FEB 24th 2015

On track Today: 73rd Members' Meeting testing

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As of today our feverish anticipation of the 73rd Member’s Meeting is off the scale. Just a small representation of the cars that will be here in a few weeks time turned up today for a testing session, and as a result we’re all wearing ear-to-ear grins.

The beauty of the GRR office is that we’re less than 100 yards away from the start-finish straight. As a result, our early-morning cups of tea today were accompanied by a noise-testing session consisting of big V8s, singing sixes and screaming fours. Something about that cacophony just tells you that it’s going to be a beautiful day. It was, too.

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Once there had been a couple of sessions to scrub tyres and get generally dialled-in, we ventured out to the paddock to get a closer look and renew some acquaintances. Shortly after spotting Nigel Garrett’s Chevrolet Camaro, which served up some epic action in the second of last year’s Gerry Marshall Trophy races, with Stuart Graham sharing pedaling duties. ‘We’re busy working on the setup today’ Nigel tells us. Asked how well the big V8 is running he replies ‘Very well. That’s why we have to do so much setup work… to get all that power down!’

Making a not-dissimilar din to the Chevy was Anthony Schrauwen in his gorgeous Lotus 30 with its Ford V8. A notoriously tricky car to drive, we asked Anthony what it was like to pilot around Goodwood. ‘In a word? Dangerous…’ he says with a wry grin. Elsewhere former BTCC champion Andrew Jordan stands with his father Mike and Mini superstar Nick Swift, whose antics at the Revival we shared recently. Jordan has made no secret of his love for Goodwood and will be one to watch in the Gerry Marshall Trophy races, despite the Mini’s relative lack of grunt.

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It was good to see Goodwood regular Graham Robson back again in a very pretty 1959 ‘Frogeye’ Sprite Sebring, although we were expecting him to turn up in his WSM.’Well yes, this is actually my son’s car!’ he confesses. ‘We started up the WSM and thought we heard an ominous sound from the engine, so we’ve left it at home and brought the Sprite out for a play.’ Hopefully we can get a closer look of the WSM at the next testing session on the 10th March.

Historic Automobiles was present with British GT champion Marco Attard’s stunning 1963 Corvette, with professional BMW racer Alex Sims sharing the driving. After his first session on a still-drying Goodwood circuit he hopped out of the car with the grin of a madman who’s just won the lottery rollover and been told to spend it all in three hours. ‘There’s a lot of unnerving sidewall movement in the tyres. It’s never really in a straight line’ he laughs. ‘It’s such great fun! Very torquey. There’s generally a lot going on all the time with it all the time.’

Another man enjoying grappling with a surplus of torque and power was Tony Sinclair in the Lola T70 Spyder. Raced in period by John Surtees and Sir Jackie Stewart (Mario Andretti was down to race it, but stuffed it in practice!) Recently acquired by Grant Reid, Jade Motorsport had the honour of bringing it along. We had a stack of questions to ask them, but alas they had very few answers. ‘It’s the first time we’ve run it!’ they admit. A shame, because this thing was flying. Might it concern McLaren Chief Test Driver Chris Goodwin, who dominated the Whitsun Trophy race at the Revival in his McLaren M1B?  

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Elsewhere there were MGs, a couple of Porsche 911s getting in some track time ahead of the Aldington Trophy race, a menacing GT350 Shelby Mustang, a Rover SD1, a brace of rasping Capris, and… a member of Take That rubbing shoulders with our very own Chris Harris. You can see what that was all about here.

With the light slowly fading and the temperature dropping from ‘chilly’ to ‘brass monkeys’, all the toys were put away and our first fast and loud day of the year at the circuit was over. Roll on the 10th March and the second day of testing for the 73rd Members’ Meeting. 

Look out for a full gallery of today’s goings-on tomorrow.

Photography: Nicole Hains

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