Revival is a great family occasion. Just ask the historic motor racing world’s favourite drummer, Nick Mason…
Nick, his wife Annette and daughter Holly will all be lining up on the grids this year, as will be Holly’s husband Marino Franchitti. Indeed so familiar are they all at Goodwood that it would be a very odd Revival if they weren’t.
Their cars this year? There are plenty to choose from after all – Nick’s collection of mostly historic sports racers currently numbers between 35 and 40. Goodwood bound, perhaps as you read this, from their Gloucestershire hideaway are Maserati Birdcage, Maserati 250F, AC Ace, Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica and, appropriately in its 60th year, a Jaguar D-type.
‘The D-type is one of the cars Nick has had the longest but he has never actually raced it – or any other D-type – before,’ Charles Knill-Jones, the man with the job of looking after Nick’s car collection, told us when Goodwood Road & Racing dropped in on him.
‘The D-type is utterly unbelievable – 40,000 miles from new, never been completely rebuilt, just four owners. It will be slow but Nick will be just out to enjoy himself.’ Maybe not a cigar moment then; in fact Nick has just one of Goodwood’s famous winners’ cigars, from 2009 when he claimed victory in his favourite Aston Martin Ulster (he has three of ’em), LM21.
The D-type is a 1954 short-nose, non-fin model, as once owned by the late Alan Clark MP. It has some race history but its major claim to fame is its total originality. At Revival Nick will be driving it in both the Lavant Cup for D-types – where he will be up against another D-type virgin by the name of Derek Bell – and in the D-type birthday parade.
The story of the Jaguar, says Charles, is that Nick bought it to form a part-ex deal to get the car he really wanted – a Ferrari 250GTO. But the Ferrari owner didn’t fancy a D-type so, in 1978, Nick bought the GTO anyway. And of course kept the D-type.
‘Nick really enjoys his time at Goodwood,’ Charles told us, in between bolting on the Birdcage’s exhaust manifold (there are better times to visit a workshop preparing six cars for Revival than just days ahead of the event – sorry Charles).
‘Revival is one of about 10 events we do through the year but Nick enjoys it far more than Spa or the Nurburgring. He is semi-retired from racing now and concentrating on the band at the moment.’ (A new Pink Floyd album, The Endless River, is due to be released in October.)
And the other cars at Revival? Annette will be driving the Frazer Nash, Holly the AC Ace, her husband Marino (younger brother of the IndyCar champ Dario Franchitti) the Maserati Birdcage, while the 250F will be piloted by the writer and racer Mark Hales, who will also be sharing the Birdcage.
The sixth car en route from the remote barn in which the collection is prepared and stored, home to both Nick’s company Ten Tenths and Charles Knill-Jones’ Bugatti specialists Tula Engineering, is a Bugatti Type 59. Nick Mason owns three Bugs but not this one.
Since the owner will be driving his ERA at Revival the task of piloting this one has fallen to Charles. He won the Bugatti race at the 72nd Members’ Meeting in a Type 35B, but driving the Type 59 is, he says, something else again. Like Nick’s racing debut in the D-type, it will be the first time this self-confessed T59 fanatic has raced the model.
‘To race a Bugatti Type 59 is just a fabulous honour. The Type 59 is an unbelievable machine, a lot more powerful (about 400bhp on methanol) than the T35B, with a bit more braking. The model hasn’t really been raced in Europe hard for 20 years or more, not since Neil Corner raced his T59, so I just can’t wait…’
Bugatti is what brought Nick Mason and Charles together, and now their respective companies share premises. Eighteen years ago Nick asked Charles to restore a T35 as a birthday present for his wife. When Charles got the chance to take over Tula Engineering Nick decided that rather than lose him, they could work together, at first in London then 10 years ago in deepest Gloucestershire.
‘We have still have plenty of work to do but we are all very much looking forward to Revival. We are honoured to have Marino aboard, plus the skill and daring of Mark who has been driving for us for almost 20 years. It’s all very much a family affair.’ You get the distinct impression that’s the way they like it.
The best of British: Ten Tenths, inside Nick Mason’s car collection, coming soon on Goodwood Road & Racing.