The 74th Members’ Meeting, the third of the revived British Automobile Racing Club-organised gatherings, drew a breathtaking assortment of machinery, from 100-year-old aero-engined monsters to high-tech Super Touring-spec tin-top racers from the late-1990s, via early ’50s sports-racers, mid-’60s Formula 3 screamers, late-’70s F1 world-beaters, early-’80s production saloons and two-stroke bikes from three decades ago.
And those authentic and valuable props were put to very good use by a cast of hundreds, comprising everyone from the humble amateur to the multiple world-title-winning legend.
I once again had the immeasurable pleasure of wafting around – mostly in a daze – backstage, charged with sharing, via the FM radio waves and the big screens around the ‘theatre’, the aspirations and reactions of many of the stars – before, during and after the qualifying sessions, races and demonstrations. Every second armed with a mic and a cameraman in the pre-race assembly area, out on the grid, in the busy pitlane or in post-race parc fermé is precious, so choosing my favourite moments is tricky. Here, after much deliberation, are my 10 moments that made the 74th Members’ Meeting predictably unforgettable.
FLYING FINN UNLEASHES SILVER ARROW
Two-time F1 World Champion Mika Häkkinen was in a relaxed and jovial mood on his first visit to the Motor Circuit. McLaren’s flying Finn, who did the title double in 1998 and ’99, was strapped into the 2.5-litre, straight-eight Mercedes W196 used by Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio to such devastating effect in 1955 as he acknowledged the passion and enthusiasm of everyone involved in the event and recalled fondly his battles with Michael Schumacher during a career that netted 20 Grand Prix wins and those two drivers’ titles. He was backed up by Goodwood favourite and fellow F1 winner Jochen Mass in the 1954 ‘streamliner’ version of the car to create some magical demonstration lappery.
FORD GT40s DICE UNTIL DUSK
The sight and sound of almost 30 V8-powered Ford GT40s of mid-1960s vintage battling into the early evening made for a sensational finale to the opening day. Slugging it out for the inaugural Alan Mann Trophy took its toll on these super-fast, 50-year-old weapons, such that the order up front changed several times. In the end, it was a popular win for veteran touring car racer Steve Soper and former junior single-seater ace David Cuff, ahead of Tony Wood/Martin Stretton and Joaquin Folch-Rusinol/Simon Hadfield.
BTCC BATTLER CLELAND TELLS TALES
Sticking a mic and a camera in double British Touring Car Champion John Cleland’s direction always makes for a full, frank and funny broadcast, so when the Scottish veteran was spotted leaning on his 1998 race-winning Vauxhall Vectra Super Tourer ahead of Saturday’s high-speed demonstration I pounced. And, of course, John didn’t disappoint. He recalled fondly the boom – great battles between numerous marques and their household-name drivers – and reflected on the bust – the crazy spending war that caused the category’s spectacular decline in 2000. Cleland put his considerable skill, experience and no-nonsense approach to good use as Driving Standards Advisor, too, so he was a busy boy last weekend.
FRANCHITTI ON HIS FUN ABOARD FABLED LOTUS
Three Indianapolis 500 wins and four IndyCar Series titles haven’t in any way spoiled Dario Franchitti. The Scot is a true petrolhead with a keen eye and ear for motorsport history and the cars and heroes who shaped it before he was even born. And that attitude, despite his status and the trappings of success, makes him one of us. His face as the 1970s F1 cars and the 5-litre sports-prototypes were rolled into the assembly area was a picture. On hand to front the ITV coverage of the event alongside Nikki Shields, he also got to sample the unique, twin-chassis Lotus 88B of 1981 and revelled in the wail of the Cosworth DFV-powered machine as he gave it a good airing. Needless to say, he was like a child armed with extra pocket money for the trip to the sweet shop.
FLAT-12 FEVER, PORSCHE STYLE
Unless you’re old enough to have witnessed the half-dozen Porsche 917Ks in action at the Brands Hatch 1,000km in April 1971, you’re highly unlikely to have seen so many of the exquisitely menacing German racers in one place on British soil. The wide-eyed, open-mouthed reaction of all who saw the 250mph projectiles, in Gulf, Salzburg, Martini, Piper Green and ‘psychedelic’ liveries, in the paddock or on the track, was the perfect reward for the months of work needed to get them to Goodwood. And with period aces Derek Bell and Richard Attwood on hand to be reunited with cars in which they achieved big success almost half a century ago only added to the occasion.
