February last year. Doesn’t seem long ago, does it? Travel the same distance forward through time and Goodwood will pass a milestone of entirely statistical yet astonishing significance. On July 3rd 2016, the Goodwood Motor Circuit will have been open for longer in its modern reincarnation than it lasted as a contemporary race track in the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s.
“My life-long addiction is to old racing and road cars, the places and people who made them what they were then and are today. And nowhere satiates the craving better than Goodwood”
The first day of the first Revival Meeting on September 18th 1998 marked not only the realisation of Lord March’s dream, but that of everyone who’d ever longed to see racing return to our most characterful and challenging circuit.
And for just a very lucky few, it held also the chance to race there.
We stood on little white circles and were expected to sprint across the track to our cars. Sprint. My knees were trembling so much I was finding the standing bit hard enough. Across the pit straight sat Frank Sytner’s ex-Le Mans Frazer-Nash Sebring. I’d driven it down a couple of days earlier through wonderful West Sussex villages, stopping for a pint as I imagined had many a hero of mine when this car was new in 1955. The last time I’d driven at Goodwood I’d spun a chum’s Van Diemen so far off the circuit I couldn’t find the track.
Down went the flag and off we duly sprinted. I wanted to vault into the cockpit but fearful for Frank’s beautiful bodywork, I just clambered aboard, threaded my way out onto the track and into a race that ended five laps later with head gasket failure.
For once it didn’t matter. For those few minutes I was racing at Goodwood and the thrill of that feeling lives on undimmed, despite being blessed to compete in most of the Revivals held in the 16 years since.
Why all this now? Because I’ll be adding a few hundred words to this slot every Friday from now and it’s important to me that you understand the direction from which I am arriving.
My day job is to assess modern road cars, but my life-long addiction is to old racing and road cars, the places and people who made them what they were then and are today. And nowhere satiates the craving better than Goodwood.
So these are my credentials and this is my first column for Goodwood Road & Racing. Expect those that follow to roam far and wide in their scope and be united only by what I hope is of interest to those who share my passion for old cars in general and Goodwood in particular.
And if you have questions to ask or comments to make, please do: if all I do is talk to you, I’ll consider the job only half done.
Pictures: Goodwood Revival archive
‘Thank Frankel it’s Friday’ will return to GRR next week