It’s somewhat remarkable that in a relatively short space of time, Goodwood has become a household name associated with motorsport. Back in the 1980s, Goodwood was a run-down circuit capable of hosting track days and occasional test sessions.
Since then, the vision and passion of Lord March has turned a forgotten circuit back into the shining star it was in its heyday. The Goodwood franchise now spans everything from automotive events to milk.
Goodwood is known all over the world and each year fans and drivers travel from all corners to be part of it. The Festival of Speed and Revival are now huge events and unrivalled in the automotive world.
For racing, the Revival is hard to match: stunningly rare machinery racing door-to-door as they would have in period. I’m not fussed about the dressing up, the theatre and stepping back in time – I just love the close racing, so you’ll find me near St Mary’s over the weekend watching the cars slide past, inhaling the Castrol R and watching real racers do battle.
So, where does that leave the Members’ Meeting? Well, to be honest this year I realised I actually prefer it to the Revival. Firstly, it’s incredibly intimate: the club-sized event has a real family feel and you can happily get up close to the cars without the crowds of Revival. Secondly, the cars: Lord March pulls together an eclectic and fascinating array of machinery for the event. This year we were treated to the fantastic Edwardian racers, which made for a true spectacle and were for many the highlight of the weekend. The more modern racers are paraded in a high-speed demonstration run, but try telling John Cleland not to overtake Emanuele Pirro in his Vauxhall Cavalier and be prepared to be told to bugger off!
Former F1 world champion Mika Hakkinen in the glorious Fangio and Moss Mercedes W196 Grand Prix car was a very special moment that had the crowds silenced as the iconic racer took to the track.
For many, though, the Group 5 sports racing prototypes were the cars of the weekend. The Ferrari 512 and Porsche 917 are iconic for anyone who grew up with the Steve McQueen film Le Mans. The tricky decision is which car would you take home. For me, it would be the coda lunga Ferrari 512S, unbelievably beautiful and powered by the orchestral 5.0-litre V12 engine.
While there are fewer races than at the Revival, they’re no less spectacular. The Gerry Marshall Trophy for 70s touring cars attracts a huge and varied grid and is split over two parts. Rover SD1s do battle with Mini Clubmans, Chevrolet Camaros and Ford Capris and many others. It’s a real spectacle with all the iconic liveries out on track creating one of the most colourful grids you’ll ever see at Goodwood.
Saturday evening this year saw Ford GT40s racing into the sunset in the Alan Mann Trophy. Alan Mann was in charge of Ford’s factory racing programme in the 60s and of course 2016 is the 50th anniversary of the brand’s legendary win at Le Mans.
The relaxed pace of the weekend means you can wander around and get involved in the various activities to help earn your ‘house’ points. We should also mention the party on the Saturday night. Normally parties at Goodwood are reserved for VIPs, but the Members Meeting party is for all, with aircraft hangars turned into bars with live bands, funfairs, dancers and of course the legendary Goodwood fireworks display.
Sunday is a much more action-packed day, with 10 races covering everything from classic Formula 3 in the Derek Bell Cup to the mighty Bruce McLaren Trophy for 1960-66 prototypes. Watching Nick Padmore lap a Lola T70 around Goodwood in 1:17.079 seconds was a sight to behold and required a level of commitment many would fear.
The Members’ Meeting continues to be an event offered to GRRC members, with any ‘spare’ tickets offered to the general public. It’s now my favourite Goodwood event on the calendar and I look forward to it growing from strength to strength over the coming years as it establishes itself. If I could change one thing, it would be the weather – the last two years have been incredibly cold! Lord March is noted for his talent of supply extraordinarily good weather for his other events, so fingers crossed this transfers to the 75th Members’ Meeting in 2017.
Gerry Marshall Trophy Part 1
Chris Ward – Rover 3500 SD1
Alan Mann Trophy
Cuff/Soper – 1965 Ford GT40
Barry Cannell – 1959 Cooper-Climax T51
Derek Bell Cup
Andrew Hibbard – 1966 Brabham-Ford BT16
S.F. Edge Trophy
Duncan Pittaway – 1921 GN Curtiss
Graham Hill Trophy
James Cottingham – Shelby American Cobra Daytona coupe
Ian Simpson – 1979 Yamaha TZ350E
Gerry Marshall Trophy Part 2
Bryant/Bryant – 1974 Chevrolet Camaro Z28
Bruce McLaren Trophy
Nicholas Padmore – Lola T70 (race declared after two laps)
William Nuthall – 1953 Cooper-Bristol Mk 2
Richard Meaden – Ford Lotus Cortina
Peter Collins Trophy
Sam Hancock – 1953 Cunningham C4R
Fastest racing lap of the weekend went to the popular Frank Stippler, who lapped the circuit in a 1965 Ford GT40 in 1:21.607 seconds. His reward was a special watch from IWC Schaffhausen.
Words: Tim Hutton Photos: Alex Lawrence