Racing legends reveal the thrill of ‘Motor Racing in the 1970s’ at the Credit Suisse Historic Racing Forum

September 23, 2019 By Mike
Last updated on September 23, 2019
Picture credit Matt Sills. Left to right: Alain de Cadenet, Professor Gordon Murray, Duke of Richmond, Christian Berchem (Chief Executive Officer of Credit Suisse UK Limited), Derek Bell and Jochen Mass.

A full house of VIPs and members of the media flocked to the iconic Race Control building at Goodwood Revival on Saturday 14 September 2019 for the highly anticipated Credit Suisse Historic Racing Forum.

Before track action officially got under way, the star-studded panel of Derek Bell MBE, Jochen Mass, Alain de Cadenet and Professor Gordon Murray CBE shared their memories of the 1970s. The racing legends provided a unique insight from the perspectives of driver, designer and team owner.

It was a decade in which Bell took the first of his five Le Mans victories, Mass won the Spanish Grand Prix – and both men competed with huge success in single-seaters, saloon cars and sports cars. De Cadenet scored a number of giant-killing results in the World Sports Car Championship, and Murray thrived in a period of great technological advances – designing the legendary Brabham ‘fan car’ as a rapid response to the ground-effect Lotus 79.

Respected broadcaster Bruce Jones hosted the lively forum, which opened with evocative stories of the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Mass, who could have won the 1976 German Grand Prix there, recalled that it was ‘the best in the world – just fantastic’, while Bell said that, as a driver, you were ‘over the edge quite frequently.’

‘I don’t believe you ever did the perfect lap there,’ Bell continued. ‘If you said you did, you were lying!’

The 1970s was a decade in which Gordon Murray’s genius was given free rein after he joined Bernie Ecclestone’s Brabham team. ‘I knew I was chief designer,’ he said with a smile, ‘because when I turned around there was no one else in the office!’

‘It was the best decade for me as a designer because there was so much freedom. You could have an idea one day, draw it the next day, get it on the car and go one second quicker. I’d hate to be doing it now, chasing tenths of a second after hundreds of days in the wind tunnel…

‘There were four circuits that I really wanted to win on – the Nürburgring, Monaco, Spa and the old Interlagos. In 1975, we finally won at the ’Ring. That was the only circuit where we set up the cars to fly, because of all the jumps. If you had too much rear wing on the car, the nose would come up when it was in the air…’

It was also a decade in which a privateer such as Alain de Cadenet could take on – and beat – the mighty factory teams. ‘You could do things as amateurs that you can’t do today,’ he said. ‘It was dangerous, for sure, but it was so much freer.’

Credit Suisse was delighted that the Duke of Richmond made a welcome appearance to the Forum and His Grace shared fond memories of a decade in which the Goodwood Motor Circuit was officially closed to racing: ‘I used to ring up the Control Tower then drive round in whatever car I had at the time. People used to be here testing – sometimes illegally! By the time we knew they were here, they’d gone. It’s amazing that we’re all back here at Goodwood 40 years later.’

The Revival’s 2019 race programme opened on the Friday evening with the spectacular Kinrara Trophy, featuring arguably the most expensive grid in the world. Credit Suisse once again invited guests to enjoy the racing from the Race Control roof terrace that bears its name, providing an unrivalled front-row seat as Gary Pearson and Andrew Smith took victory in their Ferrari 250 GTO.

With the chequered flag falling beneath a beautiful sunset and an incredible field of pre-1963 GT cars on the track, it was an unforgettable way to open this year’s Goodwood Revival.