Early this Spring, the Wally Parks NHRA Museum PR and Development
director, Tony Thacker, was in contact with staff of the Goodwood
Festival of Speed. This is probably the largest motorcar "action"
event held in the world and certainly larger than anything in
the U. S. Held annually for 16 years, it has become "The
Place' to see and be seen for European and U.K. racers and fans.
Goodwood ( see it at www.Goodwood.co.uk) is the ancestral home
of the Duke of Richmond, a great house on 12,000 acres about
60 kilometers SW of London. The grounds include a WW2 air force
base, which was the site of the first auto racing after the war,
when perimeter roads for the airfield became Goodwood track.
of Speed is a hill climb up a 1.16 mile 2 lane road which is
the driveway for Goodwood House and continues to the top of a
hill where the finish line is located. In the past few years,
representative groups of specific types of American racers have
been invited to bring their cars and attend the event. Some years
back it was Junior Johnson. Bobby Allison and a few other NASCAR
heroes with their 60's era cars. More recently, the Museum has
assisted in a group of Bonneville racers going over.
This year, Goodwood
agreed with the Museum that Cackle Cars deserved representation
and invited 11 cars spanning the beginning of drag racing to
the late 70's.
Cars invited included (oldest
to newest) the Art Chrisman #25, the Butler and Cortopossi "Glass
Slipper", Art Chrisman's "Hustler 1", the Mooneyes
car owned by Chico Kodama and Shige Suganuma, Ralph Whitworth's
4-engined Tommy Ivo "Showboat" , the Tommy Ivo "Barnstormer"recreated
by Ron Johnson, The Childs and Albert "Addict", an
English car named the "Charley Bang Special", Dave
and Charlie West's "Beebe and Mulligan", the NHRA Museum's
"Howard Cam Rattler" and the "Over The Hill Gang"
The grounds encompass numerous small villages and have a prestigious
tenant, the Rolls Royce factory as well. The race track was the
site of the British Grand Prix for some years and is now used
for club events and other purposes.
The cars were loaded into containers
in mid-May to be rail and ocean shipped to England. Here the
Barnstormer is pictured in a container with Tony Thacker, the
Museums PR and Development director on the left and Wayne Phillips
who maintains the Museums collection on the right.
The NHRA Museum now has
it's own "roll-off". Waiting to transfer Ivo's Showboat.
Barnstormer is tied down tight.
Everything covered with WD-40 or squirt on wax, or bagged and
sealed or in some way protected against the salt sea air. Train
to Houston, the boat to Southampton, which is pretty close to
Waiting it's turn is
the Childs and Albert "Addict", brought over by Rod
Ron and Kol Johnson flew over
the day before everyone else and arrived in England on Tuesday
the 8th of July. After getting settled in making an effort to
cope with the time differences Kol and Ron headed for Goodwood
on Wednesday morning. Ron and Kol went to the race course to
meet their staff representatives, Charlotte Muir and Jarrah Venable.
Jarrah provided their credentials kit and offered to lead them
to grounds of Goodwood House where this event takes place. Letting
Ron pick up the narrative.
"Kol and I followed Jarrah
to the event site and were amazed, possibly stunned, at the size
of the grounds and the chaos 2 days before the event opened.
Our cars were parked under canopy
roofs that would be the paddocks for some of the hill climb participants.
The weather forecast had been predicting rain and rain it did."
"The cars had been unloaded
and an attempt was made to keep them and the associated gear,
toolboxes, spare parts etc. as dry as possible until they would
be moved to our display area the following day. We rearranged
most of the cars and boxes/crates to eliminate dripping through
gaps in the canopies. Here we met Mike Dunkel who owned the McLaren
on the left in "Orange Livery". Mike and his wife Pam
are from Florida and have done this before."
"This will give you some
idea of the size of the exhibits and the magnitude of the aluminum
roadways. There were semi's everywhere and workers toiling in
the rain. There didn't seem to be any question on anyone's mind
about whether this would be done in time. I, on the other hand,
was somewhat dubious. It looked like an impossible task. But,
what I hadn't taken into account was that this was England, with
a capital E and the English spirit would overcome all odds."
When the crews arrived Thursday,
construction crews were busily at work on completing the display.
It was a simulation of the starting line of an old-time dragstrip
complete with timing tower and Christmas Tree. The "track"
was aluminum decking with a black coating that looked just like
asphalt. The tower was a structure built around and above two
shipping containers nosed together to provide a safe spot for
tools and equipment and fuel.
Thursday afternoon about 5:00
the "Health and Safety" team showed up to conduct a
noise test of running cars to determine if the level of noise
could be injurious to spectators. They had all the cars that
could do so, fire up at once with decibel meters stationed at
various distances from the cars. It was determined that "ear
defenders" or ear plugs would provide enough protection
for people standing next to the barriers, but people without
them would have to be 30 feet farther from the cars, so ropes
were set up.
