Tag Archives: Simon Hildrew

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View from The Long Water

One of the highlights of my personal motoring year is the visit in early September to Hampton Court Palace for the Concours of Elegance. The setting and the cars are beyond magnificent, the event has yet to disappoint, since it started in 2012. Despite the pandemic, it is scheduled to take place this year on 4-6th September but who knows? In the first of a series of pieces looking back, here is Simon Hildrew’s personal view from 2019.

John Brooks, June 2020

The House on The Hill

In yesterday’s post I stated my intention to remain in an analogue world rather than the brave new digital one. If any confirmation were needed of this being the right course a breathless release arrived overnight confirming that ByKolles was on pole for the virtual Le Mans 24. No further evidence to present, m’ Lord. So continuing to mine the recent past in search of treasure we should once more look at Goodwood, this time the Festival of Speed and Simon Hildrew’s amazing photos.

In any normal year I would getting ready to cover Les Vingt-Quatre Heures du Mans later this afternoon. However, we are living in strange times; normally we would also be anticipating a trip to the South Downs and the Goodwood Festival of Speed. That pleasure is denied to us this year, so we must make do with memories. A look back at 2019 will have to do.

Speed and style are crucial elements in the DNA of the Festival of Speed, so is heritage. As the years roll by anniversaries hove into view, arguably one of the most significant in 2019 was Bentley’s centenary. Naturally there were many fine examples on display, but I was drawn to XM 6761, a 1922 3-Litre. This car is very significant for Bentley and Le Mans, as it was entered in the first race back in 1923, laying the foundations for the ‘Bentley Boy’ legend that did so much to raise the profile of the French endurance race in the early years.

Frank Clement and John Duff ignored W.O. Bentley and entered the 3-Litre, the only non-French car in the field. They set the fastest lap and eventually finished joint fourth after a stone punctured the fuel tank.

UU 5872 has been described as “The most valuable Bentley in the world. This is the actual – and totally original – supercharged 4½-litre that Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin raced in the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1930. Its sister car won the race but this car played a key role in that victory when Birkin acted as a hare and, eventually, Caracciola’s chasing Mercedes SSK broke.” It is automotive royalty of the highest order

Mercedes-Benz were celebrating 125 years of motor sport, a truly great heritage. Amongst the many stars was this 1937 W125. Powered by a 5.6 litre supercharged straight-eight, the Silver Arrow took Rudolf Caracciola to a second drivers’ title.

Fast-forward a few decades to the Sauber-Mercedes C9 that conquered Le Mans in 1989 in the hands of Jochen Mass, Stanley Dickens and Manuel Reuter. Its rumbling V8 song is unmistakable.

Also eligible for a telegram from Her Majesty was Citroën, well they would be if they were not French. Despite that disadvantage they were especially welcome at Goodwood, having produced some of the world’s truly great cars, consistently marching to a different beat. Where would Maigret have been without his Traction Avant? What would France profonde have done without the 2CV?

Fifty years have passed since Sir Jackie Stewart won the first of his three World Championships. It was wonderful see the whole family as guests of His Grace, Lady Helen has not been well for a while. Sir Jackie has, in recent years, thrown his considerable energy and influence in the Race for Dementia charity, if anyone can help to defeat this terrible condition, it will be him.

Sir Jackie, and his sons Paul and Mark, demonstrated his championship-winning cars, a Matra and two Tyrrells.

Another champion from that era was Jacky Ickx. In ’69 he won the first of his six victories at La Sarthe, eclipsing all others, except a great Dane.

The Ford GT40 that carried Ickx and his co-driver, Jackie Oliver, to the closest victory in Le Mans history, 120 meters ahead of Hans Herrmann’s Porsche, is a legend in its own right. #1075 also triumphed in the previous year’s race, making it one of only four cars to win the French classic twice.

’69 also saw the debut of the Porsche 917 at La Sarthe, here Derek Bell is reunited with #045 that he shared with Jo Siffert in ’71. Of course during that race it was in the iconic Blue and Orange Gulf livery but during a restoration in the ’70s it was re-liveried as a Martini Porsche.

Richard Attwood drove #023 up The Hill, he and Hans Herrmann scored Porsche’s first outright win at Le Mans in ’70, the race immortalised by Steve McQueen.

