Working with a racing legend

There are very few times in one’s life when the opportunity arises to say: “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the seven times world motorcycle racing champion and 1964 Formula One world champion, John Surtees.”

But that is exactly what happened at Goodwood last month.

Big John‘ and self were engaged by Shell to bring the Revival to life for its guests and to mark the restoration of the Shell Classic X-100 motor oil as a brand. Not only is Shell bringing back an icon of the 1950s and 1960s to the shelves of your local retailer, but with every can sold it is raising money for one of the best causes out there – the Henry Surtees Foundation.

At Brands Hatch in 2009, a promising and personable young racer, Henry Surtees, was killed. Your scribe was at Manston that day, but had been at Brands Hatch the day before, when I was introduced to Henry by a mutual friend and was deeply impressed by his wit and easy confidence. When the news came over the radio that he had been lost, I was not alone in feeling his loss very sharply indeed, even after such a short meeting.

It wasn’t until 2010 that I first met Henry’s celebrated father, when he was among the champions who had gathered in Bahrain to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Formula One world championship. His early arrival and eager presence around the paddock – accompanied at every turn by the stalwart artist, Michael Turner – became a welcome feature of the weekend.

Then came the matter of climbing aboard his car for the parade of champions: the wickedly beautiful little Ferrari 1512, which now resides in Bernie Ecclestone’s very private collection. John was rather uncomfortable about this, as it was to be the first time he had gone on track since Henry had died and his family was far from thrilled about it. Then the car broke. Bernie was annoyed, spotted windmilling his arms in the collecting area, but Surtees himself was outwardly unmoved.

The following day, with the car miraculously fixed by the genius who cares for it, the host of champions mustered once again. First out of the blocks was Nigel Mansell at the wheel of the glorious Thinwall Special Ferrari. He was followed by the likes of Damon Hill in his title-winning Williams, Mario Andretti in his title-winning Lotus and Jody Scheckter in his title-winning Ferrari.

I was stationed beside ‘Big John’ in case there was another problem. Here was a rather wiry, almost nervous old gentleman, far removed from the confident, beaming figure that we all recognise in the photos from the mid-Sixties. He seemed ill at ease while the likes of Keke Rosberg and Jackie Stewart set off on either side amid the yowl of Cosworth DFV power – but then came the most unforgettable sight.

First of all, the Surtees chin jutted. Then he snapped his goggles down and the years fell away. Everything about his body language changed – as if to say: “I’m still a bloody racing driver, like it or not!” And with that he dumped the clutch and left two black lines running down the immaculate Bahraini pit lane. It was an astounding demonstration of courage.

Fast forward to this year’s Revival, where John was to be found signing autographs at every turn, posing for selfies, doing interviews and generally being pressed into action. He drove a Ferrari 250 LM to lead out the Lavant Cup competitors, helped to open Shell’s new vintage-looking aviation refuelling area and he played a key role in the Bruce McLaren tribute.

In the midst of all this, he came and spoke to a lot of bigwigs from Shell. As MC for the event, I had seven questions to make sure we said all the right things – and didn’t need one of them. Surtees has been a Shell ambassador for decades and knows, very precisely, what to say and when. Then I asked him to tell the audience something about Henry and what the Foundation is doing in his name. And what a response.

John talked us through his time as a karting dad, about Henry’s life and loss and then about the work that the Foundation has done since 2009. He spoke brilliantly about the lives saved because the Air Ambulance now has blood transfusion equipment. About his determination not only to make the world safer in Henry’s name but also to use motor sport to bring wayward and disadvantaged kids back from the brink.

All of it impressed upon the guests how important every can of Shell X-100 oil sold will be. And, equally, it also showed the determination and energy of a man who, even in his ninth decade, is determined to work harder than ever in his son’s name to bring some measure of good from his horrendous loss. This is the John Surtees that I have come to know. These encounters have been a pleasure and a privilege and I hope that our paths cross again before long.

