Photography and copy compliments of Don Wolf.
This year I went on the best car guy trip possible. 10 of us got together and went to England primarily for the Goodwood Revival. The weather was sunny (really) for the full week we were there. 6 of us are vintage racers and the other 4 are enthusiasts. The 6 racers have British cars from the 40’s and 50’s. The trip was organized by one of the racers from New Jersey. We flew overnight to London Heathrow and an early morning rendezvous (no sleep).
Day 1 started at a tour of the McLaren Technology Centre. This is a very modern high tech factory where they build F1 cars and their line of street cars. On display was a Can Am car, an early F1 car, Indy car and a late model F1 car. They also had a couple of the street cars that were campaigned at LeMans. We saw their glass enclosed area where today’s F1 cars were being readied for the next day’s flight to Singapore (no pictures of that area). A very large area for their trophies. We did get to see the preview display of their next super car, the Speedtail (no pictures again). That was set up by the host of our Saturday morning cars and coffee (coffee, bagels and lies). In the afternoon we went to Brooklands Museum. The museum is in the infield of the race track that was built around 1900. It was a high bank dirt speedway and there is still some sections of the old track on the grounds. Some of the old buildings are on the infield and display some of the shops from the early automotive and WW2 aviation.
Day 2,3 and 4 (Fri Sat Sun). Goodwood is a spectacular complex that hosts the biggest and best vintage auto race in the world. The track is beautiful and about 2.4 miles long and great tire dirt barriers for car and spectators alike. The outfield and infield is grass with an airport in the center. The garage area is primitive. The large crowd of which about 95% were in clothing from the 50’s and 60’s. Almost half the crowd was ladies. Racing was fantastic. A class of Bentley’s up into the 30’s. I counted 29 on the track for their race. Saloon cars were 1950’s 4 seaters. I like 53-54 Studebakers and there was a 1957 Silver Hawk that won on Saturday. Motorcycles were mainly 50’s with Manx Nortons, Matchless, BMW and MV Agusta. Sports cars up into the 60’s. Mid 60’s and earlier F1 cars had a great race. There was even a pedal car race for kids that was about 75 yards long. The racing was very spirited but not a contact sport. Every morning 2 P51 Mustangs and a Spitfire took off from the airport and did some maneuvers over the track before the racing started. Where else would you see about 20 Jaguar C and D types racing. We figured with over 200 cars racing and the rarity it had to be about a billion dollars worth of cars there. 3 days was not enough time.
Day 5 was at the Williams F1 facility. It’s the largest collection of F1 cars in the world. We did not get into the factory but we did go into the museum. They had last years’ F1 car on display and you could take all the pictures you wanted. Modern race cars are not modern very long. They are a lot more than an F1 team. They do a lot of engineering projects for other companies. In the afternoon we went to a quaint village called Cotswold and went to their motoring museum. They had a large collection of automobilia.
Day 6 we went to Morgan. I have a whole new appreciation for their cars. Machinery is not the biggest thing in their buildings. The work force has a lot of families in it. Hand skills are being passed down to their kids. There was a fixture that they use to glue wood inner panels for the rear fenders. The glue fixture has been used for 80 years. Goodwood was the best, this was second best. No assembly lines, just work stations and the work wasn’t done until it was done right. We really appreciated seeing the hand skills. In the afternoon we went to the British Motor Museum. Lots of prototypes (that should have been built), antiques, royal cars, land speed record and movie cars. Next door is the Jaguar Heritage Center. They had some of their modern sports prototypes displayed and back to their early vehicles.
Day 7 started at the Bicester Heritage Center. It is a complex attached to a WW2 training grass airport. The buildings are scattered about under the trees. The buildings are now used by specialists in the automotive field. Restoration shops, engine, lubricant, magneto rebuilders all supporting the vintage field. 20 years ago the complex was put up for sale by the government. A group of people got together to start the heritage center with specialists in different fields. Although they were the low bidder the government liked what they were going to do and accepted their low bid. The WW2 air raid shelters are still on sight scattered amongst the buildings. In the afternoon we went to the Silverstone Circuit. It was closed!!! Hard to believe that one of the best race circuits in the world was closed. We flew home.