WORDS: david lillywhite | PHOTOGRAPHY: goodwood
It should have been the 2020 season opener, but instead it became one of the last big events of 2021… And what a way to finish, as the 78th Goodwood Members’ Meeting came to a close.
The Members’ Meeting is significantly smaller and less crowded than September’s Revival meeting at the same venue, with tickets and even the live streaming available only to GRRC Members and Fellow. Before you assume that this makes the Members’ Meeting inaccessible, consider that you can become a Fellow for £43 a year – and that tickets forthe 2021 event were still available a week or so before the event.
The sideshows and theatre of the Revival are missing at the Members’ Meeting, but the Historic racing is just as varied and exciting, perhaps more so at times, helped along by a Who’s Who of top drivers. The breadth of cars is wider, too, not restricted by the Revival’s self-imposed 1966 cut-off and so including 1980s touring cars and demonstrations from much newer machinery, The highlight of those demonstrations was Bruno Senna, wearing a replica of his uncle Ayrton’s helmet, in the McLaren MP4/6 – the last V12, manual car to win an F1 championship in Senna senior’s hands. Utterly spine tingling.
The machines of sponsor McLaren took a starring role as track cars, while the Gordon Murray Automotive T.50 hypercar made its global dynamic debut with its naturally aspirated V12 screaming to 12,100rpm in the hands of IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti. At the other end of the age spectrum was the 1903 Mercedes 60hp in the SF Edge Trophy, a race that provided plenty of entertainment on a rain-soaked track. Check it out on YouTube! The sight of 14 Jaguar XJR-15s taking to the track at the same time was impressive, too.
As for the racing, there were the 1960s American muscle cars in the Pierpoint Cup, sliding and thundering their way around, with none other than 75-year-old Stig Blomqvist more than holding his own up front. Or you might have preferred the often homebuilt 500cc post-war F3 cars of the Don Parker Trophy, the 1970s and 1980s GP motorcycles in the Hailwood Trophy, the pre-war two-seater Grand Prix cars in the Earl Howe Trophy or the Gerry Marshall Trophy for 1970s and early 1980s saloon cars – which this year split into two classes for cars with engines smaller and larger than 2.8 litres, leading to a spectacular finale that saw Mini Clubmans and Ford Fiestas battling Chevrolet Camaros and Rover SD1s in the Sunday-evening sunshine.
Last year, Goodwood reacted to the pandemic with a no-spectator SpeedWeek broadcast from the circuit, in which rally cars played a starring role. They returned for the Goodwood Super Special on a tight and twisting course, using parts of the circuit and outfield to challenge a range of cars dating from the late 1970s to the early 2000s. The first of two timed runs took place on Saturday evening, spotlights blazing and exhausts flaming, while the decider was held on the sunny Sunday morning. Once again, Stig Blomqvist was one of the biggest crowd-pleasers, this time in the ex-Carlos Sainz Ford Escort Cosworth.
The Goodwood Members’ Meeting also features a curious school/Harry Potter-style off-track activity programme to contribute to the House Points Competition that runs throughout the weekend, including a tug-of-war, duck herding and axe throwing. It goes down well with suitably game families and perhaps bemuses others. But the real highlight away from the racing is the fantastically atmospheric Saturday-evening party in the infield, complete with stilt walkers, fire throwers and live music, followed by a spectacular firework finale. It makes for a tricky choice between Saturday and Sunday, because the Saturday morning is race qualifying while Sunday sees a full day of actual racing. The answer is obviously to do both days…
Next year’s Members’ Meeting takes place on April 9-10, 2022, the Festival of Speed on June 23-26 and the Goodwood Revival on September 16-18. Tickets go on sale on November 8, or November 1 for GRRC Fellowship members, from the Goodwood website.
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