On the Goodwood High Street…

It’s the place to come and see and be seen – and in the absence of We Heart Vintage at this year’s revival, the S&G stepped manfully into the breach to record the best and brightest of what everyone was doing out on the replica High Street. Were you shopping in the vintage Tesco or posing at the Shell garage? Why not relive the life, laughs and Lambrettas for a while with this here gallery, like…

Goodwood Revival Air Displays

The aircraft element of this year’s Goodwood Revival was in some ways more prominent than usual, with the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation concours being dedicated to Battle of Britain aircraft in anticipation of the former RAF Westhampnett becoming the focal point of national commemorations for the 75th anniversary. What this meant was an abundance of Spitfires, a smattering of Hurricanes and the lone Bristol Blenheim standing in all their glory on the airfield to be enjoyed up close by the visitors to the event.

In the air, however, the pall of nearby Shoreham still hung heavily over proceedings. The flying elements – a daily ‘Dawn Patrol’, scheduled flyovers by the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and performances by aircraft stationed at Goodwood for the weekend – were little more than gentle circuits that dipped down over the runway before climbing out to perform another circuit. The only non-WW2 aircraft scheduled to perform, the Avro Vulcan bomber, did not appear due to a technical fault in the landing gear.

The only opportunity provided for a proper air display was over the cricket match on Thursday night, during which a spectacular display was put on by the lone Spitfire. Elsewhere through the weekend, the heroes of the show were the Old Flying Machine Company’s pair of movie stars – Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IX MH434, a stalwart of the Revival, and P-51D Mustang Ferocious Frankie.

MH434 is the only flying Spitfire to have never been fully restored. She was first flown by aviation aces, securing an enviable record in WWII, before the late Ray Hanna, a founder member of the RAF Red Arrows, bought her as the anchor of his historic flying circus, the Old Flying Machine Company.

Ray’s exploits in MH434 remain legendary, including the famous ‘buzz’ of Alain de Cadenet, flying down the start/finish straight at Goodwood lower than the pit garage roof and flying through the Winston Bridge in County Durham for a scene in the TV adaptation of Derek Robinson’s Piece of Cake. This latter appearance was one of many film roles to date such as A Bridge Too Far, The Longest Day, Hope & Glory and Battle of Britain.

In her regular position alongside MH434, P-51D Mustang Ferocious Frankie also drew admiring glances. Frankie also had an enviable war career, followed by second place overall in the Reno air races. Since she was added to the Old Flying Machine Company stable, the Mustang has become another movie regular with roles in Saving Private Ryan, Memphis Belle, Hart’s War and an iconic presence in Stephen Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun.

The other pair working the line at Goodwood was The Fighter Collection’s pair of Curtiss Hawks. A novelty for many, the Curtiss Hawk 75 is the only airworthy example of the Curtiss P-36 lineage left anywhere in the world. Flying in the colours of the French Armee de l’Air, she was joined by one of only two P-40F fighters still airworthy, the sole Hawk type to be fitted with a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine.

Of course the highlight of the weekend for many was the flypast by 12 Hurricanes and Spitfires. And it was great – not least thanks to the presence of war veterans now well into their tenth decade, the backdrop of film and speech and music and the general level of reverence being offered up before the aircraft swooped in.

All in all, it was done very well indeed.

Didn’t you all do well?

Well that’s it for another year – the Goodwood Revival has come and gone for 2015. First of all, let’s start with a little look back at some of the many, many fine outfits put together this year. Who knows, you might even find yourself in the gallery!

A few concerns have been voiced in recent years that the whole fancy dress element has taken over the event to the detriment of the original festival of all that once was in motor racing. It is true that the nature of the event has changed and that it is now fundamentally a social occasion at which some lovely old aeroplanes and cars are present. But is that so wrong, when so many people among the record 149,000 attendees have got it so very right?

The fact is that most of the cars and all of the aircraft taking part in this year’s Revival can be seen at other events all summer long. It is Goodwood that makes it special, and it does so by encouraging everyone to feel part of the occasion. That can be no bad thing.

Yes, everyone was carrying a smartphone or tablet along with their fur stole or G.I. helmet – but that is the nature of life in 2015. On the plus side, it must have been a relief to many that silly stick-on moustaches were mercifully few, those who arrived dressed like hippies had a certain self-conscious look about them and almost any hint of training shoes or hoodies had been banished from the Goodwood Estate.

