Goodwood Revival 2012 with the Thorp Cobra

23 September 2012 

Goodwood Revival 2012

Having now been to the Goodwood Revival, I can say it is one of, if not the greatest historic racing event on the planet. More than just the racing, it?s a fantastic step back in time with the entire race track themed as it was in the 50?s and 60?s and the 140 000 people who come to the event, dressed up just the same. No one does nostalgia like the poms and this weekend will go down as one of the most fantastic events we have ever had the pleasure of attending.


Earlier this year we were pretty stoked to get the letter in the mail from Lord March and with an invite to run our ex Ron Thorp Shelby Cobra, COB6033, in a special all competition Cobra race they had planned called the Shelby Cup. It is 50 years since the Cobra came into being, when Carroll Shelby mated the AC body with the Ford V8 engine an created an all time sports car classic, so this one off special 50 year anniversary event was well worth attending and sending COB6033 over the pond for.

Duncan and Chris at Goodwood, (rare shot of Duncan without his helemt on)

Looking into COB6033?s books we saw it was some 45 years since it had last raced and is largely still all original, so a really good check over was needed to ensure she would do the race easily, we conferred with original owner and pilot, Ron Thorp, who gave us some great tips on things he did in the day when racing the old girl. Even better was the news that Ron would be joining us in the UK to see her once again racing, all these years on and the petrol still runs strong in his blood!


Ron Thorp and his old baby. #69 as he only ever had to take the number 6 sticker to race meets...

2 months before the September event, the little Cobra was all prepared and then shipped for her first trip outside Australia since arriving here in 1964. My brother Chris Bowden was chosen as one of the drivers and as I had bunged my ankle up, we had our good family friend and McLaren M8E Can Am pilot, Duncan ?Do I look good in this? MacKellar as his co-driver for the 45 minute race.


I arrived in the UK after a milk run through Asia, via Finland, to finally arrive at the Goodwood track and see the guys putting the car through scrutineering. It was here it first became apparent to us and the other people there that our Cobra was pretty unique and special, being the only one still in it?s original race guise, even down to the Gabriel 1963 stamped shock absorbers. It was serious stuff for a lot of the cars (and owners) and the cars showed their many years of constant upgrades for racing in both the USA and Europe in the abundant modern historic race scene.  There were around 30 cars entered in the race and I must say it was quite cool to see our old girl amongst them in the pits. 


Sports and race car lust

The Allan Mann display was fantastic. 

The walk through the pits was just jaw dropping, with pretty much every great sports and race car from the 50?s and 60?s being present, it was hard to take in that so many of these cars were the originals, many being worth multi millions of dollars, yet they were all there to race. The most impressive display was that of the 250 GTO Ferrari?s, some 21 cars were there and with each car being worth around $30 million dollars each (yes that is each?)  it was quite difficult to take it all in.  


Just some of the 250 GTO's there

Even more surprising was how accessible they were, none of these cars were roped off and you could move around them, talking to the owners and mechanics throughout the weekend quite easily. It says a lot about the public and respect they have for the cars, something we doubt you could sadly do at many public cars shows in Australia..


Those magnificent men in their flying machines.


Goodwood infield, amazing attention to detail.

Out the back of the pits is the airfield and there were numerous WW2 fighter planes present, doing demonstrations throughout the whole weekend. Words cannot express just how much we were blown away, especially when the Lancaster bomber made a pass over us with two hurricanes as escort, really riveting stuff.  If you?re into historic war-planes, Goodwood revival is a great one to come and see as well.


Some of the best sounding machines from the weekend.


Practice and Qualifying

Come Friday morning we had the first practice and qualifying, both Chris and Duncan were quite concerned as outside was looking a bit dark and gloomy, running the multi million dollar racer in the wet had them a bit more than concerned, Duncan was especially worried as the water could affect his wel, groomed hair, but over breakfast I made mention that the hardtop roof (as used by Ron in the Surfers Paradise 12 hour races) would be on the car and if any water did get into the car, his helmet would protect his precious hair. That first major issue averted we all headed to the track. 


Ron Thorp driving COB6033 to the marshaling area.

Second issue was a bit of a bigger one, Chris had chosen to pull the windscreen wipers off, as they were quite frail (or was he just getting serious with the weight of the car?) So as we went into the track, the sprinkles of rain were more than a worry, Duncan not having an umbrella chose to wear his helmet into the track, which helped as he forgot his entry pass to get in, and only those wearing a helmet and race suit would be race drivers right? So the normally notorious gate keepers let him in (remember that for next year guys and girls if you don?t have a ticket!) 


