Patrick Watts, former BTCC racer turned businessman, also is one of Goodwood’s household names. This year, he teamed up with F1 ace Karl Wendlinger to compete in the St Mary’s trophy by Motul in a brutally impressive Studebaker Silver Hawk. Although his weekend wasn’t spared from post-race drama, we met up with a satisfied driver.
Patrick, what a race, what an event! How did the weekend go for you?
It was a great weekend. Goodwood is always the highlight of my year and it’s always an enormous honour to get invited (ed.: You don’t register to participate in the Goodwood Revival, you are invited). I raced in both the RAC TT race and the St Mary’s Trophy by Motul. In the latter, I teamed up with former F1 driver Karl Wendlinger and we competed in my newly built Studebaker Silver Hawk. Both races were really great and we both had so much fun flinging it around the course. Initially, Karl won the first race and I came in third in the second race. Unfortunately, that race result was overturned by the stewards and we were not classified because a small part of the engine was not entirely period correct. Although it didn’t give us any competitive advantage, I fully understand their decision. This is Goodwood and everything has to be as period correct as possible. Honestly, in the end I don’t really mind as we both had so much fun anyway.
How did you team up with Karl Wendlinger? How did you two meet?
It’s a thing Goodwood arranges for you. They invite a lot of high-profile drivers and divide them over the different categories. They asked me if I would be interested in teaming up with Karl and I though he’d be a perfect teammate for the race in my Studebaker. Karl has done many things and has gained a lot of experience. He is also fifty years old so that did help build my trust a little as I preferred not to have a young gun in my car pushing it to its absolute limit with the risks that come along with that. We were a great team. Karl loved the car and got comfortable in it quite quickly as he put it on pole after only a few laps behind the wheel. Which is very impressive.
Tell us a bit more about your car? It’s very different from some of the other cars on the field.
Yes, it’s a big American beast of a car. It’s actually more of a road car than a real thoroughbred racer. I built it because I wanted to participate in a local classic racing series next season, so this was the car’s first real race. We did some testing, mostly in the wet, and that was about it. When I built it, I was convinced it would be a car that would be a rocket on the straights. The 5.7l V8 puts down a decent amount of power so we could easily pull away from the smaller cars (ed.: the JRT Austin A40 had a 1.3l engine) but to my surprise it was also quite good in the corners, which made it perfect for Goodwood as it’s a fast and flowing circuit with only one big braking zone, the final chicane.
From a driver’s perspective, what was the Goodwood experience like away from the track?
That may be the best part. Everyone dresses up and you really feel like you live in the past for a bit, which is amazing. Goodwood also takes extremely good care of their competitors. They pamper us, treat us to lovely dinners and a massive ball. It’s an event you can really bring your entire family to. I talked to Karl the other night and he was telling me his wife was still talking about the revival. That’s how amazing this event is.
You did a lot of touring car racing, but you clearly have a passion for classic car racing, what is your favourite part about it?
This might surprise you but I especially love building the cars, more than I love racing them. Maybe it’s because I’ve been racing with such high adrenaline levels in the BTCC back in the days, it’s hard for me to get the same kick out of it. I mean I still love racing but it’s the entire process that really gets me excited.
What is your favourite part about the Revival?
It’s not a real personal favourite, more like something I really admire about it, and that is the Duke of Richmond. I’m always amazed at how much Lord March gets involved in all of it. From the way the paddock is designed to how the liveries of the cars look. Goodwood would not be the same without him.