After four days on site, your correspondent was required to call in to Sainsbury’s to buy some milk. It was a harsh reintroduction to the modern world and made one wish that every day was a Revival day. So please enjoy the gallery and well done to everyone who was there. The S&G salutes your eye for detail and your relentless good cheer – it was a very happy place to be. So click on a picture and scroll through a lot of what you all got up to – and what the rest of you should be doing next year!

Ferrari’s most glamorous creations for 2015 Revival

You have permission to dribble: the racing sports cars created by Ferrari between 1950 and 1959 will be the stars of the show at this year’s Goodwood Revival. Following on from last year’s sensational celebrations for the Jaguar D-Type’s 60th anniversary, we can now look forward to a flood of rosso corsa gracing Goodwood for quite probably the most expensive one-make race in history.

Grand Prix racing may arguably have been Enzo’s greater passion, but the sales of his exotic road cars depended upon laying claim to the silverware at the world’s greatest road races – the Mille Miglia, the Targa Florio and the Le Mans 24 Hours chief among them. Thus his cars were not only built to succeed but also to inspire – with seductive bodywork that could rival the youthful Sofia Loren and the most intoxicating mechanical opera bursting from their exhaust pipes.

Everyone has a personal favourite. Mine is the low-slung 335 S which, while unable to match for the D-Types at la Sarthe, to my eye looks the hungriest of the classic front-engined prototypes to emerge from Maranello – although it’s a close-run thing.

What we can expect is up to 30 of the world’s most expensive cars, each capable of around 180mph on their narrow tyres and drum brakes, vying for the honour of winning the signature race at the world’s biggest weekend of automotive showbiz.

To set the scene, let’s enjoy this fabulous performance from a 1958 246 S at the 2004 Le Mans Classic – and hope to see plenty of the same tail-wagging, wheel-sawing bravado being applied in West Sussex this autumn.

 

Goodwood celebrates 60 years of the Jaguar D-Type

The 2014 Goodwood Revival on 12-14 September will have a treat in store for lovers of curvaceous cars from Coventry. To mark the 60th anniversary of the storied Jaguar D-Type, an unprecedented 30 surviving examples will be entered for the Lavant Cup race.

'Shortnose' D-Type as it appeared in 1954

‘Shortnose’ D-Type as it appeared in 1954

The D-Type’s importance is hard to overstate, not least because it utilised the first successful monocoque chassis design in motor sport history. An alloy ‘tub’ of elliptical shape and comparatively small cross-section provided an incredibly rigid yet lightweight structure. Sub-assemblies were then bolted to the front and rear – carrying the engine, steering assembly, and front suspension in front of the cockpit while the rear suspension and final drive were carried behind.

In many ways the D-Type was the road-going equivalent of the Hawker Hunter jet fighter and borrowed heavily from contemporary aeronautical design. The man behind the car was Malcolm Sayer, an aeronautical designer from the Bristol Aeroplane Company, had joined Jaguar in 1950 and brought with him the most advanced thinking available in the world. Sayer’s brilliance steered the Jaguar XK120 and its Le Mans-winning sister the C-Type, whose success cemented Jaguar’s reputation and paved the way for his 1954 masterpiece, the D-Type.

The Hawker Hunter jet also debuted in 1954 bearing many similarities to the D-Type

The Hawker Hunter jet also debuted in 1954 bearing many similarities to the D-Type

 

It is astonishing to think that Sayer’s work depended upon developing complex formulae for creating curves – exactly the same science that is replicated by today’s CAD software programmes. Back in the early ‘Fifties, however, the only tools that Sayer had to call upon were a slide rule and seven-figure log tables.

Sayer’s handiwork was tested in a wind tunnel. He was determined to minimise the frontal area of the car in order to decrease wind resistance and thereby increase speed on the Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans. This in turn required Jaguar’s Chief Engineer William Haynes and former Bentley engineer Walter Hassan to develop dry sump lubrication in order to cant the 3.4-litre straight-6 XK engine at 8½ degrees from the vertical in order to meet Sayer’s demands – creating the D-Type’s signature offset bonnet bulge in the process.