A lot of the other Cobra?s in the race were there playing for sheep stations, with many professional and famous drivers being brought in to race and hopefully win this prestigious event, thus cementing a higher value to their world market race cars. 


Duncan coming through the famous chicane.

As we headed to the marshalling area you could hear the drivers and owners talking about the strategy for qualifying, a lot having laptops to check the changing weather a bit like the guys do at F1! Rain came down right before they were to head out on the famous track, so we put Chris ?why the hell do we need wipers? Bowden out first, He was nervous, but that quickly went as he went around for 25 minutes of the 35 minute session.. We had no board to bring him in, so he just kept going around, enjoying the marginal conditions!! Finally flailing arm movements by Duncan brought him into the pits, Duncan took another 5 minutes to do his seat and mirror set-up before going out for 3 laps and putting her back away as the session ended. It turned out alright as the guys finished right up in the middle of the pack, Chris putting it down to the weight saved from the wipers, Duncan putting it down to his good looks and seat position.


Chris belting down through the gears, note the brake duct blocking, Bowden's Own microfibre cloths!

Ron Thorp was with us for the entire weekend and we had him drive his old machine back and forth from the marshalling areas each day, he is truly a gentleman and it was pretty special for us to have him there to share this weekend with us. Ron still deeply loves his old Cobra and we did have concerns that he may just keep driving off and out of the track with his old girl each time he was in it!


Race Day

Saturday was race day, 2pm was the time and the weather was perfect. The roof came off the Cobra as her curvaceous body got to enjoy the fine English sun topless for the first time since 1964.


Chris on the grid, awaiting the first race start for the Cobra since late 1967.

Chris lined her up for the start and then in a huge cloud of tyre burning cloud and ford V8 thunder they were off, that first lap was something you will never forget, the noise of those mighty beasts as they roared off into turn one was just incredible.  


Lap one, Datona Coupe leads the pack of Cobra's.

Leading the fray was the all time Daytona Cobra Coupe, one of the most beautiful cars ever created in our eyes, with 5 other hard charging Cobra?s trying to keep him honest. Those 5 ran off in a race by themselves and the pack behind settled into their own rhythm. Chris was pushed back with the last few cars, taking it relatively easy as he knew he had 45 mins to go and wanted to finish the race with the car intact.


Duncan giving his now famous "you must pit now Chis" eyes

That said, as he got used to the track he slowly made progress and caught a few cars by half way, when Duncan giving his best ?Chris you better pit now? eyes for the TV camera?s waved the new pit board to get him in, it was a precision stop, passing a few cars in the pits who did not have the team or fast changeover that we did. Duncan ?I am Steve and Bruce?s love child? MacKellar took over the wheel and took her all the way to the end, getting past a few more Cobra?s as his confidence grew and the little Cobra showed it?s endurance prowess.


Look I know this shot is from qualifying, but Duncan about to be owned by the fast & glorious Daytona Cobra Coupe.

Numerous cars found the running a bit too hard to handle, sadly one of them being the leading Daytona Coupe, with the engine braking down, no doubt  from Duncan stepping up a notch and giving that USA coupe some Aussie hell for that long 5 seconds as he tried to get past and lap him, the Swiss driver Kenny Brack giving too much to the Daytona and it retiring a few laps later..


Chris through turn one, having the time of his life.

The whole Bowden clan made it over for the weekend, a great family holiday.

The race continued on and when the flag fell Duncan had pushed the Cobra up to 17th place, not bad for the only as finished racing in the period racer from the field. Back in the marshalling area, Ron Thorp again joined as, joyful to see his old girl once again finish another race, most importantly all intact! As Ron then got in her and drove her off to the pits, we could get some sort of idea how Ron felt back in the day when he raced COB6033 every second week for three years straight, it?s an addictive thing racing and ever more so in a great car like the AC Shelby Cobra.


Some Video's of the race



It was a real honour to take the Cobra over and experience this years Goodwood Revival event, we have done a lot of race events over the years and now we rate this as without doubt the finest, more than just the racing it is a real change in reality as you step back into how it would have been at the track in the 1960?s. We cannot get enough and now we have a taste for it, we hope to return, maybe in another car from the collection next year?


London's Telegraph newspaper video interview with Chris Bowden


A lot of the images in this article are from pro photographer Tim Scott check out some of his amazing work from events all over the uk here: http:/


More Photo's


Check out heaps more images from the weekend in our Facebook photo albums by clicking here.

Loving Goodwood,

Dan Bowden