Earl Goddard – What Hasn’t He Driven?
reasons that will be come apparent in a paragraph or two, Earl Goddard
– just 24 years old – has driven the most amazing variety
of race cars. Machines raced by such as Michael Schumacher, Gerhard
Berger, Jean Alesi and Nelson Piquet are mentioned on his CV, while
the range of sports prototypes he’s tested and raced isn’t
far short of the single seater numbers.
driven a lot of cars, he’s barely put a scratch on any of
them, but he only raced five times last year. In an ideal world,
we’d see him racing at least six times in 2004. The Editor
explored the world of Earl Goddard.
to commit to a season of racing, so that people looking at your
form have got something detailed to look at, when they want to find
out what you’ve done,” explains the ever realistic Goddard.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t do a season’s racing
The last time he completed
a whole season was in 2000, when he finished second overall in the
single seater BOSS Championship, in an F3000 Reynard fitted with
a Judd KV4 engine – competing against genuine F1 cars. A fairer
measure of his talent came a year earlier, when he won the F3000
division of the series, with five wins, six poles and six fastest
laps. A year before that, he was racing in the Slick 50 Formula
Ford Championship! Formula Ford to F3000 to F1 in two years.
Earl is remarkably modest
when asked about such a sudden jump in performance.
“All the principles
are the same, you go down the same number of gears, it’s just
that you get to that point a little faster, but that’s compensated
for by bigger brakes. It took me a few tests (in F3000 cars) to
get used to the downforce, but once you’re used to it, you’re
At this point we’d
better call in Earl’s father Fred, to explain how it is that
Earl comes to drive older (and not so old) F1 cars.
To fill in some
of the background, Fred Goddard had been through all the upheaval
in Rhodesia, and moved to South Africa, only to find that turmoil
was developing in that country too.
By the way,
notice the detail in this image: Fred Goddard with a fiver in his
came to the UK in 1989, a year before I brought my family over.
I worked for Bowman Racing, running their B Class drivers in the
British F3 Championship, and concluded that I could support my family
over here. I set up my own team in 1990, running Pekka Herva in
Class B, and he was the Champion (eight wins and four seconds from
15 starts - 3 DNFs). Pekka was introduced to me by Mika Hakkinen,
who’s a bit of an old friend from way back then…”
Some very famous names,
and their famous cars, all fit into this story.
“I think it was
’96 or ’97, and a chap called Paul Osborn had got hold
of a 1993 ex-Alesi Ferrari, but the car wouldn’t run because
there was no software to run it, no shaft to drive the oil pump,
and generally all sorts of little things that needed doing. But
Paul had tried various other people and they all thought it would
be too difficult to get it running….
it was worth a go, so I got in touch with another old friend from
the past, Rory Byrne, to try and get hold of the missing parts from
Ferrari. Rory initially thought he could help, but then the message
came back that Ferrari didn’t want the car to run, so I just
went ahead and had our own electrics made, and various other parts.
That was the start of it. Then another ’93 Ferrari turned
up, and then another one without an engine. Having rebuilt a ’94
Arrows for a customer, and put a four litre Judd engine in it, the
only option was to put another Judd in the Ferrari, so we did! Now
most of our business is restoring and preparing these ex-F1 machines.
When I got involved with Matthew Mortlock, that was the start of
the Benettons. I think we’ve had nine of them through here.”
And what do you need,
having rebuilt a very complicated car for a customer, which needs
setting up? A test driver of course.
“My job is to shake
the cars down, and get them driveable for the customer,” says
Fred Goddard Racing’s test driver. “The aim is to make
the car as simple to drive as possible, so that the customer can
exploit as much of the performance as he wants to.
“Is it frustrating?
It’s just part of the job. Typically I’m driving at
three quarter pace, but it’s only when you get to nine-tenths
and beyond that you start to really get them working.”
So Earl’s day job
– which includes working on the cars, as well as testing them
– is rather different from what he’s likely to get up
to at the weekend. Or is it?
