Is the Ford Capri the world’s finest invention? Discuss. It’s unlikely ever to earn the halo status of a Ferrari 250 GTO, granted, but there’s something oddly uplifting about watching a phalanx of them bucking through Madgwick, the swift right-hander that opens the door to a lap of Goodwood. It was certainly enough to make spectators rise from their picnic blankets.
The Capris were engaging to behold rather than truly competitive during the Gerry Marshall Trophy, the Group 1 saloon race that headlined the second new-generation Goodwood Members’ Meeting (and the 73rd in all) on March 21/22. Nigel Garrett (Chevrolet Camaro) comfortably won the qualifying race, ahead of a crowd-pleasing tussle between David Clark’s Camaro and Nick Swift’s Mini 1275GT, and Garrett/Stuart Graham looked to have the main race in the bag, too. Then the safety car was deployed just as Graham was about to hand over – a fate that likewise befell the second-placed Rover SD1 of Tiff Needell/Peter Mallett. With the pits out of bounds, the leaders had to stay out while the field closed up and all advantage was eroded. Clark/Matt Neal came through to win, from Chris Ward/Chris Harris (SD1), Swift/Andrew Jordan and Garrett/Graham. The best Capri? Fifth, in the hands of Nicolas Minassian and Paul Pochciol.
There were one or two mutterings about crowd numbers rising at what is supposed to be a restricted gathering – some of the well-established Revival Meeting’s attractions, but without the crush – and indeed they had. Last year’s trial event did not sell out, but this one did: there were 30,000 attendees over two days and that will remain the cap. It’s true that the paddock area was busy, but if you wandered to Madgwick and beyond – towards the best viewing spots, far from the madding clamour – the audience soon thinned to almost grass-roots levels.
The racing was interspersed with high-speed demos, to which end the paddock was ripe with 1970s F1 cars, including Maki F101B (a static exhibit), Token RJ02, Trojan T103 and many other things to remind us that riveted aluminium created far more interesting shapes than any wind tunnel has yet devised. Recent F1 was represented on a smaller scale, with Anthony Davidson driving a 2013 Mercedes W04 against Jochen Mass (1971 300 SEL AMG) and Karl Wendlinger (2015 AMG GT S) in a two-lap handicap designed to provide a visible demonstration of F1’s performance credentials. It was an opportunity to see a last-generation F1 V8 up close, but also raised another question: which looked better, the W04 of two seasons past or the Shadow DN5 that Tony Southgate crafted 40 years ago? Bit of a one-sided beauty contest, that.
Goodwood has long been accused of prioritising entertainment over period realism, but there’s not much harm in that. Fifty years ago motor racing was an aesthetic treat, but not always terribly competitive. Goodwood meetings tend to be both.
Other highlights included Andrew Wilkinson’s Formula Junior victory (from 27th on the grid), James King (Chevron B17) beating Simon Armor (March 703) by 0.018sec in the 1.0-litre F3 race (after Armor’s last-gasp error at the chicane), a fine Sopwith Trophy duel between victor Andy Wallace (Jaguar MkI) and Richard Meins (Austin A40) and Shaun Lynn/Emanuele Pirro winning the into-the-dark Graham Hill Trophy.
Oh, and one-make races might not be appropriate at Goodwood, but the John Aldington Trophy (won by Andrew Jordan) illustrated what Porsche should do if it wants to improve its F1-supporting Supercup: run it for 1960s 911s.
Ticket prices might be on the high side, but the same is undeniably true of the racing’s quality. Simon Arron