At Full Song in a GTO

The Goodwood circuit started out as RAF Westhampnett, a small RAF field constructed during the War. In 1948 under the auspices of the Duke of Richmond and Gordon a motor racing circuit was constructed on the airfield site and held its first race meeting in September of that year. The circuit has always been very fast with a series of sweeping bends combined with forbidding bankings around its perimeter. It continues to be used for historic racing today and is largely unchanged.

As Goodwood became better known it attracted international level races as well as the well-attended “club” level events which took place several times each year. One such international race was the Tourist Trophy which took place at Goodwood annually between 1958 and 1964. On August 24, 1963 the “TT” event, organized by the British Automobile Racing Club, was for Grand Touring cars and saw 30 cars take the start of the 500 km. race with Ferraris, Jaguars and Aston Martins as possible winners.

In the entry list were two of the works Aston DP214 models, a pair of Cobras, four lightweight Jaguar E-Types and five Ferrari 250GTOs. It became apparent in qualifying that the race would probably be between the Ferraris and the Astons as the E-Types were not yet on the same level and the Cobras did not make it through qualifying due to technical problems. However, the powerful Astons had been forced to convert to narrower wheels as the ones they had arrived on did not meet the rim widths of those set out on their homologation forms.

The race which would be over 130 laps came down to a battle between two of the Ferrari GTOs, one entered by Ford dealer John Coombs from Guildford, driven by Mike Parkes, and the other from the UK Ferrari importer Maranello Concessionaires in the hands of then current World Champion Graham Hill. The Graham Hill GTO is shown above approaching St. Mary’s corner, lights ablaze to warn slower cars of its approach. By mid-race Parkes had amassed a 30 second margin over Hill when the two leaders stopped to refuel. Then Hill reeled in Parkes and took the lead with 20 laps remaining. It was still very close at the end with Hill winning by only four-tenths of a second after over three hours of racing.

Photo by Colin Waldeck ©The Klemantaski Collection –

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