So far as I know, time machines do not exist. The closest humans come is when they race vintage cars: specifically, at the Goodwood Motor Circuit in Chichester, UK. The track facilities have been unchanged for decades, and, at its famous Revival event in the fall or its exclusive Members’ Meeting in the spring, the cars look plucked out of black-and-white photos. As their drivers hustle them around the nine turns of the 2.4-mile track, you can see a century’s worth of vehicles pass by the grandstands in a single weekend.

It’s a lot to take in when the cars are passing by at speed, and it is somehow even more fascinating to see the cars all parked. Well, at least when almost all of them seem to be parked under one roof—one very cool roof owned by a very cool person: Gary Pearson. He’s the second-generation owner of Pearson Engineering LTD in Newcastle upon Tyne, better known as the shop that keeps Goodwood going fast.

The story of how it all started is pretty humble. John Pearson, the founder of Pearson Engineering, was a quick driver and a good wrench, which meant other drivers naturally started asking for his help preparing their race cars. That was the early 1960s. John specialized in Jaguars but would take on other makes too and, after 20 years in business, the second Pearson stepped in. Gary was just 21 years old and fresh out of school with an engineering degree and has been at the shop ever since.

The grouping of unassuming buildings sitting in the countryside holds a workshop worthy of the stars. Well, the star cars at least. From a Group C Jaguar to Shelby Cobras, there is just about anything you can imagine. That array of machines requires a team of mechanics unlike any other. Gary points out that a lot of his employees are technicians who retired from Formula 1, so there is certainly no lack of experience or understanding. If a person can make sense of a modern F1 car, a D-Type Jaguar certainly won’t be so bad.

Gary Pearson standing in open shop
Goodwood Road and Racing

Since the 2024 vintage-racing season is about to kick off, the cars sitting in the Pearson shop are especially drool-worthy, but what really caught our attention were the storage shelves. Gary strolls through some of the storage area and grabs parts off a shelf, casually recalling when, where, and why the team at Pearson Engineering undertook a mission to reproduce it. Under a few vintage wood steering wheels hung neatly from another shelf sits a box containing all the gears of a Porsche 917. The machines that could be assembled from the spares in storage would be humbling.

Gary Pearson in shop parts stash
Goodwood Road and Racing

There are so many amazing shops tucked around the world that keep vintage racers going fast, and most are staffed by humble gearheads like Gary, who just care about the history that these vintage cars carry and the fun that they bring with them everywhere. It’s still a few months until the Goodwood Members’ Meeting in April, but when the green flag drops, we will be cheering and looking for the cars we saw in the background of this shop tour. It ought to be a fun game of “I Spy” that everyone will win.



 

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