Oh, to be at Goodwood for the Revival in September! Well perhaps not on Thursday, as the weather was miserable. Fortunately the rain held off until lunchtime, by which time most cars had found their allotted garage and our Scandinavian friends were hosting their traditional welcome. The Aquavit certainly warmed the cockles, and the herring was…interesting. Everybody huddled beneath the awnings, and the craic was good as old and new friends traded stories. Neil Hodges presented some newly discovered Pathe News footage of 500s in action, including features on the Cooper Streamliner, the 1950 Ladies Race from Brands Hatch and the 1954 Eifelrennen. The Monopoletta of Manfred Dieks was unable to attend. After some hurried transatlantic calls, Peter Becker offered the Heywood Comet which he recently purchased and Neil has been fettling. Peter was unable to join the car, so Duncan Rabagliati would take the wheel. The full entry included many of the expected British cars and familiar Effyhs of Peter Kumlin and Rickard With. The Alfa Dana returned, as did the Kiehn (now driven by Pekka Nystrom) – both cars being local copies of the Cooper Mk VIII. Tony Steele would be driving the Moss-Kieft prototype (C51).
Particularly interesting was the Cooper Mk VIII of Karl-Heinz Meub. The rear of the chassis is modified to take the BMW boxer twin and shaft-driven gearbox, which then runs a short chain to the final drive. The low engine allows for a much lower, sleeker rear bodywork, with large waist ducts for intake and cylinder cooling. The BMW engine was never as competitive in period as had been expected, but Karl-Heinz would set some healthy times once he had the gearing sorted, and the engine made a lovely crisp noise compared to the regular singles. A very welcome addition was a team from the 500cc Club Of America. Skip Streets brought the Staride of his father’s, which had previously appeared at the first Goodwood Revival Meeting in 1998. Run in period by Eric and John Fenning, this bare-metal, Norton-powered model was tended by a full team of supporters who were ecstatic to be part of the 500 crowd. As Skip himself put it “I haven’t even seen thirty 500s in my whole life, never mind all together”. Final surprise was Mark Woodhouse, who had packed his green Martin Special with his Junior, on the off chance that a space would open up. This 1953 model (a year older than Roy Hunt’s) has recently been rebuilt. The car has Goodwood history, having been raced by Norman Berrow Johnson.
Chairman Rabagliati in the Comet
|Friday Qualifying |
Friday dawned cold, but significantly drier than the day before. Now all in period dress, Shirley looked particularly glamorous in fur, and most of the other reprobates scrubbed up remarkably well. No major problems occurred before a lunchtime practice session and 31 cars took to the track in fine, breezy sunshine. The Moss-Kieft prototype suffered fuel feed problems immediately and was unable to set a representative time, but John Turner, Neil Hodges and Richard Utley were quickly on the pace. Third time around Mike Fowler put a wheel on the grass on the exit of the chicane and spun wildly for some fifty yards, before exiting backwards down the service road in the direction of the Chichester Road! He kept the engine running and returned from a cloud of tyre smoke, only to find a pit wall packed with mechanics applauding unsympathetically.
Nigel, bruised but undefeated.
Suddenly things got serious when Nigel Challis flipped his Cooper. Nigel has no recollection of the accident but it appears that one of the universal joints failed as he entered the corner. The flailing half shaft locked the rear totally, flinging the car into a wild slide. The wheel dug in, flipping the car into a triple roll in the air, before landing on its wheels. Nigel now sports a new, improved, nose, a broken thumb and sore shoulders but otherwise was in remarkably good shape. After a precautionary night in hospital he was back at the track in time for the race and seemingly more concerned with attending the Goodwood Ball “or the wife will kill me” than the previous day’s events.
Some twenty minutes later, the session was restarted, though without the Alfa Dana which refused to restart as the piston had impacted the spark plug electrode. Shirley Monro & Mark Woodhouse pitted, while Mike Fowler, Roy Wright (Dastle, under geared) and Jason Wright (first run in a Cooper Mk V) stopped early, but an impressive 25 cars completed the session.
