A sudden influx of new blood – both in terms of the drivers taking part and classics on the grid – produced some of the most exciting historic racing to grace Goodwood in years, as the event celebrated its 18th birthday at the Chichester circuit from 11-13 September.
Among the newcomers was current British Touring Car Championship leader Gordon Shedden, joining fellow BTCC hotshoes Matt Neal and Andrew Jordan, who together with several contemporaries packed out grids from the St Mary’s Trophy to the RAC TT. Shedden took a Jaguar E-type to victory ahead of a pack of AC Cobras in the TT, winning his first race at the circuit, as well as battling hard with the Cortina of Andrew and Mike Jordan – one of many cars that was newly built for the event.
The most successful man to race at Le Mans, Tom Kristensen, also made a splash, charging from the back of the grid to take the chequered flag in Saturday’s St Mary’s Trophy. The Ford Fairlane Thunderbolt went on to finish first overall, thanks to a dominant drive from Henry Mann the following day.
It wasn’t all plain sailing, with a number of high-profile bumps and offs adding to the drama. The battle for the lead in the Richmond and Gordon Trophy came to a calamitous conclusion at the chicane, when a late dive up the inside of Rod Jolley’s Cooper-Climax T45/51 by Roger Wills resulted in heavy contact with the Cooper-Maserati of Tom Bailey, who had already had a spectacular excursion into the corn stooks earlier in the race. Incredibly, Jolley escaped the crash and powered home for the win.
Though they weren’t all driven in anger, the mesmerising sight of all six Cobra Daytona Coupes gathered on the grid for a parade lap was a highlight for many, with cars travelling from as far as Argentina and Japan to be at the event.
Another parade session was dedicated to the memory of Bruce McLaren and the 50th anniversary of his firm, featuring many of the cars driven and built by the racer and team boss in period. They included a Formula One Cooper-Climax, through to Aston Martin 212 and 214s, plus a Ford GT40 and his own prototype road car, the M6GT, driven by daughter Amanda.
“Bruce McLaren was a talented engineer and a world class racing driver,” said Lord March. “He was highly skilled, meticulous and always fun.”
All eyes were turned to the skies for an incredible 12-plane memorial flight past, which included 11 Spitfires and one Hurricane. The Battle of Britain was also commemorated with a speech, film and lap of honour by 23 war veterans, including 94-year-old Wing Commander Tom Neil, who saw service 75 years ago in the Battle of Britain.
The theme continued on the ground as the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation award was given to the Aircraft Restoration Company’s Bristol Blenheim, which was flown by John Romain in November following a 10-year restoration. It is the last flying Blenheim in existence.
Meanwhile, Gasoline Alley was this year dedicated to Gassers – petrol-powered hot rods that came to prominence during the 1950s. Each day began with a full-throttle demonstration on track, with burnouts and screaming tyres delighting the crowd. Among their number was ‘Kan-dee Twist’, the latest project of C&SC contributor Julian Balme.