A ‘little’ celebration at Goodwood Revival…

IMG_1875In July 1957 Fiat launched the Nuova 500 or Cinquecento. Designed by Dante Giacosa as a replacement for the Topolino it was a cheap and practical town car. Just under 3m long and powered by a 479cc two-cylinder air-cooled engine, the 500 was enormously popular throughout Europe and was in production in various forms until 1975, nearly 4 million were made.

The 2017 Goodwood Revival was celebrating the 60th anniversary of this little classic and that special part of West Sussex became a part of Italy for the weekend.  Mario has been part of the Revival since the early days as a taxi and although he is a variant of the Fiat 600 – the 500’s bigger cousin, he was invited along to play and join in the party.

IMG_1897DSC06794Everyday the track opening parade was dedicated to the Fiat 500 and there were upwards of 120, 500’s, variations and derivatives on track – I believe the biggest parade Goodwood have ever had.

DSC06788For once we were encouraged to use our horn and the exuberance of 120+ made it a very noisy affair. The cars gathered every morning in the gravelled area by the Old Control Tower which was festooned with lights, bunting and Italian washing! Tables with checkered cloths, an Italian bar, pizza, an Italian Job Bullion Van selling coffee and the GAG (Goodwood Actors Guild) in their element as a Mafia Boss, Nonna’s, pretty girls, a white gloved and suited traffic policeman and ‘Mario the Sicilian Lemon Seller’ who we shared much banter with – he thought our ‘Mario’ looked like a Lemon!

In organised chaos we were directed onto the grid and lined up 6 or so across – the grid still stretched back to the track entrance. A mass of colour and excitement with girls standing up out of sunroofs and loads of bodies crammed into the tiny cars. After photo opportunities galore we were led off by a course car and Robert Menghini’s immaculate 1957 Fiat 500N ‘Vettri Fissi’ one of the very first production models  of which only around 25 survive across the world today.

It was probably the slowest parade to ever take place at Goodwood, with many of the cars only having 14bhp but I suspect the most fun, certainly the noisiest and seemed to bring a smile to the early rising spectators already in position around the track.

We did this for three days and it improved everytime. Friday was a little grey and damp and a bit mad as nobody knew what they were doing, Mario had James and Craig as passengers. Saturday was a lovely sunny day, Mario was about five rows from the front. Our day was made when Lord March (Duke of Richmond now) spotted us and came over for a hug and a chat about how long we’d been taxing for and the ‘Mario’ coat, all this appeared on the live feed but unfortunately my Mum missed it! Saturday’s passengers were friends Trevor and Max, they were sitting relaxed and comfortable in the back waiting to leave when James and Craig managed to jump in at the very last second, Craig didn’t even get his seat up and so did the lap sitting on the floor!

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By Sunday we were all well practised and Mario got herded up the access lane by the Marshalls and we ended up on the front row of the grid. As the only 6 seater there we had to have a full contingent of passengers. Our four friends from Derbyshire who we have seen at the Revival for many years, had been offered a trip round and James popped in the front to make up the six. The boys are ex Rugby players and are always amazed at how well they can squeeze in the back of Mario. We might have ruined Goodwood’s little Italy theme as they turned up as the cast from ‘It ain’t half hot Mum’ and performed the ‘Boy’s to Entertain You’ at the front of the grid. We had an amazing time and James used FaceBook live for the entire two laps. Starting at the front we held back and let the majority of the field overtake so we got them all on film. The marshals around the track were all enthusiastically waving their green, white and red flags and there was an amazing buzz around the circuit.

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@Fiat 500 Club

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@Fiat 500 Club

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@Fiat 500 Club

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@Fiat 500 Club

It’s so much fun to be a part of something like this, people seemed genuinely pleased to see all the little cars on track and there was some great coverage online, TV and photographs. We certainly won’t forget Revival 2017 in a hurry.

As you can guess we have loads of pictures of the Fiat Celebrations, thanks to Mike Dabell (one of the Derbyshire lads) for lots of the images which appear in this post.  We challenged members of the FaceBook group, The Independent Goodwood Photographers Guild to take pictures of Mario at the Revival to illustrate this blog but they were so good and so varied that I think they deserve a post on their own… coming soon.

