One of the happy memories from the first quarter century of the Goodwood Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard was the sight of our motor sport heroes going flat out with each other in fierce competition… down the hill. It was of course the great Goodwood Soapbox Racing Challenge, introduced at FOS in 2000.
The gravity-powered racers were a hit with spectators as big-name drivers and riders signed up to take part. One of the first to do so was the late, great Barry Sheene – and now the very kart he raced in the first Soapbox Challenge is up for auction this Thursday 19 July.
The carbon-fibre kart was made for Barry by Cosworth. The Northamptonshire race engine specialists have looked after it since Barry’s death in 2003, bringing it out last for an appearance at FOS in 2013. Now Cosworth is having a clear-out and it is among almost 300 items of memorabilia and components from 60 years of iconic engine projects.
The soapbox, with its retro race car styling, was built to rules that dictated a max weight of 165kg, including driver, and total cost to build of no more than £1000. Such was the competitiveness the rules weren’t always stuck to – Cosworth made Barry’s kart out of carbon-fibre – and as race teams poured ever more design, ingenuity and money into the Soapbox Challenge the karts quickly became scarily fast and expensive.
The soapbox in the sale features a traceable Barry Sheene signature along with intact signatures from Martin Brundle and Rene Arnoux. It is being offered with a framed photo of the 500cc double World Champion racing it.
H&I auctions say they are expecting a price as high as five figures; on Tuesday 17 July the online bidding had reached £8000. For a unique piece of both FOS and Barry Sheene history it is not surprising how sought-after it is.
Among the other Cosworth items in the sale is a Cosworth CA V8 Formula 1 engine, as used by Williams drivers Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg, in the 2006 season. Complete with exhausts, it’s been transformed into a… coffee table. What a talking point over coffee – the CA was the first F1 engine to rev to 20,000rpm. On Tuesday its online bid had reached £5500.
The auction is live on 19 July at 14.00 at Cosworth HQ in Northampton, and online here.