Clubbed to deaf: The best of the 72nd Goodwood Members' Meeting
Between 1948 and 1966, the Members’ Meetings were held every few months, with the era’s finest drivers descending on Sussex for the benefit of British Automobile Racing Club members. This year, the limited-entry affair drew more than 20,000 spectators to the resurrected event – which several attendees likened to a ‘distilled crowd’ Revival meeting, along with the added bonus of more liberal racing categories, including those for post-1966 machines. Of these, the Longtail Le Mans cars, Group B rally monsters and Turbo F1 cars garnered most attention, the latter group particularly relevant with their modern-day descendants simultaneously in action in Malaysia.
While those categories were limited to sprints and demonstration outings, red-blooded racing was also on offer throughout the weekend. The Moss Trophy saw an epic battle, with the Ferrari 250 Breadvan taking a lengthy lead as expected, only to drop down the pack later in the race. This left the DK Engineering Jaguar E-type, Lotus Eleven Breadvan and Aston Martin DB4GT to fight for first, the Aston pipping the Lotus by a car length after a prolonged dogfight. The latter’s performance was particularly commendable, given its underdog status in the ‘Battle of the Breadvans’ as a result of a 50-year competition absence. Another fascinating tussle saw RM’s Max Girardo spin his increasingly pendulous Ferrari TdF on the final lap of the Tony Gaze Trophy, relinquishing first place to an AC Ace-Bristol that had, incidentally, also won at its last Members’ Meeting outing, back in the 1960s.
Sights, smells and sounds of rare machinery were prevalent across the motor circuit – thunderous American muscle vibrating your core, while the screaming V12 of the 1972 Le Mans-winning Matra-Simca MS670B went to work on your eardrums. Incidentally, the Members’ Meeting took up two of the five days this year during which the Goodwood circuit’s decibel limit is waived, the other three being the Revival. Other multi-sensory spectacles included Jochen Mass expertly dancing a Gullwing around the ultra-technical circuit, and Sir Stirling doing parade laps in the Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione in which he won five significant races in period.
Even safety a spectacle
Many Classic Driver affiliates were in action in some capacity or other, including JD Classics, William I’Anson, Desmond Smail and DK Engineering. The Cottingham family behind the latter not only raced a GT40 and an E-type, but also piloted the Ferrari F40 safety car duo that kept the demonstration-only classes from turning competitive. Indeed, the safety cars were an exhibition in themselves – only at Goodwood would an Aston DB5, a McLaren P1, a Jaguar XJS and a Bullitt Mustang be employed in such a role. As is traditional at Goodwood, there were plenty of forms of non-automotive entertainment – an aircraft hangar-turned-nightclub, a spectacular fireworks display and a Spitfire fly-by just a few examples. The question on the lips of the departing spectators on Sunday evening was a poignant one: how can Lord March possibly improve the 73rd Meeting? He’s managed during the last few decades with the Festival of Speed and the Revival, so it’s a question to which we're already looking forward to the answer.
Photos: Tim Brown