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Lord March Interview


Lord March Press Day 2012 1Motoring enthusiast Charles March established the Festival of Speed at his family seat, Goodwood, in 1993 and since then it has become the world’s most important car culture event. As the featured marque in 2012, particular attention is being paid to Lotus.

There are hundreds of mouthwatering cars on display, and being raced up the hill. What does being the ‘featured marque’ mean?
Being the featured marque at Goodwood means that there’s a real focus on that particular manufacturer. It benefits from a very strong presence on the site and a sense of display at the front of the house. With Lotus, we’re going further than before. For the first time, we will gather all the cars produced by the featured marque that are still in existence. They will be paraded in front of the house, around the Lotus sculpture, and then they will each be raced up the hill in celebration. It’s the first time we’ve gone to these lengths, and Lotus will be very much centre stage.

Jim ClarkPresumably you’ve been a car nut since you were a boy. Was Lotus a team you rooted for?
Absolutely. When Goodwood circuit closed in 1966 I was 11. I was down there every year before that for the Easter Monday meeting. The Formula One race was known as the Glover Trophy, and this was very much a Lotus race. Jim Clark was at the height of his powers then, and a bit of a hero of mine. To this day, he and Jackie Stewart hold the lap record. In 1965 they both set exactly the same fastest lap – a 1:20.4. Jackie was driving a BRM, Jimmy the Lotus 25.

What does Lotus mean to you?
My grandfather [Frederick Gordon-Lennox, the ninth Duke of Richmond, who established the Goodwood hill climb in 1936 and Goodwood circuit in 1948] loved intelligent, lightweight, innovative cars. That’s what he aspired to. He had started out as an apprentice at Bentley, but he was never really a Bentley man. He got into building small, lightweight cars and I think he had a real affinity with what Colin Chapman was doing. He loved cars which offered great handling and driving pleasure, and clever engineering. Everything Lotus stands for is what he was into.

Type 38 IndycarHave you ever raced a Lotus?
I’ve driven the Indy 500-winning Lotus 38. I was the first person to drive it since Jimmy Clark. It was restored a couple of years ago, having not turned a wheel since 1965. I drove it up the hill on the Saturday, and Jackie Stewart took over the controls on Sunday. That was fantastic, a real treat.

Did you meet Colin Chapman?
I’m sure I must have done, although I can’t specifically remember. I remember my grandfather getting upset with him because he was always parking his private plane in the wrong place! Lotus were a big force then, the stars of the show – as they will be again at this year’s Festival. I have photographs of me standing in the pits as a young boy, and I’m sure I must have been introduced to Chapman then.

Who is your favorite Lotus driver?
Jim Clark was a big one, and of course Stirling Moss. He had his terrible accident in a Lotus here in the 1962 Glover Trophy, and that was the end of his career. Clark, of course, was very prominent at Goodwood and won the race in 1964 and 1965. All the drivers would come to a cocktail party at the house on the Saturday night, in the Long Hall.

Which is your favourite Lotus racing car?
The Type 49 in Gold Leaf colours and with high wings. Or the 72, Emerson Fittipaldi’s car. I was in my late teens when that one came out, and I was very impressionable.

Type 49 and Type 72 Banner

What about road cars?
I always lusted after the Elan but never owned one. The Elite is beautiful too. My son just passed his test and he keeps going on about an Evora. I told him it’s probably not going to go down well with the insurance company!

What is the purpose of the annual sculpture?
To give the featured marque a real presence, and make a big statement about that year’s event. It creates a global and iconic image for the marque and for Goodwood. But it’s always a big secret until it’s unveiled. The Lotus one will be fantastic and huge.

Your friend Gerry Judah has designed this very bold centerpiece. How involved have you been in directing this, along with Lotus?
Very involved. Gerry and I have worked together on all of them, on the design and feel. It’s very important to get it right.

This is perhaps the biggest party for petrolheads in the world. What do the neighbours say?
On the whole, everyone is very supportive. We’ve been doing it for a while now and have got the traffic under control.

We’ve all had houseparties and everyone dreads cleaning up in the morning. How do you cope with that?
It’s a big clean up job, and an anticlimax we could all do without after the great crescendo of the Festival. Everyone puts so much effort in. I’m deeply impressed and appreciative to everyone who helps to build it into such a fantastic event, only to take it down again.

Goodwood Party Banner