Goodwood Revival, September 2010 - West Sussex
PUBLISHED: 12:46 15 September 2010 | UPDATED: 17:43 20 February 2013
Every September some of the most magnificent vintage racing cars in the world roll on to the starting line at Goodwood's motor circuit during the popular Revival event...
Every September some of the most magnificent vintage racing cars in the world roll on to the starting line at Goodwoods motor circuit during the popular Revival event. An enormous amount of hard work goes into ensuring these cars hurtle around the track and dont just come to a spluttering halt after the first lap.
Phlip Venables and his wife Barbara live on Goodwood estate and have been immersed in the mechanics of historic racing for years. Philip looks after many cars but is on hand to check them before they go out on to championship tracks all over Europe. Le Mans Classic, Monaco Historic, Mille Miglia Italy, Silverstone Classic and, of course, the Goodwood Revival to name a few. He is also one of the three eligibility supervisors at the Revival. Each car that goes out on to the track at the event will have been thoroughly checked by Philip or one of his colleagues. He is preparing an Australian 1961 Nota for this years Revival which will race in the Chichester Cup. At the end of the day what makes a car successful is thorough preparation. Taking the body work off, going through it end to end, checking every safety aspect and that there are no inherent problems. Says Philip.
Coming from a competitive background, his family owned a boat yard in Sydney harbour,
amp;nbsp; Philip was brought up on yacht racing. Vintage cars were also a hobby since he was a school boy. I much prefer working on cars from yesteryear, you dont have to set aside several hours just to get the plastic off to give them a basic service. They have an elegance about their mechanics that you dont find these days.
There have been some mechanical hairy moments over the years. In 2004 I had rebuilt 70 per cent of a D Type Jaguar which was racing at Le Mans and the first time it ran was just a couple of days before the race but it finished 2nd over all. Once I was literally working on a car in a street in Italy on the way from Mille Miglia to Monaco.
Barbara also loves the fuel injected atmosphere of motor events especially the Revival. I love the atmosphere you get at an event like the Revival especially as its our home track says Barbara. Everyone pulls together, theres a sort of magic to it. If someone is in trouble in the assembly room we can help as we know where to go.
Mechanics often get involved in a lot of admin work too I am never surprised at what I am asked by owners and drivers alike - from where to find a travel agent to the nearest spanner! Just as attention to detail is vital for the mechanic, so it is for the actual racing event. With the Revival its nice to see something being put back into the industry for the younger generation. The standard is so high and Lord Marchs attention to detail is everywhere. Hes down on the track with us all at 7.30am, says Philip. Even their dog, a Siberian husky called Janosch, has caught the bug. Yes, but he only likes historic racing! says Barbara. Henry Potter and Andy Claydon.
Every year before the Goodwood Revival Henry Potter from Boxgrove and Andy Claydon from Easebourne ensure their Classic Team Lotus overalls are cleanly pressed and ready for the race track. Henry has worked on the Lotus classic cars at the Revival since the event began. Andy, who also works at Milestone Garage, Cocking, has been on the Lotus mechanics team at the Revival for four years now. Lotus normally brings on average at least three historic cars which will race at the Revival. From the moment the cars arrive Henry and Andy are on hand to help unload them, take them to their respective garages and start the procedure of checking each model is mechanically sound for their respective races. When a car goes out on to the track there isnt a part that hasnt been checked and double checked, says Henry. Whether its tyre pressure, engine oil, gear box, brakes, water levels and , if necessary, fuel levels depending on the length of the race. We also have to do a fitting when the drivers arrive as seat belts may need to be adjusted etc. This is all done under the watchful eye of the No. 1 mechanic.
There is a lot of pressure on mechanics during an event such as the Revival but there are rewards at the end of the day. You are in your own little time capsule, says Andy No matter what else is going on in the outside world you are suspended in the 40s or the 50s or the 60s. You work long hours but its very rewarding. And its nice to see the ladies dressed like ladies!
