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2011 Circuit Revival Meeting report



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2011 Goodwood Revival (September 18, 2011)

Ferrari Breadvan and Ferrari 250 GT SWB, Goodwood Revival 2011

Usually right after the end of another marvelous Goodwood Revival, it’s that time of year again. Inevitably we are forced to wonder how the Earl of March and his team will be able to top this latest experience. For over a decade, the Revival has been the picture-perfect historic event, almost to the point that perfection becomes a niggle. To some extent the event is hailing from a parallel universe, bringing us back to a time that never even existed in the way it is celebrated right now. How is that going to get any better? Still, they pull it off every time, with tiny but noticeable improvements to what was already at 100%. But the best improvement of them all this time proved to be the good-old fashioned British weather.

Rain. Lots of it. It had been missing from the event from almost since the second rain-swept edition. Mercifully, as commentators used to say when the Goodwood Motor Circuit was graced yet again by a glorious autumn sun. How wrong they were. There is no denying that the light of a setting sun in September, slowly falling away into the South Downs horizon, is of magical proportions. Even the ugliest racing car somehow looks right when touched by those fragile rays descending on its surface at a very shallow angle. The same applies to the smart-dressed and greased-up people swarming about between the machinery. Yet all those years we were missing out on a different kind of spectacle – that of cars struggling with the worst the weather gods could throw down at us.

Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupé, Goodwood Revival 2011

Leading Bräck/Kristensen Cobra Daytona Coupé sandwiched between 250 GT SWB and Cobra at Lavant corner
(photo 8W)

This year, we had both. We had that lovely British autumn light – mostly on the Thursday, with its traditional drivers cricket match on the pitch in front of Goodwood House, and all through Friday practice. But then a colder Saturday and Sunday brought showers, some of them torrential. Getting wet became a pleasurable experience for once, especially during the one-hour RAC TT Celebration and the weekend-closing Sussex Trophy, in which at Lavant cars were using all the road and steering lock their drivers had available to them. Kenny Bräck and Tom Kristensen were undaunted by circumstance and put the TT race away with a commanding performance in what at some time looked like a boat race.

Paddock and race pictures of the RAC TT Celebration

Meanwhile, the Sussex Trophy was easily won by Alex Buncombe in his Costin-bodied Lister. Stealing the show, however, was poleman Julian Majzub who had lucked into the prime starting position on Friday and turned the race into a sideways art class from the moment he was gobbled up by the faster cars that had started behind him. In the RAC TT, Frank Stippler did likewise in his silver Ferrari 250 GT SWB, promoting his left-door window to windshield all through Lavant, but when the gods decided to meteorogically transform the corner into a lake even 'Stippy' decided not to push his luck too far...

Lotus-Climax 25, Goodwood Revival 2011

Andy Middlehurst wielded a Clark-like performance in Lotus 25. (photo 8W)

Paddock and race pictures of the Sussex Trophy

The Glover Trophy, however, sandwiched between the two sportscar bonanzas suffered from the rain, as the 1.5-litre F1s were all at sea on Dunlops unsuitable to the conditions. At Lavant, cars were tiptoeing all through the double-apex corner, at almost embarrassing speeds. Then again, it made Andy Middlehurst's performance stand out all the more, as the ex-touring car driver did a 'Jim Clark' in his Classic Team Lotus-run Lotus 25, completely running away with the race in the monocoque car while the mere mortals behind him struggled in their simpleton spaceframes. Even though it was boring to watch, at least this was historically correct domination. That couldn’t be said of Gary Pearson’s Richmond Trophy win in his BRM Type 25, narrowly beating Tony Smith’s 246 Dino to the line – unless he was trying to emulate JoBo at Zandvoort, of course…

Paddock and race pictures of the Glover Trophy

The rain wasn't so funny either if you were one of the happy campers that had put up their tents on the public campsite just outside the circuit. Still, with the shower facilities not up to capacity – ah, something to improve upon, team! – this was an alternative way to get close with lots of water. At the track itself, however, the annual efforts of the Revival to make their event even bigger, could be taken literally. A huge chunk of the Revival Market now set outside the circuit's perimeter, joining the Bonhams auction at car park B, with the market square behind the grandstands now dominated by a period Tesco supermarket, a period De Longhi coffee bar and a period Kenwood kitchen 'theatre'. Especially Tesco's was a sight to behold.

Tesco supermarket, Goodwood Revival 2011

The Tesco at the Revival Market. (photo 8W)

Pictures of the Goodwood Revival atmosphere

So what about the racing? That was definitely top-notch again, all across the board, even though the damage bills will have been slightly higher than in previous years. Two huge crashes – by Carlos Monteverde's Lister-Jaguar at Woodcote during Friday practice, and by Hubert Fabri's Aston Martin DBR4 during Sunday's Richmond Trophy – needed medical attention, while the styrofoam chicane barriers were battered on more than one occasion, causing numerous delays in the weekend timetable.