Aston Martin celebrated a 70-year relationship with Goodwood. The parade is led here by the DBR1/2, its wundercar of the late ’50s, with two victories in RAC Tourist Trophy at Goodwood as well winning Le Mans in ’59.

Aston Martin were also the marque featured on the traditional sculpture in front of Goodwood House, courtesy of Gerry Judah.

As happens most years there is an automotive sensory overload during the Festival of Speed, just how important it has become is illustrated by the loss of the event in 2020, it will be back, and so will we.

In the meantime fill yer boots courtesy of Simon Hildrew’s magnificent gallery.

John Brooks, June 2020

A Revival, what we all need now.

DoubleDeClutch has been dormant for several months, too many paying projects, followed by the lock-down and the suspension of normal life due to the terrible virus that has wreaked such havoc on society. So, on a day that is grey and soggy, it is time to make the sun shine again, to truly believe that better days are ahead. What more fitting way to achieve this than to reflect on the recent past, courtesy of this fabulous photography from Simon Hildrew? More to follow as we get back up to speed but first a few reflections from Sussex.

Sitting in my office at lunchtime on the second Friday in June is a very unusual situation. For the past 37 years I would be running up and down the Le Mans Paddock and during the past decade I would be beginning to herd a bunch of grumpy cats, aka drivers, in the direction of Place des Jacobins for the Friday evening parade. At least I am spared that delight today.

We are living in weird times during this terrible pandemic, tomorrow there will be a virtual 24-hours of Le Mans, all very worthy I am sure, but not for me. I prefer my imagination to be rooted in the real world, even if it is the past.

So rather than a digital virtual world, let’s go analogue and where would be more appropriate than the Goodwood Revival?

Simon produced some stunning work back in September and it is high time to expose it to a wider audience, like this evocative moment in time from the Kinrara Trophy, surely automotive heaven.

I visited the Revival for the first time in several years and was greatly impressed at the high standard the event manages to maintain, even 20 years on from the first running. There is still great kudos in being invited by His Grace to compete, everyone who is anyone in the classic racing field has to be there.

It is also time to catch up with old friends and colleagues, such Peter Wyss, journalist and racer…….he has a podium at the Spa 24 to his credit.

Old friends come in many shapes and sizes, Andrew Cotton spotted an E-Type in the paddock, recognising it as the very car that his father had participated in many ’60s continental rallies, as a navigator. Big smiles were the order of the day, a common problem at the Revival.

Later in the day I was catching up with Ted Higgins, who was looking after this marvellous Vanwall, part of Bernie Ecclestone’s collection. We noticed a familiar face passing and it was too good an opportunity to miss.

Both champions in Gulf colours, James Weaver discusses style with Derek Bell.

Just count how many Le Mans victories are on parade here………..29 by my reckoning………..

There was a celebration of Sir Stirling Moss reaching his 90th birthday, with Lady Susie as guest of honour, here with His Grace in the timeless DBR1. Sadly, since this happy day the great champion has passed away.

The 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings was also celebrated with an impressive display of military hardware, including this Sherman.

The airfield played host to fabulous collection, including this Douglas DC-3, another veteran of 6th June 1944.

‘Give me Goodwood on a summer’s day and you can forget the rest’ declared Roy Salvadori back in the day. September is pretty good too, whether we will enjoy the experience this year is open to question, my thoughts are not positive. So we must make do with images from the past, beats the virtual world any day in my humble opinion, especially when it is Simon behind the lens.

Enjoy his gallery.

John Brooks, June 2020

Rebirth of the Cool

Motor Racing is an essentially circular activity, much like life, though in that particular case it eventually comes down to the ever-decreasing variety. On a July Saturday, almost 50 years ago, I travelled in a state of great excitement to Kent, Brands Hatch to be precise. I was going to my first motor race.

My heroes were going to be there; Seppi and Pedro, plus the greats such as Jackie Stewart, Jochen Rindt, Jack Brabham and Graham Hill, I could not believe my good fortune. The 1970 British Grand Prix was chock-full of legends like Dan Gurney, Mario Andretti and John Surtees – another future ace, Emerson Fittipaldi, was making his F1 début.

