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Stock Cars at Goodwood

The Goodwood Motor Circuit, near Chichester in Sussex, started life as a WW2 fighter base. The perimeter track was used for car racing for the first time in 1948. This continued until the mid-1960s when the speeds of the Grand Prix and Sports Cars became too fast for safe racing. It was used for race car testing for a few years after. In the mid-70s a few public events connected with motor sport were held, such as the "Hares at Goodwood" promotion day with top-fuel dragster demo and some "Southern Autosport Association" Grass Track racing around the Madgwick Corner. The 80's and early 90's saw the circuit used for club events and time trials.

When Charles, Earl of March, owner of the circuit, took over the running of the Goodwood Estate, it was his wish to bring motor racing back. An enthusiast who recalled watching racing in the early days under the direction of Freddie, his grandfather, he introduced the Festival of Speed and then, some years later, the Revival Meeting. The Festival is held in the grounds of Goodwood House as a Hill Climb event for all types of racing cars and bikes. The Revival is staged at the refurbished circuit about a mile away.

With each year of the events, more and more types of motor racing vehicle have been showcased at Goodwood. From 2002 to 2004, Stock Cars have been present.

The 2004 Goodwood Festival of Speed was extra special. Sunday morning, ten past nine and three of the four UK Stockcars present have taken their first run up the hill today. Grand Prix, Le Mans, Land Speed, and BriSCA F1 just some of the cars in "batch one". Stirling Moss, John Surtees, Jason Holden and Stuart Smith. Ferrari, Alfa-Romeo and FWJ-Chevrolet on the big screens around the site. The cars ran once on Friday, twice on Saturday and have another run later today.

The Stock Cars are programmed as "Rough Diamonds, celebrating 50 years of short oval racing in the UK". Four senior stockcars are included: a restored 1939 Ford Tudor Crider Special of Curtis "Crawfish" Crider driven by Perry McCarthy (Crider was one of a group of American racers who appeared on UK tracks in 1955); the restored Leighton Mercury Earls Barton being the 1963 National points winning car of Aubrey Leighton with Richard Hart at the wheel; the restored 1976 World Final winning car of Stuart Bamforth, the Bamforth Chevrolet Challenger, driven by Stuart Smith Senior and; the current F1 machine of Jason Holden, the FWJ Chevrolet BriSCA F1, built by top racer/constructor Frankie Wainman Junior.

The Goodwood Festival of Speed is a highlight of the summer. Just 20,000 of us at the first event in 1993. It's now one of the biggest motorsport events in the world attracting 150,000 people. We go to admire the cars, bikes, air show (747 airliner top billing in 2004!) and soak up the unique atmosphere, style and professionalism. The event just gets better and better. For the modern oval and V8 fan a feast. NASCAR and Indy was early on the scene. In 2002 current Pro-Stock dragsters arrived. 2003 saw static historic UK stockcars in the Style et Luxe event. But in June 2004 to see Jason Holden and Super Stu Smith on the same bill as Emerson Fittipaldi in Lotus 72, Jenson Button in BAR Honda, Bobby Allison in Buick Regal and Jacques Villenerve and Damon Hill in their dad's Grand Prix cars would suggest that BriSCA F1 has arrived in the world of established motorsport.

It was great for the fans to chat to Jason and Stu at Goodwood and watch them blast up the hill. It would be good to think that it won't be too many years before we see our great sport represented at Goodwood again.

One of the many nice touches at the Goodwood events is the FM radio station which relays the commentary and gives news, reports and features. Radio Goodwood on 87.7MHz broadcasts on every day of the events. Reception is good out to about six miles from the transmitter.

On Sunday Morning, 27th June 2004, at around ten past nine, the transmission went like this...

Marcus Pye (commentator) - ... a start from John Surtees in the W154 Mercedes Benz...

Ian Titchmarsh (commentator) - ... one of the events we're celebrating this year is John Surtees winning the 1964 Formula One World Championship after winning numerous motorcycle championships... Hope they won't take it the wrong way Marcus, we've gone from the sublime to the ridiculous, in that we have the first of the Rough Diamonds going up the hill.

MP - Yes, from the sophisticates to the unsophisticateds this is the Aubrey Leighton Earls Barton Special, with an American V8 engine... and away goes the Bamforth Chevrolet with Super Stu Smith in, this is the car which won the BriSCA F1 stockcar championship back in 1976 and there is a multiple champion aboard it...

IT - ... and the Gold Roof because it won the world championship in 1976 the Bamforth Chevrolet was driven by Stuart Bamforth who then became a stockcar circuit promoter at Belle Vue in Manchester and Odsal in Bradford. Driven by Stuart Smith as Marcus says...

MP - All part of celebrations of 50 years of short oval racing in the country

IT - Yes, we should be seeing the Ford Tudor Special which Marcus delights in telling us about...

MP - It's not down here... No it hasn't come down...

IT - Well the driver is Perry Macarthy. Now Perry was very definitely in evidence at the Ball last night...

MP - And afterwards, I'm sure...

IT - ... and afterwards, and it may well be that he has overslept!

MP - Jason Holden on course meanwhile in the Frankie Wainman Junior built modern BriSCA stockca' going like a ding-bat off the line.

IT - Yes, very much a modern Formula One Stock Car. Called the FWJ because it's built by Frankie Wainman Junior, one of the top chassis builders of the modern era. Remarkable machines they are and very spectacular racing they provide... Next Marcus there is ?

MP - ... we've got Willie Green in the Maserati 4CLT...

About ten minutes later, Perry's car arrives (don't know if Perry is at the wheel though)

IT - ... we'll let John explain this. Why is it called the Ford Tudor John?

John Price (commentator) - Ah the Tudor. Yes we had this discussion yesterday, I only found out a short while ago. It means Tu... two... door. I thought it was a make of Ford, and it is, but it just describes, as we agreed yesterday, that Ford made a four door and this is the two door... a Tudor as we'd call it.

IT - Nothing to do with Henry the Eighth.

JP - I don't think so. I don't think he drove one of these! If he did, it probably would have been the best Ford Tudor in the World.

IT - He probably had six of them too. He kept writing them off. Anyway the two door Tudor going up the hill. In a much more immaculate state than I can remember seeing at the Stock Cars when they were first introduced into the UK fifty years ago... and that's the end of that batch...

Listen to the broadcast here and read more about Goodwood here.

This page last updated: 6th November 2005. Peter Marsh. Mail me autumnView@yahoo.com.

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