WOOLMER SLIDES HIS WAY TO PETER COLLINS PODIUM
Young Richard Woolmer didn’t let a qualifying misfire that relegated his HWM-Cadillac to 24th on the grid deter him when it came to the Peter Collins Trophy for drum-brakes sportscars of the late-1940s and early-’50s on Sunday afternoon. Misfire cured, he took off like a scalded cat and charged through the order to join the lead battle between Sam Hancock’s pole-sitting Cunningham C4R and Steve Boultbee Brooks’s Aston Martin DB3S. Despite his tender years, he slid the big machine around, saving several lock-stop moments and the odd grassy excursion to finish on the podium, after deciding to settle for third after a ‘massive save’ heading into St Mary’s. One of the drives of the meeting, I reckon.
PORSCHE HERO BELL WINDS BACK THE CLOCK TO 1971
For pinch-me moments, the sight of Derek Bell, resplendent in Gulf overalls, alighting from a similarly coloured Porsche 917 during the 5-litre sportscar demonstration takes some beating. Unashamedly one of my childhood heroes, Bell saw me, smiled and came over for a moment on camera. Cue amusing banter on the big screens and on the live stream all around the world about the beauty, the speed, the danger and the success. Despite having known Derek for a good few years, and interviewed him many times, I felt compelled this time to apologise to the great man for my gibbering-idiot condition. It was one of those moments, not helped in any way by his recalling taking pole for the 1971 1000km at the old, eight-mile Spa at an average of 160.9mph. Too cool for any more words.
SHELBY DAYTONA COBRAS DANCE TO GRAHAM HILL ONE-TWO
Once second-fastest qualifier Bradley Ellis, in Chris Scragg’s semi-lightweight Jaguar E-type, had ruled himself out of the action by getting pushed wide at the first corner of the Graham Hill Trophy for 1960s big-banger GTs, it was left to pole-man James Cottingham and third-fastest qualifier Andrew Smith to slug it out in their Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupés for Graham Hill Trophy honours. The American muscle cars bucked and weaved their way round in formation, Smith looking for a way past on a couple of occasions but settling for second behind his friend and Scuderia Bear Ford GT40 team-mate Cottingham. Formation drifting in handsome machines with more power than grip ticks a box for most people, including me.
EDWARDIAN EXCELLENCE ON GOODWOOD DEBUT
Built many decades before the asphalt around RAF Westhampnett became the Goodwood Motor Circuit, the incredible collection of Edwardian steeds that assembled for the S.F. Edge Trophy had to be seen – and heard – to be believed. Countless shapes, ages and power choices combined to create a fascinating contest in which the leading players sawed at their wheels while dancing on their throttles. And the scrap for honours between category pioneer Duncan Pittaway (remember his fire-breathing Fiat S76 at last year’s Festival of Speed?!) in his diminutive 1921 GN Curtiss, the hugely original 100-year-old Sunbeam Indianapolis of Julian Majzub and the 1923 V12-engined Delage DH of Argentinian youngster Mathias Sielecki was spellbinding. Pittaway took the honours and was thrilled that what at first seemed to be a crazy idea had been pulled off in spectacular fashion.
TWO-STROKE LEATHER-CLAD LOONS STAR
The air was thick with the (un)familiar aroma of highly tuned two-stroke engines and the large crowd covered in a blue haze of smoke as 27 1970s and ’80s 250cc and 350cc Grand Prix bikes, all in their original liveries, took to the circuit for the Hailwood Trophy. The hordes of Yamahas, including Maxton, Harris and Spondon derivatives, were joined by a sole Bimota Rhingini and a Harley Davidson RR250 for that perfect period look – and smell! Poleman Mike Russell, a familiar name from Barry Sheene Memorial Trophy races at the Revival, slipped down the order early on, leaving 1994 British Superbike Champion Ian Simpson to take the spoils on his Harris Yamaha TZG. An overwhelming success, with reliability to match, the Hailwood Trophy is set to become a regular Members’ Meeting fixture. And you won’t hear any complaints about that.