Upon reflection – setting off at 05:30 to be at Goodwood as the gates opened at 07:30 was a bit mad but it did give me time look at some wonderful cars in the paddock before it got too crowded and before the track action commenced.
Sunday’s Goodwood 75th MM programme provided a great day of fast and furious racing in thankfully dry if bloody cold conditions.
As Goodwood circuit is not used all year round due to local noise restrictions – it’s easy to forget that it’s is a very high speed circuit and therein lies the risk to race drivers and to spectators.
At the end of the first lap of the first of Sunday’s races a really scary crash unfolded right in front of me on the start/finish straight when Richard Wilson’s Lotus Cooper Climax T51 collided with Stephen Bond’s Lotus Climax 18.
Instead of both cars coming to rest on the track or in the tyre wall – the collision caused Bond’s Lotus to go into an end-over-end cartwheel which lifted it over the wall and hedge of an access road before it plummeted down into a pedestrian tunnel right next to the viewing area for wheelchair users.
Possibly because it was early in the day – the pedestrian tunnel was empty so by a miracle spectator injuries were avoided. Stephen Bond also came out of it with broken ribs but was extremely lucky not to come out worse particularly as fuel was pouring from the car as he hung suspended in his seat belts.
It’s horrible to contemplate but with slightly more forward momentum the cartwheeling car could easily have cleared the pedestrian tunnel and landed on the wheelchair spectator viewing area.
Luck was with a number of people as it looked like the accident could have shaped up to be a 1955 Le Mans type incident.
I was rooted to the spot watching the accident in slow motion but a few yards further along the viewing platform Tim Quinlan captured this remarkable footage of the accident:-
In BM/BD years gone by (Before Marriage/Before Daughter) me and my mates used to regularly attend club races at Silverstone, Donington and Brands Hatch. They were always incredibly friendly and enjoyable events with full access to the paddock, the garages and the grandstands around the track. It was great to be able to wander around chatting to drivers, owners and other enthusiasts and it was a privilege to see some lovely old motors being flung around the circuit as if the driver’s lives depended on a good finish.
I’m pleased to report that my latest visit to the AMOC event at Silverstone on Sat 5th Apr clearly shows that cheap (£10 a ticket), friendly, well organised and open access motor racing experiences can still be had.
This is in stark contrast to the increasingly remote and expensive F1 experience and even to events such as Goodwood Revival which have become a little too puffed up with their own self importance. Don’t get me wrong – there are some great cars (and bikes) at the Revival but it seems to be more dominated these days by professional/celebrity drivers rather than enthusiast/gentleman/amateur owner/drivers.
Surprisingly – the World Endurance Championship has managed to stay relatively sensible and down to earth in terms of expense – £20 a ticket for this year’s Silverstone round is very reasonable for 6 hours of full-on racing. The WEC events also maintain a good degree of roving access to the pits and open grandstands for the paying enthusiasts. Long may it remain so!
Coming back to my AMOC day out – it a was a really great if bone jarringly freezing experience.