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The Goodwood Cacklefest(ival) of Speed
Goodwood put in a lot of research to create an authentic looking drag strip backdrop for the cars- it even included an authentic US fire truck. Sadly, the Buick Nailheads in Tommy Ivo's four-motor car were silent throughout the weekend
Once again, the throb of American V8 engines was at the very heart of this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. The keenly anticipated historic dragster line-up - 10 front-engined and one rear-engined - were positioned in two lanes of a makeshift drag strip, and twice a day they would burst into life in staged cacklefests. NHRA Motorsport Museum Director, Tony Thacker, was largely responsible for the cars being at Goodwood in the first place, and we made a point of catching up with him after his trans-Atlantic journey.
“Are you enjoying your trip?” we asked.
“I’ve never worked so hard,” came the response. “In fact, everyone has been working so hard to make it all happen this weekend – and on top of that, I’m also commentating, which was a bit of a surprise.”
Crowds start to assemble and crews get ready for a healthy dose of nitro
Faithful replica of Tommy Ivo's Barnstormer was a star of the show. Owner Ron Johnson talks to driver Bob Muravez - aka Floyd Lippencotte Jnr
The Beebe & Mulligan fueler prepares to fire-up
The opening cacklefest on Friday morning was not without drama, although it wasn’t the result of an exploding engine or a mechanical problem, but a visit by the Health and Safety operatives. After experiencing the sheer brutality of a nitro-burning Hemi, they decided the public should be positioned further away from the barriers that enclosed the dragsters. Hastily erected rope barriers were then put in place, which meant it was more difficult for the public to see the cars once they had fired up.
The Mooneyes dragster has recently been rebuilt following a crash which damaged the chassis. The car originally came to the UK in 1963 for the Brighton Speed Trials
All of the crews involved with the dragsters got together for a group pic
It didn’t deter anyone, though, as crowds packed around the display area, drawn by the explosive cacophony of nitro, and each time the spectacle drew to a close, clapped and cheered in appreciation.
The American V8 action wasn’t confined just to the drag strip display area either, as the characteristic deep bellow of big-block Chevy power was also audible on the Goodwood hill. As an aside, it never ceases to amaze me that drivers are willing to risk life and limb racing up a heavily cambered strip of tarmac the width of a B-road. That observation aside, a brief glimpse at the car in question revealed it to be an immaculate Can-Am McLaren, which was part of group of historic Can-Am racers that were in action throughout the weekend.
Lola-Chevrolet T160 was one of the many Can-Am cars on show
About a second after this shot was taken, this hillclimb car left the track
It was also highly entertaining to see purpose-built Pikes Peak cars storming up the narrow road, as their drivers attempted to wrest the hill record away from Justin Law, who set an impressive time over the weekend, of 44.195 seconds, at the wheel of a 1990 Jaguar XJR – a pretty amazing effort, as this is a wide, Le Mans-type race car. Also worthy of mention was a Formula 1-style single-seater, fitted with massive wings for extra downforce, which was driven a little too enthusiastically on Saturday, and left the track mid-way up the hill. It came to an abrupt halt under several hay bales, and although the driver escaped without injury, the car was less fortunate.
Beautifully turned out Model T was a stark contrast to Keystone Cops-style version below
We saw one hot rod on display – the lovely T-bucket of Chris Andrews - which shone out like a beacon in the display of stock early Fords. One of our personal stars of the show, however, was not American, although it did have a V-configured engine. It was a Ferrari that once belonged to no lesser mortal than Steve McQueen. Top automotive upholsterer, Neil Tadman, had almost been wetting himself as he described the car to us on the Friday, to the point where we found ourselves wondering what all of the fuss was about. It turned out he was right, though - it was fabulous. It’s the first Ferrari we’ve ever seen in a particularly fetching shade of brown, and combined with Borrani (we think) chrome wire wheels, contrasting tan leather interior and beautiful understated body lines, it just exuded class. The upholstery, which included diamond-pleated panels, was a work of art, too.
The ex-Steve McQueen Ferrari
Up in the supercar paddock, we spotted another very welcome visitor – the new Dodge Challenger retro-inspired coupe, which made several excursions up the Goodwood Hill. Seeing this car out in the open for the first time made us realise just how wide it is – just like the original. We also caught sight of Mustang specialist and Cobra racer, Bill Shepherd, rumoured to be giving passengers luridly smoky rides up the hill in his Supersnake Mustang.
New 6.1 litre Hemi Challenger put in an appearance on the hill
The king of burnouts, however, had to be the 1933 Napier Railton Special, which was another undoubted star of the Goodwood event. In conversation with its driver, he mentioned the 24-litre Napier aero engine developed 500 horsepower, but more significantly, over 1200lb-ft of torque –enough to light up the tyres in any gear and at any speed, by all accounts.
Napier Railton Special - all 24 litres ready to go
Story: Andy Kirk & Graham Jones
Photos: Steve & Andy Kirk
The new Airbus A380 put in a low level appearance. This flying cruise-liner seats 471 passengers and crew
Sleek appearing 1948 Pontiac Streamliner Deluxe
The amazing Glass Slipper streamlined dragster of brothers Ed and Roy Cortopossi
Art Chrisman was there with son Mike at the wheel of Hustler 1