A couple of hill climbs, a second-place finish, and one sheared drive shaft later, the guys are back from the 2022 Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Will Spencer, founder of JKS Incorporated, and Ed Berrier, second-generation NASCAR driver and our Fabricator and Motorsports Coordinator, traveled across the pond to partake in motorsport’s ultimate summer garden party.
Held in the beautiful countryside surrounding Goodwood House in West Sussex, England, the Festival of Speed was founded by the Duke of Richmond in 1993 as a way to bring racing back to the Goodwood estate—a location steeped in British motor racing history. The weekend-long event brings together an impossibly heady mixture of cars, motorcycles, and drivers and is the only attraction that showcases more than a century of racing history through competition.
The Festival of Speed’s 1.17-mile-long Hillclimb Track features a series of challenges—including an average gradient of 4.9%, the left-handed Molecomb corner, a sweep around the daunting Flint Wall, and a narrow rush to the finish line.
Will and Ed started competing in the Festival of Speed back in 2015. The pair have traveled across the Atlantic Ocean every year since (with the exception of 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic), to take place in the festival’s Sunday Shoot-Out. In this race, the fastest drivers in the fastest cars compete against the clock for the honor (and bragging rights) of posting the best times of the weekend.
At the wheel of a brand-new build, Ed took home a second-place finish in his division with a time of 51.38 seconds… only .06 seconds behind the first-place winner. The car, which was sponsored by Loxx Boxx and The Winston Cup Museum and decked out with the faces of 007s past, was hand-built by Will and Ed inside our fabrication shop with the Hillclimb Track in mind.
“On a drag strip, 500 pounds in a quarter mile is worth half a second,” said Will. “We wanted the car to be weight-conscious.”
Will and Ed started the build by weighing out five different chassis—a Laughlin, a Hopkins, a Banjo, a COT, and a Jay Hedgecock. The Hedgecock ended up being the lightest by about 65 pounds. As an added bonus, it has a unique history.
Initially built for Dale Earnhardt Sr. in 2000, the Hedgecock chassis Will and Ed ultimately chose for the foundation of their build went unused by The Intimidator. It’s said that Earnhardt decided to forgo the Hedgecock and stick with his traditional Hopkins chassis (a frame he’d seen many wins with) in hopes of taking home another Winston Cup Championship.
With the 2000 Jay Hedgecock road course chassis as the base, Will and Ed took a 2016 Chevrolet Impala SS body and hung it with all of the geometry of a 2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 so that it would sit 4.5” lower and 6.5” wider than stock models. They then turned to Timmy Petty, Richard Petty’s nephew, for a Dodge motor.
“You can get more torque out of a Dodge than a Chevy,” said Will. “We went from 765 horsepower and 382 pounds of torque in the Chevy to 690 horsepower with 439 pounds of torque with the Dodge motor.”
Finally, the pair set up a four-link suspension in the back of the vehicle so that it would come off the start line like a true drag car.
“With all of our calculations, the absolute best the car would ever run on the Hillclimb Track if you did everything absolutely perfect was 47 seconds flat,” said Will. “With Ed running a 51.38, he used up 92% of the car. His sequence was so fast compared to some of the others. If he had just cut the corner on the second turn he would have been first in his class.”
The Case of the Sheared Drive Shaft
While he didn’t compete in the Sunday Shoot-Out, Will still managed to get in some race time during Sunday evening’s expedition run. It was, however, short lived.
“Simon Chalkley was ahead of me driving a Ford and I had told him before we got started that I was going to catch him before the finish line,” said Will. “When I got to the Flint Wall I knew that the only way I would catch him was by keeping my speed but adding some kind of resistance, so I shifted it down from fourth to third.”
After making it around the wall, Will pulled it back to fourth and ended up shearing the u-bolts off the driveshaft.
“I should have stayed in third,” said Will. “It was big. Made a lot of noise.”
While Will ended up having to pull his No. 1 Winston car off the track, the weekend was anything but a loss.
“It was all in good fun,” said Will. “The hardest part of the weekend was actually making the hour-and-a-half trip between Goodwood and Heathrow Airport while driving on the left side road and listening to Ed scream. I only hit the curb twice though.”
With 210,000 people in attendance throughout the weekend, this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed drew its biggest crowd yet. British racing driver Max Chilton also set a new Hillclimb Track record of 39.08 seconds in a fully electric McMurtry Spéirling car—a run that knocked almost 2.5 seconds off the previous official record.
With this in mind, the guys are already looking forward to what’s in store in West Sussex next summer. Will has plans to build the very first electric NASCAR race car equipped with a hydrobooster to get Ed across the finish line in less than 51.38 seconds.
Here’s to the 2023 Goodwood Festival of Speed!