There’s more than
one side to Earl Goddard, racing driver – the most obvious
being his ability to turn in some very quick laps, very quick indeed.
Believe it or not, thanks to his exploits in Benetton F1 cars, he
is the outright lap record holder at Thruxton, Silverstone International,
Donington Park National, the Le Mans Bugatti and Zandvoort. To that
list we might well have added Brand Hatch Indy, displacing Paul
Tracy, but events conspired to prevent that plan.
It was Round
2 of the EUROBoss Series in May last year, and there was a certain
rivalry present between series founder Klaas Zwart and Earl Goddard.
Perhaps any antagonism (from one side, not the other) related back
to the meeting on the Bugatti Circuit the previous autumn?
was a rather complicated one that year (because the series was supposed
to be a domestic one, but there were too many races overseas), but
basically going into the last meeting, I had to win both races and
Klaas ‘only’ had to finish second in both to take the
title. I knew that if I pushed hard in both races, Klaas would settle
for second, so I had to come up with a different plan.”
It turned out to be rather
a cunning one….
“I believed I could
be quickest, but Klaas had a new flat bottom on his car (which definitely
made a difference), and that gave Klaas the chance to think that
he was quickest. So we let that idea develop in his mind.
testing before the meeting started, but we deliberately didn’t
go out. When it came to qualifying, I drove the whole lap correctly,
apart from the last two corners, where I deliberately lost a second.
So I started second on the grid, and the plan was to run second
and eventually dip my nose in and hope he fell off under pressure.
In the end he had a problem, and I reeled off the win, from Phil
Andrews, but I still had to win the second one.
“I followed Klaas
from the lights, but when he braked early, I had to pass him, but
was quite happy for Phil Andrews to pass me. I followed Phil until
five laps from the end, by which time Klaas had retired, so I was
definitely the Champion. I got by Phil and kept the gap steady –
until the last lap. Really I was saying to everyone, “There’s
the time I could have set all along!” And that was (and still
is) the outright lap record.”
And it should have been
on the Brands Indy Circuit in May last year, Earl diving through
to take the lead at Paddock (from Klaas Zwart of course), but then
having the series founder thump into him at Druids.
jumped the start, but no one seemed to notice. I got him with a
beautiful move at Paddock, but afterwards he insisted he was in
full control of the car when he hit me at Druids. We didn’t
really have the budget for the season, and it was apparent that
some drivers could afford to inflict damage on their cars, and we
couldn’t, so it was a conscious decision stop racing in that
series there and then.”
“It was a great
shame, because we had that Benetton set up perfectly. Klaas never
saw me coming into Paddock, and no one knew how late I could brake
in that car. When it’s set up like that, it just builds supreme
confidence: there’s no feeling like it.”
Earl had had that feeling
in 2002, too, competing in six of the eight EuroBoss races in Dave
Shellton’s ‘94 Benetton. He won all six, had six fastest
laps and set three of those outright lap records.
2003 would see Earl Goddard
start just three more races – but at least all of them would
be in sports prototypes.
“We ran the first
of the Reynards 01Qs at Monza last year, in the FIA Sportscar Championship,
but we had to run at our own pace, because there wasn’t really
a class for us: we were heavy and underpowered compared to the SR1s.
I got tagged by the Durango at the first chicane, and then we had
fuel problems and had to keep stopping, so that was frustrating.
“And then at Donington
we had gearbox trouble. We had the car set up just right, but we
concluded after that race that if we’d had a Judd engine,
we’d have been on the podium.
fitted Judds in both cars. At the 1000 Kms last November, we weren’t
on the qualifying pace of the Audi, Courage and Dome, but on race
pace we were well in touch with them. We didn’t throw qualifiers
at it, but in the LMES races we’re sure it’s going to
be a top six car. We want to go out testing as soon as we can, but
we do need to sign drivers to help pay for it.”
And that brings us round
to the age old problem of funding a sportscar project – which
is very much related to the other problem of drivers trying to build
a career in our field of motorsport. Earl Goddard sees it from all
sides thanks to his experience with his father’s team –
and he’s really experienced all the ups and downs of finding
drives in sports prototypes.
