AUG 14th 2015

Legends of the Revival ‑ glorious GT cars fight for TT triumph

RAC Tourist Trophy

Come and see a glorious grid-full of rare and valuable GT cars from the early-1960s, their superstar drivers sliding them, with inch-perfect precision, around the majestic sweeps of Goodwood on a sunny, late-summer afternoon.

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While that may sound like an invitation lifted straight from the promotional material for the forthcoming 18th Motor Circuit Revival, at which the glory days of life on the former RAF Westhampnett perimeter road are celebrated each September, it perfectly apes the sentiment in period.

For many, the highest light of a weekend of highlights at the Revival is the RAC Tourist Trophy Celebration race – a one-hour, two-driver sprint in keeping with the spirit of the originals. Owners team up with pros for a wheel-twirling, tyre-smoking feast in which beauty and brawn (the cars, not the drivers!) go hand in hand.

The TT, awarded annually by the Royal Automobile Club, remains one of the most historic events on the calendar and has been synonymous with world championship sportscar and touring car races. First run in 1905 on the Isle of Man, it has always carried significant kudos among drivers, manufacturers and teams – particularly those privateer outfits that relished taking on and beating factory squads with the same machinery.

RAC TT Porsche 718

The race came to Goodwood in 1958 – after spells at Ards, Donington Park and Dundrod – and twice hosted the World Sportscar Championship curtain-closer. That first event was a walkover for the factory Aston Martin team and its trio of DBR1 prototypes. The #7 machine of Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks led home the sister cars of Jack Brabham/Roy Salvadori and Stuart Lewis-Evans/Carroll Shelby – the David Brown-run train finishing four laps ahead of the fourth-placed 1500cc Porsche 718. However, the whitewash wasn’t enough for Aston to overhaul Ferrari in the manufacturers’ title race, despite the Scuderia skipping the West Sussex finale.

Defeat was avenged a year later, when a second TT win for Aston made sure of the makes’ title. Moss had jumped into the Shelby/Jack Fairman DBR1 – after the car he’d shared with Salvadori and started from pole had caught fire during a pitstop – and gone on to record a famous win.

From 1960 onwards, the TT became a race for production GT cars only, but that didn’t stop Moss from maintaining that winning habit. Aboard the stunning Rob Walker-entered Ferrari 250 SWB, Stirling annihilated the opposition to take his sixth TT win (he’d won three times, for Jaguar and Mercedes, at Dundrod), thanks to a two-lap margin over the Aston Martin DB4 GTs of Salvadori and Innes Ireland.

RAC TT

Moss made it seven wins in ’61 with another dominant performance in Walker’s fabulous short-wheelbase racer. This time, ‘Mr Motor Racing’ defeated the Maranello Concessionaires SWB of Mike Parkes by a lap, with a trio of Aston DB4 GTs pedalled by Salvadori, Jim Clark and Ireland, vanquished on home soil in third, fourth and fifth.

Thanks to his career-ending crash at Goodwood on Easter Monday in ’62, Moss never got a chance to make it eight TT wins. As he recovered from that infamous Glover Trophy shunt in the Lotus, Ferrari continued its winning ways in the TT, now back in the World Sportscar Championship line-up for the first time since 1959.

The 250 GTO, the lighter and faster replacement for the SWB, became the weapon of choice around the super-fast, 2.4-mile Goodwood lap, taking a 1-2-3. Innes Ireland took the spoils aboard the UDT Laystall-entered car, ahead of Graham Hill (who’d won the Glover Trophy in which Moss had been so badly hurt) in John Coombs’s car and the Maranello Concessionaires-entered, Equipe Endeavour-run machine of Parkes.

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For 1963, John Coombs’s Guildford-based squad snared a one-two, reigning World Champion Hill leading home Parkes in the Italian machines. Hill doubled up in ’64, Goodwood’s last Tourist Trophy, when he took the honours in the exotic 330 P – the rear-engined prototype run by Maranello Concessionaires – from David Piper’s 250 LM. 

More than half a century after the last period Goodwood Tourist Trophy, many of the original chassis that graced the entries will do battle in this year’s Tourist Trophy Celebration race. And it’s sure to once again provide an annual treat for racegoers and, doubtless, participants.

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Ferraris have only won twice in the previous 17 retrospectives, in 2008 thanks to Peter Hardman and Bobby Verdon-Roe in a 330 LMB, and in 2010 courtesy of Hardman and Jean-Marc Gounon in a 250 GTO/64.

There will be hordes of rapid Jaguar E-type Lightweights and AC Cobras out to ensure ‘those red cars’ don’t add to their new-age tally.

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