Thursday night, 4 of the nitro
cars were invited to do a show for the Goodwood Road Racing Club
Summer ball. The cars were the Rattler, the Addict, the Barnstormer
and the Hustler. As a reward for the show-and-tell, the crew
of each car were invited to the Black Tie ball. Not all the crews
chose to accept the invitation due to time limitations and other
After the dinner there was a
very brief announcement of a partnership between Land Rover and
Goodwood for future events. Then a fireworks display was followed
by a simultaneous fire-up of the 4 cars. Dusty McWilliams was
managing the Rattler, Rod Hynes on the Addict, Ron on the Barnstormer
and Art Chrisman tending the Hustler.
Here, Ron in his formal wear, blips the throttle on the Barnstormer
with Tony Thacker in the seat.
Cacklefest.com believes this
was the first time that the crew attire at a cacklefest was a
Art, far left, and Mike Chrisman,
far right, pose with Ron and Kol Johnson (left and right). Who
says racers don't clean up well? All the participants were highly
relieved by having all four cars behave perfectly and give a
flame and noise show.
The health and safety people
had decreed that no one could be within 30 feet of the cars without
ear "defenders" and had further discreetly suggested
that the people be in front. So the whole group assembled to
witnessed this were really unable to full experience the booming
sound and Essence 'du Nitro from behind, where it's the best.
Even so the 120 or so guests were highly appreciative.
On Friday morning the crews arrived
at the track and the display was completed and looked great.
A little time was used up in getting the cars positioned correctly,
starting with the oldest, #25, to the newest at right rear.
Fire-ups were scheduled for 11:00
A. M. and 4:00 P. M. A few cars weren't taking part in the fire-ups.
#25 and the "Showboat" would be static displays only.
A vintage American fire-truck
had been located and was positioned right under the tower. Nice
signs were provided to identify each car and give a little of
In the background is one of the
huge media screens that were provided so people could keep track
of the on-track action. To the left of the screen was a sound-stage
where a series of bands provided entertainment through the day.
Mooneyes co-owner Shiege Sugunuma
took a bunch of excellent shots like this one of the cars on
a simulated drag strip which was brought in and set up just for
Looking out from the top of the
timing tower the layout becomes more clear. In the upper left
rear you can see the 120 foot tall iron beam sculpture created
for this event with 5 Land Rovers attached in various attitudes.
Some of Goodwood House is visible
as well, it being the gray structure with the aqua colored domes.
The right half of the house is visible in this picture.
The Art Chrisman owned #25. This
is probably not only the oldest drag race car in existence but
the has the longest history of ownership by the same owner. Art
got the car in 1953. Collectors are aware of this as well as
he has been offered a reputed $1.1 million for it. To stick it
in a container and ship it as Art did is probably the most sportsmanlike
gesture of the event. Way to go, ART!
Hustler with Mike Chrisman
in the seat.
The Glass Slipper is a race car
name that has a ring of it's own. Built by Doug Butler and Ed
Cortopossi in 1956 it has also been owned continuously by it's
builders. It set many drag and salt flat records in the late
50's and is still a runner.
Chico Kodama and Shige Suganumua's
Mooneyes, AA/GD, the first car to go to England in 1963.
Miles, Marco and Andy were all
decked out too, MOON Style and standing together looked just
like MOON members from that first visit long ago.
The Barnstormer, Kol
Johnson on Left and Ron by motor.
NHRA Wally Parks Motorsports
Museum Executive Director Tony Thacker was overseeing the "TV
Tommy" Ivo Showboat.
Bob Muravez holds a drawing which
a local artist Paul Whitehouse had brought, hoping to get autographs
of people with the Ivo Barnstormer.
The Addict getting it's
maintenance done by Jim Bonn and Rod Hynes, on the right.
"I'd like to say a very
big thank you for allowing me to sit in the Barnstormer... it
is something I will always remember. All you guys put on a great
show...please come back and see us soon!"
The "Charlie Bang"
Special, the only representative car from the U. K.
Dave and Charlie West
were on hand with their Beebe & Mulligan car.
Bob Muravez and Simon Groves
of Eurodragster.com have a "bit of a chat" about the
old days and who was who and what was what!
Dusty and Gwen McWilliams
were with the Howard Cams Rattler.
Left to right, Bob Muravez,
Tony Thacker, Busby and Dusty.
Old time drag racer Jim Busby
was at the event with an historic race car which he ran in the
hillclimb. Dusty McWilliams put him in the Rattler for a fire-up
and he loved it!
