MMR Blog

Sandy on Assignment:
My Favorite...The Goodwood Revival

Posted on January 9, 2014 Comments (5)

By Sandy Cotterman, Motorsports Enthusiast

Adventure Begins - Goodwood House

Another adventure begins…in front of the Goodwood House.

Although it never made my motorsports bucket list, everyone I know who has attended the Goodwood Revival says it’s a must, so I felt compelled to check it out. It was fantastic - my all-time favorite adventure for the year! This is an event for everyone… from the vintage racing buff to the reluctant spouse. You can’t help but have a fabulous time... even in the rain!

Stepping Back in Time

Stepping back in time.

Mods and Rockers

A friendly group of mods and rockers.

Close your eyes and take yourself back in time... England, post war ‘40s and ‘50s, through the early ‘60s… and you have the setting for the Revival. Everyone is dressed to play the part from the golden era of motorsports. Tight skirts and silk stockings, British military uniforms, fedora hats, mechanics’ overalls, biker garb and bell bottoms… if it’s vintage, you’ll see it. Even the concessions are in period, selling absolutely everything to get you into the mood for this three-day event.

West Sussex County, the 2.4-mile circuit sits on the grounds of the Goodwood Estate. During WWII, this area was a key British airfield and home to several Spitfire squadrons. When the RAF closed the base after the war, the landowner, Freddie March, grandfather of the current Earl of March, turned the perimeter road into a racing circuit. Britain’s first post-war motor racing took place here on September 18, 1948. The track was closed to racing in 1966, then re-opened in 1998. In its 16th year, the Revival features 15 races and special tributes over the mid-September weekend. I’ll give you the how-to’s for this event. But first, if you ever think you’ll attend annually, get on the list for membership into the Goodwood Road Racing Club (GRRC). Membership perks are outstanding. I’m on a 24 month wait list!

GTs

The GT’s from the Woodcote grandstands.

Taste of Victory

A taste of victory.

This year, celebrating 50 years of Ford’s GT40 history, an exciting one-make race for GT40s and related models took place. The career of legendary racecar driver Jim Clark was celebrated with 36 of the actual cars he raced, on parade. The Settrington Cup saw younger racers pedaling their way to glory in Austin J40s! Bonham’s auctioned over $23M in cars on Saturday. Tour de France cyclists, celebrating the 100th year running of the world’s greatest bicycle race, were also on parade. One hundred years of Aston Martin was celebrated in the Earl’s Court Motor Show exhibit and spectacular air shows went on overhead daily.... all just for starters!

Air shows and races

Air shows and races … all day long at the Revival.

Since I’m not a costume type person, I was a little apprehensive going into this adventure… easing in slowly. Outfitted in a black turtleneck, white jeans and big square sunglasses, I headed off to the Tampa airport feeling like Jackie O. By Day 3 at the track, I was so into dressing up that I didn’t think twice about wearing my red satin evening coat, long gloves and big sunglasses… in the pouring rain.

Before sharing my adventure, let me say that getting to Chichester, England, which is just up the road from Goodwood, was a snap! British Airways flies direct to Gatwick from Tampa, in eight hours, leaving at 6:15pm and arriving the next morning around 8am. Since tickets for this event go on sale mid-November, I was able to book a flight at a ridiculously low fare. Once in Gatwick, I hopped the train (right inside the airport) into Chichester. I personally didn’t want to hassle with a rental car and succumb to driving on the wrong side of the road. Lucky for me, I booked lodging in town and could take a five minute taxi ride to the Goodwood grounds after the gates opened at 7:30am and catch the official shuttle bus back into Chichester at the end of the day. Friends Keith Carlson and Bruce Murray were meeting up with Brits locally, and drove directly to the Estate in classic cars. The parking lots are a show in themselves!

Sandy in the Paddock

E2A and Sandy in the Paddock.

Paddock - rows of racing

The Paddock…rows of racing history.

It was a given, I would be seeing a lot of British cars, but, I was curious as to what else was in the Paddock. I was also on a mission to track down a Ferrari or two. To my surprise, there was a paddock full of these stallions! Speaking of the Paddock, a special pass, and of course vintage attire, is required to enter. Getting a Paddock pass is difficult, as you cannot buy them. That’s where the GRRC membership comes in handy. Again, I lucked out. After stopping to take photos with a group of bikers, they handed me a pass!