Paddock and race pictures of the Richmond Trophy

The most remarkable performance in that respect came from Desire Wilson, who was suffering from a terrible off-day. Emanuele Pirro had run Gerhard Berger and Adrian Newey's lightweight close in the all-E-type Fordwater Trophy celebrating the car's 50th anniversary when he handed the wheel to the South African lady racer. Moments later, that most wonderful of E-types, the grey-and-blue ex-John Coombs lightweight, was stuck on the grass at St. Mary's, in a place too dangerous for the marshals to help out – even though they twice valiantly ran over to help bumpstart the car. Its driver was unable to get it moving again, urging the race director to bring out the safety car. Right at the moment it came out, Desire got 4 WPD going again, but by then it was too late: Berger and Newey had been caught out by it, and Berger's 13-second lead over the inherently slower Minshaw/Stretton semi-lightweight was slashed to nought. A lap later, Wilson went off at St. Mary's but recuperated. The big one was still to come, though. At the chicane, the people in the grandstands saw the grey machine plunge head-on into the barrier, inflicting serious damage to the car. Owner Shaun Lynn must have flinched, since the car had just been expensively rebuilt. Stretton then put a Newey mistake at Woodcote to good use to race to a surprise win against a much faster car.

Paddock and race pictures of the Fordwater Trophy

Jaguar E-type lightweights, Goodwood Revival 2011

Gerhard Berger leads Emanuele Pirro in the Fordwater Trophy (photo 8W)

Fortunately, the majority of shunts were solo accidents by drivers overestimating their talents, although Paul Knapfield took another car with him into the chicane barriers in the first lap of the Madgwick Trophy. After the mess was cleared up, Dion Kremer and Roger Wills battled all race in their Elva-BMWs – a marvelously tense affair to behold. ‘Knappy’ was also in the wars in the Whitsun Trophy, first banging off pole-sitter Gary Pearson’s similar Lola T70 at Madgwick before becoming very physical in his defense against Jay Esterer’s Chinook before being hit by a retaliating Pearson who had hunted down the pair from his earlier mishap – but that move backfired on the comeback man. In the end, Esterer prevailed as Knapfield spun off into the tyre wall into the final corner, as they came up to lap the other Chinook in the race. It was obvious that the desire to win at the Revival is growing stronger by the year – perhaps another thing for the team to clamp down on.

Race pictures of the Madgwick Trophy
Race and paddock pictures of the Whitsun Trophy

Overall, however, the on-track dicing was excellent and spectacular. The whole of Saturday, in fact, saw one race after the other develop into fraught affairs with tight battles for the lead all the way to the flag. The opening Goodwood Trophy race was a corker, with Mac Hulbert in his ERA D-type getting the upper hand on Julian Majzub’s glorious Alfa Romeo 308, while Frank Stippler in Willi Balz’ Maserati 8CM and the ERA B-types of Michael Gans and Paul Mullins were at close hand as well.

Paddock and race pictures of the Goodwood Trophy

Lola-Chevrolet T70, Chinook-Chevrolet Mk2, Goodwood Revival 2011

Eventual Whitsun Trophy winner Jay Esterer in his Chinook-Chevrolet Mk2 hunting down the Lola-Chevy of Paul Knapfield. (photo 8W)

This was followed up by a 500cc barnstormer of a race that saw Sam Wilson (Kieft-Norton) and Gordon Russell (Mackson-Norton) fight it out to the wire, while Wilson added to his win tally by also winning the race for the slightly bigger Formula Junior single-seaters. This Chichester Cup race was even more hairraising, as Wilson (Cooper-Ford T59) only just came out on top, having swapped the lead with rivals Pier Enrico Tonetti (Brabham-Ford BT6) and Jon Milicevic in another T59.

Paddock and race pictures of the Earl of March Trophy
Race pictures of the Chichester Cup

Even though they lacked an exciting lead battle, the touring cars in the St. Mary’s Trophy races were fun to watch, as usual – and there was enough drama in the wake of the leaders to keep the punters enthralled: the three-way battle for third in the first race between Tom Kristensen (Cortina), Darren Turner (Mini) and Anthony Reid (Jag Mk2) took everyone’s breath away, while Nick Swift valiantly harrassing James Wood’s Galaxie in a Mini that looked like it could disappear into the big bad Ford any time gave us many more eye-catching moments. Meanwhile, out in front, Richard Shaw built on the foundation laid down by Jackie Oliver to claim overall victory for his BMW 1800 TiSA.

Stirling Moss, Mercedes 300 SLR, Goodwood Revival 2011

Stirling Moss behind the wheel of Fangio's 300SLR. (photo 8W)

Paddock and race pictures of the St. Mary’s Trophy

The same applied to the Freddie March Memorial Trophy. The third-place battle between Nick Adams (Lotus MkX), Patrick Watts (Allard J2) and Lukas Hüni (Maserati A6GCS) caught the most attention, while James Cottingham and Tony Wood ran away at the front after early leader Nick Wigley had to pull out on lap 12. The Adams/Watts/Hüni fight became a battle for second place when Cottingham’s Ferrari 857S began to slow down, before it had to pit with two laps to go, handing the victory to Wood’s RGS Atalanta.

Race pictures of the Freddie March Memorial Trophy

The bikes were fun to watch as well, but that's not why were there, weren't we? The tribute to Juan Manuel Fangio, however, brought some exceptional cars to Sussex, and it was moving to see Stirling drive the Maestro's Mille Miglia 300 SLR. What a wonderful sight.

Race and paddock pictures of the Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy
Paddock and track pictures of the Tribute to Juan Manuel Fangio

As an encore: we also brought a period Russian Zenit-E camera to the paddock, along with a set of GDR-produced lenses and a complementary West-German Zeiss-Ikon Ikophot lighting meter. We armed the sturdy apparatus with two off-the-shelf and over-the-counter 200 ASA negative films and went about our business the good old-fashioned way. Here's the result of our fiddling about with that prized work of socialist technical supremacy:

Paddock atmosphere captured by analogue Zenit-E camera