David Lecoq had sneaked pole from John Turner by two tenths. A couple of seconds back were Richard Utley (celebrating his 50th anniversary of racing at Goodwood), Peter Kumlin (pedalling the 1949 Effyh very effectively), Rodney Delves, and Neil Hodges (in total red mist mode). Neil reduced his personal best by four seconds, despite running wide out of the chicane and bouncing across the grass for some distance, right foot never lifting. Richard was very modest about his performance in the JBS, claiming both car and pilot are suited to the circuit, but it was still hugely impressive.
Geoff Gartside was a little off this group, and behind him was another prospective battle, with Roy Hunt, Skip Streets, Per Hageman and David Stevenson covered by just one tenth. David’s drive in the Walton Special had fallen through, and he returned to Paul Hewes’ Lewis-Evans car that he drove at Silverstone. Shirley drove well, breaking the two minute barrier for the first time, and Gordon Russell (also racing a Norton in the Barry Sheene Memorial Race) continued to improve. Marek Reichman and Mike Fowler were quite subdued, but Graham Murdoch put in a solid performance in the FMS, pleased simply to have solved his long-running magneto problems. Mark Woodhouse ran reasonably, though with some gear selection problems.
And finally the Heywood Comet, having its first competitive run for fifteen years. The car was smoking heavily due to over oiling, causing one wag in the commentary box to dub it Halley’s Comet, and was gradually losing its tailpipe and gears. Duncan was unable to set a truly representative time but he completed the session and qualified the car for the first time in 15 years.
An absolutely perfect day for racing, clear blue skies, Spitfires and the return of Nigel Challis to cheer everyone – all being keen to shake his damaged hand and pat him on his sore shoulder! All thirty cars were present and correct in the Assembly Area – a beautiful sight six abreast and deafening sound. Whilst waiting for the track to be cleared, Murray Walker was a welcome guest chatting to several drivers.
Setting off on the warm up lap, the Comet was still smoking noticeably, but everyone else seemed to be OK. The start of the Earl Of March Trophy race favours the Norton engine (with the long drag up to Madgwick) and the Revival regulars (who know that the flag may fall before the 5 second board has been withdrawn), so it proved to be a complete reshuffle of the grid order. David Lecoq made the best of pole position and led into Madgwick, followed by John Turner, Richard Utley and Rodney Delves. Geoff Gartside (dodgy clutch or not) made a great start, but was still passed by Mike Fowler. Similarly Shirley, Skip and Gordon Russell were fast away, while Neil, Marek and David Stevenson dropped like stones down the order. The run from Madgwick to St Mary’s was particularly exciting with several groups running three abreast along the straight. At the back a couple of cars failed to get away cleanly. John Chisholm stalled the Arnott, but was recovered to the pit lane and eventually got going the better part of a lap down. Tony Steele cautiously threaded his way through and ran through a couple of seconds off the back of the pack. With the Kieft running cleanly, he would soon start picking off cars ahead.. However, rather embarrassingly, someone had forgotten to turn the fuel tap on, and Duncansoon coasted to a halt.
The assembly area just prior to the off.
Neil Hodges, Geoff Gartside and Roy Hunt form the third row with Per Hageman, behind.
The cars completed the first lap still in one long chain, like a swarm of angry and confused hornets. David led by a second from Richard, Rodney, then Peter Kumlin, Roy Hunt, Skip, Mike Fowler, Geoff, Gordon, Per Hageman and Neil Hodges. James Holland, Shirley and Jason Wright led Olle Linde and Marek. Hakan Sandberg cruised into the pits with engine problems.
Second time through, and John Turner was into his stride, right on David’s tail. These two had pulled four seconds on another tight battle between Richard and Rodney with Skip catching fast. Skip was attacking the circuit, passing Peter Kumlin around the outside of St Mary’. Another two seconds saw Peter leading Per Hageman. Geoff Gartside had been all over the back of Mike Fowler, and was particularly baulked through Madgwick at the start of the second lap.
The recently restored Martin of Mark Woodhouse in the pits for attention.
