Denny ‘The Bear’ Hulme was a gruff, tough New Zealander with a heart of gold, a lovely man I would visit at his home in NZ many years later.
On this day at Goodwood he offered no opinion on finding me next to him. No seat, or seat belts… So I perched my bum on the fire extinguisher and braced my feet on the bulkhead. Down the Lavant straight at 170mph I did wonder why I had asked to do this. Denny glanced across at me, I tried to nod my head enthusiastically as I clung on to the rollbar. An unforgettable experience that simply wouldn’t be allowed these days.
One more memorable day stands out. Nelson Piquet in the Brabham-BMW.
This was supposed to be a ‘secret’ test day, Brabham having booked the track exclusively. What a truly extraordinary car, a single seater with what appeared to be a rocket in the back. Out of the chicane, and down to Madgwick, it was like a bullet shot from a gun. He had lapped Goodwood in under a minute according to Herbie Blash. A mechanic suggested he must have missed out a corner. Years later Nelson told me he had to wait until the car was dead straight before applying full BMW power or the car would instantly spin.
For those lucky enough to live close by these were special days. The same is true today but now we have racing back at this wonderful circuit.
Images courtesy of Motorsport Images. Main image, Alain Prost testing the McLaren M30 at Goodwood, August, 1980.