For me, my motorsports adventures sparkle because of the people I meet. Whether it’s a famous race car driver, classic car collector, or just another motorsports enthusiast, like me, each person adds to my adventure. The Goodwood Revival was all sparkles!

Flurry of excitement

A flurry of excitement around Stirling Moss and Jochen Mass.

I checked out the racing line-up and was thrilled to be able to watch legends Derek Bell, Brian Redman, and Andy Wallace, and also Oliver Gavin and Tom Kristensen – whom I had just seen race at Le Mans, all take the wheel of some pretty cool vintage race cars. Stirling Moss was on hand signing autographs, but more special than that, I was able to witness Stirling and Jochen Mass prepare a race history time capsule. It was a treat to run into Garth Hammers from Gooding Auctions and Steve Serio from Aston Martin of New England, who, like me, were there enjoying the weekend festivities.

Max - race car driver

Max… the race car driver.

What made this entire adventure spectacular was following one very special racecar driver through every pace of the weekend. Right off the bat, I thought I recognized a familiar face from the automotive auction world, as I was snooping around the Paddock. No, it couldn’t be, I thought. But on Day 2, while again roaming the Paddock, I ran into my very favorite auctioneer, Max Girado, from RM Auctions. It really was Max whom I thought I recognized the day before. You’ve read my praises of Max, as an auctioneer in previous articles, so you can imagine how ecstatic I was to find out he was racing… the Ferraris!!

Derek Bell

Derek Bell up second in the Corvette Sting Ray.

Besides being offered a Paddock pass at the start of the Revival, I was graciously offered another pass from the mechanic of the 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray, which Derek Bell would race on Sunday… a team armband. I hope that gentleman goes straight to heaven when the time comes, as doing such a good deed was amazing. I could maneuver anywhere inside the pits and team areas, wearing the armband.

Ready to race

Ready to race.

Following Max though the paces connected me with the excitement of the races. The owners of both cars he was driving, the 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France and 1956 Ferrari 860 Monza, told me they had heard Max was a great auctioneer, but obviously admired him for his skills as a race car driver. Max slipped into the cars with ease, all smiles, and graciously took the time to wave before taking off. Watching Max finish third on Sunday, in the No. 22, 250 GT during the Fordwater Trophy race, was a thrill. I even watched him go through the post scrutineering checks. He definitely made my weekend!

Similar to Le Mans, you really have to watch the website (www.goodwood.com) to jump on board for early ticket sales, as they sell out quickly. Tickets are mailed after the first of the year. Here is what my website shopping cart included: A 3-day required roving grandstand general admission ticket, for $206; and, Saturday and Sunday reserved grandstand tickets at $122 each, in the Woodcote grandstands. The grandstands offer a fantastic viewing advantage.

I signed up for lunches at the Goodwood Hotel in the Cedar Suite. Dinners were back in Chichester at a fabulous Italian restaurant, Carluccio’s. Lodging at the Goodwood Hotel is reserved exclusively for guests of Lord March, but you can make reservations, on–line, for the three-course buffet lunch. Hostesses seat guests together, filling up tables for scheduled seatings. The Hotel ended up being my go to place for everything… relaxing, bathroom breaks and all other meals. There was even a fleet of complimentary vintage Jowett taxis and roadsters to take me back and forth to the track. The Hotel experience is definitely my MMR secret find!

Revival

Everyone has fun at the Revival.

Forever one of my favorite adventures, I hope the Goodwood Revival makes everyone’s motorsports bucket list. It’s no wonder Veuve Clicquot is sparkling everywhere during this weekend of excitement!


Sandy on Assignment:
Conversations with Vic Elford

Posted on September 22, 2012 Comments (1)

Last April, clutching my Amelia Island program with the dreamy race car driver on the cover, I hung onto every word at the Great Endurance Drivers seminar. In August, at the RM auction in Monterey, I was blown away at the $10M hammer price for the Le Mans’ camera car, the Ford GT40 Gulf racing car, used for the high-speed close-up action driving in Steve McQueen’s epic racing film. The other day, I came across the Porsche High Performance Driving School brochure and added it to my bucket list.