The canted XK engine installed in a D-Type

The canted XK engine installed in a D-Type

In addition to the structural similarities between the D-Type and contemporary fighter aircraft, several ancillaries were carried over from aircraft such as Dunlop disc brakes and a Marston Aviation Division bag to carry the fuel instead of a traditional rigid tank.

The dark green cars caused a sensation at Le Mans in 1954 and should have taken victory in the 24 Hours at a canter, but for fuel feed problems resulting from their revolutionary design. Nevertheless the superiority of these high-tech creations was clear to see when they achieved more than 172 mph on the Mulsanne Straight compared with the 160 mph reached by the instantly outdated (but ultimately victorious) 4.9 litre Ferrari V12.

Acclaimed artist Tim Layzell's print of the D-Type's unveiling www.timlayell.com

Acclaimed artist Tim Layzell’s print of the D-Type’s unveiling www.timlayzell.com

Ongoing development of the D-Types cured these gremlins and, with revised ‘long nose’ styling from 1955 onwards to further increase high speed efficiency and stability, duly conquered the world. Jaguar won Le Mans in 1955, 1956 and 1957 against the combined might of Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, Maserati and Aston Martin. More important still, it set the template for every successful thoroughbred racing car to this day, both sports-prototype and single-seater.

Today the D-Type remains a popular choice for drivers and fans at historic events. Total D-Type production is thought to have included 18 factory team cars, 53 customer cars, and 16 road going XKSS versions. The Goodwood celebration will certainly be well deserved and undoubtedly a highlight of another spectacular race card.

Has the Revival jumped the shark?

The best of all worlds? The Revival is a fancy dress race meeting.

Where should the Fancy Dress end and the race meeting start?

“That first year I was working on our car on the grid and I got the damned thing started and I looked up… well, it almost moved me to tears. I mean there simply was not a hair out of place among the cars, the mechanics, the marshals or the crowd. Apart from the drivers’ helmets you could have been standing there in about 1958 or 59.”

So said a veteran of the inaugural Goodwood Revival of 1998 who has been a regular ever since, courtesy of the fairly exotic assortment of ancient automobiles that he knows how to cajole into competitive life. But my friend won’t be on the grid or, indeed, among the crowds this year.

“It’s got bloody silly, really. It’s become some outlandish sort of theme park that bears no resemblance to the Goodwood I remember,” he said trenchantly. “You can’t see the cars for all the bloody vintage supermarkets and so on, and it’s a very different crowd these days.”

Kinky boots, kohl and psychedelic swirls - someone's idea of the 1960s

Kinky boots, kohl and psychedelic swirls – Goodwood’s reincarnation.

The phrase ‘jumped the shark’ is one used in the TV industry when a series has toppled past its peak into an often irreversible slide. It stems from an episode of the comedy Happy Days, when its nostalgic look at 1950s family life was becoming a little over-familiar to the audience, prompting a key character to waterski and jump over a live shark for no obvious reason.

Can a motor race be compared to a sitcom? Well, both are in the entertainment business. Fickle public affections have afflicted motor sport, such as the decline of the British Touring Car Championship from its late 1990s boom to today’s pale imitation. The apparently relentless expansion of NASCAR in the 2000s appears to have been well and truly checked, while endless Audi dominance has dented the lustre of the Le Mans 24 Hours.

The Revival was all about the racing for many years

The Revival was all about the racing for many years

The Revival is different because it is an occasion, rather than a contemporary racing series. It is a celebration of the past – albeit a past which increasingly few people remember. Yet it has also been brilliantly marketed and become a fixed point in the social calendar: a place where Glastonbury togetherness meets Last Night of the Proms Englishness with a bit of Rocky Horror Show dressing up thrown in.

Back when the Revival started, Lord March brought together the best parts of the original International Historic Festival at Silverstone, mixed in some of the best air display pilots and machines and put them out to a small but well-informed group of fans and veterans of the period with very fixed ideas of what was about to take place.