Sonny Diaz, Kelly Brown and Tom
Curnow were at Goodwood with their Over The Hill Gang top fueler.
At the appointed times, Tony
Thacker would become the announcer and tell a little about each
car and the owners and crew. Then the crews prepared to fire
At the front of the display,
Jarrah Venables (in the hat) would count down, make a last minute
show of hands and then signal the flagman to wave the green.
At this point all the cars able to fire would do so.
Each car was allowed to run as
long as their fuel and engine temp would allow. The Glass Slipper
running alcohol was the longest running car to begin with.
The final result of the "Health
and Safety" noise tests was they decided no spectators should
be within 30 feet, with or without "ear defenders"
so everyone had to get behind the ropes before the cars fired
Allen McNish Audi LeMans
driver & winner with Charlie West.
Ferrari F1 Paddock
All the crews were given a lanyard
with a medallion providing access to a few special spots on the
grounds. One was the drivers club, primarily for the hill climb
drivers and their crews/families. Everything was free and there
were three meals per day. Breakfast, lunch and afternoon Tea
were all excellent with a great variety of hot and cold food
and beverages. For a person who knew what the famous drivers
looked like this was a real treat. The driver celebrities included
Sir Stirling Moss, Derek Bell, David Hobbs, Eddie Cheever, Bobbie
Allison, Bobbie Unser and many more. There were contemporary
Rally, Grand Prix, Motorcycle drivers as well as folks like Nick
Mason, drummer for the Pink Floyd band who owned and driven many
Saturday afternoon was probably
the first time in history a titled "Lord" sat in a
Cackle Car when Charles March, aka Lord March, aka The Duke of
Richmond, aka The Earl Of March, agreed to sit in the Howard
Cams Rattler. Lord March was already wearing a drivers suit because
he is a hill climb entrant himself, drives a Porsche race car
(not a passenger car) in the hill climb.
Pictured are Lord March in the
car, from left to right Gwen McWilliams , Tony Thacker, and Dusty
McWilliams, all on the NHRA Museum team.
Lord March liked it enough so
there was talk of him coming back Sunday afternoon to do it again,
but there were undoubtedly immense calls for his time, and it
didn't happen. However, once is pretty good. Rattler, by the
way, is probably the best available seat at an event like this
because Dusty has it sharp and it is loud and smelly. Both of
those are good in this venue!
Lord March and Dave West.
Lord March here, one might say
a rose between the briars, posed with Ron Johnson on the left
and Bob Muravez on the right. Muravez and Lord March were exchanging
experiences sitting in the Rattler, as Bob has been it numerous
times also. This weekend he was there to drive (sit in) Ron's
Barnstormer. Both were happy to meet the Lord!
Saturday afternoon the RAF Red
Arrows gave a demonstration of precision flying that was awesome.
It lasted about a half hour and was the cause of many a crook-in-the-neck.
Earlier in the week there was
a flyover by the new Airbus mammoth jetliner which was indeed
a sight to see. Since this was not an air show, there were no
planes on display.
Saturday, Shiege and Chico bought
an event tee-shirt and had everyone on the U. S. Drag Team 2008
sign it and it was presented to Tony Thacker. Here is the team.
Tony holds the shirt.
In front is Gwen McWilliams,
"Charlie" West, Dusty McWilliams, Tony's daughter Mia,
and Shige Suganuma. Kneeling on left is Kol Johnson, behind him
is Sheri Butler, Ed and Sandy Cortopossi, in the green cap, Dave
West, then Doug Butler, Tony, Pat Curnow, Chico Kodama in white
and Art Chrisman. Back row, left is Rod Hynes in white cap, Sonny
Diaz, Tom Curnow, Ron Johnson and Mike Chrisman. Missing are
Jim Bonn are Kelly Brown.
Your basic lawn ornament.
Tom Curnow, Art Chrisman, Ron
Johnson, Dust McWilliams, Lord March, Bob Muravez, Kelly Brown,
Mike Chrisman and Dave West.
Saturday night was the high spot
of the week for many. The major social event for a lifetime for
many of us. The invitation only "Ball" at Goodwood
House. 1200 people in Black Tie and Gowns, cocktails, champagne,
dinner, champagne, desert, champagne and then out back for a
musical extravaganza and fireworks show.
This is the main entrance to
Goodwood House and security people were diligent in checking
Champagne reception prior
to the ball.
This is the main seating area,
where entrants who paid to be at the event were seated. The tent
was as long as it looks at about 300 feet. Two nights before
it was the site of a cocktail party at the first "Black
Tie" event and was filled with the most awesome collection
of vintage cars on display. The cars would be auctioned Friday
by Bonhams and the selection included a little of everything,
all in #1 condition.
