot.jpg Doug Nye

Treasure keeps revealing itself the further I penetrate the piles of detritus and debris which accumulated when I knocked down our 37-year-old garden chalet a few weeks ago.  And in a mint copy of the BARC Year Book for 1956 – just excavated – I find on pages 31-33 a feature story headed ‘Record Lapping at Goodwood with Mike Hawthorn’.

Mike Hawthorn seated in the 4.5-litre V12-engined Ferrari ‘ThinWall Special’ in the Goodwood paddock, owner Tony Vandervell standing left.

Mike Hawthorn seated in the 4.5-litre V12-engined Ferrari ‘ThinWall Special’ in the Goodwood paddock, owner Tony Vandervell standing left.

The text that follows is wonderfully ‘of the period’ as it invites the reader to:

“Come for a lap round Goodwood with Mike Hawthorn, holder of both the 3000- 5000cc record (94.53mph – 1-minute 31.4 seconds Goodwood Trophy Race, September 1953, in the Ferrari Thin Wall Special) and the sports car record (91 14 mph – 1-minute 34.8 seconds – Nine Hours Race, August 1955, in a 3-litre Ferrari).

“Goodwood is the ‘home’ track of the ‘Farnham Flyer. It was here that he had his first successes, winning the ‘Motor Sport’ Brooklands Memorial Challenge Trophy for the most points won in a season of racing at B.A.R.C. meetings in 1951. It was here, too, that he burst into the international field with two wins and a second place in the then-new Cooper-Bristol at the Easter Monday meeting of 1952.

“So settle down in the padded, hip-gripping seat of his car, take a firm grip of the steering wheel and we're accelerating hard off the start-line and on our way to Madgwick. Madgwick is really two right-hand corners close together but the track at this point is very wide.

Mike winning in the ‘ThinWall Special' at Goodwood, 1954

Mike winning in the ‘ThinWall Special' at Goodwood, 1954

“‘I try to make Madgwick one corner,’ says Mike. ‘I keep well over to the left until I'm past the first part and then swing over to the inside edge of the track at the second part of the bend before the long sweep of Fordwater.

“‘Fordwater is a bend to be taken 'flat' in top gear except in the Thin Wall Special and the Ferrari 3-litre, in which I just lift my foot a little. If I take the first part of Fordwater right then the rest is O.K.

“‘The run into St. Mary's is difficult. It is a matter of knowing the braking point and knowing which part of the road to use. I'm still not sure which is best but I usually try to stay in the middle and then go over to the right, keeping the right-hand wheel close against the grass edge. I start the left-hand part of St. Mary's wide – you mustn't cut it too fine.’

Doug trying the one-time fastest car around Goodwood for size back in the early 1980s – when he still had some hair...

Doug trying the one-time fastest car around Goodwood for size back in the early 1980s – when he still had some hair...

“Mike drifts all the way round the 90-degree right-hander of Lavant Corner and tries to hold the power on round the second part of this double bend. ‘The slight left-hand kink in Lavant Straight isn't enough to be regarded as a corner’, he says. Here he is screaming into peak revs in third, with a quick snatch into top and full power with the speed rising over 150mph, followed by hard braking before Woodcote…

“‘Woodcote – you have to take it in two parts. The first part you take in the middle of the road like a Sunday afternoon driver – only a bit faster – and then you go wide before cutting across to the right and clipping the grass, with the right-hand front wheel well over the white line at the track edge.

"‘The chicane? I just muddle my way through!’.

“Mike says he prefers short races at Goodwood – about 15 laps. Time to really get cracking without making him too tired. ‘Goodwood is not as twisty as some people seem to think’, he remarks. ‘It is really quite a fast circuit and, but for the chicane, the 100mph lap would have been achieved years ago.’

Mike Hawthorn setting the Goodwood sportscar lap record in his works Ferrari 750 Monza, 1955

Mike Hawthorn setting the Goodwood sportscar lap record in his works Ferrari 750 Monza, 1955

“Mike's estimate for the record lap this year? ‘Around 1 minute 30 seconds [96mph]’.

“Footnote, by Stirling Moss. ‘Of all the corners I know on circuits all over the world Lavant is the most critical of all from the point of raising the lap speed. Take it just right and you can save seconds over the slower cars. Take it wrong and your lap speed is right down.’

“Stirling's estimate of this year's record lap? ‘Something like 1.28.’ And that is around 98mph”

Brief, succinct, and to the point.  I’m not sure any of the above will be of much use to the drivers in our 20th Revival Meeting now imminent, but regardless, it is always nice to find an unsuspected piece of treasure from the old, demolished summer house…

Photography courtesy of The GP Library.

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