I had devoured Motor Sport and Autocar for the previous year or two in search of knowledge of this exciting and glamorous scene and was just getting into another publication, Autosport. I was properly hooked on motor racing, it was all downhill from there.

The race is remembered for the last lap victory of Jochen Rindt, taking advantage of Jack Brabham’s fuel starved car. From my perspective in the grandstand at Clearways it was downright robbery, the Aussie had earned the win. A few weeks later this thought was tempered with the news of the Austrian’s death at Monza. That season had already seen Bruce McLaren and Piers Courage killed while behind the wheel of a racing car, we would witness the first, and hopefully the last, posthumous World Champion.

Years passed and I was fortunate to have some small involvement with the sport, mainly in the endurance racing sector. A familiar name popped up in the mid-90s, that of Brabham, this time David rather than Jack, or Sir Jack as he was honoured.

David was one of the top drivers of his time, a Le Mans winner, but also a genuinely good bloke, clearly his father’s son. Recently he has relaunched the family name in the world of high performance cars, indeed I wrote about the launch of the car some time back. HERE

A week or so back the Brabham brand returned to Brands Hatch as David raced the Brabham BT62 in its début, scoring a memorable victory in the first Britcar endurance race of the weekend. The one hour event on Saturday evening was held in torrential conditions as competitors raced into the sodden night. Co-driver Will Power struggled with a windscreen that misted up during the opening stint but when he handed over the elegant racer to Brabs at the mandatory pitstop he had done enough to lay the foundations for success. The pair were justifiably chuffed with the result, perhaps the first step on the road to Les Vingt-Quatre Heures du Mans in 2022.

The team were brought back down to earth on the Sunday morning when they were forced out of the lead in the second race with alternator problems. A very promising start and hopefully the prologue to a motorsport legend in the making.

DDC had the services of Simon Hildrew to illustrate this piece, as ever he did a brilliant job, more to come from him during the coming weeks as we attend to clearing the backlog of pieces ready to post.

John Brooks November 2019

The Rites of Spring

In life circumstances change constantly, sometimes to our benefit, sometimes not. The trick is to keep going and not let adversity overwhelm you. This collective has been a bit quiet in recent times, for many different reasons. However I am now resolved to kick start things once more as the height of summer approaches.

The more observant of you will have noticed that our star photographer, Simon Hildrew, has not been furnishing us with his usual top class material drawn for the historic racing scene here in the UK.

Whatever the reasons for the omission we are lucky to have him drop us a rich bundle of imagery from the Goodwood Members’ Meeting. The weather was pretty fair in sharp contrast to 2018 snow drifts.

There have also been a few issues with this site, probably due to the incompetence of the author, you can’t get the staff……………for the moment these have been resolved.

So by way of restitution for those kept waiting here is a wonderful gallery from a few months back. Goodwood at its very best.

John Brooks, July 2019

Thameslink

Here at DDC Towers we are firmly of the chips on both shoulders persuasion. So in the interests of balance we are running this excellent gallery from Simon Hildrew as a counterbalance to the previous polemic from Kensington Gore.

As Simon’s keen eye demonstrates there were motoring goodies to be found at the Excel last month. We should be grateful that such entertainment is still permitted in these enlightened times.

For some there was an opportunity to buy or sell……….one man’s treasure and all that stuff….

There were anniversaries to be celebrated with Citroën reaching a Ton this year………just look at that French artistry………..

And that quintessential ’60s epic, The Italian Job, was paid homage by Octane.

Not sure that the script would get past the arbiters of good taste these days……….no one would like to upset Italian drivers would they?

There were appearances from heroes of the past, like Gordon Spice.

Enough from me I suggest that you take a while to enjoy the stories that pop into life from Simon’s cameras……….more on the way soon.

John Brooks, March 2019

A Celebration of Rob Walker

Dorking is a quiet market town located in a very attractive part of Surrey’s North Downs, local landmarks include Box Hill and Denbies Vineyard. For those of us with inclination to burn petrol at speed Dorking will forever be associated with R.R.C. Walker Racing that was located at the Pippbrook Garage in the heart of this community.

