The daffodils along the track bankings may have been past their prime but the 79th Goodwood Members’ Meeting was as bright and breezy as any I can remember. It helps that the event engenders a unique atmosphere of belonging and through a mix of proximity and informality recalls the intimacy between spectator and competitors that we read about in the history books (and occasionally in the pages of Motor Sport).
So, walk along the gravel pathways that criss-cross the infield and you pass a ruddy-faced Jochen Mass sporting a dapper blue-and-white striped boating blazer; to your right a crowd has gathered to inspect the display of Gordon Murray Design cars including the T.50 and all-new baby T.33, while the professor himself engages in conversation with fans talking them through the cars and posing for selfies.
Onwards towards the driver sign-on area and Tiff Needell in a racing suit brushes past you followed by Aston Martin development driver Darren Turner and a little later by a tweed-wearing Andrew Frankel en route to the Group C display to inspect the Porsche 962 he will be driving later that day. Marino Franchitti, enthusiastic as ever, chats knowledgeably about the 250 GTO he will be driving before a mass clicking of cameras alerts you to the approach of one-time drag racer Richard Hammond who appears and then disappears through the crowds…
On track the action was just as starry. Highlights for me were the Gerry Marshall Trophy with its rumbling 1970s Camaros, Mustangs, Rover SD1s and Capris piloted by the likes of Gordon Shedden, David Brabham and Matt Neal, not to mention the soon-to-be-retired Jason Plato. While at the other end of the scale the newly named Robert Brooks Trophy, in memory of the former Bonhams chairman who died last year, featured some wonderful nimble 2.5-litre Lolas, Elvas, Lotuses and Coopers.
“The 79th Members’ Meeting was as bright and breezy as any I can remember”
For sheer heart-in-the-mouth spectacle you need look no further than the Graham Hill Trophy, which saw Marino Franchitti going wheel to wheel with AC Cobras along the Lavant Straight in his father-in-law’s Ferrari 250 GTO as Lightweight E-types slide past… Meanwhile the demonstration runs involving V10 F1 cars (which were a little underwhelming) and the largest grid of Group C Porsches ever gathered since the cars competed in period (breathtaking) were, for me, the icing on the cake.
Sunday was marred by a nasty crash involving a Frazer Nash which required the driver to be airlifted to hospital. As we go to press we understand the driver is making good progress and send our good wishes.
I have heard that staff at Goodwood were surprised at how many people stepped in to help with donations during the pandemic. It was, readers of this magazine will remember, a time when the Duke of Richmond was forced to write to members and competitors asking them to join the Goodwood Supporters’ Association and give a donation to the track since all live events – the lifeblood of the racetrack – had been cancelled. Although there were murmurings of discontent from some quarters about it being a bit rich that the millionaire Duke of Richmond (537 in the 2020 Sunday Times Rich List) was asking for money, it seems that most people recognised the importance of Goodwood in the fabric of our racing history and were happy to help out.
Unlike, say, Silverstone or indeed any other major UK circuit, Goodwood has an emotional connection with the fans and competitors alike. Yes, the burgers are a bit on the expensive side, but people at the trackside feel as if simply by being there they are part of the story. It has become the spiritual home of motor sport in the UK.
Of course, it is hard to go to Goodwood in April without thinking of Stirling Moss. This year the Members’ Meeting took place just a few days before the anniversary of the great man’s death on April 12. It’s hard to believe that it has already been two years since he died. It is also of course the same time as his career-ending crash which took place on April 23, 60 years ago. I found myself pondering this as I gazed across the small airfield in the infield towards Fordwater watching some Austin-Healeys tussle it out in the distance along that sweeping bend. The circularity of life is a poignant thing and at places like Goodwood in springtime it
is particularly acute.
Tucked away on the outfield was the shopfront for an outfit called Auto Artists for Ukraine. Inside were a variety of works created and donated by 30 artists and photographers including luminaries such as Tim Layzell, Helen Stanley and Ella Friere. The initiative donates 100% of the proceeds of each sale to the Red Cross in order to help the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. It was sobering to see them there, as it was to see the blue and yellow flags of Ukraine fluttering in the breeze trackside.
The group has so far raised more than £45,000. Readers can support it further via autoartistsforukraine.com
Joe Dunn, editor
Follow Joe on Twitter @joedunn90