September, October 2016

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Goodwood Revival 2016

The Goodwood Revival is an ever–increasing global success, because of effort.

There is massive effort on the part of Lord March and his team as well the countless other organisations involved. Competitors also pull out all the stops to put on a good show. It takes months to prepare the circuit for the Revival Meeting. Teams work long hours in preparing the cars for this event. Many competitors arrive on the Wednesday and leave on the Monday, such are the logistics. If you are a small team, you can arrive on the Thursday morning and leave late on the Sunday night.

This year I raced a Lister Chevrolet Knobbly in the Sussex Trophy. The race is for 1950s Sports Racing Cars. Today’s equivalent would be modern Le Mans cars; ie all the technology of Formula One wrapped in a lightweight skin.

Straight-line speeds for the big bangers is in excess of 150mph, with lap averages of 100mph. 200mph would be possible with long enough straights. The cars have to run on period Dunlop Historic rubber. The low grip available defies description but it creates a level playing field and applies period stresses to the suspension and chassis. Attaining speed is easy, convincing a car the change direction or slowdown is not.

As the 30 cars line up for a Union Flag standing start, I am on the outside of row-3 of the 3-2-3 grid pattern. I can see that if my Dean Van Lines, Lister Chevy dragster makes a good start, I can overtake a few cars on the outside/left.

With the 5-second board raised, I hold the 5.8 litre motor at a steady 4000rpm. The Union Flag rises and falls. The rear end squats. The rear tyres lay rubber and a smoke screen. I know that not much else will happen in the first of my four gears, but wait for first gear and skinny tyres to get me up to 60-mph (about 3.5 seconds). Still level with my now fast-moving competitors, I engage second gear. I know that my car is overgeared and wait for second gear to get into its stride, and bingo. Despite a tired motor, the Lister Chevy blasts from 9th to 3rd place approaching turn-1 (Madgewick).

Sounds good but the Lister is still in development and has an understeer problem. Understeer on turn-in, mid-corner, and corner-exit. At Madgewick I run slightly wide, momentarily come off the throttle to bring it back on line, and lose two places. I know that Goodwood is often a race of attrition. This circuit does not take prisoners. I struggle on with understeer and gearing so tall that I hardly use top gear. Nine cars crash or breakdown. Sad for them, and sad for me as I could not profit from their demise, as they were all behind me. The race ends prematurely following a 3-car pile-up at turn-3 (No Name), and a Jaguar D-Type in the wall at turn-1 (Madgwick).

A short race suited me as the Lister was not at its best. I manged to get within 2 seconds of the lap record but that is no good enough. This car should be on the front row. Easily achieved in minor races, not so easy against the best of the best. A front row slot for next year’s Revival is the target.

View from rear camera: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cygz102NblA