Vic Elford

When the call came from Miss Amy inviting me to the Porsche Club’s Concours at Larz Anderson and dinner with the guest speaker, I was honored. When she said it was Vic Elford, I was ecstatic. It was a young Vic Elford on the program cover being honored at Amelia this year. It was Vic driving the camera car and it was Vic who started the Porsche High Performance Driving School. I was about to be treated to an experience of a lifetime…conversations with Vic Elford.

It’s easy to Google someone famous like Vic Elford and get his race stats. I was curious to learn what was between the lines. What inspired him to race? Why did he start so late in life? Was his goal to race Porsches? Was racing stressful? What was the secret to his rally success? What makes a great driver? Vic was most gracious, sharing his racing career and personal life stories over his two-day visit to Boston.

“Kids today are in go-carts at six. People forget there was a war going on when I was growing up in Britain. My father was away much of the time”, related Vic, when comparing his exposure to racing and today’s generation of racecar drivers. Then his face lit up, as he shared the single event that shaped his life. In 1949, already 14, his father took him to the races at Silverstone. “I was passionate from the moment I saw the drivers racing on the track and knew that’s what I wanted to do”, recounts Vic.

Vic Elford joins Sandy Cotterman for kickoff dinner to Northeast Porsche Club weekend Boston

Despite his strong passion, Vic said he knew he needed to make a living, so he took his keen interest in math and pursued a degree in civil engineering. How he applied that analytical side shines through in all you read about his accomplished rally and race career. With a “trust me” attitude, he pushed through design changes on the cars he raced.  He capitalized on his photographic memory, giving himself an edge in strategizing both rally and track courses. During his early rally driving, he mastered dictating pace notes, rally shorthand used to document everything and anything, yard by yard, during a practice rally run…shadows, fallen limbs, curves...anything. Sounding like a Jay Leno monologue, he recounted the scene with his team navigator shouting back the notes during the rally, to the point where he could almost anticipate the course with his eyes closed!

Vic’s stories on and off the track held me spellbound. I couldn’t help but think: How stressful. When I finally asked if it was, both Vic and Amy exclaimed, in unison, “No, not at all!”  Like anything, when you know what you’re doing, you’re in control. Vic went on to share what the moments were like before a race, waiting for his turn to drive. “Some drivers liked to talk to reporters and fans, but I would go off to a corner, not even noticing a person walking by, and relax and have a smoke.”  

Vic Elford's Top Favorite 1965 Porsche 911

So why Porsches? Vic said he actually asked Porsche if he could rally with the 911 in the Tour de Corse at the very beginning of his rally career. Vic was confident in what he could do with the car. Rallying was a new experience for the 911, and driving the narrow streets in the 911 was a challenge for Vic. As for the other Porsches in his life, as the opportunities to race came, he just accepted them. I guess it’s no surprise that Vic was asked to develop the High Performance Driving School after he retired from racing and moved to the States. Quick to tell me, Vic said I would learn everything I needed to know from his Handbook, now in its second edition, when I take the course!

On the grounds of Larz Anderson that sunny afternoon, Vic Elford was walking among the Porsche Concours cars, looking for his “favorite”. Starting to dabble a little in judging myself, I was curious what criteria Vic was using. “I’ll know it when I see it. I’ll just like it”, commented Vic. When he announced his favorite over the loudspeaker, I was thrilled.  It was mine too! The shiny red 1965 911 in the back row had caught my eye. Milling around the car at the time I walked by was the owner’s daughter. I asked her to tell me about the car. She said her Dad bought it before she was born, 32 years ago, when they lived in Colorado. Originally an “awful green color”, her Dad had it painted red. The black and white plaid seats are the original design. So how many miles on the car?”, I asked.  She laughed and said, “A gazillion”. Up at the winners stand, Vic was presenting Rob Nadleman, the owner of the 911, with the poster he had commissioned by Nicholas Watts of his 1970 Le Mans victory in the 917. Before Rob could slip away, I asked him how many miles on the car. “Somewhere over 400”.  “400,000?” I asked. He nodded.

Vic presents the Nicholas Watts print of his 1970 LeMans victory

So what does it take to be a great racecar driver? Balance in the control of the car and excellent eyesight, per Vic. I knew it, at least on the eyesight. There’s hope for me yet!  Vic headed back home to Florida the day after the Concours. I hope I can tell him I checked another item off my “bucket list” and have read his Handbook, cover to cover, the next time we meet. 

Sandy Cotterman
Motorsports Enthusiast