In line to slide up the "hill"...
In line to slide up the "hill" at Goodwood in the rain.
Goodwood Festival of Speed
Basically, Goodwood is a series of time trials run up this 3-mile hill to a castle. It is among the premier racing events in England, and many classic cars and famous drivers are there as part of the festivities; everyone you have heard of in international racing goes to it. There are no guardrails, just bales of hay along the sides, and it is very dangerous if a car gets off the course. About 250,000 people show up for this event every year.
The wing car was unique; they had never seen anything like it, and at 20 feet long, it was much larger than any race car over there. Chrysler again wanted to show what the factory had raced 30 years ago. We still had the old pre-Eagle Goodyear tires on it, and we were hot-lapping the car with them. As an aside, I talked with a Goodyear engineer about that and was told that as long as the tires have not been in the sunlight, they stay pretty stable and safe; the sun really ages them.
All day long, a race car will go up the hill every minute-and-a-half or so, and it is run by classes, twice a day for two days. We could not go up that hill as fast as the little Lotuses and cars like that, but we still got a ton of attention. As cars wind up the hill, everyone is hanging over the haybales with their hands over their ears; they had never heard a car like this before, let alone seen one! They loved the sound of the Hemi.
It was also unique from a cultural standpoint. Chrysler treated us very well, and they had rented this huge castle where everyone stayed, complete with chauffered cars for the guests; guests don't drive. This was more than Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, it was pretty amazing.
On one of my trips "up the hill" at Goodwood, Emerson Fittipaldi caught me before the top and he had to slow down, which was kind of embarassing, I guess. The K&K car just doesn't like the right turns, and even with speed on the straight section, it wasn't quick enough. We got to the top and I told him I was sorry I had ruined his run; he just laughed. There's a bragging thing that goes on at Goodwood, and people who said, "I'm going to beat Fittipaldi's time," got a chance that day because of me. He could go through the turns a bit better than I could! I let him dance with my wife at the gala black-tie affair that night to make up for it.
The next event was held at Silverstone, another racetrack located in England. It's a road course with two long straights and many (unfortunately) right-hand turns. With this car, it was very hard to go around the curves; it just wasn't designed to go right! So we could accelerate hard down these long straights, but had to get on the brakes and then muscle it around the curves the wrong way. Moreover, as I mentioned, the car is still basically stock; since it has drum brakes, you can imagine what happens once they got hot.
Nightly accommodations and...
Nightly accommodations and prestige in England; in a word, amazing.
Unlike NASCAR races in the States, this event has an open infield, and the fans can come down and see you at your work area. They respect your space, but like to ask questions. At Silverstone, I did exhibition laps between the actual racing heats with Justin Bell, who was driving the Viper that won at LeMans, and we finally went through those old tires at that event. We went through a whole tank of gas there too; lots of laps.
An elderly gentleman came up to me in this pit area at Silverstone and asked if I would start the car. I politely said, "I will be running the car on the track in few moments, and will be starting it then." His reply was, "I will tell you why I wanted you to start it now. In the Second World War, I flew fighter planes. I have heard you go around the track in this car today, and the engine is the most beautiful sound I have heard since 1943! It sounds like the planes I flew during the war." It was one of the coolest things I'd ever heard anyone say about a Hemi car, and I fired the car up. He leaned down over by the exhaust and grinned from ear to ear.