If you wanted to park in the circuit you had to have a car registered before 1966, the year when racing originally stopped. If you wanted to get into the paddock then a jacket, tie and shoes were mandatory for men and a frock was preferred (with or without hat) for the fairer sex. Period accessories were smiled upon. All was well.

Ray Hannah's famous 1998 flypast, as seen from the grandstand

Ray Hannah’s famous 1998 flypast, as seen from the grandstand

In those early years there were magic moments, such as the late, great Ray Hannah flying the ever-fabulous Spitfire MH434 below the height of the pit garages and the appearance of Bernie Ecclestone’s Vanwall VW5 on the grid of the main event.

The problem is that racing genuine period cars on a genuine period track inherently brings with it genuine period safety concerns. The Revival has survived numerous scares such as the 1998 accident which saw Neil Corner ejected from a barrel-rolling Ferrari 246 Dino, Sir Jack Brabham’s injurious crash in 2000, Willie Green’s bone-crunching 2005 collision with a TV camera in a vintage Maserati and Jochen Mass being pinned under a Lancia D50 in 2008.

How many more of these incidents the Revival can sustain in the increasingly litigious and invasively nannying world of the 21st Century is open to question. Racing cars crash and, when they do, 1960s standards are no longer palatable. Add in the precedent of  ‘bend it and mend it’ court action witnessed earlier this year when a journalist was effectively bankrupted for blowing an historic engine and the day might yet come when racing is legislated out of the whole show.

Presumably it was this reality which prompted Lord March to team up with fashionista Wayne Hemingway for the 2010 Revival to create Vintage at Goodwood as the theme for the Revival. The grand plan was to merge the worlds of fashion, film, music, art, design and photography to celebrate five decades of British cool (the 1940s to the 1980s) as a backdrop to the traditional Revival meeting.

‘Vintage’ added concerts by Sandie Shaw, The Wailers and The Buzzcocks, with a period street featuring vintage John Lewis stores and beauty parlours where women could get made-up in the style of the decade of their choice. While aficionados came to see Norton versus Moto Guzzi and Ferrari versus Jaguar on the track, a whole new crowd appeared for the catwalk shows, Burlesque evenings and dancing lessons.

Behind the Grandstands a new world has emerged in recent years

Behind the Grandstands a new world has emerged in recent years

The relationship with Hemingway lasted only one year but the effect on Goodwood was profound. The movie set of period shops, streets and fashions has become the major selling point for many at the Revival, putting the racing in the back seat for many visitors. As m’colleague Mary, over at WeHeartVintage, puts it: “I loved all the vintage fashion, and the boys in my family loved the cars and planes, so we were all happy!”

Quite probably Mary is in the majority on this, but in return it means that the perception of the Revival is increasingly less that of a race meeting and more of a fancy dress party. This has left many purists, such as my friend quoted earlier, feeling somewhat adrift. They are not alone: the letters pages and online comment boards of the classic car press are stuffed to the gunwales with protest at punters turning up in wigs, moustaches, psychedelia, Dad’s Army uniforms and Thunderbird outfits, with trainers on their feet and iPhones clamped to their ears.

Certainly this chap, pinched from WeHeartVintage wouldn’t pass muster either based on the old dress code or as a re-enactor:

Stick-on moustache and mobile phone: double no-no, surely?

Stick-on moustache and mobile phone: put that man on a fizzer, sergeant!

I shall be going to the Revival this year but I shall be paying very close attention to what people believe is appropriate dress for a race meeting in the period 1948-66. While I’m sure that some outfits will titillate, it is to be remembered that it was the Morris Minor, not Union Flag-bedecked E-Type Jags or Mini-Coopers, which was the best-selling car of the era and psychedelia came a long way behind taupe in the fashion stakes.

That’s not to say I’m a curmudgeon. Lord March and the team at Goodwood still have the rosette for best in class when it comes to the welter of classic car events that fill almost every weekend of the British summer these days, from Chris Evans’s ‘CarFests’ to the bijou gatherings around London’s more elitist environs.

In the meantime, the Scarf & Goggles will be maintaining a series of features on how to get the most out of the Revival, the do’s and don’ts and the must-not-misses, in readiness for a weekend that remains unique.