The interruption of the Second World War meant that many drivers who turned out for Goodwood’s inaugural race meeting in 1948 were past their first flush of youth. Derbyshire haulier and pig farmer Reg Parnell was one such racer.
He had raced an MG and a Bugatti before the war, he already had 37 years on the clock in 1948, so was old enough be father to some of today’s F1 debutants. Back then, though, he was the hotshoe, duly winning the main event of the day in his Maserati 4CLT. The following spring, this combination won three races in Goodwood’s Easter meeting, then showed well on circuits around Europe.
The works teams took notice and Reg was called up to be part of Alfa Romeo’s attack for the first ever round of the World Championship at Silverstone in 1950, finishing third. After winning the International Trophy in Tony Vandervell’s Thinwall Special Ferrari in 1951, Reg had the misfortune to join BRM when it was trying to get its problematic V16 to work.
Having enjoyed a parallel career in sportscar racing with Aston Martin, winning Goodwood’s Nine Hours in 1953 with Eric Thompson, Reg retired from racing in 1957 and became team manager, taking over from John Wyer as team manager. Then, when Aston Martin quit in 1960, Reg formed first the Yeoman Credit then Bowmaker F1 teams before forming his eponymous team to field the likes of Chris Amon and Mike Hailwood. Sadly, Reg died suddenly of peritonitis at the age of 52 at the start of 1964, leaving son Tim to take over the team.
Reg’s record of 15 wins at Goodwood – second only to Stirling Moss’s 22 wins here – ensured that he was a popular driver whenever this West Sussex airfield echoed to the sound of racing.
The Parnell Cup is a race for Grand Prix, Formula 2 and voiturette cars of a type that raced up to 1953
Photography courtesy of LAT