The 74th Members’ Meeting fireworks started early today… in the section of paddock reserved for the amazing line-up of machinery competing in the S.F. Edge Trophy.
Bangs, pops, flames, sparks and smoke quickly made this a popular early Saturday morning centre of attention as hundreds of cameraphones were whipped out to catch the noisy excitement.
If these Brooklands-era racers were this rowdy standing still, what exactly can we expect when they take to the circuit in anger? That really will be fireworks…
The cars, a mix of pure-bred greats and aero-engined specials – and hardly any of them with front brakes – are completely new to Goodwood, although one of them has certainly been here before. That’s the 1923 Alfa Romeo Targa Florio which 55 years ago was a Goodwood course car. It is likely it hasn’t been back on the circuit since, its owner Christopher Mann tells us.
Is he looking forward to racing the Alfa? ‘I just hope it’s going to start, it’s 93 years old and entitled to be a bit temperamental.’ The omens are good, though, after a trouble-free drive to the circuit on Friday.
The Alfa raced in the 1924 Targa Florio and is of the type that Enzo Ferrari drove. ‘It is quite possible Ferrari drove this one,’ says Christopher, whose historic racing experience encompasses cars from ERAs to Talbot Lagos and Grand Prix cars.
Christopher uses the Alfa today mainly as a touring car – ‘it’ll do 75mph on the motorway which is fast enough’ – and it rarely gets raced. ‘With its 3-litre engine it’s a bit underpowered and the aero-engine brutes are going to show me a clean pair of heels for sure.’
It’s at times like that Christopher must wish he was in his grandfather’s old car. That was Mephistopheles, the last car to set the world land speed record on a public road!
Unlike the Alfa, Andrew Frankel’s 1922 Bentley TT has rear brakes only, and according to the GRR columnist they are not up to much. But he is very familiar with the car, which with a different body raced at Brooklands in 1921. Its body as shown is a re-creation of Bentley’s 1922 successful TT models.
Andrew tells us: ‘It’s technically road legal but really a pure race car, the Le Mans LMP1 car of its day. It’s got a 3-litre straight four with about 100bhp, no front brakes, pedals round the wrong way and you have to pump the fuel by hand.’ Good thing then he’s familiar with the Bentley after having raced it for the past 10 years.
How does it suit Goodwood?
‘It will be good because it likes high speed corners and the circuit is not too demanding on brakes.’ Andrew reckons he will use just three braking points ‘with a couple of lifts.’ Otherwise it’s flat out all the way. ‘The problem is it’s a 3-litre up against things with aeroplane engines in them…’
Andrew is promising to write about how he gets on for GRR after the weekend…
Is there a favourite for the race? That according to Ben Collings is Duncan Pittaway and the Curtiss-engined GN special. ‘Duncan is fearsomely fast and he has front brakes because he is a bit of a sissy,’ says Ben, who is driving Duncan’s other car in the S.F. Edge Trophy, the 1910 Monarch, also with a Curtiss aero engine aboard.
‘I have never driven the Monarch before and the quadrant gearchange takes a bit of getting used to, but otherwise it’s a very friendly car to drive,’ says Ben, who with his 10-year-old son drove the Monarch to Goodwood from Bristol.
‘We came on back roads and then the M27, and the car easily kept up with modern traffic. It’s good for 100mph but it was too cold to go fast…’
One thing for sure, it will be plenty hot enough when these cars take to the circuit in anger!
Photography by Pete Summers