GRR

Door to door action from the Gordon Spice Trophy at 80MM

15th April 2023
Adam Wilkins

The saloon car race at the 80th Members’ Meeting presented by Audrain Motorsport has been renamed the Gordon Spice Trophy in memory of the driver who died last September at the age of 81.

The shadows were lengthening as the springtime sun began to lower in the sky. The warm light was the perfect setting for heats one and two, the light glinting off the hard-charging pack of saloon cars dating from 1970 to 1982.

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Spice won his class in the British Saloon Car Championship for six consecutive years from 1975 to 1980, making his name forever synonymous with hard-fighting Ford Capris. He won close to half the races in that period, and that’s not to overlook his four class wins at Le Mans or his time as a team owner together with Ray Bellm.

At this weekend’s Members’ Meeting, a big field of historic saloon cars is split over two heats. The Capris that evoked memories of Spice battled the likes of Rover SD1s, Chevrolet Camaro Z28s and Ford Mustang Boss 302s. Not all the Capri’s rivals were powered by big-capacity V8s; wildcard entries include three-box saloons in the forms of a Volvo 242 T and BMW 530i.

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Smaller cars occupy Heat Two. Flyweight front-wheel-drive cars in the field include Minis, Volkswagen Golf GTIs, Ford Fiestas and MG Metros. They were up against cars that drive their rear wheels as diverse as Triumph Dolomite Sprints, a Vauxhall Magnum DTV and a screaming Mazda RX-7.

Over the two heats, the cars date from 1970 to 1982 and bring a range of liveries and a level of modernity that only comes to the Gooodwood Motor Circuit for the Members’ Meeting; unlike September’s Revival Meeting, there’s no 1966 cut-off this weekend.

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Some of the cars arrived at the grid for heat one were already somewhat battle-scarred from exploits in practice. Pole-sitter Jake Hill’s Ford Capri sported a rearranged front nearside corner after his qualifying off, the team having done sterling work to get the car on the grid. Oliver Hart’s Chevrolet Camera was also slightly crumpled. But the pace of neither was depleted, and they set off in thrillingly close battle.

Heat one was followed immediately by heat two, where the smaller saloon cars of the same era entered battle. What these cars lack in size they compensated with close racing, the first corner being claimed by the second-on-the-grid Mini 1275GT of Nick Swift, who was followed by two Volkswagens in Golf GTI and Scirocco form. Variety on the grid came via everything from Triumph Dolomite Sprints to a Mazda RX-7 via a Toyota Corolla. There was even a Mini Clubman Traveller...

It was a spectacular ending to the first day’s competitive outings, the one fixture of the day remaining the GT1 demonstration that ran into the sunset.

The 80th Members’ Meeting presented by Audrain Motorsport is live now! You can watch every second of the action right here on GRR.

Photography by Joe Harding, Pete Summers, Jochen van Cauwenberge and Toby Whales

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