Robert Ramsay Campbell Walker was born on August 14th 1917, so staging the Rob Walker Centenary Festival  in October 2018 seems a little odd, perhaps too much time spent at Denbies…….but I digress and I must say that the organisers did a first class job in honouring this sometimes overlooked, but hugely influential, figure in post-War British motor sport.

The numerous spectators that witnessed the demonstration of old racers around the closed streets were given a raucous display. Robbie Walker was on hand to enjoy this fine tribute to his father.

Another son representing a famous father, was David Brabham, a top flight sportscar driver and Le Mans winner in his own right. Sir Jack Brabham was one of three Formula One World Champions who drove for Walker, the other pair were Jochen Rindt and Graham Hill.

However it is the relationship and deep friendship between Rob Walker and Sir Stirling Moss that the team is arguably most famous for. In the period from 1958 to 1961 Stirling scored seven Grand Prix wins for the team, most notably in 1961 at Monte Carlo and the Nürburgring, seeing off the more powerful Ferrari squad through sheer talent and determination. Regrettably Sir Stirling’s health is not up to public appearances at present so his absence left a big gap that the organisers filled admirably in a most appropriate fashion.

Moss was rightly famous and revered as a Grand Prix star, indisputably the leader of the pack after Fangio retired. However his exploits in endurance racing are just as notable. The ’55 Mille Miglia triumph in the Mercedes-Benz is legendary as are the Nürburgring 1000kms wins in ’58 and ’59 for Aston Martin. In 1960 Moss won the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood driving a Ferrari 250 GT SWB #2119, an achievement in itself but staggering when one considers that it was two months and one day after his horrific accident at Spa in the Belgian Grand Prix. Doctors forecast a minimum recovery period of six months but Moss was able to recuperate way faster than that. It later emerged that he had tuned in the Ferrari’s radio to hear the commentary of Raymond Baxter as rattled off the laps. This beautiful Ferrari is now the proud possession of one Ross Brawn, a real enthusiast.

Almost exactly a year later and Moss was back at Goodwood in another 250 GT SWB, this time #2735. Frankly the opposition was not the strongest and consisted of another 250 GT SWB, driven by Mike Parkes and three Essex Racing Team Aston Martin DB4 GTs, two of which were Zagato-bodied and driven by Roy Salvadori and Jim Clark. The third was an ordinary DB4 GT in the hands of Innes Ireland. Moss won with ease in the end after a crash in practice, there was no word as to whether he turned on the radio………..

These Ferraris are amongst the most elegant of all GT cars…………and here there were a brace – Bellissimo!

The weather was kind and a great time was had by all who attended, let’s hope that this event becomes a tradition……………in the meantime enjoy another stunning portfolio of photos from Simon – Bellissimo indeed!

John Brooks November 2018

Escorting at Brands Hatch

The Ford Escort, star of track and rally stage, has hit half a century of competition. How appropriate then that Brands Hatch was the venue a month or two back for a celebration of this yeoman of the track and street.

Of course in a virtually dry summer there would be downpours during some of the action, but lurid angles and consummate car control are the bread and butter of the touring car brigade.

Back in 1968 I had just been following the sport for about a year, not been to a race, that came in 1970. However I would devour Motor Sport, Motor Racing and Autocar with the fervour of a new convert. There was an exciting world of speed brought to life by the likes of Eoin Young, Michael Cotton, Denis Jenkinson and Innes Ireland to name but a few. That year the BTCC title was taken by Frank Gardner in the Escort that is shown above and for the enthusiastic crowd that braved the rain the demonstration laps of XOO349F were a highlight of the HSCC meeting.

Our local star, Simon Hildrew, was on hand to capture the spirit of this episode of time travel to the ’70s, the land of The Sweeney, The Three-Day Week, Punk and some very dubious taste in fashion – Never Mind the Bollocks indeed.

John Brooks November 2018

The New Fifty

The sharp ones amongst you (that’s everyone who visits this site) who read the Festival of Speed piece  will have noticed a great gap in the words and pictures. No Porsche……….

1948 not only saw the arrival of Lotus and Land Rover, but also the powerhouse now know as Porsche AG came into existence. To celebrate 70 years of “Excellence was Expected”  Porsche pushed out the boat or more appropriately The Carrera at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and what a party there was!