A train of three cars comprising Mark Woodhouse (going very fast), Gordon Russell and Neil Hodges, maintained their momentum and streamed past both on the run through Fordwater and St Mary’s. Further back Tony Steele was getting into his stride and beginning to pick off backmarkers. Pekka Nystrom coasted into the pits to retire the Kiehn.
Lap 3, and John made his move for the lead. He passed David out at the back of the circuit, only for the engine to let go on the Lavant Straight. The exhaust valve had stuck partially open, and John reported some worrying noises from the bottom end. David came through some eight seconds ahead of the Richard and Rodney. Skip appeared a second behind, with a suspicious dent in the bulbous nose of the Staride. An optimistic run at the Chicane had him punting Rodney on the rear tyre. Roy Hunt was dropping off quickly with a lack of brakes, and Mark Woodhouse pulled off. This left Peter Kumlin and Gordon Russell in fifth and sixth, with Neil Hodges flying and just a second behind. Geoff was still stuck behind Mike, and David Stevenson also found a way past. Further back, Shirley and Roy Wright had rejoined battle. Tony Steele had passed Paul Hewes (in his Mk XI) and both were chasing down the pair ahead. Jason Wright lead Karl-Heinz Meub, with Graham Murdoch close behind. Thorkil Simonsen peeled off.
Richard, Rodney and Skip now ran as one. Neil had a hairy moment as Gordon tried to close the door at Lavant, but was past and after Peter. David Stevenson and Per Hageman were locked in battle. Having been alongside several times, Geoff finally got a run on Mike along Lavant Straight, and went for committed run into Woodcote, refusing to be shut out. Finally through, he then faced the problem of the second part of the corner, just about catching a tank-slapper on the exit. Having sorted that problem, he then found himself heading for the Chicane barrier rather too fast. Somehow he sorted that and scrabbled through the Chicane. As if the gods had it in for him, all this throwing the car around had upset the float bowls, and the engine began to stutter! Fearing Mike would nip back past along the pit straight, Geoff lifted slightly and prayed. Fortunately the engine coughed clear, and Geoff was off after Per, red mist well and truly descended.
Mike had been off his usual form all weekend (“no real excuse, perhaps I just haven’t have the knack of the circuit”), and was now in the sights of James Holland and Marek. Roy Wright had passed Shirley who was now racing the brakeless Roy Hunt. Tony Steele was past Olle Linde and in pursuit. Though already lapped after his late start, the John Chisholm Arnott was now motoring extremely well and would dip below the two minute barrier, boding well for the future.
Geoff Gartside and Per Hageman pass the pits.
Lap 5 saw three retirements. Jason Wright and Shirley both retired near the Chicane. Bill had fitted a newly rebuilt magneto to the Mk IV for Goodwood and frustratingly the screws holding the cap had all come loose. Sparkless, the car coasted to a halt, and Shirley was disappointed to post her first Revival DNF. Paul had felt his engine tightening at St Mary’s, and coasted looking for a safe place to pull off that would minimise yellow flag time. With no engine tensioning, the primary chain decided to jump off and he dived for the grass.
At the front, Skip managed to pass Rodney for third place. Ten seconds back, Neil found his way past Peter for fifth place. Gordon was five seconds off Peter and four seconds ahead of David Stevenson. Per Hageman was close behind, but being chased down by Geoff who was closing down the large gap. James Holland had found a way past Mike, and as they passed the pits, Marek also looked to make his move. Roy Wright was some way back but closing. Tony Steele was on his own, then Olle Linde and Roy Hunt. These last two, the one oiling and misfiring, the other able to accelerate but unable to stop so well, were putting on a yo-yo battle as Roy was keen to get out of the oil streaming from the Cooper JAP. Roy would find a way past, only for Olle to sneak back ahead braking for Lavant. Karl-Heinz Meub had slowed in the middle section of the race, and Graham Murdoch found a way through. Now, Karl-Heinz began to pick up the pace again, and the BMW motor sounded crisp and clean.
