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VALENTINO ROSSI MAKES UK GOODWOOD FESTIVAL OF SPEED DEBUT WHILE OLLY CLARK WINS HILLCLIMB SHOOTOUT
On the final day of the Festival of Speed, Goodwood welcomed seven-time MotoGP World Champion, Valentino Rossi, to the event for the very first time. The Italian legend put on some spectacular ‘Flat-out and Fearless’ displays in front of a sell-out crowd on both two and four wheels.
For his Goodwood debut on two wheels, ‘The Doctor’ rode his Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP bike carrying a special livery to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Yamaha Motor Co, and then rode the machine into Goodwood House before appearing on the balcony with Lord March and Suzi Perry.
On four wheels, Rossi drove the legendary 1991 Le Mans-winning Mazda 787B; the same car seen soaring out of the sky above Goodwood House in this year’s Central Feature, as well as an ex-Henri Toivonen Lancia Delta S4 Group B rally car.
The renowned ‘Festival of Speed Sunday Shootout’ was declared open by Rossi as he paraded up the Hillclimb in an ex-Jacky Ickx/Jochen Mass Porsche 962C. Following his run, the clocks were set and 35 cars ascended the iconic 1.16-mile course in a bid for 2015’s fastest time. The thrilling competition was broadcast live on Sky Sports F1.
British Time Attack Champion, Olly Clark, claimed victory in his Subaru Impreza ‘Gobstopper II’ with a time of 44.91 seconds. The son of twice-RAC Rally winner, Roger Clark, defeated the Mitjet Mini Pikes Peak of ice racing king Jean-Philippe Dayraut and the Toyota Celica ‘Pikes Peak’ of New Zealander, Rod Millen.
The Festival of Speed attracts stars of motor sport from around the world and today was no exception. Current Mercedes F1 title contender, Nico Rosberg, celebrated his 30th birthday weekend with a blast up the Hill in his 2013 race-winning grand prix car; the Mercedes F1 W04.
Kris Meeke, who became a World Rally winner for the first time in 2015, took overall victory on the Forest Rally Stage in his Citroen DS3 WRC while fellow WRC competitors, Elfyn Evans, and twice British Rally Champion, David Llewellyn, were among the other famous faces.
In the annual Cartier ‘Style et Luxe’ concours d’elegance a judging panel that included Ferrari design chief Flavio Manzoni, TV presenter, Jodie Kidd, and Queen drummer, Roger Taylor, chose the exquisite Peter Mullin-owned Talbot-Lago T150 C SS as overall winner.
And in the GAS (Goodwood Action Sports) Arena powered by TomTom Bandit, victories in the competitive Freestyle Motocross and BMX categories went to Luc Ackermann and Ben Wallace respectively.
Glorious Goodwood Festival of Speed explained
Goodwood, in its present form, cranked into action about 20 years ago; the first event – called the Festival of Speed -- comprising a 2-day hill-climb for bikes and cars, up the main drive of Goodwood House itself, measuring approx 2000 yards in length, and rising about 350 feet in the process. That first entry consisted of about 50 cars and a dozen bikes, competing against the clock. Unfortunately a Vincent competitor was killed on the first morning – and John Surtees, too, was cast off his Vincent in the same spot – but the organisers persevered, and the event was deemed a success. Since that first meeting, though, bikes have simply been restricted to ‘demo’ runs, although you’d have a job believing this, given the speed at which certain riders tackle the hill. Goodwood’s two annual car and bike events are in June [Festival of Speed] and September [Revival], albeit the former sometimes runs in July...depending on Bernie’s F1 Grand Prix calendar. Sited 2-miles apart, both events are on the Goodwood Estate, comprising several square miles of down-land, wooded hills, and a flatland dairy farm. These unique events are meticulously organised by Lord March who, with a keen eye for detail, and from sources worldwide, gathers in a stunning array of modern and historic race bikes and autos – brimming with pedigree – some of them having been un-galloped for many years. That so many of the bikes and cars are reunited with the World Champions who propelled them originally…is the gilt on Goodwood’s gingerbread!
