As I write this, we are nearing the end of our SCM Goodwood Tour. Yesterday we visited the ruins of Old Sarum, where the builders of Stonehenge are thought to have lived, and then went on to the monument itself. A superb and provocative performance by the Royal Shakespeare Company of "The Tempest" filled our evening. Today the group is enjoying a private tour of the Jaguar plant in Coventry as well as a visit to the Donington Grand Prix Collection. Ms. Banzer, 38 SCM enthusiasts and I have been reveling in our automotive and cultural romp through the gearhead heart of England, under the expert tutelage of organizer and guide Steve Austin.
The combination of the historic richness of England with the opportunity to see a magnificent variety of old cars being driven at speed is truly the stuff that dreams are made of.
Last weekend's Goodwood Revival was a rich and fully detailed step back in time to a simpler era, before modern-day sponsors began swathing historic events with their adverts for contemporary products. The dress code for those wishing to enter the paddock-period jackets and ties for the gentlemen, "casual smart" for the ladies-led to a nattily attired crowd, although some in the group questioned my "Elvis replica" blue and white madras sports coat. Between jousts, the racing machines rested next to one another under simple wooden sheds. Blessedly absent were the modern, bloated tractor-trailers that visually blight so many vintage paddock areas today.
For fans of '50s and '60s racing, the entry list was a cornucopia of four-wheeled riches. There were no fewer than four C-type Jaguars, three Maserati A6GCSs and three Aston DB3s competing in Saturday's Freddie March Memorial Trophy race. This year, the 90-minute race began at 6:15 p.m. and ran through dusk. For many of these cars, it was the first time in decades they had run with their lights illuminating a track. The twin, often dim headlight beams moving at 120 miles per hour across the back straight, with the occasional belch of fire from a downshift, evoked memories of the original Goodwood International 9-hour race run from 3 p.m. to midnight.
The Sussex Trophy, a 14-lap race on Sunday, featured four Jaguar D-types, two Aston DBR1s, four Lister-Jaguars, three Maserati Birdcages, two 300Ss and a 200S, along with a Ferrari 196S, 246S Dino and 500TRC. And in the final race, the Whitsun Trophy, among other entries were eight (!) Ford GT40s, two Ferrari 250 LMs and two Porsche 904s.
These machines all wore their battle scars proudly, accumulating more as the weekend went on. No white-hanky racing here, the top 75% of each race group went at it hammer and tongs as if a manufacturer's championship were at stake. Backwards at speed into a tire wall went one 250 LM, and a C-type got a pooched-in rear quarter as its driver tried to squeeze his car into the chicane, only to find it fully occupied by another competitor who wasn't about to give way. Circular tire rubbing marks on the bodywork from casual contact were more the norm than the exception for the front runners in the sports car classes.
As an ex-WWII RAF fighter base, Goodwood has another history to draw upon. Each day there were aerial demonstrations by Spitfires, P-51 Mustangs, a four-engined Lancaster bomber, a Hawker Hurricane and a shark-tooth emblazoned P-40. Many in the crowd had watched epic aerial battles between similar planes and the attacking forces of Germany 60 years ago. The planes climbed vertically towards the clouds, engines straining against gravity, looped over and dove straight toward the earth, only to level out at the last minute and scream across the field just 50 feet off the ground. For the WWII veterans in attendance, the war birds were a reminder of how thin the line between freedom and enslavement had been, with just a few thousand men and their machines defending an entire country and a way of life.
One year ago, on September 11, we were headed to the airport to embark on this Goodwood Tour when the tragic events of that day unfolded, changing our plans and our lives. Twelve months later, it is good to be here with friends, completing our tour and returning to normalcy, even if things will never be quite the same again.
Seeing the vintage war machines at Goodwood was sobering, and caused us to reflect that a vigilant defense is now the constant price of our once-taken-for-granted freedoms.
FAREWELL TO A FRIEND
The collector car world suffered a major loss on August 25, when Pat Braden unexpectedly passed away. Braden, who was 68, suffered a heart attack while at his computer, doing what he loved, writing about Alfa Romeos. The stories he was working on appear in this issue.
Pat's perspective was distinct and irreplaceable. He had owned and used his Alfas as daily drivers, including thundering 8Cs, supercharged 6C 1750 Zagatos and 1900 Zagatos, as well as pedestrian Alfettas with automatic transmissions. Through his ownership experiences, he was singularly suited to understand and interpret the strand of Alfa DNA that ran through all these disparate models, and his finely honed skills as a writer allowed all of us to share his insights.
We have devoted this month's Alfa Romeo Profile, on page 54, as a tribute to Pat, who was SCM's Alfa Romeo specialist. We miss him dearly.
ON THE COVER
It's back to the modern day with this month's cover, as artist Jay Koka depicts a contemporary Ferrari in his painting, "348 at Carregi." The location is a Tuscan villa as interpreted by the artist.
In his early years, Koka owned Austin-Healeys, Fiat Spiders, and Corvettes. "I even had a Javelin," he recalled. "I raced them, I owned them, I rebuilt them. I've spent more money on cars than I ever should have."
Born in Budapest, Hungary in 1950, Koka emigrated to Canada in 1956. He currently lives near Toronto with his wife Catherine.
To depict the 348, Koka used gouache, a highly refined watercolor paint, along with watercolor and ink pigments, all applied with a brush on board. Usually Koka works in acrylic, on canvas.
Koka's original works are collected by private and public audiences worldwide, and his studio has published over 60 limited print editions. His original paintings and an online catalog of prints and posters are featured at www.jaykokastudio.com.
Koka has been a featured artist and poster artist for the Meadow Brook Concours, Bloomington Gold, Concours of the Eastern United States and the Reading Ferrari Concours, among others. A member of the Automotive Fine Arts Society, his awards include the Athena at Pebble Beach and The Stanley Wanlass Award at Meadow Brook.
This painting was created around 1999 and is now in a private collection in the US; prints are not currently available. The artist may be contacted at email@example.com, tel: 519/746-1350, fax: 519/746-8490.