Doctor On The Grid by Tony Goodwin, published by MRP, ISBN 978-1-899870-84-4 £35 (RRP, available for rather less)
It isn't often that I read a book about a Monoposto champion, but Tony Goodwin is pretty exceptional even by the high standards of Monoposto champions. He is the son of a GP who trained as a GP himself, and started racing in 1957 as a hobby whilst a medical student. Many Monoposti will recognise a recurring issue for Tony, that of preferring to spend money on racing rather than on racing cars. Hence his first car was a home built Lotus 6 copy which he named "Broadway 90". Not quite as cheap in the end as it was meant to be (more recognition....) it ended up somewhat overweight, but served him well and is pictured in his first race alongside an HRG, behind an Amilcar and a Ford Thames van. Never say a Mono grid can be a bit mixed again.....
Speaking of Mono, he did three races with the club in 1960, when it was only 2 years old. Winning at Mallory Park, and having a good result in one of the other 2 races he did, he became 1960 champion. I quote: "I was accused of pot hunting and indeed I still treasure it; four inches tall!" . In 1985 he returned to drive the Chambers Brothers' built Chamox belonging to John Flischer at Brands.
Saving money on cars meant Tony had to use his undoubted talent to push some less than front running cars to where they shouldn't really be on the grid. But the saving also meant he was able to race at venues such as Monaco and Zandvoort with his front engined FJ Lola in the days of rear engined Coopers and Lotuses. In one segment of the book he describes 1967, spent running his F3 Brabham BT18 MAE - only a year old this time - around the European F3 "circus". Just him and a mechanic/engineer in an Anglia van and an open trailer with a net cost of £400 for the year. That doesn't do a single race at Snetterton these days.....
The book has the great virtue of being a series of stories rather a series of races - why the car broke, how they got round it, the people who helped Tony, and what happened in the races. It has the merit of having a series of asides and comments which are enjoyably outspoken, though delightfully phrased to avoid the lawyers. There are also a few "sidebar" pieces giving a bit of background about personalities.
A spell in the RAF gave Tony some time in the far east, so as well as circuit races and hill climbs at venues of dubious safety, he competed at Macau. The track sounds little different to today's venue in shape, and the revenue sources of Macau are unchanged: gambling and effervescent yet companionable young ladies. There is a superb picture of the race cars on an open lighter which got lost for a day on the trip from Hong Kong in storms. There are some excellent stories concerning the ways in which the forces were able to help him with racing. How many were Ministry of Defence approved he doesn't say. Though the RAF must have needed the odd Hastings flight training from Singapore to Hong Kong, and without a Lola sized cargo it would have been so unrealistic.......
In the late 1960's he moved to sports car racing, with amongst others a Chevron B8, the Redex RPA special, a Dulon, and a shared Lola 390 and Chevron B31. At this time he regularly competed at (and loved) the Nurburgring and the long Spa. I liked a couple of the stories from this period, though anybody with a love of historic cars needs to sit down now. The Chevron B8 was getting long in the tooth and uncompetitive. Tony needed an open car, and had a hacksaw. Yes, they hacksawed the roof off the B8 and made an open car (the Redex). Lest this has traumatised you (Lee Bennett?) Tony does explain that years later the car was restored to a B8 and is now run by Simon Hadfield.
The other story concerns when he need to have a Cosworth FVA rebuilt
and took it to Geoff Richardson, who those of a certain age will recall
as the doyen of Cosworth builders. Those same people's dad's will recall
a Geoff Richardson of Hartlebury who built a postwar special and ran a
Tony also touches on the career of his son Chris, who started racing a Turner sports car, rose as far as F3000 and BTCC, and is now development driver at McLaren sports cars (MP4/12C). He was also rumoured to have been A Stig. Along the way he was sponsored in Formula First by Mono elder statesman and Spheric Bearings boss Julian Pratt. The last chapter is about Tony's recent years as a front runner in Historic Formula Junior in a Gemini.