Both Henry and Andy have worked on some wonderful classic racing cars over the years not just at the Revival but also the British Grand Prix and the Thoroughbred Grand Prix events all over Europe. Cars such as 32B Lotus built in 1945 and driven by Jimmy Clark and the Type 49 one of the first racing cars with wings on the back driven again by Clarke and Graham Hill. Its a privilege to work on cars you used to see race as a kid, says Henry. When a car comes back, having completed the race and the driver gets out shakes your hand and says well done, thats what its all about. Michael Peet.
Not only has Michael Peet worked on vintage cars over the years, he also owns and races them . This year he is racing his 1960 Sunbeam Rapier in the St Marys trophy at the Revival for the third time. Michael, who lives in Petworth with his wife Nicole who runs the towns Coco Cafe and Sugar Lounge, apprenticed as a mechanic and electrician working at a garage just off the A3 straight after leaving school. He has always preferred working on old cars even bringing back an old period ice cream van all the way from York, restoring it and re-buiding it so people can buy their ice creams and milkshakes in the cafes garden during the summer. I prefer the style and design in old cars that you just dont see anymore, says Michael. I have always loved nostalgia and I think there is a return to the charm of the past. Companies like BMW have brought back the Mini in a big way and you only have to look at the number of people going to the Revival to see how popular nostalgia has become. There is very little in an old car that you cannot take apart and fix. There are no sealed units and now with the internet parts can be found more easily. Its a bit like a cottage industry everyone is keen to help, old cars seem to invoke a fondness that the modern ones dont.
As well as his racing car Michael also has an E Type Jaguar, a Humber Super Snipe and Ford Lotus Cortina all of which he has worked on. The Humber was restored to tow his Sunbeam to the Revival events. The Revival is all about authenticity. The cars should look as if they have literally just come off the road to race, with all their bumpers and two seats in the front etc. I wanted my tow car to look the part too so I spent time restoring the Humber. And its not all about the racing Michael and Nicole often use the E Type to go out for dinner or a trip to the coast.
Being both the mechanic and the driver must be a tough course to follow. When a vintage car is going to race it really must be in tip top condition to produce the power, says Michael. Before every season he takes his car completely apart and checks everything. You have to do it before every race you cant just leave it and hope for the best. Goodwood likes to see fun battles at the Revival races and there are many little internal battles going on in the same race from the back and through the middle for example.
And there is always that sense of achievement especially for Michael who often has to do everything himself or with the help of a few friends. Many of the runners have a lot of ground support staff. I load my own car, unload it, check it and then drive it. So if I leave having finished where I would expect to in the pecking order there is no greater sense of achievement. And its this enjoyment of historic racing that continues to inspire Michael.
Keith Martin owns the XK Workshop at Church Farm, Bosham and has been working on Jaguar XK 120, 140 and 150s for the last forty years as well as E Types and Mark 2s.
He is also involved with historic racing with the Formula Juniors and is preparing an American car the Huffaker Mark 2 for this years Revival as well as supporting a Cooper Maserati .
Keith has loved the older cars from a very young age. I can still remember the very first time I saw an E Type. It was driving through Titchfield Square in Hampshire and I was only six years old and I thought what a beautiful car, remembers Keith.
I love the basic engineering in the old cars as well as their charm. At an event such as the Revival you want the drivers just to be able to get in, go round the track and come back with a big smiles on their faces.
And when you are involved in track work you need to start getting results ie if a car keeps winning people generally want to take note of the mechanic behind it.
Theres no better a feeling than when a car goes on to the track and you know you have done everything mechanically possible to ensure it has a good race.
Having been in the trade for so long Keith has worked on numerous classics including a Jaguar Mark 7 driven by Jack Brabham and Fifth Gears Tiff Needell.
He is also used to the odd visit from celebrity drivers. Being so close to Goodwood the odd celebrity driver often wanders in to have a look at the machinery.
We are busy throughout the year, this is not a seasonal job by any means.
We are busy at the events as well as I normally support at least two or three cars. Its a great atmosphere at the Revival. You work hard but you enjoy yourself as well.
Goodwood Revival 2010 is on 17,18,19 September. For more visit www.goodwood.co.uk