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Goodwood Revival Meeting

History

In the dark days of the late 1930s with war in Europe imminent, the British Air Ministry requisitioned land from the Duke of Richmond and Gordon's Estate to provide an emergency landing ground close to RAF Tangemere.

 

The airfield was upgraded to Tangmere's "satellite" in early 1940 and the first squadrons of Hurricane moved in. In the winter of 1940/41 the poor drainage in area caused the ministry to build a concrete perimeter track around the grass aerodrome.

During the war Westhampnett saw much action from the Battle of Britain to the Normandy landings and "D-Day." Douglas Bader flew from here and Canadian, Polish and US pilots were also based here too.

 

By now the perimeter track had a proper tarmac surface, a fact which did not escape Australian born Squadron Leader Tony Gaze and Squadron leader "Dickie" stoop, both of whom were stationed at Westhampnett, and in their off hours were often seen tearing around the perimeter in their MGs'

 

After the war Gaze suggested to his friend the Duke of Richmond what a great place Westhampnett would be for motor racing. The idea quickly caught on in era when ex-RAF aerodromes such as Silverstone, Boreham, Turnberry, and Davidstow were all being considered for the first post war car races.
 

Facts

1948
Thus, after much work the very first meeting took place on Saturday 18th September. The very first race featured 5 cars racing over 3 laps of the 2.4 mile track. The very first winner was Paul Pycroft in his special bodied Jaguar SS100.

 

The winner of 500cc race was 19 year old Stirling Moss. Goodwood was to feature very much throughout his entire illustrious career.

 

The longest race of the day – 5 laps – was for Formula One cars and saw Reg Parnell's Maserati 4CLT battling with Bob Gerard's  ERA R9B-the Italian car proving superior, but winning buy a mere 0.4 of a second.
 

1949
A Ferrari 166 won the very first race the Lavant Cup at the Easter Meeting.

Peggy Lambert was the first lady to race at the track, when she drove her HRG at 1st Members meeting on the 13th August.

 

1950
The 2nd members meeting in May featured no less than two all MG handicap races – won by Mayers Lester MG and Haesendonck PB. Motor racing history was made at the September meeting when Reg Parnell drove the amazingly complex BRM V16 to its very first race victory in the 5 lap Woodcote Cup, followed by a victory in the 12 lap Daily Graphic Goodwood Trophy.

 

1951
Siamese Prince Birabongse Bhanutej Bhanubandh – better known as "B.Bira" – wrestled the lap record away from Parnell on his way to victory at the Easter meeting F1 race with his new OSCA.

 

Motor cycles made their one and only ever appearance on the 14th April – the main 500cc race going to future star Geoff Duke on his Norton from Doran (AJS) and Dale (Norton).

 

The 5th Members meeting the following weekend saw some spirited driving by a certain Mike Hawthorn in his father's Riley Ulster.

 

At the Whitsun meeting on Monday 14th May Bernie Ecclestone caused some consternation in the 2nd 500cc heat when he on the grid but drove brilliantly to 2nd place.

 

Grid positions based on actual time set in practice were used for the first time at the meeting on the 29th September – previously they had been determined by ballot.

The all conquering Alfa Corse attended this meeting and Giuseppe Fraina swept all before him in the magnificent Alfa Romeo Tipo 159.

 

1952
The famous Woodcote chicane – or Paddock Bend – was introduced slowing the cars from the run up from Woodcote corner to the start/finish and pits area.

 

It was at the Easter Monday meeting that Mike Hawthorn really showed the world his skills. Driving the brand new Formula 2 Cooper T20 Bristol he won the F2 race , the first Formula Libre race – where he beat Fangio – and was a fighting 2nd to Argentinean Froilan González in the mighty Thinwall Special Ferrari in the last race.

 

On the 10th August racing into the dark took place with the News of the World International Nine hour sports car Race – which started at 3.00pm and finished at midnight. Aston Martin certainly caused a major stir as the one of their cars burst into flames whilst being refueled. Despite this the Aston of Peter Collins and Pat Griffith went onto win at 71.09 mph.

 

In the 1952 September meeting González won twice – both times mounted on the BRM V16. In the Daily Graphic Trophy he lead home an impressive BRM 1-2-3.

 

1953
Swiss Baron Emmanuel de Graffenried stormed to two victories in his new Maserati A6GCM at the Easter meeting.

 

Colin Chapman – founder of Lotus cars – drove MK6 to victory at the July members meeting.

 

"Unbeatable" Reg Parnell with co-driver Eric Thompson won the second 9 Hour race – for Aston Martin – this time without setting fire to the pits.

 

1954
Stirling Moss won the September meeting Goodwood trophy race in his factory entered Maserati 250F.

 

1955
Goodwood held the last ever 2 litre F2 race at the Easter meeting; Roy Salvadori was the winner in a Connaught A type.

 

The Whitsun meeting had a "Celebrities" handicap race , featured on the entry list were Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe – but they didn’t arrive. Richard Murdoch was the winner.

