Tale of my first motor race experience, Goodwood 1952

As a child I was very frightened of noise and was forced at school to walk in crocodile fashion (two by two), or face punishment, along the footpaths of the local town with my other school friends, but this punishment would not be as severe as the fear I had from any loud noise.  So I would hold back when approaching a footbridge over the railway in case I was still on the bridge when a steam train was passing by underneath. I was terrified of any loud noise from cars, machinery, thunder or any other sudden audible shock. I always thought that it might have been a result of the fact that the day I was born in Dorking, Surrey was the day that the first German Doodlebug (unmanned flying bomb) dropped and exploded on the town!
At the age of 8, I was introduced to motor racing by my father who was a keen sportscar fan, he took me to Easter Monday Goodwood to watch the car races in 1952 where all the big names in racing would gather every year with their many and varied racing machines. This event was hugely popular as there were so few motor race meetings to satisfy the hunger and enthusiasm of the public in the first years after the war.  Even though there was so little general traffic on the roads it always created big jams as everybody merged on Goodwood. My father would always find the back roads down to Petworth avoiding the A roads, so I learnt at an early age the art of exploring our wonderful legacy of minor roads in the UK.
The Duke of Richmond and Gordon lent his old wartime airfield on the Goodwood Estate to the BARC (British Automobile Racing Club) to run these races on around the very fast perimeter road. Even in those early days of motor racing it was deemed that it was in the interest of safety to introduce a chicane before the pits to help reduce the speed past this busy manned area of activity; indeed the first chicane on any race circuit, now common place on modern Grand Prix circuits. There were many and varied races following closely one after the other, from straight out standing start races to handicap ones where they started at intervals flagged off by the start marshall walking along the grid, so all the cars would close up on the last lap vying for the chequered flag. It would create a lot of spectator interest today if they were to re-introduce these performance related events, and reinject a new challenge for all! We always sat in the stands at Woodcote corner and watch the cars coming down the Lavant straight down the track towards us as they squirmed into the braking area, tyres howling and loud open exhausts changing down to exit the corner at full throttle. My father knew that I was terrified by the noise so he brought along a pair of boxing gloves in the picnic hamper to cover my ears, as I loved the spectacle, especially Prince Bira controlling the car under the limits of duress with exaggerated jerks of the steering wheel from side to side. I loved the excitement of the men overcoming the challenge of their machines and the wonderful smell of Castrol R wafting across the stands. Lots of power with very little grip; the skill required to keep these racers on the track fascinated me, and from that day on I knew that I wanted to do the same when I grew up. I gave Bira the Nickname of "Wobbly" as he sawed violently at the wheel with fine artistry to keep the car on line. This name I later gave to a old friend, and fellow respected competitor, Willy Green, the well known Historic racer as his flamboyant driving style always reminded me of Prince Bira. Bira won a lot of races but I also noticed that Reg Parnell won even more with his smooth approach to the corners, usually driving some Maserati, such a pretty streamlined machine compared to the relatively clumsy and upright prewar designs from Britain. Another focal point of interest for me was the appearance every year of the “Dorking” (my home town) special with Tony Rolt at the wheel. This was a modified low chassis Delage  prepared at the workshop of Rob Walker, who later  became famous as the gallant privateer who patronised Stirling Moss and helped him to defeat the might of the “Sharknose” Ferraris in 1961at Monaco and the Nurburgring amongst other famous victories.
The only comparison with Bira I had in more modern times was when I was driving behind and ahead of Paddy Hopkirk on a BRDC Track Day at Silverstone in identical Peugeot 308 GTis. Famous for his rally style car control when he would encourage the car to lose grip by throwing it into the corner and scrub speed at the last minute by sawing at the steering wheel but exiting the corner dead on line and without losing exit speed. My style was much smoother but the resultant lap speed was identical. It was a great source of amusement to me and I found myself laughing out loud in my car watching the antics of Paddy and at the extraordinary angles the car would enter the corner. Later as an illustrator on Fleet Street for the National Press our paths would cross again and we created a weekly strip cartoon called Drive with Paddy Hopkirk which I illustrated, appearing every week in the Sunday Mirror under the guidance of ex rally man and Fleet Street writer Mark Kahn. It ran for several years and we touched on many different aspects of advanced driving. We included his wife Jenny and myself in the strip. Opposite locking double deck London busses on the original London Transport skid pan in Chiswick (sadly now redeveloped) was just one of many fun adventures we engaged in. My close friend and mentor Sydney Jordan helped produce the strip, the man famous for his daily cartoon strip called Jeff Hawke in the Daily Express. He was a motoring addict and as a result of him owning a 356 Porsche Carrera2, I met all the family at AFN Porsche Cars in Isleworth, and due to this friendship subsequently created my real start in top line motor racing and my introduction to the world of Porsche which changed my life.