“The first car
I tested was the Pilbeam. I was barely out of Formula Ford then,
and I was aiming for the top in single seaters, so why would I want
to drive a Pilbeam? I thought sportscars were for old men! But it
was very good experience, and I realised that sportscars weren’t
the pooh that I thought they were!
“I tested one of
the Archangel Lolas, at Carolina Motorsports Park in 2000. I didn’t
know anything about the test until I was booked on a plane to go!
That was one of Dad’s deals. I didn’t know the track
or the car, of course….”
tell you himself, but he was as quick as their other drivers on
his fourth lap,” chimes in Fred.
Which brings us to a
difference of opinion between father and son. “Dad thinks
you should drive any car you get a chance to drive,” says
Earl. “But I don’t agree: all right, it might work out
sometimes, but any team that is thinking about employing you needs
to see you doing a full season. You can’t just jump from poor
ride to poor ride and expect people to notice.”
A test with Dyson Racing,
at Daytona in January 2001, might have been the golden opportunity,
but Earl found that he was too young!
“My father knows
Pat Smith, and asked if there was a chance that I had a test in
one of the Riley & Scotts, and Pat’s brutally honest answer
was that they had a list, and they picked who they wanted. But they
must have seen what I’d done in the GMS at Kyalami late the
previous year, because all of a sudden I was invited to drive at
the January Test Days.
there were three drivers shooting for the two seats, with the Rob
Dyson and Elliott Forbes-Robinson car. But then Casey Mears made
four, and by the time of the test, Max Papis had signed up to race
for them. Now it was Casey Mears, Nic Jonsson and myself, with just
one seat available. The three of us were lapping within tenths of
each other, but the problem I came up against was that I was just
too young, at 21. Rob Dyson asked me if I was old enough to drink!
Rob really didn’t want someone he thought of as a young hot
shoe in his cars – so I didn’t get a chance to race
in the Rolex 24. I was talking to Oreca about driving their Dallaras
at Le Mans, but they wanted drivers with 24 hour experience, and
I didn’t have any.”
What Earl did
have was plenty of F1 car experience, and more and more seat time
in a variety of prototypes.
I raced B2K / 40 Lolas for Stanley Dickens and Fabian Roock: the
B2K / 40 is a fabulous little car, the handling is awesome. It got
to the point with Stanley’s car at Spa that we’d taken
all the downforce out of it, but we were still flat through Eau
see just how good the little Lola is this year, now that they’ll
receive a little more power under LMP2 rules.
Lola, Earl has also driven Tampollis, a Dick Barbour Reynard (above),
a Saleen S-7R and … a McLaren F1 GTR – at Spa. “It
was a customer’s car that we’d rebuilt, so I wasn’t
finding the limit. It was more a case of the car doing it on its
own.” He’s too modest, this fellow.
It took his
father to pass on the news that the Goddard stable includes F1 Ferraris
as recent as a 2000 car. “Earl drove that one (Paul Osborn’s
car) at Donington last year, in the Shell Ferrari Challenge –
as well as the factory’s 2001 car.”
Can you tell
which is which?
With all these
cars he’s driven, has your son ever damaged one Fred? “I
can’t recall an incident, certainly not where it was his fault.
He did crash the Reynard Judd F3000 car at Clearways in 1999, but
that wasn’t his fault: we’d converted it to carbon brakes,
and the brakes got so hot, the seals melted in the callipers. Other
than that, I can’t think of an incident, no. If he so much
as touches a kerb, he tells me.”
So now we just
need to know where the Earl Goddard story is headed next. There
are the two Reynard Judds all ready to go, with Goddard Snr. desperate
to take on the challenges of Le Mans. No doubt Earl would jump at
the chance of racing on the full circuit in one of his father’s
prototypes, but he’d do a cracking job for any entrant in
any Le Mans contender. All he needs is the opportunity.