The cars at the Festival are incredible. Where else do you get to watch the Howmet gas turbine sports racer being fired up? But for me the highlight is always the people. Every year there’s somebody at the Festival that you’ve never met and have been dying to do so. Sometimes a former F1 champion, sometimes a national racer from the ‘70s who drove something particularly interesting.
Bending over the back of a 1960s Alfa T33 racer I suddenly spotted Nino Vacarella, the Sicilian schoolteacher and Targa Florio champion and I happened to have a brand new Arai open face helmet under my arm. A pen anybody? By amazing luck an onlooker had a permanent marker and Nino signed my helmet. Best of all, he has a really quick signature that you can actually read. That helmet is rarely worn as it’s too precious.
1. Emmerson Fittipaldi in a Lotus 72
Less sideburn on Emmo these days, but apart from that this combo brings back childhood memories of F1. The classic DFV scream and one of the best looking and cleanest F1 car designs of all time. I’ve seen loads of 72s but never get bored of looking at one. I’ll need to allow at least 15 minutes for staring at it in the paddock. I’ve never met Fittipaldi, this is my opportunity.
2. Jean Ragnotti in a Renault 5 Turbo
Ragnotti once drove me up the hill in a F1-engined Espace. He is clearly mad and very talented. I’ll watch him thrashing the R5 turbo along the rally course and then buttonhole him afterwards to ask him if it is true that he once tried to jump a R5 rally car over a fountain outside a hotel. Legend goes that he didn’t make it and landed in the fountain. Short in stature, big on talent, I’ve picked this car/pilot pairing as I reckon it’ll be the most dramatic.
3. Brian Redman in a Porsche 908/3
The greatest living Lancastrian driving his favourite racing car of all time. In fact, most of the factory Porsche drivers including Derek Bell and Vic Elford, loved the 908 more than the 917. It’s probably my favourite car, too. Short, 350bhp flat eight and very light weight. And Brian Redman is one of the most understated, underrated and amusing drivers ever. Only Andretti and Lauda can match him for one-liners. Another combination I have seen before, but once a year is not enough.
4. Jackie Stewart in a Lotus 38
This is the car in which Jim Clark won the Indy 500 in 1965. The year the Americans got a bit of a shock and learnt that the engine really needs to go in the back. It’s not run since 1965 so we’re really priviliged to see it go up the hill. And of course it’s only right that wee Jackie drives it. Close friend of Clark’s, fellow Scot and a man who’s likely to give it the berries up the hill and bring it back in one piece.
5. Nick Mason in a Auto Union D-type
If you’ve never seen this incredible rear-engined V12 racing car in anger you must. I mean hear it in anger. The engine is this one is a replica made by the geniuses at Crosthwaite and Gardner in their workshops not far from Goodwood. Watch it and imagine driving it in the rain at the Nurburging. Well over 500bhp, skinny tyres and no safety net.
6. Kerry Earnhardt in a Chevy Monte Carlo Nascar
Watch and hear this Chevy in action and then buy a return ticket to the US and visit a Nascar race. I drove one once and it didn’t want to go in a straight line. Must be a right handful up the hill.
7. Dougie Lampkin on his trials bike
World trials champion Lampkin defined the idea of man and machine in perfect harmony. A man with no understanding of physics or gravity, Lampkin will be climbing over stuff and showing off all weekend.
8. Tony Dron in the 1930 Miller Boyle Valve Special
I’m not sure what to expectn from this early Indy racer, but those who know say that the Miller was at the very forefront of engineering and hugely influential. I just like the name.
9. De Tomaso Pantera
I adore Panteras and if there’s one on the programme then I have to see it. I’m hoping that this one is a full-on Group 5 racer with a full on Ford Cleveland V8 and open exhausts.
10. Chris Goodwin in a McLaren MP4/23
Unfortunately they’re putting the wrong C Goodwin in this car, but I won’t miss watching the McLaren chief test driver taking the current GP car up the hill. A grand prix is exciting to watch but if you really want to see the fury and performance of a modern F1 car, Goodwood is the place.