Work on completing the Nasty Boy was gathering pace around the corner at the abode of one Mr Davis. Arriving back home at lunch time, there was a phone message from Paul Woolmer asking me to contact him as soon as possible. “Yes, Paul?” “Can you get to Goodwood with your 100 tomorrow for the Revival, they need one for the Bruce McLaren tribute parade and it has to be red?” On occasions, the timing of events isn’t necessarily how you would wish them to be and this was one of them as the 100 was displaying some rather large rust areas around both B posts and was booked in for a respray in a couple of months’ time.
I suggested Paul contact Ivor Davies who owns an immaculate red 100 that appears to be constantly being rebuilt after many of his exploits. “Just give me five minutes” said Paul. It was now Wednesday afternoon and my Commander in Chief was out exploring the shops when the phone rang again. “I’ve been onto Goodwood and they’ve said just get your car here. It’s a chance in a lifetime opportunity” Positive decision made and hoping for the same reaction from Pamela, Laterooms.com was pressured into finding somewhere for us to stay that wasn’t a million miles away from the circuit.
After circumnavigating the issue of “I’ve got nothing to wear” we set off with two cars after lunch on Thursday arriving in the evening, both cars being necessary as the 100 would be locked in the circuit until late on Sunday evening. After meeting up with Paul at Goodwood, we headed off to try and find our accommodation which was a bed and breakfast situated about twelve miles away, the last two miles being a single track road. We were warmly greeted by our host and shown to our room, single beds and a shared bathroom, the latter being not something we’ve come across almost in living memory. The situation was however saved a little on day two as we were able to move rooms to one with an ensuite bathroom.
After a decent breakfast it was off to Goodwood to try and find OWD that we’d parked in an area accommodating some rather splendid Jaguars and nearly opposite to the 100 S’s. By the time we found it there were thousands of people milling around the circuit and in spite of all the exotic machinery surrounding OWD, many pictures were being taken with many ladies posing alongside of it.
Ultimately it was time to move the 100 to find the correct parking area where all of the McLaren tribute cars were and it was a rather cautious drive at 1 mph accompanied by marshals with whistles blowing as we moved to find the allotted parking bays. Just one space left, perfect!
It was then off to the Drivers’ marquee to register and receive all the necessary driver’s wrist bands and “go anywhere” Rolex medallions.
Great area decorated in the guise of a very large wartime tent with free breakfast, lunch and dinner every day together with liquid refreshments. There were some famous names around including Sir Stirling and Sir Jackie, etc. However, in reality the best asset of the area were the “latrines”, immaculately clean, glass wash basins and full time attendants which were in complete contrast to the appalling state of the toilets near the main entrance.
Parade time was approaching as we were ushered into the collecting area beside the track. “What number are you? I can’t see you in the programme.” a marshal asked and after explaining the situation we were then asked if we preferred to be in the middle of the group or at the back. Now I have to admit that since OWD’s engine rebuild by Chris late last year together with all of the M spec upgrades plus lightening of flywheel, balancing etc etc we can now show a reasonable turn of speed but on this occasion, the back of the grid seemed to be the most sensible option.
Green flag for go and out in order, racing McLarens of all types, a Ford GT40, Aston Martin, Cooper-Climax and even a prototype E Type were followed by a red Austin-Healey 100. It was to be a three lap parade but “parade” obviously translates into different interpretations with different cars and by the first bend we were on our own. “Hold on Mrs H”. We could have caught them and probably overtaken one or two but decided not to, it wouldn’t have been very polite.
Saturday was another fine day and this time I managed to attend the drivers’ briefing before the parade laps. We were to do one out lap and stop on the start line. Before leaving we were approached by a chap who introduced himself as one of the commentators, he was puzzled as to why the 100 was in the parade on Friday as he had been unable to make any reference to it. His face was somewhat familiar but I couldn’t recall from where (no surprise!) and with due explanation he departed. (It was some time later that I recalled the fact that many years ago he had joined the AHC Northern Centre being the owner of a BJ8 and a dog called Austin but we rarely saw him on any weekend runs as he was a commentator at Oulton Park!) Having completed the lap we stopped behind Sir Jackie Stewart who was driving something a lot more powerful than the 100, a McLaren-BRM to be precise.
Lord March stood on a podium in the middle of the track and gave his speech referring of course to Bruce McLaren who was only 32 when he lost his life in 1970 at Goodwood whilst testing a McLaren M8D Can-Am car. This was followed by a fifteen minute video tribute shown on the big screens followed by the instruction to start our engines. Now this is when being surrounded by 28 unsilenced cars can cause a problem as the only indication that OWD’s engine had fired up and was running was the gyration of the rev counter. Whatever you do: DON’T STALL. Away again for another couple of “parade” laps in the glorious sunshine, no time to wave too busy trying to catch the others.
Sunday saw the usual admirers whilst parked together with the posers and pictures a plenty. Nobody seemed to notice the rust bubbles at the bottom of the rear wings. Collection time again and ready for the final parade. This time Jan McLaren asked if I could take her partner Mark Donaldson on the track, a request gladly complied with. I decided to head for the drivers’ briefing before being called. First into the room with smug grin only to be wiped away when informed that the other drivers had been and gone. “Same procedure as Friday” was the instruction from “the man”. Another three superfast laps as far as OWD was concerned although I expect those in front were in bottom gear and on tick over revs and it was soon back to the parking box.
More admirers, more pictures and poses by the visitors and as usual the opportunity to sit behind the wheel for those who looked as though they would appreciate it, especially the youngsters (sans ice cream of course!). Over the years, Pamela and I have enjoyed seeing the many beaming faces of children who have sat in the driver’s and passenger’s seat, this being hopefully something they will always remember into adulthood when one day they too will want to own an Austin-Healey.
As the day passed there was great excitement as the Vulcan bomber was due to take part in a display with all of the Spitfires assembled on the airfield. Unfortunately the Vulcan had to return to base as it had developed a fuel leak. Pamela and I did however manage to see XH558 a couple of weeks later at the Leeds Air Show and what a fantastic display it was too.
The reason why Jan McLaren wanted a red Austin-Healey 100 in the tribute parade? Although Bruce started hill climbing in an Austin 7 Ulster, it was in a Red Austin-Healey 100 that he started his racing career, a fact obviously overlooked by the Goodwood Revival team!! Thank you Paul for the invite, so pleased we were able to make it.