Goodwood 72nd Members Meeting… you had to be there

72Last weekend Goodwood hosted the 72nd members meeting, the 71st was held nearly 48 years ago! This recreated the regularly held members meetings of the 50’s and 60’s. The idea was to use up the last two ‘noisy’ days that Goodwood was granted when the circuit reopened in 1998 (the other three are the Revival Meeting in September) and hold a ‘club’ meeting. As keen supporters of Goodwood and longterm members of the GRRC, we ordered tickets when the event was announced last September and had a lovely surprise, when a beautifully presented pack turned up in the post containing the ‘tickets’, fantastic enamel badges.

DSC07808Taking a bit of a risk with the weather by organising an event in March, the Gods as usual, looked down favourably on Lord March and Saturday morning dawned with perfect Spring sunshine and over the weekend the temperature rose to nearly 20º – beautiful, as long as you kept out of the slightly chilly wind. We hardly needed the Tweed we had assembled in keeping with the smart country wear dress code!

Mario had been accepted to the Chicane Paddock, where nearly 200 cars were on display, members and guests were invited to vote for the ‘car who made them smile’. The winning car was a 1910 Rolls Royce. Mario came 7th a pretty good result and his friend ‘Luigi’ another Fiat 600d Multipla was 9th, if we could have added their scores together the ‘Multipla’ would have done very well. There was a good selection of cars, a cute pale blue Fiat 500 we parked next to, a great Commer camper van and a Citroen 2cv Dustbin with the rear filled with toy pigs! Our friend Richard brought his Ginetta down from Derbyshire but it’s so tiny he had to bring a second car to carry the picnic in!DSC06864 DSC06865 DSC06913DSC07282DSC06866

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Initially it felt very strange to be at Goodwood and not to be working – since 1999 we have been part of the period taxi fleet at the Revival and on Saturday morning it was like being a ‘spare part’, I’m sure Mario was eager to get going driving people around. we saw quite a few of our regular Revival passengers though who were all pleased to see Mario in attendance although sad that he couldn’t give them a lift.

Saturday morning was practice for the 12 races mixed in with demonstrations at ‘speed’ for group C Le Mans Cars, 80’s Turbo F1 and Group B rally cars competing in a timed sprint. In the Afternoon the first of the races were run, with the bulk of the racing taking part on Sunday. The joy of this meeting was the lack of crowding with plenty of room to move around and unrestricted views. The lack of corporate hospitality meant that many more areas were open for viewing including the Pit Balcony and the inside of the Chicane which gave a very different viewpoint on the racing. The track also looked different as 300,000 daffodil bulbs had been planted around the circuit giving a beautiful yellow hue behind the cars.