One of the wonderful things about this book is the combination of a devoted club racer, and the meetings with the famous along the way. Just opening it at random I can see Arthur Mallock, Jim Clark, Alain deCadenet, Derek Bell, Richard Attwood. Yet I can also see references to a technical director I met on an audit, a fellow member of the 500 Owners Association, and a young chap who races an Alexis that used to be run by Philip Hancock in Mono.
The book is a snapshot of club and sub-F1 racing through over 50 years.
The illustrations reflect this, and whilst some aren't the pin sharp digital
images we expect today, they are full of character and atmosphere. Tony
writes sensitively and with respect about his friends and competitors
who lost their lives in a time when the sport didn't take prisoners.
Disclaimer: The above represents only the unofficial view of the writer. If any pictures are copyright and the owner wishes them removed please email us.
And as Tony Goodwin is a far better writer than I am, here's his own synopsis:
This book is about my experiences as an amateur racing driver spanning six decades and in 20 countries across four continents, whilst maintaining a busy career in medicine. Both text and photographs are original material never previously published.
Part of that time I shared the track with future World Champions making
their debuts into single-seater racing, Stewart, Fittipaldi, Hunt, Mansell
amongst others, and in later years with the established Formula One drivers
of the late 1960s to mid-1970s, when they competed in International sportscar
racing, a period often regarded as a “golden age” in motor
But more importantly this book is about the unknowns, the drivers who made up the grids and especially their legion of supporters who abandoned other commitments and home environments to toil away night and day at racing circuits around the world. There would be no racing without them.
Club racing with the 750 Motor Club in the 1950s introduced me to the majority of the designers who went on to dominate world motor sport for several decades, as well as teaching me the rudiments of driving and preparation. But Jackie Stewart was not too bothered as he lapped me in my front-engined £260 banger round the streets of Monaco.
A spell as a Royal Air Force medical Officer in the Far East, to save up some money, allowed me into the early Macau and Singapore Grands Prix, much different from today’s. This afforded me a summer off work to scrape an existence in Formula 3 races round the circuits of Europe with a second-hand Brabham, character building stuff, and again in the wheel tracks of drivers on their way to Grand Prix stardom.
After returning to medical practice in the UK, long-distance sports-car racing seemed the most compatible time and money-wise, and for several years I found myself in races around the old Nürburgring and Spa together with the might of Ferrari, Porsche, Alfa-Romeo, Matra, Renault and their Grand Prix drivers. Lesser events round the streets of Villa Real in Portugal or at Mugello, up in the mountains above Florence and part of the old Mille Miglia route, were equally challenging. These were dangerous times to be racing and fatalities were common. I had my fair share of accidents, but survived when many perished, some close friends. Research into the effects of stress on racing drivers was carried out at some of these races, the methods used and results achieved sometimes surprising.
A chapter describes how I helped my son Chris onto the racing ladder with minimal expenditure. Involvement in the early days of BBC’s Top Gear, with their massive TV camera on his car, opened many doors and eventually he too ended up in long-distance racing with a McLaren GTR F1. Some 25 years later he is now McLaren Automotive’s Chief Development Driver, as well as manager for Bruno Senna through GP2 into F1. Aspiring young drivers and their parents might learn something here.
The book concludes with the birth of Historic Racing in the early 1970s
and its burgeoning popularity worldwide. I competed in a variety of cars,
some exotic and some definitely not, until finally retiring in 2008 as
the oldest driver to win pole position in a race at Monaco. Still on a
modest budget I relate the pitfalls not encountered by the more wealthy
competitors. But an added bonus has been the opportunity to race on great
circuits I missed out on first time around, Pau, Oporto, Charade, Imola,
Dijon and Angoul
I hope my book will serve as a trip down memory lane for old-timers, and act as both warning and encouragement for new-comers.
..back cover showing Broadway90, BT18, B31 and Gemini FJ
1172 special which won 1960 Mono championship.
Tony Goodwin in the Mk2 Lola, Silverstone
The Redex Special at Vila Real in Portugal.
All photos by courtesy of Dr Tony Goodwin