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Goodwood Revival 2009

Standards at the Goodwood Revival 2009

WHP 109 parked in the paddock

For the last few years I have been writing a review of the Goodwood Revival with a view to trying to convey something of the flavour of the event, the excitement of historic car racing and a comment on any Standards which caught my eye.

This year will be slightly different. As a result of a last minute phonecall just two weeks before the event from fellow Standard Car Club member and Standard 10 owner, Lloyd McNeil, I am now in the deeply privileged position of being able to comment from the perspective not of spectator, but as a participant in the event itself.

You can click on any of the thumbprints to see an enlargement

Rubbing shoulders with VIP's

This year, as well as a celebration of fifty years of the Mini, there was also a tribute to Stirling Moss, whose 80th birthday fell over the weekend itself. For the tribute parade, a gathering of cars which Stirling had actually raced over his long career, or cars associated with his racing career, were gathered together. More than 80 cars in total were displayed in the racing car paddocks and paraded around the circuit track every day of the three day event.

In the early fifties Stirling owned a sliding window Standard 8 with an unusual two tone paint scheme (does anyone know the colours? Stirling thinks it was silver green – one of the Renault colours, but he’s not entirely certain) and fitted with a tuned Standard 10 engine and wire wheels. 

He also raced a works rally car, PRW 532 in an Oulton Park saloon car race in 1955. My works prepared rally car would have been perfect to represent that car –right down to the colour. ( All the ex works rally cars were the same spec.).Unfortunately, this car has been off the road for some time whilst the engine is being lovingly rebuilt, very, very slowly - so my trusty 1958 Standard 10 WHP 109 in Cotswold blue, was pressed into service to represent the marque on Stirling’s birthday. It’s been rather fetchingly styled to look like a rally car although the engine is entirely standard, a bit of a sheep in wolf’s clothing, you might say.

The 10 in the paddock

Driving to the Grid

So what’s it like actually taking part? Well the excitement really starts with the arrival of the participant pack. When Lloyd had rung me at work I hadn’t really thought about any perks – after all I’d already bought my tickets and arranged my accommodation for the long weekend so it was no additional burden to park my little 10 somewhere on site and drive it round once a day. All I needed was to bring my modern car to shuttle backwards and forwards to the circuit every day – arriving at the event in a modern car just isn’t as much fun as driving your own classic, but at least you don’t have to panic about overheating in the slow moving traffic funnelling into and out of the car parks.

I couldn’t believe the extent of the hospitality shown to participants. There was seemingly no distinction between the owner of a £2,000 car and a £2 million one. Included in my pack was admission (for two) to the racing drivers’ hospitality area and the chance to rub shoulders with all my motorsport heroes both young and old.

Ironically, my work was not exactly thrilled for me when I asked for an additional day off to attend scruitineering on Thursday. So I was distinctly frazzled when I arrived late, still smarting from the ear chewing I’d had at work earlier that day. I don’t know what I had imagined, but I simply wasn’t prepared for the huge scale of the preparations in full swing. Security was tighter than at an airport.

On the starting Grid

Rowan Atkinson with other participants

My car – freshly overhauled - began coughing and spluttering in a very "maiden aunt at a strip show" sort of way. I had oil on my knuckles from a roadside stop to sort a blockage in an idler jet and I had more badges and passes than I could manage whilst feathering the accelerator. A queue of American motor homes built up behind me. Millions of pounds worth of trailered cars waited whilst I fussed about. I listened to the directions from the security guard with half an ear – after all I’ve been coming to Goodwood since the very first revival more than ten years ago and I know my way around.

Driving in, I got lost.

It looks so different covered in scaffolding! Buildings were still being painted, rehearsals of dancing girls were in progress and the set pieces were receiving the final touches. I was strongly reminded of a film set, there were people bustling about purposefully and I was in the way. Feeling distinctly foolish I found my way to the drivers signing in only to discover that I had a place in the paddock. The signage has of course come home with me as a wonderful souvenir. I hadn’t expected to find myself so much a part of the main event and I was feeling distinctly overwhelmed by the time Beatrice turned up to collect me.

Friday was better. At the drivers briefing, every one else seemed just as disorganized as I felt which made me feel better. Best of all was realizing that the chap sitting next to me was none other than Rowan Atkinson!

Ready for the off

Marshals wave the cars away

Driving through the crowds in the Paddock down to the circuit was incredibly stressful. Driving at walking pace is terribly difficult. The proper racing cars were in real trouble as they queued, many of them had the ignominy of being pushed by marshals down to the racing track – oh the irony. The Aston Martin sports racing car DBR1 apparently oils its plugs at less than 20 mph. Friday was very much a dress rehearsal for the weekend. At the Saturday briefing those at the front of the queue were told off for getting out of their cars and chatting with spectators and making the rest of us late on the track. Getting out on to the track on time meant more track time, on Friday we only managed one lap. But on Saturday and Sunday we had three circuits – oh the joy.

On Sunday we were all formed up on to the Grid for a pseudo race start. We listened to various speeches, the Countess of March sang, and we had lots of time to wriggle out of our cars and take some fabulous photos. We scuttled back to our cars at the eight gun salute. I was very anxious about starting off, as I’ve never been so closely surrounded by other cars, but fortunately the marshal was absolutely in control of events and even a novice like myself was reassured.

The 10 at speed

Coming into the chicane

On the circuit itself the track opened up invitingly. Ahead were the proper racing cars, behind the Humber Sprite and the Morris Minor – they had no chance! I had the track to myself and I took full advantage, taking the car as fast as I dared around the famous Madgewick corner where I have spectated on so many occasions. The car handled like a dream – all blockage problems forgotten. The chicane is as tight as it looks, but it was great fun skimming the car from wall to wall (well it was the chance of a lifetime). Stirling Moss led the parade but only drove round once, pulling over and waving the rest of us past. Beatrice took a photo of us passing him, I shall dine out for the rest of my days on the story of the day I overtook Stirling Moss on a race track.

Of course with all of this excitement I didn’t manage to tour the rest of the circuit and search out other Standards. Beatrice had spent her weekend exploring the opportunities afforded by the privilege pass we sported, so I spent much of the weekend trackside in the viewing areas that money can’t buy. I did see the hippie standard 10 that I missed last year and of course Lloyd McNeils’s Standard parked in the paddock. I spent a great deal of time in the main car parks helping my mother-in-law find her misplaced car, but sadly didn’t get to browse through the classic car park which I normally park in, so I missed any Standard’s parked there.

The "hippy" 10

Standard Flying 9

Finally, if anyone has a photo of my car driving around the circuit I’d be very pleased if you’d get in touch. I’m determined to collect a copy of every photo documenting my Goodwood debut. I’m already looking forward to 2010 when the St Mary’s race will feature ‘50’s cars and possibly Standards. Long term, Beatrice has expressed an interest in racing… so maybe I’ll be on the Goodwood track again one day in the future.

My mother-in- law loved every minute of her day out at Goodwood, if you’d like to go next year see: Tel no: 01243 755000

See you there!

Tony Pounder

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