Oliver Gavin went back in time to the 1950s and 1960s this weekend at the prestigious historic racing event, the Goodwood Revival meeting and got a sharp reminder of how much motor sport has progressed in the last half century -- as well as having a huge amount of fun.
Oliver was driving two different cars at Goodwood, partnering Des Smail in a 1959 Austin A40 in the St Mary's Trophy race, and sharing the wheel of a 1961 Jaguar E-Type with Mark Clubb in the RAC TT Celebration race.
He finished a creditable 5th in the St Mary's race yesterday (Saturday), behind sport car legends and colleagues such as Derek Bell and Tom Kristensen. "We got murdered off the start by the Jags and dropped to 8th or 9th," said Olly. "I managed to make up some ground over a few laps and was behind Derek Bell and aiming for his place when I missed the brake pedal at the St Mary's left-hand corner and ended up on the grass. Derek said he saw it and was smirking to himself behind his crash helmet! It was a bit frustrating that I'd made the mistake as I spent the rest of the race trying to get back towards the front and was almost level with Derek at the chequered flag.
"The A40 was great fun but struggled compared with the lighter A35s and the Jaguars which have more power. A really good experience though and massive thanks to Andrew Higginson, the car's owner, for entrusting me with it for the weekend."
In today's main feature race, the one-hour, two-driver challenge for closed-cockpit GT cars (1960-1964), the Corvette Racing driver who usually competes in the American Le Mans Series, lined up alongside some of the most famous names in motor sport in around £100million of exotic cars. The pairing had qualified 15th for the event, so had their work cut out, but ended up crossing the line in a satisfying 7th place.
"I had a good race with both Tiff Needell and Derek Bell in this one, and was helped out a bit when Derek got caught out and tangled up with a backmarker. I tried not to smirk like he had yesterday but it was difficult! I was in 3rd when we stopped for the driver change, and Mark did a great job to keep us in the top ten amongst some really stiff opposition such as Nic Minassian and Jean-Marc Gounon.
"I really enjoyed being at the Revival event again, and it made me realise how much motor sport has moved on in terms of safety and technical development. The cars were quite scary to drive at times, and you can't help but think sometimes of what might happen if you crashed. You have a massive engine in the front which would end up in your lap -- not something which would happen nowadays. Thankfully, it's because of these cars and these manufacturers that we are where we are now and I can't wait to return to the Goodwood Revival again in 2011 for another go."