The Festival of Speed is an internal-combustion extravaganza – irrespective of the date of the machinery – which nowadays concentrates mostly on contemporary race metal, charging up the drive of the House. Revival consists of a series of conventional races on the old Goodwood WWII aerodrome track, and is exclusively restricted to pre-1966 machinery. Copper-domed Goodwood House, faced with local Sussex flints, was rebuilt in the 1800s. It has been home to successive Dukes of Richmond since 1697, when the first Duke “…needed a huntin’ lodge, with land thereto.” Death duties have reduced today’s well-managed Estate to a mere 12000 acres, but which includes Britain’s most scenic horse-track, high on the downs. At a lower elevation there’s Westhampnett, the still-used private airport for light ’planes where, in 1948, was held Britain’s first post-war motor race. A fast 2.4-mile track, around the blacktop perimeter, it rapidly became England’s favourite. Noise, sadly, forced a cessation – apart from testing – in 1965. ‘Gooders’, in colloquial terms, also encompasses the new Rolls Royce car factory, so subtly landscaped that it is invisible at ground level. Goodwood is acknowledged as the spiritual successor to the evocatively banked Brooklands track – unused since 1939 – where, coincidentally, Lord March’s grandfather, the ninth Duke, drove MGs with considerable success.
That’s the panorama, how then did Goodwood gain so much momentum? Well, the present Lord March took over the Estate from his father – who’s a lifelong enthusiast in matters equestrian – about 25 years ago; Ducati-riding Lord March, a motor-sport devotee, was tasked with increasing the domestic revenue. Thus, one of his very first projects was to re-introduce ‘the timed-hill-climb’, a contest his grandfather ran just once in the 1930s. As already mentioned an initial Festival of Speed, for 2- and 4-wheel entrants, unfolded over two nervous days in June 1994. Despite the tragic fatality some 25000 enthusiasts [against an anticipated 10000] thoroughly enjoyed a range of attractions, located variously on the lawns, in the stables, and throughout the tree-studded Park. Unsurprisingly, with so much ‘precious metal’ on hand, quite a few drivers of these priceless autos conscientiously choose to run under a ‘demo’ category. ‘Demo’, in this context, is of course slightly euphemistic; e.g. watching Agostini or Read accelerating a de-mothballed Grand Prix MV Agusta out of Molecomb Corner and up Pheasantry Rise has to be one of the most exhilarating sights within the grasp of any gnarled old enthusiast…such as your scribe. Each time, without fail, the neck hairs stand! And Jim Redman, in scuffed black leathers, cogging down on a multi-cyl RC-model Honda…that also is a mellifluous experience second to none. Given the magnificent surroundings a day at Gooders is nirvana both for the eyes and the eardrums! In what has evolved into a very packed timetable competitors now practise on Friday, then complete two ‘demo’ runs on Saturday/Sunday. The Hillclimb’s Record is held by Nick Heidfeld, who clocked 41.6 seconds in 1998, driving a current-day 3-litre F1 Mclaren. At Revival, however, the cut-off date for machinery is strictly 1966. All in all the organisers have got it about right for both meetings; I’ve been lucky not to miss a single event since 1994, yet at each fresh meeting there is always something different to experience and/or concentrate upon. One of the innumerable joys for Festival of Speed attendees is that there is continuous free entry to the pits, so, if you want, say, Freddie Spencer’s autograph, or that of Damon Hill, they – and the machinery they use – are fully accessible.
