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A cacophonous song of ice and fire at the 76th Goodwood Members’ Meeting

It would’ve taken more than sub-zero temperatures and a bit of snow to halt proceedings at last weekend’s 76th Goodwood Members’ Meeting. In fact, we think it was the most hot-blooded affair yet, further cementing the event’s place as a venerable historic season-opener. These were our highlights…

That’s the spirit

If foreign visitors to Goodwood ever needed an example of the hardy British ‘get on with it’ spirit, it was the 76th Members’ Meeting. An unfortunately timed return from the so-called ‘Beast from the East’ saw temperatures drop to freezing and intermittent snow showers fall throughout the weekend — less than ideal conditions for standing and watching, let alone actually racing. But race they did. If anything, the cold only thinned the already reduced Members’ Meeting crowds, which, when combined with a treacherously slippery track, afforded spectators a fantastic view of some of the finest racing we’ve ever seen at Goodwood.

Proving ground

Standout races among the usual world-class roster of historic grids included Sunday’s 45-minute, two-driver Moss Trophy for closed-cockpit 1960s GT cars. From the off, the 1st- and 2nd-placed Jaguar E-types of Phil Keen/Jon Minshaw and Rob Huff/Richard Meins fought valiantly both against each other and Emanuele Pirro and Lukas Halusa in the sensational Ferrari 250 GT ‘Breadvan’.

Of course, the real draw of the Members’ Meeting is that it’s not bound by the strict pre-1966 criteria of the Revival, meaning we get the rare opportunity to ogle more modern machinery in action on the historic circuit. Take the Gurney Cup for example, which was named after the late Dan Gurney and featured a diverse selection of cars from the great American driver and engineer’s résumé. While we’re accustomed to seeing thunderous Ford GT40s and early Can-Am McLarens at the Revival, it was such a treat to see them going toe-to-toe with later Porsche 906s and 910s. In a fitting tribute to Gurney, the victors, David Hart, Andrew Smith, and Olivier Hart, hosed each other with Champagne after the race.  

The spice of life

Other standout cars included the ex-Dickie Stoop Porsche 904, which we had the pleasure of poking around last week during a visit to Maxted-Page Ltd — you’re right, Lee, it does sound glorious on its open pipes. Coincidentally, the inaugural Ronnie Hoare Trophy, in which the car was competing, was won by fellow Classic Driver dealer James Cottingham of DK Engineering in another Porsche 904.

We also loved Christopher Mann’s 1928 Alfa Romeo 8C 2600 Monza in the hotly contested Caracciola Sportwagenrennen, resplendent in the French racing blue of Hellé Nice’s famous 8C, and the dinky little Austin Metro racing against V8 leviathans in the fan-favourite Gerry Marshall Trophy for colourful 1970s touring cars — a David versus Goliath affair, if ever we’ve seen one.

Fever pitch

Of course, racing is only half of the historic season-opener — the event is a place to socialise with friends, old and new, and to rub shoulders with your idols. “I always look forward to events such as these,” racing legend Jochen Mass told us. “I get to see a lot of people — drivers, mechanics, journalists, and photographers — who live all over the world but come together at Goodwood. It’s one of the great values of these events.”

Eagle-eyed spectators will have noticed the numerous cars and drivers’ crash helmets adorned with #Fever stickers, in tribute to commentator Henry Hope-Frost, who was tragically killed last week in a road accident. Affectionately known as ‘the voice of Goodwood’, Henry’s boundless knowledge and enthusiasm for ‘our’ sport was truly infectious. On Saturday, a ‘minute of noise’ was held in his honour, and standing in the assembly area as 30-odd Formula 5000 cars made the earth shake is something we know he would’ve cherished.

The show goes on...

You only have to look at the Governors’ car park to understand how special and diverse the Members’ Meeting truly is. Sure, there’s the usual raft of anonymous German saloons and, this being Goodwood, a plethora of (pleasingly filthy) Rolls-Royces. But at the 76th affair last weekend, Classic Driver dealer Gregor Fisken arrived in his Bentley 4½-Litre ‘daily driver’, while renowned Mustang specialist Bill Shepherd brought along his not-so-subtle Impala low rider, covered entirely in remarkably intricate pinstriping and fitted with a California license plate. A tangible sense of enthusiasm still pervades the crisp West Sussex air, which we hope to continue to ingest until the historic season is well and truly over.

Photos: Rémi Dargegen for Classic Driver © 2018

Classic Driver was reporting from the 76th Goodwood Members’ Meeting last weekend, kindly supported by IWC Schaffhausen. You can find all our coverage here.