GUY HENDERSON: Waving at my childhood hero
WHEN I was seven years old I wanted to be Dan Gurney. By the time I was 18, regular readers may recall, I wanted to be John Foxx. However, at the age of seven, I wanted to be Dan Gurney.
On Saturday, I finally got to see my hero.
It was only for a second, but I did see him, and I did wave.
I don't know if he saw me.
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Dan Gurney is 81 now, and remains an enduring hero to motor racing fans of all ages.
Dan raced all kinds of cars during his long career. He is 6ft 3ins tall and the makers of the Ford GT40 sports car were so adamant that he was the man to drive it at Le Mans that they changed the shape of the roof to accommodate him.
It's called the Gurney Bubble, but then you anoraks out there already knew that.
Dan was at the Goodwood Revival meeting at the weekend as a guest of honour.
There was a parade of cars he drove during his career in his honour, and there were 'Viva Gurney' banners at various points around the circuit.
You could buy 'Dan Gurney For President' pin badges, so I bought one.
When I was seven I had a collection of Corgi Grand Prix cars. I had a Lotus, in which sat a tiny Jim Clark, and I had a Ferrari, in which sat a tiny Lorenzo Bandini.
Inexplicably, Corgi didn't make an Eagle Weslake MkI like the one Dan drove. Inexplicable, because it is without question the most beautiful motor racing car ever made.
Maybe they felt they just couldn't do it justice.
It won only one race, the 1967 Belgian Grand Prix in the hands of Dan, a month before my seventh birthday.
During that race it was clocked at 196mph somewhere in the Ardennes Forest.
So in my daydreams I was Dan Gurney, sweeping through Stavelot and Blanchimont at the wheel of a beautiful blue Eagle Weslake, the wind whipping over my string-backed driving gloves and tugging at my goggles as I eased the steering wheel left and right.
On Saturday I had the chance to pay my respects to the great man, for he would be driven around the circuit in a Ferrari.
It was part of the altogether-amazing Revival meeting, in which a weekend is given over to the cars, motorbikes and aeroplanes of the 1940s,1950s and 1960s.
Everyone goes in retro fancy dress. I was a mechanic in too-white overalls. Mrs H was Sandie Shaw.
There are races for the cars your parents used to drive, being raced a lot faster than your dad used to drive them down Telegraph Hill.
There are races for motorbikes that thump along leaving aromatic clouds of Castrol R behind them and there are races for the fastest racing cars of their day, lovingly restored and preserved by people who then hurl them around Goodwood, racing them the way they should be raced.
There are familiar faces everywhere. I stepped aside to let one dapper fellow out of a gateway and knew as soon as he thanked me that he was someone I should have recognised.
It was about an hour later that I realised it was the chap who runs the Red Bull Formula One team.
We spent the day watching races and air displays, rubbing shoulders with people in varying degrees of fancy dress.
There were Teds, rockers and mods, plus a smattering of glam rockers who were a little ahead of their time.
Land Army girls sipped expensive champagne in the posh marquees. One picnic table had its own candelabra and some wine in an ice bucket.
We had a long drive to come, so we stuck to tea, lashings of it.
We roamed among the cars and the bikes and the aeroplanes dispersed along the edges of the grass strip.
Then the time came to see Dan Gurney's parade, and we made our way out on to the spectator banking to see him and his cavalcade of cars go by.
An air display featuring two Mustang fighters was going on over our heads, and that meant parts of the spectator banking were closed for safety purposes.
A huge logjam of spectators had built up, and we were trapped in a position where we could see only a tiny postage stamp piece of track.
It was all very good-natured, because Goodwood is like that, and everyone understands that you need to keep people out of certain areas when aeroplanes are looping and diving around at low level.
But it wasn't helping me to pay my respects to Dan.
The cavalcade went by, several times in fact. These things last for a few laps, just to give the fans who can see properly a chance to see the cars and the waving VIPs.
I caught a glimpse of a Porsche and a McLaren speeding by in the tiny gap between the marshals' post and the edge of the grandstand.
An Eagle Weslake flashed past and I gave out an audible groan that had Sandie Shaw looking at me sharply to see if I was all right. I wasn't. My heart was broken.
Then came a Ferrari sports car with a tall man waving from the passenger seat. I waved enthusiastically.
I waved again when the car came round a lap later, speeding through the tiny gap in an instant.
By the time the marshals let us through the cordon and back on to the banking, the parade was long over, and all we could hear was the blipping of engines in the distant pits and the commentator confirming that it had been a marvellous and unrepeatable occasion, a privilege to witness and an unforgettable chance to celebrate one of the sport's greatest-ever drivers.
Sandie Shaw leads me to believe that I gave out another audible groan.