Goodwood Revival • Harry Stedman Interview Nigel Williams
September 30 2013, 0 Comments
Whilst at Goodwood Revival we had the opportunity to speak with racing driver Nigel Williams ahead of competing in the 2013 Glover Trophy. A few short moments before he took to the track, as he readied his 1962 Lotus, we spoke Williams about all things motorsport, enjoy the result of our chat below... • How long have you been racing at Goodwood and what first brought you into the festival? 2013 was my 5th consecutive year racing at Goodwood Revival. It’s a fabulous world class event that I first attended in 2001 when a good friend persuaded me to attend and I have been every year since. I was stunned by the quality of cars and standard of racing on show with internationally renowned drivers in full bloodied competition. The style and panache that Lord March and his team bring to every aspect of the event and the attention to detail set it apart. I was immediately hooked. • What's your assessment of your performance in the race? Anything you'd have done differently? Overall I was pleased with my race and personal performance this year. Track time is a premium and with noise limitations testing is difficult so preparation can be restricted. With so many races over the weekend practice and qualification are combined on Friday. We changed to a larger tyre all round this year which had a major impact on gear ratios. I found I was 10 MPH short on the long fast Lavant straight in qualifying with the engine bouncing off the limiter 200 metres before the braking zone which was not ideal and probably cost me half to a full second. Normally this would have been remedied in practice before a qualifying session. The guys did some calculations, poured over the gear charts and changed ratios overnight ready for Sunday’s race. This would have had an impact if it had been a dry race but in the event the forecast autumn storm blew in with full force before our Sunday start. The combination of heavy rain and strong cross winds created extreme conditions which were very challenging. With standing water all around the circuit and a weekend’s worth of oil and rubber rising from the track grip was at a premium! Driving a historic Formula One car is totally exhilarating and completely absorbing but the open wheels throw all the water into the air creating a thick mist. This combined with the very low driving position meant visibility was almost zero in places. I started 12th and got a good start passing a few cars on the first lap. From there I was locked in a tight battle with 3 or 4 other cars for the duration of the race. Other than the first two cars lap times for the top 10 were covered by less than a second. Racing was close even with little or no grip so I was pleased to finish 10th with no spins or contact with other cars and enjoyed working to find grip and manage the slides and drifts – even on the straights. I would have taken that result at the start but probably more importantly it was a lot of fun. It’s a privilege to race at the Revival and be part of the action. On reflection I was pretty happy with the race. I would obviously have liked to have had the right gear ratios for qualifying but without track time before Friday there was always going to be some guesswork. • Can you give us a walk-through of the car you were racing; its component parts, your favourite features? My car is a 1962 Lotus 24 BRM ‘P1’. It was ordered by Parnell Racing to compete in the Formula 1 championship in 1962 and 1963. The car has a tubular chassis built by Lotus Components and features all round independent suspension with double wishbones front and rear. The chassis was delivered ready to receive a BRM V8 Formula 1 engine conforming to the FIA regulations which stipulated a 1.5 litre formula between 1961 and 1965. In period power was driven through a Colletti 6 speed gearbox. This proved unreliable in period and again when I restored the car 5 years ago! The Lotus 24 also ran with a Hewland gearbox in period and so I opted to make this change at time of restoration. I have always been drawn to this period of Formula 1. The cars are so graceful and look beautiful with their cigar shape wide open mouths. With the regulations specifying 1.5 litres manufacturers built multi cylinder high revving engines that are real jewels. These engines look fabulous and sound fantastic. With Ferrari building small V12’s and the all-conquering British offerings of the period by Coventry Climax and BRM in V8 form these engines revved freely to 13,000 to create a truly fabulous spectacle that fed all the senses. And so for me whilst the car looks great it’s the BRM engine screaming just over my shoulder at full pelt down a long straight I really relish. • What are you currently driving outside the race circuit? Practical stuff for day to day. I run a Range Rover which does just about everything. For longer trips or fun I have a Ferrari 575M or a 911 Cab which is a great useable car. • Favourite car of all time? Tricky. Choosing one is a real challenge so I’ll give you my current 6 car garage selection! 1. Alfa Romeo 8C Monza. Classic vintage motoring and way ahead of anything in period. 2. Alfa Romeo 158/9 Alfetta. Designed in 1938 and just dominated. Won all 11 Grand Prix entered in 1950! 3. D Type Jaguar. Le Mans legend and as iconic and British as the Spitfire. 4. Ferrari 250 SWB. The best looking Ferrari GT ever and from the eponymous 250 series. 5. Lotus 49. Colin Chapman at his best. Innovative and ground breaking championship winning Formula 1 car that became the blue print for all Grand Prix cars to the current day. The first car to feature the Cosworth DFV which Chapman charmed and convinced Ford to commission and build – an icon in its own right. 6. McLaren F1. From the pen of the sublime Gordon Murray. Intended as a road car but still won Le Mans outright at the first attempt in 1995. The last car to win that could be used on the road. Surely the Ferrari GTO of tomorrow. • Your racing career highlights? 1. It has to be racing at Monaco in the Historic Grand Prix. I have had the pleasure of competing there twice now and it is sensational. The sense of history resonates through the streets and the circuit flows far more than you would think and really hooks up. To drive your own Formula 1 car through Casino Square flat out is magical and something few experience. Just the best. 2. Having the honour of sharing a race track with Sir Stirling Moss. I was fortunate to race against him in historics 3 times. A true hero. 3. Racing with good friends in great cars. Sharing a GT40 at Le Mans Classic last year and finishing in the top 10 in challenging conditions was a highlight.