Here’s a tale that typifies these gatherings at Goodwood. Allowing for so many Champions on site there’s obviously a pecking order for who gets to stay in Goodwood House itself. Qualification is graded by the number of championships achieved, by seniority, the distance travelled, and so on. On one occasion houseguest Frank Gardner, the witty Australian car racer, encountered Phil Hill & Dan Gurney [at Gooders to give his 2-wheel AAR Alligator a whirl] as they were descending the Grand Staircase to breakfast. “Hey guys”, he effused, “Isn’t this the greatest Old Folks Home in which to end our days?” Taking a typical year at random…it was in 2003 when we witnessed Ducati’s 1250cc 100bhp 120mph V-4 Apollo prototype. Produced in 1965 at the instigation of US importer, Berliner, for eventual sale to the New York Police Dept, this Harley-worrying project was all too swiftly cancelled due to its incurable habit of shredding rear tyres! On this occasion the bulky ‘four’ was gently cantered on Goodwood’s slope by current copper and m/c journalist, Ian Kerr, appropriately garbed in his Metropolitan Police uniform. Equally fascinating was a sympathetic buzzing of Moto Guzzi’s 1955 500cc V-8 by Sammy Miller. Reputedly churning 80bhp, the Guzzi’s power is transmitted to tarmac via a miniscule 3.50 x 18 Pirelli! And there were lumps in throats when David Hailwood set forth on his father’s 1978 Production TT-winning Ducati. In the saddle young David looks so similar! Lord March, too, had a memorable blast in Jim Hall’s Chaparral. Back in the pits, your scribe obtained Mario Andretti’s signature, as the Nazareth-ite alighted from an Indy car. 2003 was some year…alongside many others.
The Festival isn’t all speed and decibels. Atop a sloping lawn in the lee of the stables there’s an auto-only Concours, hosted by Cartier, where 50 or so exquisite voitures epitomise the art of coach-building. Opposite, straw-hatted jazzmen play a dance-able version of High Society…weary visitors sip mint juleps…and gaze appreciatively at the spectacle. Nor let’s overlook the commercial activity in an adjacent marquee; i.e. Bonhams’ high-end auction sale, where Fangio’s F1 Mercedes was sold for £19.6 million pounds in 2013. If all this is insufficient for jaded souls the adjoining Park offers an outdoor Earls Court type Motor Show, where every major car co exhibits. There are countless smaller booths as well on the periphery, offering books and accessories, and much else besides. The Speedfest menu is indeed extensive. Before he assumed the reins Lord March was a London-based photographer – hence his eye for detail – passionately nursing an ambition to re-open the aerodrome circuit for open-pipe racing, which he’d witnessed as a youngster. The perceived noise of running a racing revival, only 3 miles from Chichester’s tranquil cathedral, was bound to prompt objections from certain quarters, so, for several years the idea of pre-66 machines competing in anger against each other, on the old circuit, seemed almost impossible, but opposition was reputably diluted after a perceptive letter in the local press queried whether these same objectors would’ve protested in 1941 when, at the identical spot, the RAF was so noisily ‘scrambling’ squadrons of fighter aircraft. The dialogue duly progressed and, eventually, the planners made a favourable decision. Compliance entailed positioning 250000 tonnes of protective earth-bank, the embedding of 10000 tyres at the track’s edge, and planting over 20000 shrubs & trees. The planning process had consumed four frustrating years but, in September 1998, Revival began. And how! Retro racing at Revival is different, due to the Dress Code. Dress Code? Well, old-fashioned clothing re-creates a 1950s atmosphere. Although not compulsory, spectators are encouraged to dress in jacket and tie, leaving trainers, t-shirts, and baseball-caps at home! Sure, it’s a bit theatrical, but from Day One 80% of race-goers responded enthusiastically, particularly wives and girlfriends. At the same time mechanics must wear white overalls and Goodwood’s own staff wear different sorts of WWII apparel. All vehicles manufactured after 1966, whether competitors’ transport, ambulances, or fire tenders, are disallowed inside the circuit complex. Discreetly though, in hangars, are parked current-day safety appliances! Spectators borrow Aunt Mildred’s veil, and Uncle Bertie’s ancient tweeds. Depending on the breeze, an aroma of mothballs can sometimes outweigh that of burnt castor oil! Generally speaking the motorcycle entry contains Manx Nortons, Matchless G50s, BSA Gold Stars, plus the odd GP Triumph, Vincent, and Velocette and, from time to time, an Italian multi. Because it’s such a fast circuit careful engine preparation is essential; historically, over the past 15 years, many hyped-up machines have failed to finish.
