At the entrance to Goodwood Motor Circuit, the towering blue Goodwood flags rippled gently in the calm breeze of an April morning and the crisp spring air carrying the remnants of morning frost departed under the warming rays of light from an emergent sun. Whilst the forecast of an overwhelmingly positive weather in West Sussex is never a dead cert, the forecast for a weekend of scintillating historic racing around the 2.36 mile circuit had been on the cards ever since the chequered flag fell on the last race in autumn.
Whilst not strictly the first historic event on British soil in 2022 (the HSCC ran at Brands Hatch the previous weekend), the Member’s Meeting was for many, the first chance to spectate and compete of the year. Once through the gate, crossing over the track to the paddock, the first sight to greet you is a line of Porsche 956s and 962s sitting ominously underneath the bold Goodwood Motor Circuit signage.
Far from a mere ornamental display, these cars were waiting for their chance to attack the track, to the delight of every soul at the circuit, as one of the hotly anticipated demo sessions to accompany the racing.
The Member’s Meeting offers a near unrivalled opportunity for spectators to keenly admire and drool over the superb array of collected machinery in a wonderfully unrestricted and inclusive fashion. It’s often cited by racing fans as one of the most approachable and welcoming events in the calendar.
For many, the chance to see a Ferrari 250 LM being fettled to your right, as the final preparatory touches are being made to an Alfa Romeo 8C on your left, with the piercing snarl of a Jordan Peugeot V10 being warmed in the distance, offers a banquet of sensory experiences that you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the world.
Saturday morning gave track time to most of the grids with glorious springtime sunshine beating down on the circuit, offering optimum driving conditions and a sensational contrast of colours against which to view the on-track action. It was a chance for the drivers to assess their performance and test out the limits of both man and machine.
Moving away from the pit area, to the lesser visited back half of the circuit, the crowds noticeably thinned out, offering moments where you could stand alone, serenaded by the symphony of engine notes at full chat as rev limiters got challenged on the fast-flowing Goodwood circuit.
Ignition GP Delivers a Banquet of Formula One Nostalgia
One of the eagerly anticipated highlights of the weekend was the presence of Ignition GP, a collaboration between Supercar Driver and ex-F1 driver Jonathan Kennard.
Assembling a collection of some of the finest Formula One cars from 1989 through to 1997, two demo sessions over the weekend left fans with a not inconsiderable assault on the ears, as a superb variety of cars from this period tore around the circuit, the scream of high-revving V10 engines leaving many to recall this stupendous era of top level Grand Prix racing.
The afternoon saw the commencement of the initial races, as firstly the Hailwood Trophy, combined with the Sheene trophy, saw a superb collection of Formula 750 and 250cc & 350cc Grand Prix motorcycles take to the track for the first of their two races of the weekend.
Levi Day took the first honours of the weekend on a Yamaha TZ350G, with a narrow margin over the chasing pack of Dan Jackson, Richard Wilson, and Andy Hornby, all crossing the line within a second of the leader.
The first of the legendary Gerry Marshall Trophy races was eventually won quite comfortably by the Chevrolet Camaro Z28 of Jack Tetley and Alex Buncombe, after a mid-race safety car was brought out in the middle of the pitstop window after an unfortunate accident on pit entry between the Rover SD1 and a Ford Escort RS2000.
Porsche 956 & 962s Provide a Taste of the Spirit of Le Mans
As the light of the day faded, one of the most remarkable and undeniably staggering sights of the whole weekend took shape. With barely a cloud in the sky, a dusky orange orb dropped towards the horizon, coinciding with a raft of some of the most dominant sports cars of all time filtering out from the pits to form on the grid.
A short interlude allowed the spectators to amass upon the track, immersing themselves in the atmospheric and evocative presence of these Le Mans-conquering beasts. With a golden glow in the air, Goodwood was then treated to a staggering demonstration with a good number of laps, allowing these cars to evoke the spirit of Le Mans in the West Sussex evening air. Many a spine tingled, and many goosebumps formed as these spectacular cars painted a vision of endurance racing that shall forever be etched in the minds of those lucky enough to witness it.
Arriving at Goodwood on Sunday morning, the early morning light illuminated the shimmer of frost that had formed on any exposed bodywork in the paddock. The cold spring night (I can vouch for this after spending the night in a tent) allowed a crystalline clarity in the air, interrupted only by the palpable sense of anticipation of an enthralling day of historic motorsport.
No less than eleven races graced the Sunday timetable; a smorgasbord of nose-to-tail racing and achingly beautiful cars, from the two cylinders of a Saab 93b, through to the snarling V12 of the impossibly spectacular Ferrari 250 GTO ‘64. As is customary at Goodwood, the racing covers cars from the roaring twenties, right through to the touring saloons of the early eighties.
The AFP Fane Trophy for pre-war chain driven Frazer Nashes was marred by an unfortunate accident that saw the driver airlifted to Southampton Hospital. Other battles raged throughout the day, with the Surtees Trophy for sports racing prototypes offering some of the most dramatic and nail biting racing of the weekend.
A front row grid of Ford GT40s lined up, as the Chevrolet engined Lolas, which set the quickest pace in qualifying, were dropped down the grid, due to their non-compliance with the technical regulations set out for this plateau. This made for a quite incredible race, with the Fords losing ground to the power of the Lolas and McLaren M1As.
Until the fall of the chequered flag, the result was never to be assumed, as the Lola of Oliver Bryant and the McLaren of Rob Hall diced and duelled lap after lap. Bryant made an incredible last lap pass to bring the Lola T70 Spyder home a mere 0.4s ahead of Hall in the McLaren.
As always, Goodwood delivers historic motorsport that oozes style and grace in a seemingly effortless fashion. It’s truly a sensational blend of iconic cars, period grace, and a roster of drivers from the highest racing pedigrees.
It’s a place to create memories, and for those in attendance lucky enough to have witnessed these cars in period, a time to evoke those memories, bringing them back to life with the same hard-fought heroics and superlative style that were witnessed on this circuit many years ago. As always, it’s a pleasure to be able to document the full blooded passion of the continued resurgence of historic racing.
My thanks go to Goodwood for their hospitality and the meticulous organisation that makes these events the lifeblood of classic motorsport.