Lap 6, and the Staride dived for the pits, the magneto failing suddenly. Rodney once again set about attacking Richard. Otherwise, positions were unchanged, though Marek was closer to James for what was now tenth place. And through lap 7, most time gaps were stable or slowly extending. Neil Hodges was flying, and certainly ruing his poor start. He set a 1’51” personal best, another three seconds faster than in practice and right on the pace of the cars ahead. This was particularly impressive as he had other things on his mind. A small fuel leak had got much worse, soaking his legs in methanol, and raising concerns that he might run out of fuel. Wisely, he had stashed his drinks bottle in the car, and splashed his legs with water. He then decided to ditch the empty bottle but, concentrating on throwing it far enough off track he somewhat forgot that there was a corner approaching and got distinctly loose through St Mary’s!
The winners! Dave Lecoq receives the laurels with Richard Utley and Rodney Delves.
And so on the final lap David put in a fast one to win comfortably. Richard Utley came in second, just holding off Rodney Delves. Neil Hodges, Peter Kumlin, Gordon Russell and David Stevenson filled the minor places, all driving well. Despite his best efforts, Geoff Gartside was unable to finally close the gap to Per Hageman and finished just a second behind in ninth place. Marek was close enough to James Holland to consider a last-ditch move, but on the final tour his Norton seized without warning and he was out. That left Mike Fowler in eleventh place, with Roy Wright some five seconds adrift, but happy. Tony Steele, Olle Linde and Roy Hunt completed the un-lapped runners. Karl-Heinz Meub, suddenly hobbled by a sickening engine was lapped by David just before the finish. Perhaps not spotting the chequered flag, he slowed to retire before the line, only to see the marshal frantically waving him over the line to claim the finish. Graham Murdoch, Rickard With and John Chisholmcompleted the list of finishers.
With no duties to perform on the final day, drivers were free to enjoy Lord March’s Goodwood Ball, which this year was celebrating the 200th anniversary of Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar. Several drivers were keen to match, with champagne, what their mounts consume in methanol. Consequently there were some very subdued faces creeping into the Paddock through the morning.
As through the rest of the meeting, interest in the 500s was strong with many visitors to our corner of the Paddock, and not just en route to the Spitfires. Le Mans legend Henri Pescarolo made the effort to browse the display, and there were several serious enquiries from potential entrants. A thick wedge of information leaflets prepared by Neil Hodges had been cleared in a matter of hours on Friday, and questions were being fielded from all directions from both casually interested spectators and a number of people who had been involved with the cars in period. Business cars and scribbled notes were flying in all directions.
Another interesting visitor was Gordon Murray, former Grand Prix car designer for Brabham and McLaren, and the brains behind three great road cars – the McLaren F1, Light Car Company Rocket, and McLaren-Mercedes SLR. In a brief but fascinating discussion he explained that the idea for the Rocket, an ultra-low weight, superbike-engined sports car, had in fact come from the Kiefts and other 500s that his father had raced in South Africa.
To sign off a wonderful weekend, light drinks were served at lunchtime, kindly provided by Equipe Lecoq. Various toasts were made to and from our Scandinavian and American guests. A special “Gentleman Driver’s Award” was supplied by Neil Hodges in the shape of a bottle of champagne. A complicated handicap system to reward the gentleman who drives more for enjoyment than position fittingly was won by Peter Kumlin, who pedalled his 1949 Effyh JAP to great effect. Competitors and guests were able to leave pleased with a successful weekend.
2005 was an important year for the 500s. After two years away from the Revival it was important that we put on a good show, and we achieved that both on and off-track. Reliability was improved and there was great competition right through the field. Almost every driver found themselves in a battle with someone at some point. The racing was at least as good as any other race on the card, and spectator feedback was excellent. Last, but most definitely not least, the social side. From the Thursday lunch session through to the Sunday reception, the 500 Paddock was the friendliest around.
All in, your reporter believes we made a good impression, and a strong case on all fronts for a return invitation to the Revival Meeting. Our most sincere thanks go to Lord March and his team at Goodwood, to the marshals and staff of the BARC, to the Scandinavian crew for their delightful lunch and to Equipe Lecoq for their hospitality.
Geoff and Martin Gartside with Murray Walker in the assembly area just prior to the Earl of March Trophy.