The first race was part one of the Gerry Marshall Trophy, named in honour of the much-missed saloon car racing legend. Saturday’s race was a 15 minute qualifier for the 1970s and early ’80s tin-tops to decide grid positions for Sunday’s two-driver race, when car owners were sharing with past masters or current professionals. Ford Capris, Rover SD1s, Chevrolet Camaros, Mazda RX-7s, Triumph Dolomites, Vauxhall Firenzas and Alfa Romeo GTVs all competed in period-specific liveries. Our house captain (Torbolton) Emanuelle Pirro was second on the grid but a problem had him starting from the pit lane which led to an extraordinary 15 minutes of action as he worked his way from last to second, another minute and he would have been first.DSC06893 DSC06903 DSC06936 DSC06958 DSC06983 Refreshment stops also had a new look with the Super Shell building (normally reserved for VIPs) having a ‘make over’ to a late 70’s working mans club. The attention to detail was amazing with darts, snooker, comfy chairs and old fashioned tv’s showing the racing. Sausage rolls were sold by the foot and the bar was graced by a photo of Maggie Thatcher! The only thing missing to be authentic was a haze of smoke! For a more natural feel the Daffodil Bar in a marquee was filled with bulbs and flowers in wooden boxes nestling on bales of straw, some bales forming sofas covered in tatty tweed and even a tractor.DSC07006 DSC07016DSC07672The centre of festivities was the Great Hall, a Hogwarts take on a grand school hall with long candelabra decked tables and huge house shields hanging from the ceiling. All members had been allocated houses, just like school and as well as the drivers getting points for the racing there were many activities going on where members could win points for their house. DSC07082 DSC07062 DSC07067 DSC07070 The unique thing about the Members Meeting was that everybody was invited to attend a ‘party’ in the evening. As the final race of the day drew to a close as the sun set, the area behind the Great Hall was opened up. A period funfair set the scene with illuminated parades and circus acts, a hanger had been converted into a nightclub with the brilliant ‘Old Dirty Brasstards’ playing some great tunes. The atmosphere was fantastic and rather surreal with Grannies riding giant shopping trolleys and Nuns playing pianos. Mechanical fire breathing dragons constructed from hubcaps joined fairy light lit drummers, as the enthusiastic crowds partied. Mario’s ‘Human’ was celebrating his 50th birthday a week early – why throw a party yourself when you know Goodwood will do it so well – and we meet up with a large group of friends at the event and had some wine and cake before the festivities got underway, the cake was supposed to depict the ‘Col du Turini’ on a Winter Rally, including a snowplough (an old joke) which the cars had overtaken. The evening finished with a sky filling fireworks display.DSC07090 DSC07110 DSC07119 DSC07134 DSC07136 DSC07166 DSC07191 DSC07205 DSC07226 DSC07235 DSC07244Sunday morning was again bright although with a little more cloud cover then the previous day. The racing started in ernest. We watched the Sears Trophy for Saloons that raced between 1958 and 1963 from the pit balcony and stayed there to see the Low drag sports prototype demo roar past. These racers were from an era before they introduced chicanes at Le Mans to slow the cars down and although running behind a pace car at Goodwood and so relatively slow, you still had an indication of the speed as they accelerated along the start straight, James said the noise reminded him of being on the old pits at Le Mans in the 80’s .

DSC07291 DSC07297 DSC07322 DSC07387 DSC07397 DSC07427 A spectacular sight was a whole grid of Bugatti’s in the Grover-Williams Trophy. Celebrating the 90th anniversary of one of the most successful racing cars of all time, the Bugatti Type 35, this special one-make race featured a variety of pre-war models including variations on the T35 theme plus models such as the T51, T54 and T59.

DSC07439 DSC07449 The turbo-era F1 cars also did some demo laps. While racing originally ended at Goodwood in 1966, testing continued well into the 1980s, with Formula 1 teams sometimes using the venue to shakedown their machines. Iconic cars such as Senna’s JPS and Lauda’s championship winning McLaren driven by team reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne, took to the track.DSC07499 DSC07515DSC07023 The John Surtees Trophy for sports racing cars that competed between 1960-1966 saw such beasts as GT40’s, McLaren’s and Lolas take to the track with some unusual machines little known in the UK. Easily the fastest field of the day they looked fantastic in the late afternoon sun.DSC07622 DSC07640The Last race of the meeting was the Salvadori Cup for sportscars 1955-1960, during this period Goodwood used to host rounds of the World Sports Car Championship so the field looked totally at home.DSC07685 DSC07705 Racing over it was time to go to the Great Hall for the prize giving. Fortified with glasses of Bullshot the crowd watched as Lord March and his daughter handed out medals and unique bottles of Goodwood beer topped with Theo Fennell designed silver bottle tops. The presentation really had the feel of school prize giving with heavy red curtains backing the stage and plain wooden chairs. Stirling Moss joined the Lord to present the awards for the ‘Moss Trophy’.

Finally the four house captains came on stage for the announcement that Methuen had won the battle and Mario’s old friend Jochem Mass was presented with the shield.DSC07772

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All in all it was a fantastic weekend and while I’m sure we won’t be waiting another 48 years for the 73rd Members Meeting it certainly won’t be the same as the 72nd. The success of this years meeting must mean that future years will be much more heavily subscribed and the chances of having another such glorious weekend weatherise in March must be slim. I’m sure in future years it will be a case of ‘were you at the 72nd’ – if not you really missed out.