Tony Thacker and Ron
A view of the back yard
and some of the guests.
The Glass Slipper team,
from left Ed and Sandy Cortopossi and Sheri and Doug Butler.
The Chrismans, Art and
Dorothy, Mike and Cathi.
From the Over The Hill
Gang, Tom and Pat Curnow.
The Mooneyes team Shige
and Chico and from the addict, Rod Hynes and Jim Bonn.
The rest of the guests were seated
in one of the numerous main floor rooms in the house configured
for the night as dining rooms. This is a shot taken in the "Tapestry
Room" where the U. S. Drag Team members were assigned adjoining
Jim Bonn, Gwen and Dusty
From left to right, drag team
members Tom Curnow, Ron Johnson, Kol Johnson, Ed and Sandy Cortopossi.
Chico Kodama and Rod
Dave West and his hero
- Art Chrisman.
"Charlie" and Dave
West were the Beebe and Mulligan team and also celebrating their
Not a team member, but a recognizable
drag racing personality from the 60's, Jim Busby (Busby and Westmoreland)
and his wife. Jim sat in the Howard Cams Rattler on Friday and
sent Dusty an e-mail saying he had more fun in the Rattler than
he had in his hill climb entrant, a Lola race car.
After the dinner, The Lord had
a little entertainment set up for the guests. Out back of the
house was a monster stage and a band with about 15 dancers ready
to entertain. The band did salutes to Ike and Tina Turner, The
Who and others. The drummer for a "Pink Floyd" salute
at the end was Nick Mason, former drummer for Pink Floyd. Although
58 years young, Mason would have no trouble finding gainful employment
in his trade, should he somehow misplace the fortune he has accumulated.
The stage was a multilevel scaffold
and people were everywhere, supported by a light and smoke show
and then the last 20 minutes was a fireworks display that was
In 1964, Tommy Ivo and Don Garlits
took the first two top fuel cars to England as part of the second
U. S. Drag Team. One of the pictures that Tommy has in his archives
is a shot of he and Sir Stirling Moss next to the Barnstormer.
In issue 40 of The Rodders Journal,
there is a 22 page article about the Barnstormer and one of the
pictures used, was the shot of Ivo and Sir Stirling.
Ron hoped that Moss would be
at the event, as he has been for eons, and took his copy of the
magazine along. His intention was to have Moss autograph the
picture of he and Ivo. Here's a shot of Moss and Ron just after
the signing ceremony was completed. Mission accomplished.
By the way, when changing planes
in Amsterdam on the way over, Johnson spied a stack of this issue
of Rodders Journal on the newsstand in the airport.
Sunday afternoon, the event closed
with the last Hill climb runs completed by about 6:00. The U.
S. Drag Team of 2008 were requested to attend the awards ceremony
and inform staff when they arrived. The team was ushered into
one of the large dining rooms which was set up for cocktails.
More Champagne. From left to right, Art, Ron and Kol enjoy a
sip of the bubbly while waiting for whatever was next.
At the end of the outdoor award
presentation to the hill climb participants, Lord march invited
the Drag team to the stage. There he presented each person with
a medallion on a ribbon lanyard. Then all award recipients and
their guests were invited in for cake and guess what, more Champagne.
About 8:00 the weary group started
to disperse to the car park areas. Unlike American events, even
the most prized of guests parked in one of the car park areas
as passenger cars were simply not allowed in the event areas.
Just above Tony Thacker's head
is Sonny Diaz, one of the original owners of The Over The Hill
Again behind Tony is Sonny Diaz,
then Jim Bonn of the Addict, Pat and Tom Curnow and Kelly Brown
who drove the Over The Hill Gang Car and won Indy in the early
NASCAR legend Bobby Allison
& Art Chrisman.
Front center Charlie and Dave
West and Doug Butler peeking over Dave's shoulder. Front right
Ed Cortopossi, Gwen McWilliams and Art Chrisman with Mike on
The Earl of March and
Lewis Hamilton-F1 Mercedes driver.
The area was roped off and on
each side was a line of the winning cars. These were the cream
of the crop, both driver and car and many very valuable cars
were in this paddock.
Lord March as he begins to make
the award presentations. Each award recipient got a large bottle
of Verve Cliquot champagne.
One of the greatest drivers of
all time, Stirling Moss at the Awards Ceremony.
The ceremony was set up on the
right side of the house, which isn't really the side since it
sort of slants toward the back like a swept wing on an airplane.
The Medallion. A keepsake of
a lifetime for most if not all, of the participants.
Many said it was the most memorable
event they had ever been to and it's hard to argue with that.
Disney would be hard pressed
to produce a function any better than the staff and volunteers
did and the whole event was conducted with the highest degree