In his time Barry Sheene put an indelible stamp on Revival. Coaxed from retirement to race an updated Manx, he was instantly on the pace, returning every year until his untimely death. He and Wayne Gardner shared several split-second finishes, providing a new kind of excitement for hard-bitten auto buffs, crowding the newly constructed ’Fifties-era grandstands! We didn’t know, but, at his final Revival, Barry had just 150 days to live. Visibly weakened he bravely scraped a close 2nd from Wayne on Saturday, and won by two yards on Sunday! The ovation on his victory lap was an emotional high. Fittingly, this race is now known as The Barry Sheene Memorial. In the first BS Tribute meeting one year later, two American dirt racers, that’s Gary Nixon & Dave Aldana, each rode a Manx Norton for the first time. Despite they were pitched against a clutch of experienced Goodwood ‘regulars’, the Americans’ lap-times gradually improved, lap by lap, ultimately both finishing in the top twelve. Dirt racers are definitely something else! Derek Bell – five times a Le Mans winner – when on the podium at the inaugural Revival, was asked to summarise his thoughts? He’d played in Thursday’s Grand Prix cricket match with his peers and, over the next three days, had participated in countless activities connected with the event as a whole. After waiting for the sound of an overhead Spitfire to recede, he stated, “I really don’t want to go back out of the gate!”
It was in 2011 that I managed to persuade Goodwood to stage a Parade of Motocross Champions, riding on period machines. Although it was dry the Friday and Saturday parades were spoiled by mixing in most of the competitors taking part in the Scramble ‘demo’, which ran throughout the weekend…on a bumpy corner of land on the far side of the road circuit. The original idea was for the seven Champions to ride sedately around, with “the mob” following respectfully behind. But, no names/no pack drill, a couple of riders saw Jeff Smith, Les Archer, the Rickman bros, and co, a few yards in front. They became overcome with ‘red mist’ and grabbed the opportunity to sweep by. This happened on two consecutive days, never mind that the commentator did his best to calm the rogue riders. This ‘behaviour’ tended to destroy the concept, although it was fulfilling to see that the highly disciplined mx stars, who had maintained their formation throughout, received a standing ovation from two of the tracks’ well-filled grandstands as they passed by. So, for the final day, it was arranged that the septet of champions would circulate on their own. It began pouring with rain an hour before their lappery was due, but, completely un-fazed, they simply donned Barbour suits and awaited the call. Alas, it never came. Stupidly, one of the highly placed organisers thought that conditions would be too slippery. Everyone remotely involved…despaired!
I have a theory that if you visit Goodwood often enough you’ll meet at least half of the people who – in a motorcycling context – that you’ve ever met. Over the last 20 years, and proof perhaps that my theory might be correct, it’s been a pleasant experience bumping into Cornwall’s John Bassett, Banbury’s Bill Gwynne, Peter Gaunt from North Yorks, Andy Johnstone and John McCrink of pre-65 Scottish fame, Jody Nicholas – a multi Half Mile winner (on Nortons) from California – and many more from all over. Quality costs; Goodwood is therefore expensive, but it’s somewhere well worth trying to visit at least once in a lifetime. You’ll not regret it!
Here's a few photos of a very beautiful & remote part of New Zealand but reachable by adventure motorcycle or car, preferably 4wd.
It's near Queenstown in the Southern part South Island. It's called Skippers Canyon., a rich gold mining area until late 1930's.
This last photo is of a GIANT swing near a bungy jump In the Kawerau Valley, not far from Queenstown & Arrowtown. Ideal for the faint hearted!!
Here's a link to my Drop Box for you to follow for more photos C:\Users\Tim Gibbes\Dropbox\Skippers SI Apr 2015
Thankyou for visiting www.motorcyclesport.co.nz from January to end of April 2015,
nearly 300,000 in 4 months of you from all over the world! Thankyou for calling come back soon!
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