KEVIN TURNER H
“Maybe there needs to be a licence system”
istoric racing events at Goodwood are among the highlights of the UK racing season. I have been a fan since attending the first Revival meeting in 1998, but last weekend’s Members’ Meeting was worrying – and could have been disastrous.
The number of safety car interruptions disrupted the event more than usual. That happens at all levels of the sport sometimes, but the speed and confines of Goodwood means the potential for it is higher. And the two serious accidents highlighted a growing concern among some about the increasing speeds there.
Winning at Goodwood has now become a big target for many. More young or semiprofessional drivers are coming in to this branch of the sport, as are some top teams and engineers. They are more willing to push the limits – not just on-track, but technically as well.
In 1999, Martin Brundle – a recently retired ex-f1 racer and Le Mans winner – qualified on pole for the RAC TT Celebration with a 1m27s. Last weekend, James Cottingham – a good historic racer but not a veteran of 158 GPS – dipped under the 1m24s barrier in the equivalent race.
Similarly, in 1999 there was a race for early three-litre F1 cars. Geoff Farmer’s Lotus 49 set a new lap record in the 1m19s, but the race was full of incident and was not repeated. Now, however, the best Can-am cars are lapping two seconds faster. Nick Padmore’s Lola T70 qualified on pole for the Bruce Mclaren Trophy last weekend at 1m17.079s, or 111mph. At a track with little run-off and unforgiving banks.
It’s not just the pace of the cars, either. Goodwood’s appeal means some drivers find themselves in machinery much faster than they are used to. As one top historic racer said to me after the Sunday accidents: “The cars are so well-developed they are so much faster than they were in the day. Goodwood wants it to be the way it was, but the cars and drivers are not.”
So what to do? Clearly none of us want to see racing at Goodwood end, surely a risk should a repeat of Sunday happen with worse consequences – a car in the pedestrian tunnel at the Revival in the middle of the day would surely result in serious injuries.
The aforementioned historic racer suggested more run-off at Woodcote and modifications to the angle of the bank at the kink, but many agree more could be done.
A performance cap could be implemented, preventing cars from getting faster and faster – this is supposed to be historic racing after all. And how about different levels of racing licence? Perhaps a superlicence for the very quickest of historics would help raise the average standard.
Such a move would need the support of all ASNS, and would upset some of the wealthy owner-drivers, but surely some restrictions are preferable to no more Goodwood racing at all.