Search

Driving legend's car was time of my life

PUBLISHED: 09:46 17 August 2008 | UPDATED: 21:04 05 July 2010

MIXING with the stars, a Lowestoft businessman had “the time of his life” driving a legend's car.

A “privileged” Peter Down was still on cloud nine this week as he revealed how he had had the honour of racing around the Goodwood circuit in the 1965 Lotus Cortina that was previously driven by Scottish motor-racing star Jim Clark.

MIXING with the stars, a Lowestoft businessman had “the time of his life” driving a legend's car.

A “privileged” Peter Down was still on cloud nine this week as he revealed how he had had the honour of racing around the Goodwood circuit in the 1965 Lotus Cortina that was previously driven by Scottish motor-racing star Jim Clark.

Last month, the Goodwood Festival of Speed attracted “the greatest competition cars and star drivers from all eras”, according to event organisers.

The event, which ran from July 11 to 13, came just a week after Lewis Hamilton won the British Grand Prix at Silverstone - and the Formula One star followed Mr Down on to the circuit at Goodwood.

“It was a pleasure and an honour to drive the car of former two- times F1 champion Jim Clark,” said Mr Down. “This very car was driven by Clark when he won the British Saloon car championship title in 1964.”

The Festival of Speed featured vehicles ranging from 19th- century steam carriages to current Formula One cars, and from racing motorcycles to classic rally cars and 3,000bhp dragsters.

The event was also a who's who of motorsport stars, television celebrities, sport stars and stars of film and music.

With the likes of Moss, Surtees, Fittipaldi and Andretti rubbing shoulders with Hamilton, Button and Alonso, Mr Down was in glittering company.

And he drove the Ford Cortina Lotus up the infamous Hill as he successfully completed six runs. “The hill is a narrow strip of Tarmac that was formally the driveway of Goodwood's Lord March,” said Mr Down. “It has very tight bends and a 10ft-high flint wall that you have to drive at as fast as you dare and then turn in front of it.”

As a keen classic car collector, Mr Down revealed that he had driven all the way from Lowestoft for the prestigious event with the Cortina in a trailer.

After testing the car out on Friday, the weekend was spent going out on to the circuit alongside some of the star names. “It was a fantastic three days,” said Mr Down. “I had to go out before Hamilton and the crowds were all there waiting for him - but the car was such a star, I think that people just relate to Ford's greatest family saloon.”

Admitting the dream weekend had “came out of the blue” and “all stemmed from a telephone call” from a classic car enthusiast, Mr Down said: “I felt really privileged - it was brilliant. There were television celebrities, stars of music, film and sport all coming over in the paddock to look at the car and talk to my co-driver Kevin Howes and myself.

“Sir John Whitmoore and Jack Sears - who were both saloon car champions that had driven this very car - signed photographs of me driving the Lotus.”

So, what was it like to test the Lotus on the Goodwood circuit?

“It was fast. I didn't think a car from 1965 would be so fast - it was like a bullet,” he said. “It's really good for the town to think there was a Lowestoft presence and a car from Norfolk that had dominated the scene so much.”

Mr Down praised the support of co-driver Kevin Howes, J D Classics for preparing the car and friends Luke and Clair.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Lowestoft Journal. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Lowestoft Journal