Autosport                                 Index

29th June 2000


'Goodwood to go on despite tragedy'
by Andrew Golby

Goodwood has pledged to carry on its Festival of Speed, ending fears that Saturday's tragic accident could spell the end of the popular event.

The deaths of classic Lotus enthusiast, John Dawson-Damer, and trackside marshal Andy Carpenter, along with serious injuries to fellow marshall Steve Tarrant, called into question the future of the hillclimb. But an event spokesman said: "We are not considering closing the event. The next step is to see if anything more can be done to improve safety."

The accident's cause is the subject of a jointinvestigation between Sussex police and British motorsport's governing body, the MSA.

The inquest's findings will not be made public for several weeks. Its conclusions could be the catalyst for widespread safety reviews in hillclimbing across the country.

An MSA spokesman admitted it is "always possible" that changes may be demanded at all events. It has already begun to review the stationing of officials at Goodwood. "Clearly it is not acceptable that a marshal was killed, with the benefit of hindsight we obviously got it wrong. That was not, in our experience, a foreseeable accident. We've learnt the lesson, but it's a shame we had to do so in such tragic circumstances. We send our condolences to the bereaved, and wish Steve Tarrant a speedy recovery."

Neither Goodwood nor the MSA would comment on other future changes to the event, but it is possible that timed runs will be abolished next year. By limiting the historic festival to display runs, drivers may feel less tempted to take risks on the hill.

The MSA is happy for the event to choose its own destiny. "If they want to downgrade, that is their priviledge. We have no preference."

Goodwood may also be forced to install barriers along the course. It currently uses tightly packed straw bales to stop cars leaving the track.

Dawson-Damer lost control of his rare four-wheel-drive 1969 Lotus 63, at the hillclimb's final corner. His car struck the finish-line gantry, killing him, and Andy Carpenter. The impact with the stressed steel structure was estimated at around 100mph. The Lotus did not appear to slow before the collision. Mounting speculation has suggested Dawson-Damer suffered a heart attack.

Steve Tarrant was also badly injured, and lost the lower part of his right leg. He was still in intensive care, but improving, when AUTOSPORT went to press on Tuesday.

Historic racer Geoff Farmer was the last driver before Dawson-Damer to run the course. He described it as "changeable". after rain showers left the track damp in places.

The event was curtailed on Saturday, but resumed on sunday, with the blessing of Dawson-Damer's family. None of the 45,000 spectators were permitted to watch at the point where the accident occurred.

Safety levels have increased year-on-year at the event. When it began in 1993, crowds were separated from the cars by a single piece of rope. The first event was marred by the death of mororcycle rider Chas Guy.

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