Rain ensures epic TT race at Goodwood Revival

| 18 Sep 2011

Star pairing Kenny Brack and Tom Kristensen battled against a torrential downpour half way through the race to win the RAC TT Celebration in a thundering Shelby American Cobra Daytona Coupe, ahead of a £200-million grid for the Goodwood Revival’s Blue Riband contest. 

Swedish former Indy 500 winner Brack started in sunny conditions in the car that he’d put on pole, but struggled to find grip even on the damp track before the downpour as the fearsome V8 Cobra fish-tailed all the way down the start-finish straight. 

Former F1 racer and current TV commentator Martin Brundle in Nick Mason’s Ferrari 250GTO (below) soon passed Jochen Mass in an AC Cobra to take second, while Eddie Cheever had a storming start in another Cobra. Derrick Hill – son of 1961 F1 World Champion – also looked to be in his element, roaring through from seventh on the grid in Lawrence Auriana’s Maserati Tipo 151 on its Goodwood debut and was soon having an epic battle for second with Brundle on the fast-drying surface. 

Hill bravely found a way past on the outside at St Mary’s at about half distance in the 45-minute race and then set about reeling in leader Brack – then 7 secs clear – just as the heavens opened. Another scrap played out for fourth, as Nicolas Minassian in the Ferrari 250GT ‘Breadvan’ took on three rapid Cobras.

Hill was first to stop – to hand over to historics regular Joe Colasacco – followed, in the ever-worsening conditions, by leader Brack and Brundle, who pitted on the same lap.

Mark Hales took over Mason’s GTO and was catching Danish eight-times Le Mans winner Kristensen, who had a few lurid moments in the Shelby until he got used to the Dunlop racing crossplies in the wet but eventually took the chequer – brought forward three laps early owing to the conditions – 22 secs ahead of the Ferrari, with the glorious-sounding Maser (below) in third.

“I was turning the wheel more than I do in historic rallying,” said a delighted Brack (below, on left with Kristensen). “The name suits it because it was like dancing with a Cobra out there!”

The day’s racing got off to an eventful start as the Madgwick Cup (below) – for 1960-’66 sports-racers of under 3 litres – had to be restarted after Paul Knapfield put his Elva-BMW Mk8 into the inside ‘wall’ at the Chicane on the first lap. From the restart, Roger Wills’ Elva-BMW Mk8 got the jump on pole-sitter Dion Kremer’s similar car, with Denis Welch also nipping through in the nimble Lotus 23B.

Kremer wasn’t to be denied, however, and fought back to retake the lead, pulling out a generous advantage that he held to the flag. Behind him, Martin Verdon-Roe made his way up to third before nudging the barrier in his Elva-Ford Mk7, leaving Wills’ Elva and Chris Goodwin’s Lotus 23B to round out the podium places.

There was sad news in race two, the Richmond Trophy for 1950-’60 front-engined GP cars, when Julian Bronson’s fabulous Offenhauser-powered Scarab made the grid for the warm-up lap, but unfortunately went straight back into the pits before the flag fell. 

The race got off to a dramatic start (below) as both front-runner Rick Hall (Ferrari 246 Dino) and Willi Balz (Maserati 250F) stalled and had to wave frantically to prevent the cars behind from ploughing into them.

The grid got through unscathed, however, with Gary Pearson storming away to take a relaxed flag-to-flag win in the BRM Type 25. Tony Smith (246 Dino) and Eddie McGuire (Lotus-Climax 16) followed him away from the line, with Stuart Rolt making fine progress behind in the four-wheel-drive Ferguson P99.

Rolt then passed McGuire for third, with Nick Wigley chasing hard in the Connaught C-type, eventually slipping by to complete the top three behind Pearson (below) and Smith. 

The race ended behind the safety car, however, after an exciting dive for seventh place between Barrie Baxter (Tec-Mec Maserati), Wolfgang Friedrichs and Hubert Fabri (both Aston Martin DBR4s) ended with Fabri’s Aston connecting hard with the barriers on the approach to Woodcote.

The victory was Pearson's ninth at the Revival, which makes the race preparation specialist and popular historic hotshoe the event's most succesful winner since it began in 1998.

Following the Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy – won by Cameron Donald and Andrew Taylor astride a Matchless G50 – the St Mary’s Trophy (Part Two) for 1960-’66 saloons once again provided one of the most exciting races of the weekend, with some almost-unavoidable contact on the damp surface.

The diverse front row of Ford Galaxie 500 (James Wood, above), BMW 1800TiSA (Richard Shaw) and Morris Mini Cooper 'S' (Nick Swift) played a fantastic race-long game of cat-and-mouse, with the little Mini getting the jump on the other two from the start and being pushed sideways through the first corner by the BMW, before the mighty V8 Ford powered through. 

The trio continued to swap places – and paint – for several laps before BMW specialist Shaw (above) managed to stamp his authority on the race and pull out a decent lead. The Mini and Galaxie continued to tussle, with Swift nipping through in the twisty bits and Wood powering past on the straights, with the big Ford’s power advantage securing second.

Behind them, Nick Wigley managed to squeeze Michael Steele’s Galaxie past Richard Postins’ BMW for fourth, only for the two to touch and Wigley to drop down the order to seventh.