 

Aston Martin again won the 9 Hour race, held again after a year's absence – Peter Walker and Denis Poore were the drivers.

 

1956
Crowd favourite Archie Scott-Brown in the Connaught caught and passed Stirling Moss with the 250F Maserati. Sadly failing brakes caused him to slow and then he pulled out of the race. He hitched a ride on the tail of Stirling's car at the end of the event.

 

1957
Graham Hill had his very first single-seater car race at Goodwood during the Easter Monday meeting when he drove a Connaught A type.

 

At the September meeting there was a separate race for cars up to 350cc – featuring no less than 9 Berkeleys and 2 Goggomobiles. The fastest lap was just over 64 mph.

It was also at this meeting that Stirling Moss began his long association with Rob Walker-first driving one of Rob’s Coopers during a "free-for all" practice sessions.

Duncan Hamilton managed to spin his Jaguar D type through 360º following an over-exuberant Le Mans start in the big sports car race!

 

1958
One of Goodwood's most reproduced images took place during the Easter F1 race. French ace Jean Behra had complete brake failure in his BRM P25 on the approach to chicane and cannoned off the brick wall at 70 mph – being half flung out of the car in the process. Other than being badly bruised, winded and shocked the Frenchman was OK.

 

1959
The Aston Martin team again set fire to a car and some of the pits. This time during the 6 hour RAC Tourist Trophy race – which counted towards the World Sports Car Championship. Moss, Carroll Shelby and Jack Fairman finally drove to victory, clinching the championship for the Feltham concern over strong opposition from Ferrari and Porsche.

 

1960
Enthralled Easter Monday crowds saw the first ever 100mph lap as Stirling Moss in the Rob Walker Cooper battled with Innes Ireland in the new rear engined Lotus 18.The determined Scotsman hung on to give Lotus their very first Formula 1 victory.

Stirling Moss again featured in the 25th RAC Tourist Trophy in August where he cruised to victory in the dark blue Walker/Wilkins Ferrari 250GT SWB. Earlier he  had asked for a radio to be fitted to the car so he was able to listen to the BBC's Raymond Baxter describing his race winning drive-and what his opposition was up to!

 

1961
Australian Kiwi Gavin Youl debuted the new Jack Brabham built Formula Junior car at the August TT meeting. Originally the car was named MRD (Motor Racing Developments) until the team realized that if the car was raced in France the name was unfortunately similar to a well known French expletive!

 

1962
A stunned crowd left the circuit on a bleak Easter Monday after Stirling Moss had his dreadful career ending accident.

 

1963
The Sussex police descended on the circuit during the August TT meeting. They  were looking for Roy James to question him about his alleged driving activities in connection with the Great Train Robbery. James had been and up and coming Formula Junior racer winning a number of club races here.

 

American driver Roger Penske made a rare UK appearance driving a Ferrari 250 GTO for Luigi Chinetti’s NART Ferrari team.

 

1964
Jim Clark drove magnificently in the Easter St. Mary's Trophy race. Often 3 wheeling his  Lotus Cortina he gave stern chase to Jack Sears in the all conquering Ford Galaxie.

 

Sears took up the role of pursuer in the Sussex Trophy for GT cars as he showed the potential of the Shelby Cobra. Graham Hill in the Maranello Concessionaires 1964 bodied Ferrari 250 GTO had his mirror’s full of the Cobra throughout the whole race.

Cobras finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd in class in the August TT race. Popular Californian Dan Gurney steered the magnificent Daytona Coupe Cobra to an unchallenged class victory.

 

1965
So bad was the weather at Easter that the Formula 3 race was stopped, and re-started and the saloon car race reduced  from 10 laps to a mere five.

Jim Clark won the last ever Formula 1 race at Goodwood in the Lotus 25.

 

1966
Concerned about the ever rising speeds the Goodwood organisers banned all cars over 3 liters – including F1. So, in what eventually turned out to be the last season the main race at Easter was for Formula Two – Jack Brabham and Denny Hulme dominated proceedings in their Brabham Hondas.

 

The 71st members meeting on the 2nd July saw the final race meeting.

The very last winner was Dickie Metcalfe in a Lola MK.1. Somewhat fittingly Metcalfe had also driven at the very first meeting way back in 1949 too.

 

Not the End
Goodwood then ceased its active life as a race circuit, being used for testing purposes or minor club sprints. Then, following the great success of his Festival of Speed Hill climb in 1991, the Earl of March-grandson of the Duke started an active campaign to bring back racing to Goodwood – but with an historic bias. Ultimately he was successful and racing resumed on the 18th September 1998.

 

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Sources

1. “A Record of Motor Racing at Goodwood” - Robert Barker
2. “BRM, Stirling Moss: My cars, my career” - Doug Nye
3. ”Grand Prix Who's Who“ - Steve Small
4. “A-Z of Formula Racing Cars“ - David Hodges
5. Battle of Britain Web site
6. Autosport
7. Motor Sport
8. Author's records
 
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