 

Hot hot hot…

…the weather and the cars at the 20th anniversary Goodwood Festival of Speed.DSC00723

We had several days at the wonderful Goodwood Festival of Speed. Unfortunately there isn’t much point leaving ‘Mario’ parked in a dusty field so he stays at home. Starting on the Thursday which is the ‘Moving Motorshow’ day, this is much quieter and a good opportunity to have a look around without so many people, most of the displays seemed to be in position but it was only modern manufacturers using the hill for test drives.

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This years central sculpture was celebrating 50 years of the Porsche 911, taller than ever the minimalist structure soared into the air over the house displaying three 911’s at the top.

Our favourite areas as usual were the Cathedral Paddock and the Cartier ‘Style et Luxe Lawn’ where some absolutely beautiful cars were on display. The fifty years of McLaren feature was also well designed and layed out using quotes and footage of the companies history and the late Bruce McLarens own experiences, the new road cars looked impressive.DSC00771DSC01201DSC01202

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DSC00553DSC00562 DSC01043 DSC01044The Bonham’s auction on Friday attracted a great deal of attention, especially when the 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R Formula 1 Single-Seater became the most valuable motor car ever sold at auction. The car that took five-time champion Juan Manuel Fangio to the second of his Formula 1 world titles achieved a record-breaking figure of £19,601,500 (US$29,650,095, €22,701,864). Although a very famous car with lots of history and the only one not owned by Mercedes it didn’t really look that impressive, it would be difficult to know what to do with it as if it was restored to be raced it would lose all the knocks and scrapes which are it’s history and value.DSC00599 DSC00616

The F1 teams were in attendance as usual with a good smattering of regular and test drivers, the F1 paddock is always so busy and nowhere near as open as in the early days of the FoS when you could chat (and cuddle!) current drivers of the time such as Eddie Irving, these days the drivers have their own minders and are whisked away from the crowds, still it’s closer than you’ll get to them anywhere else. On Thursday I took my Dad for his 80th birthday, he has been a lifelong McLaren fan and the team very kindly let him into their area to take some pictures with the cars, this is what makes Goodwood special.DSC00632 DSC00654 DSC00657 DSC00697

The cricket pitch had been transformed to a strip of desert with some of the greatest land speed cars, the great scene setting was helped by the blazing sun.DSC01425On Friday afternoon we made it up to the top of the hill to the rally stage, although rather dusty it was brilliant to see old and new rally cars being driven in anger.DSC00897 DSC00898 DSC00926 DSC00944

We had a day at home on Saturday but popped down in the evening to see the Ball Fireworks. Always spectacular, they fill the sky and following an amazing show with acrobats, water fountains, motorbikes and this year a McLaren car to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the event. DSC01099 DSC01130 DSC01140 DSC01145 DSC01155 DSC01183

There are loads of stalls, food and major car manufacturers there but I have to praise Ford for a fantastic stand. A ‘scaffold’ tower displaying their new cars with a roof complete with deckchairs for viewing and complimentary photographs and most welcome in the heat, an endless supply of orange lollies, we managed to be at the top for both the Red Arrows Display on Friday and the Eurofighter Typhoon on Sunday as well as watching the twenty years parade go up the hill.DSC00711DSC00822 DSC00832 DSC00858 DSC00863 DSC00876DSC01475DSC01480DSC01363DSC01367 DSC01368 DSC01370 DSC01385 DSC01400 DSC01401 DSC01406 - Version 2In all it was a relaxed and social weekend, meeting up with lots of friends while being surrounded by some of the world’s most extraordinary vehicles. The weekend finished with the prize giving when Lord March was joined on stage by some of motorsports greats – Sir Stirling Moss, Jochen Mass, Derek Bell, Jackie Ickx, Damon Hill, John Surtees, Emerson Fittipaldi, Kevin Schwantz, Emanuele Pirro, Dougie Lampkin and Peter Fonda. Afterwards we were treated to a set played by the Eagles lead guitarist Don Felder who had performed at the ball the previous night, a great end to a fabulous weekend – sipping champagne in the evening sunshine listening to Hotel California! DSC01513 DSC01523 DSC01540 DSC01547 DSC01570