The Singapore Grand Prix may be a relatively recent addition to the F1™ world championship calendar, but I always find myself being reminded that international motor racing in the Pacific Rim area is a far from new development. I well remember as a youngster trawling the pages of the motor racing magazines and being fascinated by the results of races in far-flung locations such as Kuala Lumpur, Macau and Johore, not least because there were several European stalwarts who seemed to be regular competitors in these events.
Looking back, it’s curious just how many future links with McLaren are implicit in those early races, most notably through the participation of Tony Goodwin. Tony was an RAF doctor at one point during his varied and wide-ranging medical career, and is the father of Chris Goodwin, the chief test and development driver for McLaren Automotive. Chris in turn, is also the manager of F1™ new boy Bruno Senna, the nephew of the great McLaren grand prix ace Ayrton who won three world championships at the wheel of the cars from Woking between 1988 and 1991. All this inter-linking and cross-referencing is the stuff of many hours trawling through the history books to a era which might have been technically rather simplistic, but not in any way lacking for character and diversity of competition.
Looking back on the achievements of Chris’s father, for the record, he sustained a demanding medical career with what grew into a passionately active hobby. This saw him race on the proverbial ‘shoe string’463 times in 21 countries throughout Europe, Asia, South Africa and America. When you keep that in mind, is it any wonder that Chris should follow in his footsteps as a keen competitor?
Way back in 1966 the first official Singapore Grand Prix took place, titled thus because this was the first such event to be staged after Singapore became independent from Malaysia. The event was granted international status by the sport’s governing body and attracted drivers from Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaysia and Saigon as well as from Singapore itself. It may not have been staged after dark like the current event, but it was still a three day meeting and included a motorcycle grand prix and three car races supporting the main 180-mile event. Tony Goodwin rose to the occasion magnificently in the main event, ending up third after a superb performance in his self-prepared Lotus 22 Formula Junior single seater.
It was a performance of which any future insider at McLaren might have been proud of. But then, all associates of the McLaren family - no matter how far removed - have always retained the ability to surprise.
I suppose it goes with the DNA? And being involved in such a compelling pastime?