When tin-tops arrived at Goodwood in the '60s it brought out the stars

15th February 2017
Paul Fearnley

A brace of double Formula 1 world champions; a two-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner and a Ferrari Grand Prix star; plus a Baronet and an Australian nicknamed ‘Yogi’: all won at Goodwood – in the “ordinary family saloons… against evenly matched opposition” of the British Saloon Car Championship (BSCC).


Triple world champion Jack Brabham was not so fortunate. Setting the pace in qualifying for 1964’s St Mary’s Trophy, he sensed something amiss and braked early for the next corner. His accident was huge even so – as befitting two tonnes of 7-litre Ford Galaxie in ugly flight.

Motor Sport magazine described it thus: “… a crashing and banging the like of which had never been heard before on the Sussex circuit.”

A puncture had plunged the car into the earth bank at Madgwick, which flipped it. A remarkably calm Brabham was walking to the pits when he spotted his team boss running pell-mell towards him. Alan Brown shot right by him – no eye contact, no solicitous enquiry – shouting, “How bad’s my car?” Not good, as it happened.

Two years later, Brabham put Brown’s muscular 4.7-litre Ford Mustang on pole, only to suffer another puncture, this time just before the start. Forced to use an unscrubbed front tyre, he dropped to third but, grip returning gradually, finished a closing second.

The unexpected winner on that occasion – the last of eight BSCC rounds held at Goodwood – was the Race Proved by Willment Galaxie of Brian Muir. ‘Yogi’ was already 31 by the time he arrived in the UK in 1962 – and was employed as a mechanic by Brabham.


Employed by Brabham again in 1965 – Muir had returned home briefly to prove his worth as a driver in the Australian Touring Car Championship – 1966 was his breakthrough year. Though he drove a works Ford MkII at Le Mans – as a late replacement – and an AC Daytona Cobra Coupe during that season, saloons remained his first love. 

Over the next 13 years he would score 22 more BSCC wins – in Ford Falcon Sprint, Chevrolet Camaro, Capri RS2600, BMW 3.0 CSL and 3-litre Capri. The rise in popularity of this form of the sport had created a niche for specialists – and, for a time, persuaded the sport’s biggest names to mix it with them.

Goodwood played no part in the British Racing Sports Car Club’s inaugural BSCC of 1958 – its nine rounds being shared unequally between three circuits: seven at Brands Hatch and one apiece at Mallory Park and Crystal Palace. 

In 1959, however, two of its eight were hosted by Goodwood. (Aintree, Silverstone and Snetterton also joined the party). The first of them opened the championship and concluded a wet Easter Bank Holiday Monday meeting. Jaguars dominated the 10-lapper, its 3.4-litre Mk1 filling the first four places.

Roy Salvadori, who that June would win Le Mans with Aston Martin, qualified his example, prepared by Guildford car dealer and arch enthusiast John ‘Noddy’ Coombs, on pole, but had to give best to Ivor Bueb – already a double Le Mans-winner with Jaguar – in the race.

The latter’s car, prepared by Tom Sopwith Jnr’s Equipe Endeavour, finished 6.6 seconds ahead. Sadly ‘Ivor the Driver’, who also won that meeting’s sportscar race in a Lister-Jaguar, would that August succumb to injuries sustained in a Formula 2 Cooper crash at Clermont-Ferrand.

Clark (Galaxie) vs Hill (Jag) at the off 1963, BSCC, Brands Hatch.

Clark (Galaxie) vs Hill (Jag) at the off 1963, BSCC, Brands Hatch.

The second BSCC race at Goodwood was a strange affair.

A date clash in May saw the championship’s four capacity classes split between two circuits: the tiddlers negotiated the tight confines of Crystal Palace; the big guns enjoyed the sweeps of Goodwood. But most of the big names were at the ’Palace trying to win its London Trophy F2 race – Salvadori beat Bueb on this occasion – and so racing Baronet Sir Gawaine Baillie took the honours at Goodwood.

Not that his Mk1 3.4 actually won. The race included GT cars to bolster its grid and Peter Lumsden’s Lotus Elite was first past the chequered flag. Those graceful, spacious, pacy Jaguars, now in 3.8-litre Mk2 form – and beloved of getaway drivers – were still the saloons to beat when the BSCC returned to Goodwood in Easter 1961 for the newly named St Mary’s Trophy. It was wet again and Equipe Endeavour won again – this time thanks to “masterful” Mike Parkes, who also beat the sister cars of Salvadori, Graham Hill and Bruce McLaren – established Grand Prix stars all – to pole.

The lanky Parkes yearned to join them at the highest level, but his Formula 1 ambition was thwarted until 1966 – whereupon Enzo Ferrari invited him to replace departed 1964 world champion John Surtees.

Parkes promptly finished second in the French GP at Reims.

Brabham (Mustang) leading Clark (Cortina) at Oulton Park

Brabham (Mustang) leading Clark (Cortina) at Oulton Park

Hill continued Jaguar’s Goodwood streak through 1962-’63, his Coombs car defeating Salvadori each time. By 1964, however, the Jags were in danger of extinction, for the Yanks had arrived: over the top, overpowering and over here.

This Americanisation had begun in 1961 when Dan Gurney, with his crew cut and can-do Californian attitude, easily outran the Jaguars at Silverstone – until a wheel broke free from his Chevrolet Impala.

The shocked establishment promptly drew up the drawbridge, insisting that the Chevy did not comply with the regulations.

It was a stitch-up. 

The locals were more amenable when in the middle of 1963 that most English of racers, ‘Gentleman’ Jack Sears, swapped a Cortina for a Galaxie and became the first to win the BSCC title twice. 

And when Baillie’s Galaxie was forced to join Brabham’s wreck on the Goodwood sidelines when its transmission failed on the warm-up lap, Sears was the clear favourite to win the 1964 St Mary’s Trophy.

The plucky Cortina (Clark) leads Brabham's Mustang at Oulton, 1965

The plucky Cortina (Clark) leads Brabham's Mustang at Oulton, 1965

Not that anyone had told Jim Clark.

The reigning world champion’s 1,600cc Ford Lotus Cortina burst into the lead from the front row, and although Sears was ahead by the end of the first lap – and was never headed thereafter – it was Clark’s three-wheeling antics that kept the crowd entertained.

The brilliant Scot was on his way to becoming BSCC champion. Not only did he win his capacity class at all eight rounds but also he took outright victories at Oulton Park (twice) and Crystal Palace. He would add another outright victory to his BSCC CV at Easter Goodwood in 1965.

It wasn’t wet this time – it snowed.

The race was shortened from ten to five laps, so that the main event – the Sunday Mirror International Trophy for 1.5-litre F1 cars – remained within its allotted TV schedule.

No matter, Clark’s Lotus Cortina beat the Mustangs by a mile in the slippery conditions.

That day he also won the Lavant Cup for sports cars – in a 4.7-litre V8 Lotus 30 even he considered tricky to drive – as well as the aforementioned 100-mile F1 race by 25 seconds.

Extraordinary. Some simply are more evenly matched than others.

Images courtesy of LAT

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