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81st Members’ Meeting kicks off 2024 Goodwood motor sport season

Words: Elliott Hughes | Photography: Goodwood

Goodwood launched its 2024 motor sport season with a spectacular springtime weekend of Historic racing, with the 81st Members’ Meeting on April 13-14.

The Goodwood Estate’s motor sport events in West Sussex, UK are renowned for attracting some of the world’s greatest cars and biggest names, and this year’s Members’ Meeting was no exception. Can-Am, the 60th anniversary of the Ford Mustang, historic Formula 1 cars, the 100th anniversary of the Bugatti Type 35 and a hair-raising sidecar spectacle took starring roles.

Further adding to the occasion was the fact that 2024 marks ten years since the Members’ Meeting was revived as one of Goodwood’s flagship events. The original series of meetings were held soon after the Goodwood Motor Circuit was first opened in 1948, before concluding in 1966. Back then, the events catered to members of the British Automobile Racing Club, and 71 Members’ Meetings were held during that timespan. 

The 81st Members’ Meeting more than lived up to expectations, with legendary cars, fantastic racing and a wonderful atmosphere in spring sunshine

The 81st Members’ Meeting more than lived up to expectations, with legendary cars, fantastic racing and a wonderful atmosphere in spring sunshine

The 60th anniversary of America’s totemic muscle car, the Ford Mustang, was marked with one of the biggest contests on the race card: the Ken Miles Cup. Naturally, this 45-minute, two-driver duel also boasted one of the event’s most illustrious driver line-ups, featuring names such as nine-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen, four-time IndyCar champ Dario Franchitti and 2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button, to name a few. 

Of the 30 cars on the grid, however, it was the number nine car of Darren Turner and Craig Davies that emerged victorious on Sunday afternoon, thundering across the line ahead of the number 10 of David Brabham and Alex Brundle and the number 66 of Rob Fenn and Jake Hill.

Goodwood’s on-track demonstration of the fearsome Can-Am machines was another boon for those with a penchant for the sound of all-American V8 engines. Sensory overload ensued when these monstrous machines rolled onto the circuit each day; spectators were seen covering their ears as the deafening cavalcade’s engines bellowed down the pit straight.

Highlights included a selection of menacing Shadow cars, whose black and white UOP liveries attracted throngs of admirers while parked dormant in the open paddock. McLaren was another marque that was well represented, with a smorgasbord of creations whose Papaya liveries and Chevrolet V8 engines added an abundance of sound and colour. Magneto’s personal favourites, though, were the pair of Porsche 917/30s.

Developed from the legendary 917 Le Mans racer, the 917/30 was one of the most powerful sports car racers ever created, thanks to a twin-turbocharged 5.4-litre flat-12 that developed over 1000bhp. A mere six such cars were built, so to see two of them driven at pace around Goodwood was nothing short of spectacular.

Porsche’s turbocharging know-how could also be heard when the 1984 McLaren MP4/2B seared out of the final chicane during its demonstration runs. Powered by a 1.5-litre TAG-Porsche V6, the Marlboro-livered F1 racer was driven by the late Niki Lauda in period, and it brought the late Austrian his third and final World Championship title.

Although nowhere near as successful in period, it was the screaming V12 of Gerhard Berger’s Ferrari 640 F1 car that left many spectators in awe. Lauda’s compatriot was reunited with his 1989 challenger at Goodwood, and looked right at home as he hustled the scarlet red Ferrari through Fordwater at high speed.

The Members’ Meeting also put a spotlight on Grand Prix racing’s romantic pre-war era. The 100th anniversary of the Bugatti Type 35 was marked with the return of the Grover-Williams Trophy. Fittingly, the Type 35s of Julian Majzub and Duncan Pittaway secured a one-two for the model, beating rivals from the likes of Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin and Talbot.

One of the most spectacular races of the weekend, however, saw even older Edwardian-era cars do battle in the popular SF Edge Trophy. Emblematic of these monstrous early 20th century pioneers was Duncan Pittaway’s 1911 Fiat S76 – better known as The Beast of Turin. Powered by a gargantuan 28-litre four-cylinder engine, The Beast came home in a respectable fifth place behind the winning 1916 Sunbeam Indianapolis, the 1905 Darracq 200hp and the 1907 Mercedes 120hp that made up the podium.

The cutting-edge supercars displayed by Gordon Murray’s GMA outfit demonstrated over 100 years of progress in automotive engineering, just a stone’s throw away from the pitlane. GMA’s return to the Members’ Meeting saw the dynamic debut of its T.50S race car, whose V12 screamed around the circuit in the capable hands of GMA development driver Dario Franchitti.

A similarly spine-tingling sound came from the machines doing battle in the new Sidecar Shootout. Many spectators agreed that the sidecar duos were the most daring competitors of the weekend, with riders and admirably bonkers passengers seen hanging onto their machines for dear life at well over 100mph in a bid to set the fastest times. 

Some respite from the breathtaking action was offered by the cars, bikes and automobilia for sale in Bonhams’ Members’ Meeting Sale. The most noteworthy result came from the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Crown Edition, which sold for £425,000, smashing its high pre-auction estimate of £300,000. You can find a full auction report here.

The 81st Members’ Meeting more than lived up to expectations, with legendary cars, fantastic racing and a wonderful atmosphere in the spring sunshine. Goodwood’s next major event begins in July, when the automotive fraternity will return to West Sussex for the Festival of Speed. We can’t wait!

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