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Looking back: Twenty years of the need for speed at Goodwood
The Goodwood Festival of Speed is an annual hill climb featuring historic motor racing vehicles that is held in the grounds of Goodwood House. Its enduring popularity is now capped at 150,000 spectators.
Other factors also make the Festival of Speed unique as a motor sport event. Thanks to the event’s classification as a hill climb, its location and desire to reflect the style and history of motor sport, visitors are afforded close views of the action – separated only by a few metres and reinforced straw bales from the track.
Visitors are free to walk around several paddocks where the cars and drivers can be seen at close quarters.
While hugely successful, the event has also had its share of controversy. In particular, there have been two fatal accidents at the event.
The first was during its inaugural meeting in 1993, when vintage-racing motorcyclist Chas Guy was killed in practice following the completion of the course when his Vincent motorcycle developed a steering wobble, throwing the rider into a tree.
In 2000, horrified spectators witnessed a crash that left two people dead. Driver John Dawson- Damer, 59, lost control of his Lotus 63, and crashed into the finish line gantry, killing himself and marshal Andrew Carpenter, 40.
Another marshal, Steve Tarrant, survived but lost his right leg.
Since his recovery, despite his disability, he continues to marshal to this day.
Michael Pearson, 48, of Sackville Gardens, Hove witnessed the crash and said: “It was horrible.
There were some people screaming but a lot of others were just in shock. Everyone was pretty quiet for the rest of the afternoon.”
In 2003 The Argus reported that “errors of judgment” resulted in the deaths.
An inquest jury in Chichester was told the Motoring Sports Association (MSA) did not check the finishing post.
The jury heard the finishing post, or gantry, should have been checked by MSA officials before a track licence was issued.
Detective Chief Inspector Neil Fellingham, of Sussex Police, said: “There were errors of judgement but no gross negligence.”
More controversy arose in 1999 when a former James Bond star launched a High Court bid for compensation against the festival where she fell and injured herself.
Eunice Gayson appeared in 50 films including the Bond classics Dr No and From Russia With Love.
She sued over an incident in 1995 when she fell forward on to her knees after allegedly tripping on an electric cable at Goodwood Park.
Mrs Jackson was a guest at the fourth Festival of Speed at Goodwood Park and said she was claiming “substantial sums” in compensation.
Controversy aside, one of the main attractions at the festival over the years has been the celebrities in attendance, including the likes of Jenson Button, David Coulthard, and Jackie Stewart.
However in 2007, it was Hamilton fever that hit Sussex. The racing phenomenon Lewis Hamilton made his first appearance in a Formula One car on British soil in Sussex.
The headline on June 17 was “Hamilton fever hits Sussex”.
In 2009 local student made the headlines after his “weird and wonderful bicycle” was displayed at the festival.
Worthing’s Northbrook College student Stuart Slade, was studying for a fine art degree at the time.
He had caused a stir last year with his gigantic spider structures which were banned from their roundabout display in Arundel for distracting drivers.
Speaking in 2009 Mr Slade said of his work: “It’s ambiguous – maybe some sort of post-apocalyptic future.”
ON THIS DAY
1925: Adolf Hitler publishes his personal manifesto Mein Kampf.
1976: Nadia Comaneci became the first person in Olympic Games history to score a perfect 10 in gymnastics at
the 1976 Summer Olympics.
1984: McDonald's massacre in San Ysidro, California. James Oliver Huberty kills 21 people and injures 19 others before being shot dead by police.
1986: A tornado is broadcast live on KARE television in Minnesota when the station's helicopter pilot makes a
1996: Storms provoke severe flooding on the Saguenay River, beginning one of Quebec's costliest natural disasters ever, the Saguenay Flood.
The Argus’ popular “Looking Back” feature has been compiled into an A4, soft back book which catalogues the events that have made their mark on the people of Sussex. The fascinating archive of “Looking Back” images dates back to the 1930s when The Argus first started to print photographs. The book costs £6.99 including postage and packing. To order please visit theargus.co.uk/store
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