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Magnificent time at Member’s Meeting

Mario had his first outing of the year a couple of weeks ago when we went to the 75th Goodwood Member’s Meeting. Not working this time, Mario had a parking space at the Chicane Parking so he was part of the event and we had a ‘giant’ locker for picnic stuff, refreshments and extra layers of clothing. The event held in mid March is famous for it’s Daffodils and last year all GRRC members were sent a daffodil bulb as a mailer to grow for the meeting. We grew ours in an old Castrol Oil can and they bloomed in perfect time for the event and to be entered into the competition at the meeting. The meeting is a greta change for us after the Revival as we actually get time to look around and watch the racing. MM is far more relaxed, much like the early years of the Revival and much less crowded. It can be quite ‘nippy’ on an airfield in March but we were lucky and it stayed dry all weekend, as the saying goes ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing’ so we wrapped up well in lots of layers and stayed snug all weekend. 

The Revival is for cars from the era when racing originally took place at the circuit – 19948-1966 but the member’s Meeting widens that and includes cars from the turn of the century up to the 80’s. Our favourite race of the weekend is ‘the Edwardians’ or the S F Edge Trophy for specials that raced up to 1923. These are amazing, aero engined fire breathing beasts, including the awesome ‘Beast of Turin’ – Duncan Pittaway’s superb 1911 Fiat S76 which e saw racing for the first time.
Saturday was practice and qualifying with a race into the twilight, the Bonham’s auction and then the MM75 party into the night. With a fairground, all sorts of illuminated entertainment and a spectacular fireworks display. Sunday was race day, a chance to poke around the paddock admiring the amazing detail of some of the cars and watch some exciting wheel to wheel action. As well as Mario there were some interesting and varied cars parked around the circuit. We thought the Porsche might have been specially painted for the meeting as it was in the cream and pale blue livery of the MM. Little GRRC hot water bottles were on sale and you could get them filled up at the tea stalls, this was a brilliant idea that certainly helped to keep the hands warm. we also went prepared with toasting forks and crumpets to toast on the fire pits. It was a great social weekend and Mario certainly enjoyed a little spring attention.

A fun filled weekend at 73MM

This weekend was the 73rd Goodwood Members meeting, the second in the modern day format, a continuation of the 71 club meetings run in the 50’s and 60’s for BARC members and it was another triumph for the Goodwood team. Poor Mario was left at home as unlike last year we hadn’t been able to secure parking within the circuit and it didn’t seem worth getting him out of hibernation to sit in a field, plus the lights are useless and it would be dark for both journeys home.

Yet again the Goodwood magic worked and for a March weekend the weather stayed dry and fairly bright although the wind was perishing on Saturday, forward planning and lots of layers meant we managed to stay reasonably comfortable. The circuit looked amazing with an ever increasing number of daffodills surrounding the track.

