WORDS: ELLIOTT HUGHES | PHOTOGRAPHY: GOODWOOD
The special 80th edition of the Members’ Meeting – a favourite with Goodwood regulars – got underway in mostly springtime sunshine on April 15-16, 2023.
The historic motor circuit, which celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2023, was inundated with fire-breathing GT1 Le Mans machines, legendary Porsches, recalcitrant pre-war challengers and frenetic saloon racers and prototypes from the 1960s and ‘70s. Goodwood also celebrates 30 years of the Festival of Speed and 25 years of the Revival and GRRC this year, so the estate chose to honour its own anniversaries by commemorating a host of other automotive milestones on the Members’ Meeting timetable.
The 60th anniversary of the legendary Lotus Cortina was marked with the return of the Jim Clark Trophy, in which a record-breaking 30-car field of Mk1 Lotus Cortinas duelled in a fierce 45-minute, two-driver contest on Sunday afternoon.
Inhabiting the packed grid were some of the biggest names in motor sport, including nine-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen, three-time Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti and BTCC champions Matt Neal, Andrew Jordan and Gordon Shedden.
Legendary designer Gordon Murray freely admits that he’s a huge admirer of his late compatriot Colin Chapman and his philosophy of ‘adding lightness’. It’s fitting, therefore, that the 60th anniversary of Chapman’s tweaked Cortina coincided with the public unveiling of Murray’s all-new GMA T.33 Spider hypercar.
Finished in an eye-catching hue of electric blue, the GMA T.33 looked stunning, and consistently attracted throngs of admirers across the weekend, as did the fleet of T.50s assembled line abreast in the paddock area. The T.50 display charted the evolution of Murray’s first eponymous hypercar, from ‘George’, a curious test mule fashioned from an Ultima track car, to the clean and immaculately finished production-spec car. Several were fired up simultaneously, to the delight of onlookers.
Another car designed from the pen of Gordon Murray was the beautiful Parmalat-liveried Brabham BT52, which was reunited with Riccardo Patrese for an on-track demonstration to mark 30 years since the race-winning machine campaigned in Formula 1.
From the baritone roar of the Corvettes to the falsetto V12 scream of the Ferrari 550s, the GT1 demonstration transported onlookers back to the sights and sounds of La Sarthe’s grandstands in the early ‘00s.
The deafening 25-car line-up was a fitting nod to the 100th anniversary of Le Mans, and saw several period-correct drivers reunited with machines they campaigned in the prestigious race. Highlights included seeing Darren Turner return to the cockpit of his ‘009’ Aston Martin DBR9, Benoît Tréluyer in the PlayStation-liveried Chrysler Viper GTS-R and Johnny Mowlem in the Saleen S7-R.
Two of the most successful marques to race at Le Mans – Bentley and Porsche – were honoured with their own demo runs. The 75th anniversary of Porsche and 60th anniversary of the 911 were marked with demonstration runs conducted by 20 of the most important race cars the company has ever produced.
Composed of competition 911s built between 1973 and 1998, the line-up was bookended by legendary machines: the 1973 Targa Florio-winning Carrera RSR and the iconic 911 GT1 that won Le Mans outright in 1998. A personal favourite of Magneto, though, was the Martini-liveried 935 ‘Moby Dick’, so called because of its cartoonishly distended bodywork.
Bentley, on the other hand, celebrated 20 years since its last overall victory at La Sarthe by reuniting Tom Kristensen with the Speed 8 LMP1 car he used to take the fifth of his nine Le Mans victories. The lithe number-seven Bentley finished in British Racing Green was joined on-track by a new special-edition version of the marque’s Continental road car finished in the same livery as the ’03 Le Mans winner.
The Bentley Speed 8 attracted plenty of attention in the paddock throughout the weekend, and was joined by its mythical ancestor – the 4½ Litre Blower that original Bentley Boy Sir Tim Birkin raced at Le Mans in 1930.
An established Members’ Meeting highlight, the SF Edge Trophy for racing cars from the Edwardian era, made a welcome return this year. Named in honour of the moustachioed motor sport pioneer Selwyn F Edge, the race was open to cars that were at least 100 years old, and ran over two five-lap sprints.
The SF Edge grid was just as diverse as you’d expect, and highlights included Duncan Pittaway’s gargantuan 1911 Fiat S76 – also known as the Beast of Turin – as well as the record-breaking 21.5-litre Benz 200hp and the 1916 Sunbeam Grand Prix car that finished fourth place in the sixth edition of the Indy 500.
Perhaps the only competitors rivalling the bravery of those on the SF Edge race card were the riders of vintage motorcycles in the Hailwood Trophy. Open to 250cc and 350cc two-stroke Grand Prix and Formula 750 bikes that competed up to 1983, the Hailwood Trophy was dominated by Yamaha TZ350 variants, which took all three podium positions. Stunt rider Dan Jackson claimed victory on his Harris Yamaha TZ350 ahead of the TZ350Gs of Dan Cooper and Scott Carson.
What makes the Members’ Meeting such an anticipated event for many, however, is that its entry requirements allow more contemporary cars to compete. A key example of this is what was formerly known as the Gerry Marshall Trophy for Group 1 saloons that raced between 1970 and 1982.
Now renamed the Gordon Spice Trophy after the late British Touring Car ace, the promise of fierce wheel-to-wheel racing between iconic models including Capris, Mustangs, Camaros, Rover SD1s and Minis remains the same. Two 20-minute heats on Saturday afternoon preceded the grand finale of Sunday’s race schedule.
The Gordon Spice Trophy final produced the most dramatic on-track incident of the weekend as the Z28 Camaros of Rob Huff and Jack Tetley battled for the lead on the final lap. Both men ended up on the grass after trying to outbrake one another into Woodcote, and a collision with the barrier saw Tetley dramatically roll his car onto its roof and Huff demoted to second as the Mustang Boss 302 of Fred Shepherd sneaked through to take the win.
It was the 45-minute, two-driver Gurney Cup that served as the other flagship race in this year’s Members’ Meeting. Open to sports prototypes that raced between 1960 and 1966, the Gurney Cup grid was composed of some of the fastest cars and drivers the event had to offer.
Attendees lined the circuit to find out whether the pack of nimble Chevrons and Lotuses were a match for the thunderous armada of Ford GT40s. In the end, it was Dario Franchitti and Shaun Lynn in a GT40 who sealed a convincing victory after a mistake from Gordon Shedden dropped his number 37 GT40 out of contention.
Away from the circuit, rare collector cars were going under the hammer in Bonhams’ auction on Sunday afternoon. Highlights included two of the most famous Works rally cars to compete in the Monte Carlo Rally: Richard Burns’ 1999 Subaru Impreza WRC99 and the 1963 Austin/Morris Mini Cooper S campaigned by Rauno Aaltonen. They sold for £448,500 ($557,853) and £143,750 ($178,799) respectively. Another headline-grabbing lot was the 1968 Series II Land Rover that was used as a ceremonial vehicle in HM Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee, which sold for £68,000 ($84,529).
On top of the special on-track demonstrations, thrilling racing and enticing collector-car auction, visitors were also treated to the event’s trademark firework display and party on Saturday night, as well as a fairground, live music, food stands and vendors.
The 81st Goodwood Members’ Meeting is scheduled for spring 2024. For ticket alerts and announcements, click here.