Goodwood rain and shine
Classic racing motorcycles entertained crowds of Motogp proportions when they performed before some 100,000 fans on each of the two days at the massively popular Goodwood Revival meeting in early September. The bikes are a regular and much appreciated part of the modern retrospective and race each year, the winners being awarded the Barry Sheene Trophy. The Sunday race would have been on Barry’s 66th birthday had he not passed away in 2003 at the age of 53. The Goodwood circuit was a fixture of the British motorsport scene through the 1950s and 1960s and, although the one and only motorcycle meeting was held there in 1950, the revival meeting’s bike races are for machines from the whole period that the track was active. They alternate annually between the two decades and this year the two races over the weekend were staged for bikes of up to 1000cc that would have raced in the period up to 1954. Star-studded entry lists saw two-rider teams made up of a past or present ‘professional’ paired with an amateur teammate. In many cases those lines are blurred, especially when older professionals come up against today’s amateurs who race regularly at the front in the classic Lansdowne Series. The first of the weekend’s races was run in monsoon conditions and won at a 75.21mph average in the torrential rain by smooth-riding TT star of the 1980s, Charlie Williams and Mike Farrall, the owner of the pair’s unfeasibly rapid 1933 Rudge TT Replica. Second: Duncan Fitchett and Sam Clews on a 1951 Norton ahead of Ian Bain and Sam Brogan on a 1953 Manx. Clews, incidentally, was replacing former world champion of the 1990s, Kevin Schwantz, who had elected not to ride in this event or apparently, in any future classic races. Another American superstar on hand, and who did ride, was Freddie Spencer, multiple world champion in the 1980s, when he was nicknamed ‘Fast Freddie’ by the fans. When he rides in classic events these days, however, he adopts the persona of ‘Steady Freddie’ out of respect for the owners of the valuable classic bikes that he gets invited to ride…and, of course, his own life and limb. After all, the man has nothing to prove. Riding the actual Manx Norton ‘Garden Gate’ model that won the 1952 Daytona 200, Freddie and riding partner, Julian Ide, finished in midfield in the wet Saturday race but unfortunately DNF on the dry Sunday. That Sunday race in the sunshine was won at 88.87mph by John Mcguinness, no doubt revelling in the wide-open spaces of Goodwood, as compared to the normal public road confines of his Isle of Man racing habitat. He was paired on a Norton with Glen English and they also took fourth place at 75.50mph in the Saturday rain. In that race they were less than a quarter of a second ahead of another current TT star on a Manx Norton, Michael Dunlop, who was partnered with Michael Hose. An aggregate time of 45m 15.021s over the two events for Mcguinness and English, however, meant that they took the weekend’s Combined Result award. It was a close run thing, however, as Duncan Fitchett and Sam Clews’ time was 45m 41.007s and that of Charlie Williams and Mike Farrall was 45m 53.291s. Fitchett and Clews had placed second in both races while Williams and Farrall were third in the dry race on Sunday after winning in Saturday’s storm.
John Mcguinness, who partnered classic ace Glen English, on his way to a hard fought Goodwood victory.
Words: Bruce Cox Photograph: John Lakey