As one might expect the centrepiece was the sculpture or should that be installation in front of Goodwood House, the work of Gerry Judah.

It is one of the signature displays at each Festival of Speed and this year’s effort did not disappoint. The 917 reminded me of a famous shot from the 1970 Le Mans 24, with Mike Hailwood’s Gulf 917 being hoisted by a crane from the track after ‘Mike the Bike’ lost control in the wet and crashed out of the race and the JW Automotive team………..no way to treat a 917.

 

Down to earth is how you would describe the 356 ‘No.1’ Roadster, that started the journey that we saluted some 70 years on. Porsche shows great respect for its heritage, not all automobile manufacturers are so clever.

I am not convinced that the term Mission Statement was popular back in 1948 but here we have the original thoughts from Ferry Porsche, pretty much sums up the company ever since.

Another giant step for Porsche was the introduction of the 911 and the oldest example that Porsche owns, 57th off the production line in 1964, was also on the Hill.

One Porsche that never saw the light of day was the LMP 2000 that was destined to succeed the 911 GT1 98 as Porsche’s challenger for further honours at Le Mans.

It ran but a few tests before the whole project was cancelled by the Board in favour of spending the budget developing the Cayenne. This was the first that LMP 2000 had ever appeared in public.

There were many familiar faces in the phalanx of Porsches on display. The 2003 911 GT3 RS that had beaten the top class cars to score an outright win at the 2003 Spa 24 Hours (how very Retro-Porsche!) was a welcome sight.

By any standards the Porsche at 70 event within an event at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed was rip-roaring success, here’s to another 70 years. In the meantime enjoy the sensations captured by Simon Hildrew.

John Brooks, September 2018

 

Over The Hill and Far Away

One of the disadvantages of being a one-man band is that things pile up in front of you and there is every chance of losing sight of what should be a priority.

Take the Festival of Speed for example, I received a mountain of great photos from our resident lens-meister, Simon Hildrew. These arrived in the middle of a deadline or three, all urgent, well aren’t they all?

I will deal with them later, says I. Bollocks you will, say others and, of course they were right. One urgent edit/picture request follows another as the struggle to keep afloat obscures other priorities.

So relaxing in a modest villa here in Menorca, I realised after a prompt from a very patient Simon that I had taken my eye off the ball and forgotten to post up the gallery and story that I had prepared from the Festival of Speed. Mea Culpa.

The time for a detailed analysis has clearly passed, the gallery is what matters but it is worth flagging up a few highlights. A brace of 70th birthdays for Lotus and Land Rover, quintessentially British but both foreign owned, a metaphor for our times.

Volswagen’s amazing record earlier in the year at Pikes Peak was celebrated by Romain Dumas as he took top spot on the Hill in the Volkswagen I. D. R. Pikes Peak. He certainly gave the crowds something to cheer with his enthusiastic performance.

Off-roading and kickin’ up a little dust was obviously the new black, Valtteri Bottas joined the gang in his 2016 F1 Mercedes……

Steve McQueen’s performance in “Bullitt”  has passed into cinematic legend particular the famous standard-setting car chase sequence. Recently one of the two Mustangs that were used in the film surfaced after many years. At Goodwood it made its first appearance outside the US…………iconic or what?

The lawn in front of the Stables gave us its usual cornucopia of goodies, my personal favourite was this exquisite 1954 Jaguar XK140 with styling by Pinin Farina.

As with every motoring event of any stature these days there was an auction, at Goodwood it was Bonhams, always special. Indeed a new record was set by legendary Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato ‘2 VEV’,  raising just over £10 million.

 

The Festival of Speed was also celebrating; 25 years of motoring excellence since the first show back in 1993. In the midst of all the excitement and reminiscing  there were a few clouds on the horizon as some of the manufacturers normally present were missing. The FoS organisers will have to work doubly hard to keep up the level of their show in this time of budget cuts. If anyone can manage that challenging task it will be them as the evidence of a quarter of a century can attest.

In the meantime let’s enjoy another stupendous wall of imagery from Simon Hildrew.

John Brooks, September 2018