A couple of weeks ago we spent the weekend at the 74th Members Meeting at Goodwood. This much lower key event was revived in 2014 and is intended to be a recreation of the original seventy one Members Meetings that were held at the track in it’s heyday. It’s a treat for us, as we actually experience a weekends racing, it’s much less crowded and more accessible with no corporate hospitality then at the Revival later in the year, when we are busy working as part of the period taxi fleet.
Taking place in mid March the potential downside is the weather, luckily it stayed dry but it was rather chilly as it is an exposed airfield. However as James often says “there is no such thing as bad weather just bad clothing” and so we prepared well. With lots of layers – I could hardly move and looked like a Michelin Man – hats and warm boots, we stayed toasty all weekend. We saw some very stupid people who didn’t dress for the conditions and obviously weren’t enjoying it and the numbers thinned out quite quickly in the afternoons.
Saturday is practice day and after a great journey down to Goodwood, we arrived about 10.30. Unfortunately we didn’t have circuit parking for Mario, unlike the first 72 meeting and so left him at home. New this year and what we were most looking forward to, was the SF Edge Trophy for Edwardian Specials raced up until 1923. These proved to be the total stars of the weekend. One of the first things we saw in the paddock was this fabulous fire breathing Darracq, a 1905 land speed record car which was totally awesome. The practice session was amazing with a field of unique vehicles, most of which looked positively dangerous. On Saturday there was a special demonstration of two Championship winning Mercedes Benz W196’s from the 50’s. Driven by Jochen Mass and Mika Hakkinen. We almost missed them so only got a rear view! We popped in the viewing of the Bonham’s auction. Mario would have been pleased to see a couple of small Fiats. We loved the Mercedes Service van and wanted to take home the Autobianchi Bianchini, just as well it wasn’t the cabriolet version or I might have had a problem keeping my arm down! As it started to get dark the Alan Mann Trophy got underway with a field of 29 Ford GT40’s charging into the darkness. Then it was time for the party. Unique to the Members Meeting, everybody is invited to an evening of entertainment, with fairground rides, high wire acts, fire dancing and parades. All finished off with a tremendous fireworks display which lit up the sky as far as the eye could see. Sunday morning saw another good run to the circuit and we made sure that we arrived in plenty of time for the Edwardian race. At the entrance was this lovely Speedwell Blue A35, just like my first car (sort of!). We discovered that the racing was already running very late, this was due to a horrid and freak accident in the first race of the day, when a car had rolled and ended up in the tunnel beneath the track. Amazingly nether the driver or any members of the public were hurt but unfortunately it put a damper on the day and heralded a day of incidents and red flags, including another massive accident in the afternoon, again under unusual circumstances. The driver although injured wasn’t as bad as feared. Goodwood keep a very low profile over major accidents and do not show or comment on them and so I will not dwell on them any further or add links to images and video. The result of all the stoppages was that several of the races had to be shortened and it did take the gloss off of the racing.
The Edwardian race however was superb. Exciting, competitive and with no incidents. In vehicles that were difficult to drive and handle, the drivers showed tremendous respect for each other while racing hard. They are completely bonkers, racing as they do while perched high up, exposed and unprotected on tiny seats and with a huge difference in size between the cars.
A high speed demo by the group 5 sportscars, which had dominated the World Sportscar Championships in the 70’s, including the iconic Gulf Porsche was a spectacular sight. We set off for a trip out to Lavant and spotted this lovely Volvo P1800 which is a car I’ve fancied owning for a while. Part of the Members Meeting is all the other events which take place around the circuit for people to join in and earn points for their house. Out at Lavant Corner I had a go at Duck Herding – well I stood in the middle of a field and the sheep (duck) dog and ducks did what the knew how to! There was also Feret Racing. We went back to the paddock area for a tasty pre-birthday Afternoon Tea in the Bill Wisdom Enclosure. Then we had a good look around the Edwardian cars, which are even more impressive (and oily) close up and great for some detail photography. We went infield beyond the startline, to an area which at the Revival is all hospitality, here we had a good view back to the start through the daffodil display. The Ground Effect F1 cars gave a good high speed demonstration, unfortunately we missed the grid walk as due to the incidents the timings were all over the place. It was a good viewing spot so we stayed there to watch part two of the Gerry Marshall Trophy for the Group 1 Saloon cars 1970-1972. The Parnell Cup is another favourite with pre 1953 Grand Prix cars, including ‘Remus’ the blue with yellow wheels ERA which made such an impression on us, in the first race, at the first Revival, way back in 1998 and started our love affair with motorsport at Goodwood. As the sun started to set, there were still three races to go, these all had to be shortened and were run with no ceremony but they had a certain intensity and in the cooling conditions, the lack of ‘hanging about’ was rather welcome. So with the racing over, the remaining spectators and competitors, headed for the Great Hall for the prize giving. Warmed up with Bullshot – hot Bloody Mary’s made with beef consommé – the ceremony took the format of a school awards day with the Race Governors in their robes handing out the prizes. The four House Captains waited anxiously to find out which house had won – Methuen and Anthony Reid for the third year running, although it was our house captain Emanuele Pirro who had the last word, thanking Lord March for the weekend.