THOUSANDS of vehicles have rolled across the tarmac at the famous Goodwood racing circuit over the years – but there has probably never been a hearse on the track before.
This unusual scene was a fitting tribute to Robert Barker, of Hayling Island, who died three weeks ago after a short battle with cancer.
Yesterday, his family and friends filed into a procession around the Goodwood motor circuit near Chichester to pay tribute to one of the 70-year-old’s greatest passions.
Mr Barker had written several books about the Goodwood course.
His son Adam Barker, 32, from Arundel, said: ‘It’s a fantastic memorial to my father.
‘Goodwood meant so much to him.
‘He absolutely loved it and he was something of an authority on Goodwood.
‘This is a brilliant way to send him off.’
By trade, Mr Barker was an insurance broker, but he was also a motoring enthusiast and respected author.
Adam added: ‘He was enthusiastic about Goodwood from a very young age, since his brother Pat brought him here for the first time.
‘He had a lifelong passion for motoring and was well-known among the community here.
‘Apart from that he was a lovely person and a wonderful father.’
The hearse was emblazoned with the number 46 – not a tribute to the bike number of Italian motorcycle racer Valentino Rossi, but a reference to the number of the house in which Mr Barker lived.
The hearse was followed by around a dozen vehicles, from classic cars to an Aston Martin, and even a small Rover Metro.
After the procession completed its lap of the circuit, it continued on to Chichester Crematorium.
Colin Barrell, of Barrells Funeral Directors in Fratton Road, Fratton, knew Mr Barker and arranged his funeral.
He said: ‘This is the first time I have ever done anything like this.
‘I knew he liked motor sport but it wasn’t until recently that I discovered he was a prolific writer.
‘I should hope he would have been quite impressed by this.
‘He was such a modest person but he had an impact on so many people and it was good to see so many of them here.’