11 September 2006

Mille Miglia Goodwood and More

The classic automobile season is upon us, and the racing and rallying guys are out on the roads and having great fun. Some of the more intrepid drivers found themselves in the Scottish highlands recently, for the Scottish Malts Historic Rally. The roads were a challenge and the scenery amazing, but the hard part was doing their best to avoid the ample whiskey tasting along the way.

The big event in Europe remains the Mille Miglia, a 1,000-mile run from Rome to Brescia and back. This year, unusually, the Mille was run in the dry with the result the road speeds were high and there were around seven “offs.” Octane contributor, Sir Stirling Moss, lent his highly prized Jaguar C-type to a fellow who unfortunately had a bit of a sausage (that’s cockney rhyming slang for sausage and mash: crash). Fortunately the car was well-insured and is now in the workshops being straightened out. These road events are pretty full-on and the drivers really give it a go.

Octane then took part in the inaugural Lamborghini Miura Tour from Gstaad in Switzerland to Monte Carlo to watch the Monaco Historics Grand Prix races over the May weekend (see the August ’06 issue). There were a dozen immaculate Lambos enjoying the mountain roads through Europe, including a rivet-by-rivet replica of the one-off Jota. The Jota was a lightweight Miura developed by Bob Wallace the then engineering development guy. The car was named Jota for the J-class in the FIA regs so the rumour was that it might have ended up being a racer. It never happened because, when almost new, the Jota was taken out by a Lambo dealer in Brescia for a demonstration. On a section of deserted autostranda the driver lost it doing about 150 mph. Just before the crunch, the passenger noticed that the driver had fainted with fright! Only in Italy…

The Grand Prix Historique de Monaco proved a magnificent backdrop to some serious racing. The only problem for the spectators was the noise. These old GP cars are extremely loud, especially in the confines of a street circuit. With glorious weather, the drivers enjoyed a great weekend around this legendary circuit.

The next big event over here in England is the Goodwood Festival of Speed. It has grown into a huge event attracting over 100,000 people. Racing aces from all around the globe will be there running cars as diverse as ancient veterans to bang up-to-date Formula 1 weapons.

I know a lot of Americans make the trip over for the Festival. If you’re planning on it, come and see us at the Octane stand. Otherwise, I’ll be in the hot seat of the 1925 Chrysler Bluebird. This is a car that Sir Malcolm Campbell raced at Brooklands on 12 September 1925, establishing a winning lap time of 99.61 miles per hour – an American car at the heart of British motor racing. Am looking forward to enjoying its powerful 3.3-litre straight six up the Goodwood hill.

– Robert Coucher
Octane magazine
www.octane-magazine.com

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