This year we had the added interest of our friend Adam having an entry in the Bruce McLaren Trophy in his 1964 Huffier-Chevrolet Genie Mk10. This class for the real beasts of motorsport were the fastest on the track with the front runners breaking the lap record. The big benefit of being part of his ‘team’ was that we had access to the pit wall.IMG_5874Saturday was mainly practice/qualifying interspersed with some high speed demos and the first three races. It was great to see the high airbox Formula One cars from the early 70’s on the track.DSC09225 DSC09226 DSC09257 DSC09268 There was also a shoot out between  a 1971 Mercedes Benz W109 300 SEL 6.8 AMG, the brand new Mercedes-AMG GT S and the 2013 Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 WD4. There was a handicapped start with the idea that they would all cross the finishing line together but it all went a bit wrong. However it was great to see the modern F1 car on the track the first time a ‘current’ F1 car has been on the track in a generation – it was amazing how many people had to be involved to get it going though!DSC09289 DSC09291 DSC09295Emanuele Pirro our team captain for Torbolton watching the grid line up for the Gerry Marshall Trophy.DSC09333DSC09324 It wasn’t long before we were in the holding paddock with Adam waiting for his qualifying session. Ex Marussia F1 driver Max Chilton wandered through, he also raced at the Revival last year.DSC09353 Adam’s car is pretty unique and a bit of a beast – a very noisy one! He only got it quite recently and has only driven it a couple of times at slower circuits. The car is also a 1964 in a class open to 1966, development was so quick in that era that the Huffaker is quite slow in relation to a lot of the field. Adam managed to have an uneventful session while several of his competitors pulled out.DSC09355DSC09316 DSC09381 DSC09397 DSC09419While we were waiting for Ad to change, Mario’s mate Jochen Mass came along and posed for a quick pic, he was out qualifying in the Salvador cup in a Mercedes 300SLS Porter special – unfortunately he was involved in a very large smash with a Lister Jaguar. We didn’t see the incident, at the entrance to the pits but luckily both drivers were uninjured, although it was the end of their racing for the weekend and I certainly wouldn’t want the repair bill!FullSizeRender 2 crashThe accident delayed proceedings and being March, the light started to fade quite early, so the last race of the day, the Graham Hill Trophy took place as it was getting dark. I love Goodwood in the dark, the paddocks are very atmospheric and the Gulf McLaren F1’s looked fantastic illuminated with LED’s.DSC09427 DSC09451 DSC09456 DSC09459 The big difference with the Members Meeting is that on the Saturday evening there is a party open to all, held on the edge of the airfield and utilising the ‘Great Hall’ and other hangers it it a colourful noisy burst of fun with rides, wacky entertainers, music, food and bars. This year you entered through an ‘enchanted forest’ of light trees which was quite magical. Although still very cold the wind had dropped a little and there were fire pits to sit round. The evening finished with a most spectacular fireworks display.DSC09467 DSC09470 DSC09476 DSC09478DSC09421IMG_5924DSC09519 DSC09521 DSC09540 DSC09556 DSC09559 DSC09561 DSC09582 DSC09595 DSC09603 Sunday morning dawned with bright skies and less wind, making it much more comfortable for everyone. We watched the Sopwith Cup for 50’s saloons, a great battle between the Jaguar Mk1 of Andy Wallace and the Austin A40.DSC09637 DSC09661 DSC09668 DSC09683Followed by a group C demo and another wander round the paddocks.DSC09696 DSC09703 DSC09713 DSC09734 DSC09737 DSC09743 DSC09746As the High-box F1’s came out for their second demo there was a public grid-walk, a great opportunity to get close to these magnificent 70’s cars that we followed in our childhood. Particularly poignant were the Hesketh’s, one of which was driven by James Hunt’s son Freddie, who looks so much like the F1 Hero.
DSC09759 DSC09761 DSC09763 DSC09765 DSC09767 DSC09775 DSC09785 DSC09788 DSC09793 DSC09810 DSC09818 DSC09851 DSC09860 We spotted Salvage Hunter TV presenter Drew Pritchard who had been driving in his beetle, wonder if Lord March has let him have a rummage around Goodwood House!DSC09868 Next up was the Earl Howe Trophy for pre 1935 Formula Libre cars, we watched from the infield towards Madgwick, an area you can’t view from at the Revival, these beautiful cars looked amazing emerging from behind the daffodils.DSC09871 DSC09875 DSC09917 DSC09924 DSC09927 Then it was back to the paddock to prepare for Adam’s race. We spotted this board at one of the Porsche pits, continuous racing history since the car was new in 1966.DSC09939 DSC09951 DSC09967 While Ad went to the holding paddock, I went down to the Chicane to get a good spot to watch and photograph the race. I saw the end of the Gerry Marshall trophy and the McLaren F1 demo while I was waiting.DSC09979 DSC09991 DSC09994DSC00006The shadows were just starting to lengthen as the Bruce McLaren field came out on track but the sun was still shining, much to Ad’s astonishment as he said it always rains when he goes on track! This group were the fasted cars on track with the leaders reaching speeds of 175mph down the straight. Starting from near the back Adam had a good race, kept out of trouble and brought the car safely home having had a good weekend, there’s not much more one can ask for.DSC00012DSC00018DSC00020DSC00093DSC00097By now the circuit was getting quiet and as the sun started to set many people had left. I had a birthday to celebrate so it was a bottle of champagne and then the prize giving in the Great Hall where we were served Bull Shot (Vodka and Bovril) which was lovely and warming.DSC00184So the end of another great Goodwood weekend, it was a shame Mario wasn’t there and it still seems a little strange being a pedestrian rather than driving but it’s a brilliant start to the season, blew the cobwebs away and next week Mario will be making an appearance at Wheels Day on Good Friday, 2015 motoring is well underway…