Saturday morning, 7am. Goodwood is resplendent in sunshine as the early birds wander through the main gate. The pale blue banners embellished by ‘72’ are assiduously non-Revival spec, but the Sussex circuit’s defining spring signature awaits. Goodwood’s verges are awash in a sea of yellow.
Who else would invest more in daffodils than any other single ingredient for a race meeting ‘reboot’? “There are 300,000 bulbs,” Lord March says with a grin. “It’s all thanks to a Dutchman we know who sends me bulbs every year. They were all planted in just one night, by a machine he won’t let anyone see…”
The detail makes all the difference, and no one understands this better than the Earl of March and Kinrara. He was palpably nervous that Saturday, but didn’t need to be. The 72nd Members’ Meeting, 48 years after the 71st, was a monumental feat even by Goodwood’s high standards. We have a new favourite race meeting.
Not everything worked, though. As Simon Arron explains on page 145, the ticketing plan and exclusivity for Goodwood Road Racing Club members needs refining – largely because too few of them stumped up. Crowds roughly a quarter the size of Revival attendances were a big part of the charm, but we hear the meeting was a loss-maker. Knowing Lord March and his team, you can bet the 73rd won’t be.
The Group B rally sprint and high-speed demos of 1980s turbo F1 cars and Le Mans prototypes offered fresh flavours beyond the usual pre-66 palates. All looked fabulous in the paddock, and on track too. But they also lacked vim. No one expected a repeat of Nelson Piquet’s near-mythical sub-minute lap, allegedly set in a Brabham during Goodwood’s ‘lost years’ of the ’80s. But the runs behind Ferrari F40 pace cars were muted to the point of… well, pointlessness. A good idea, but a rethink is required next time.
Yes, we demand a next time, for the simple reason that the racing was so damned good. Classes familiar to Revival crowds congregated for the two-day ‘clubbie’, but with top billing going to the out-of-period Group 1 saloons of the 1970s and 1980s. It was like a multi-coloured episode of The Sweeney mixed with The Professionals, as Stuart Graham stormed Sunday’s second instalment of the suitably titled Gerry Marshall Trophy. Back in a Brut 33 Camaro, Graham looked set for victory until he missed the pit ‘window’ to hand over to team-mate Nigel Garrett. “I think it’s what they call a ‘strategy error’,” he said with a blush. Still, he’d looked great out there.
Chris Ward, supported by Andrew Smith on Sunday, thus scored a Marshall double. Smith later added his own personal pair by seeing off Gary Pearson in the Salvadori Cup finale – but only just. The battling Lister Knobblies almost provided the best race of the meeting, but the dusk-into-darkness Moss Trophy had already claimed that title on Saturday evening.
This was as good as any Revival TT Recreation. Rob Hall led initially in the Ferrari ‘Breadvan’ from Jackie Oliver’s 250GT (bright yellow blending nicely into the daffodils). But when Oliver punctured and the ‘Breadvan’ faded after the driver changes, Simon Hadfield came to the fore in Wolfgang Friedrichs’ Aston Martin DB4GT. Then as darkness fell and headlights blazed on the last day of winter, another less familiar ‘Breadvan’ loomed in his mirrors…
Twyman Racing had only just completed its recreation of the lesser-known Lotus 11 low-drag coupé, but the odd little car, driven by Joe Twyman and Oliver Bryant, stole the meeting. Bryant lacked the oomph of Hadfield’s Aston, but harried last year’s TT winner all the way to the flag. The spectacle was up there with the best of this ‘modern’ Goodwood era.
The sight of 25 pre-war Bugattis was another highlight on Sunday afternoon as Type 35Bs and Cs twirled among 37s, 51s and a particularly rapid 59/50B III driven splendidly by Tom Dark. Chris Goodwin dominated a lively Surtees Trophy for Can-Am sports racers in his vibrant McLaren M1B, while Gary Pearson (BRM P25) snatched the Brabham Trophy for 1950s F1s after Roger Wills’ Cooper broke its gearbox in the dying minutes. He’d been lucky this time, but Goodwood isn’t quite Goodwood without a Pearson win.
Then again, these meetings are about so much more than race results. Nick Swift’s mighty Mini antics were show-stealers. His Richard Longman-esque 1275GT nipped away at the Rovers and Capris in the Marshall Trophy races, while his Cooper S (admittedly a runaway winner in the Sears Trophy) just made everyone smile each time he flung it around Madgwick.
There were fewer ‘superstars’ than at the Revival, although modern GT heroes Darren Turner and Oliver Gavin revelled in the mix of machinery. Forget smiles, Darren had us in giggles as he squirted around Madgwick without a lift in the tiny, eponymous Turner Mk1 he’d prepared for the occasion. Such feats captured the true spirit of the 72nd Members’ Meeting. Damien Smith
Strangers in the night
Ed Foster reflects on his Goodwood circuit baptism… or at least what he could see of it
When you don’t know a circuit, you try to absorb as much information as possible before leaving the pitlane. The best advice I received before racing an MGB in the Moss Trophy at the 72nd Members’ Meeting came from five-time Le Mans winner Emanuele Pirro. “Enjoy every metre,” he said, “because racing at Goodwood is such an honour.”
Many times I’ve watched from the sidelines at the Revival, and many times I’d wondered what it would be like to compete at the track. It was as expected in some senses, but not in others. It was as exciting and exhilarating as I’d imagined, but even more of a challenge.
First of all the circuit is very fast. It’s also more technical than some appreciate – and it has to be borne in mind that the MGB belonged to my managing director’s husband. “Just keep turning right, you’ll be fine,” was the advice from one member of the Motor Sport editorial team. Thank you for that, Simon Arron.
There was no way I was going to get down to a competitive time during seven qualifying laps and then a half-hour stint in the race. Plus, it was dark by the time my race stint began (and besides, I’m never all that quick in the first place).
As Pirro mentioned, however, it didn’t matter. We finished 15th out of 30, so were perfectly respectable, especially when you looked at some of the exotica on the grid in the shape of Ferrari 250GT SWBs, Jaguar E-types and Aston Martin DB4GTs.
The challenge of trying to find braking points in the dark is something I’ve never come up against (I did the Citroën 2CV 24 Hours many years ago, but they don’t really require braking points). It was racing in the dark that I will remember the most fondly. That, and realising that Pirro is as wise as he is quick.
My thanks to Paul Latimer for letting me loose in such a forgiving and enjoyable car at a wonderful meeting.