By all accounts the Earl of March trophy race at Goodwood in 1955 was a cracker. It was won, after a ‘magnificent duel’, by Ivor Bueb who, in a popular press ad of the day, put at least some of his success down to drinking a glass of Ribena every day!
Bueb might have started in Formula 3 cars of the 1950s – and the dominant Coopers in particular – but he soon moved on to bigger things, including of course Le Mans, which he won twice in D-types. There was a great deal more behind Mr Bueb than a glass of refreshing blackcurrant juice.
F3 between 1948 (the year Goodwood Motor Circuit opened) and 1959 was a breeding ground of driving talent (Graham Hill, Ken Tyrrell, Stirling Moss, Jim Russell, Peter Collins – it’s a long list) and also of postwar needs-must innovation of the sort Britain does so well. With 500cc motorcycle engines, chain drive and simple tube chassis, F3 of this period was accessible and affordable motor sport. The way the Cooper Car Co made its cars – with engine mounted behind the driver – it was also boldly different, predating the move to rear-engined F1 cars.
Sixty years after Bueb won at Goodwood these ‘demi litre’ bullet-shaped projectiles on their spindly wheels will again be duelling in Sussex. Many of the machines in the packed 30-car grid come with illustrious racing histories and famous previous drivers – including the actual Cooper-Norton Mk9 that Bueb won with in ’55.
Entered with a 1957 Mk11 as a pair of cars by the Cooper Car Co, the ex-Bueb Cooper is being driven this year by David Woodhouse, the Royal College of Arts Brit who, as one of the Ford empire’s highest flying designers, is currently in charge of the pencils at the Lincoln division.
In fact this this year’s Earl of March Trophy is something of a designer love-in. Piloting his 1951 Emeryson-JAP will be Marek Reichman, design director at Aston Martin.
Most of the cars are, in fact, driven by their owners, showing just how passionate members of the ‘500 club’ are. Although Coopers dominate – eight are in the line-up for 2015, with JAP or Norton power – there’s a fantastic array of other machinery too including the 1952 Kieft-Norton to be driven by Rod Delves. Rod came third in this car in the Earl of March Trophy of 1998 when the race was one of the highlights of what was the very first Revival meeting.
And last year? Later Formula Junior cars were centre stage in 2014, the last time F3 cars of the ‘50s competed at Goodwood being in 2011. Famous for wheel-to-wheel racing, they didn’t disappoint then with young charger Sam Wilson winning on his debut in Charley Banyard Smith’s Kieft-Norton. That car, along with other front runners from 2011 such as the Mackson-Norton, Cousy-Triumph and Effyh-JAP, will all be back for more this year, along with other equally wonderfully named cars, all a tribute to British motor racing ingenuity.
Catch them all in race No.9 on Sunday. No videos of them at Goodwood alas, but if all this has brought on pangs of nostalgia try this minute-long clip…we’re not sure what and where the race is, but it’s in period, full of Coopers – and has quite a ‘pile-up’!