French race driver Nicolas Minassian is a Le Mans ace, having participated in the event in the top categories countless times. His heart, however, is devoted to classic racing, which is why he’s a Goodwood Revival regular. This year he teamed up with JRT to compete in the St. Mary’s trophy and took home some silver. We caught up with him right after the event.
Nicolas, could you sum up your Goodwood Revival for us?
The Goodwood Revival is a weekend I won’t miss for anything in this world. There’s no event like it. This year, it was really enjoyable because I raced in both the TT race and the St. Mary’s Trophy, which we won. I had the pleasure to compete in a fantastic car prepared by the Jordan Family; there is little more I can wish for.
This is definitely not your first time here. How would you describe the Goodwood Motor Circuit from a race driver’s perspective?
It’s a very specific track, an old-school track. It’s very fast and there is very little to no run-off area, so there is no room for error. If you’re a good driver and you know what you’re doing, you really can make a difference. What I love most about the track is that the spectators are really close, and you can see them, but even more so the fact that the track layout has remained unchanged since the fifties. If you add the fact that we are driving cars from that era, it really becomes a bit of a time machine.
How would you describe the atmosphere around the track?
The atmosphere is the biggest part of the event. Everyone dresses like it’s the fifties or sixties, so it really becomes an immersive experience. The brands that were very popular in that era come back with big booths or shops. The ladies are beautifully dressed, and the men are very elegant. You almost feel ugly when you take off your outfit and leave the track (laughs).
You did so many things, but you seem to have a big passion for classic motorsport.
I really love modern racing, but historic racing is something else. Racing classic cars is a much rawer experience. In the past, each car had a unique design. Nowadays every car looks very similar, so every starting grid looks very much the same. The way you drive is also very different. When you race a modern car, everything is defined by tires and downforce. If you come into a corner, and don’t brake at the 80-meter board, you’ll go off. In a classic there are so many options, you can choose many different lines because you have to brake so much earlier anyway. A classic car is also a lot more demanding. There’s no traction control or ABS and you have to shift a manual gearbox and heel and toe yourself. It’s tricky but so much more satisfying if you get it right.
Speaking of cars what was it like to race the little Austin A40?
Driving this little Austin might’ve been some of the most fun I’ve ever had in a car. It was prepared so well. It didn’t have a lot of power, so I knew I had to make up the lap in the corners, but it was so easy to set it up before the corner and just gently slide it through. I was battling the Studebaker and I knew I had to overtake it in the corner and take the little A40 as wide as possible on the straights or the Studebaker would overtake me again. I really loved that car.