Steve’s Goodwood quarter century

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Presented with Motorsport UK’s 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award, the ‘legless marshal’ looks back at 25 years at Goodwood and calls himself lucky

Steve Tarrant at Goodwood – Image: Graham Pengelly

“Give me Goodwood on a summer’s day and you can keep the rest” is the famous line from British racing driver Roy Salvadori. And, having just completed 25 years of visits as a race marshal, as a spectator and now as a photographer, I have to say I agree. During that time I really have experienced the highs and also the lowest of lows of motorsport – and the British weather – along the way.
Back in 1998, I was present when the Goodwood circuit re-opened to historic motorsport. I watched as the pit building re-emerged from the mists of time – literally – to the sound of racing engines, the smell of Castrol R racing oil, and the excitement of competition. Coming five years after the start of the Festival of Speed, this bold attempt of showing racing life as it was during the circuit’s previous operating period (1948 to 1966) was a challenge.

Steve with Nicolas Minassian, French sportscar and single seater driver. Image: Richard Betts

Keep going back
My own life was turned upside at Goodwood two years later, when I was involved in a fatal accident at the Festival of Speed, held on the Goodwood House estate, in 2000. I was struck by the Lotus 63 travelling at 140mph. The owner and driver John Dawson Damer died at the scene and my fellow marshal Andrew Carpenter died later of his injuries. I was lucky to stay alive but I received major injuries, including the loss of my leg.
And yet the place keeps on drawing me back. There I feel I experience the best of people – and of cars.
I have been so lucky to have made many friends from this association; some in person, some more long distance, but all with the same passion and desire to enjoy and share the Goodwood experience.
From world champions like nine-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Tom Kristensen and F1 world champion Jenson Button to the current stars of rallying, circuit racing, and motorcycling, I have been able to talk with them all. One of the most special moments for me was speaking with Sir Jackie Stewart – so gracious with his time and so knowledgeable when talking about racing at the circuit during its original era.
The recent Goodwood Revival was held in glorious weather (not your average September in England), and while it was actually too hot for the de-mob suits, military uniforms and vintage frocks that many of the crowd normally wear, there were still plenty of hardy souls that stuck with it, seeking shade wherever they could, and cooling drinks on a frequent basis. While dressing in period clothing is not compulsory, so many do that you risk standing out from the crowd for the wrong reasons! I always come away from that meeting with a real feeling of how life was at Goodwood, back in its heyday.

  • Read more about Steve, his work as a motorsport marshal and his award from Motorsport UK in the February 23 BV here

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