Members' Meeting history part 2 – Motor Racing for weekend warriors

16th March 2017
Marcus Pye

Future Formula 1 World Champions Mike Hawthorn, Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart, Grand Prix winners Tony Brooks and Innes Ireland, Le Mans 24 Hours victors Roy Salvadori, Richard Attwood and Derek Bell plus car marque founders Rodney Clarke (Connaught), Sydney Allard, John Cooper, Colin Chapman (Lotus), George Abecassis (HWM), Chris Lawrence (Deep-Sanderson), Alan Rees (Arrows), Hugh Dibley (Palliser), Roger Nathan (Costin-Nathan), Mark Konig (Nomad), Clarke Sturdgess and Andrew Mylius (Gropa) won races at BARC Members’ Meetings, but Goodwood’s second-tier events were about the clubman.


Unlike its well-attended and promoted international meetings – initially the Nine Hour and Tourist Trophy sportscar enduros, and Bank Holiday Monday fixtures – which attracted the world’s greatest drivers, the grassroots gatherings provided popular rendezvous for enthusiastic amateurs. Far from flash, and played out in front of small audiences of friends who typically turned up to support the weekend warriors, often in their competing cars, they comprised 71 of the 120 Goodwood events.

Early Members’ Meetings featured short, sharp, races over as little as three laps of the 2.4-mile former RAF Westhampnett perimeter track, sans chicane until 1952. Scratch race grids were drawn by ballot initially, a novice lane was marked on the pit straight and penalties were meted out for straying off course. While sometimes unavoidable, this rule was also a deterrent for the majority of entrants who had driven their steeds to West Sussex thus were reliant on them to return home.

The first Members’ Meeting, on August 13th, 1949 – less than a year after the Duke of Richmond and Gordon inaugurated the circuit – provided several interesting results which would resonate through Goodwood’s contemporary era and motor sport as a whole. The opening race was won by Len Gibbs in his nippy 1.1-litre Riley Nine. In March 1956, Len’s wife Bluebelle triumphed in a Ladies’ Handicap in an elderly 1.5-litre HRG. The garagistes continued to compete for many years. 

A double victor in the pioneering event – not that much fuss would have been made – was urbane insurance broker Eric Thompson in his HRG Lightweight. Within two years he had finished third in the Le Mans 24 Hours, partnering Lance Macklin in a factory Aston Martin DB2. Thompson contested the ’52 British GP for Connaught and won the second Goodwood Nine Hours in ’53, sharing a DB3S with Reg Parnell.


John Craig (Jaguar SS100), Rodney Clarke (Connaught L2), Essex MG guru Dick Jacobs (TA Special), Guy Jason-Henry in Rob Walker’s Delahaye, Sydney Allard piloting one of his eponymous confections and Christopher ‘Dickie’ Le Strange Metcalfe in his little Fiat Ballila 508S also won nearly 68 years ago. Splendidly, Brooklands veteran and wartime M15 agent Metcalfe is immortalised in motor sport history as winner of Goodwood’s period race in Lola Mk1 BR-32 on July 2nd, 1966. Maybe the handicappers smiled upon him, but the charming flat-capped elder was still enjoying a McLaren-bodied Lotus 23C in the late ’70s.

Mike Hawthorn sprang to onlookers’ attention in June 1951, bagging a brace of wins at the 6th MM in a Riley TT Sprite. Resultant drives in Bob Chase’s Cooper-Bristol catapulted the dashing blond Surrey man to Grand Prix stardom. Roy Salvadori (Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica) and Tony Brooks (driving his mother’s Healey Silverstone) made the 9th MM a standout, before graduating to greater things.

The Lotus era started in 1953, with Colin Chapman’s victory in a MkVI. The swashbuckling engineer’s cars rapidly changed the face of club sport thereafter, 75 drivers scoring 129 wins at period Members’ Meetings, not to mention manifold achievements on the world stage.


Yet the commitment of the BARC – rooted in the Junior Car Club and Hugh Locke-King’s mighty Brooklands speedbowl before WW2 – remained focussed on its loyal members. Their annual subscriptions kept it afloat, and they turned out in their thousands to watch international stars race at Goodwood until the discontinuation of 1,500cc F1 in December ’65 signalled a sea change in the sport and the venue’s demise. 

No matter whether you entered a gruff Lago-Talbot T26 GP car, as local motor trader Ellis Cuff-Miller did, or the humblest saloon or sportscar, Goodwood and the BARC extended the same welcome. At the 27th MM of August 31st, 1957 for instance, Jon Goddard-Watts won a 350cc race in his 328cc Berkeley, beating eight sister cars and Peter Coleby in Rob Walker’s 293cc Goggomobil. The following season, Walker entered Coopers in World Championship events for Stirling Moss, winner of the 500cc race at Goodwood’s debut meeting in September ’48!

Owners of Austin-Healeys, MGs, Jaguars and Triumphs continued to win regularly at Members’ Meetings, to which single-seaters were admitted from the 32nd edition on September 27th, ’58. Tommy Bridger (Cooper-Norton Mk9) won the unique 500cc F3 event which opened that programme, starting a new vein of alumni on the roll of honour which would include the greatest of Scots, Clark and Stewart.


When Goodwood’s gates closed to racing – four weeks before the 1966 World Cup final – 590 Members’ Meeting races had been run. To Peter Pollard (Lotus Elan), Andrew Mylius (Fiat Abarth 1000), Clive Lacey (Brabham BT8), Stewart Hands (Austin-Healey 3000), Richard Cluley (Austin Cooper S), Brian Classick (Chevron) and Dickie Metcalfe fell the honour of victories at the end of an era.

Captain Michael Head – father of Williams technical guru Sir Patrick – in Cooper-Jaguar T49 and C-type, Morgan ace Chris Lawrence and ‘Doc’ Merfield (Ford Anglia, Lotus Cortina and 4.7 Cortina V8) were the MM maestros, with nine wins apiece. Innes Ireland, Bill de Selincourt and Chris Williams won seven times, with Metcalfe and Michael Taylor on six and Mike Beckwith, Tony Brooks, Cliff Davis, Jon Derisley, Hugh Dibley, David Eva, Keith Greene, Lacey and Boley Pittard on four.

Far from being an exclusive ‘gentlemen’s club,’ ladies competed successfully at Goodwood too. Following Mrs Gibbs’ lead, Nancy Binns (Riley Sprite), Jean Bloxam (Lotus-MG VIII), Hazel Dunham (MGA), Rosemary Massey (Jaguar XK150), Mary Morton (Austin-Healey 100), Stirling Moss’ sister Pat and secretary Val Pirie (in MG TF and Lotus Elan respectively), Lorna Doone Snow (Jaguar XK120) and Mary Wheeler (Triumph TR2) were all winners. 


Most win at Members' Meeting:

9          Michael HEAD, Chris LAWRENCE, Derek ‘Doc’ MERFIELD

7          Innes IRELAND, Bill de SELINCOURT, Chris WILLIAMS

6          Christopher ‘Dickie’ Le STRANGE METCALFE, Michael TAYLOR

5          Mike BECKWITH, Tony BROOKS, Cliff DAVIS, Jon DERISLEY, Hugh DIBLEY, David EVA, Keith GREENE, Clive LACEY, Boley PITTARD



Top 20 Marques by wins:

129      LOTUS

45        MG

35        JAGUAR


22        TRIUMPH

19        LOLA, MORGAN

18        FRAZER NASH

17        COOPER, FORD

14        RILEY

13        BRABHAM

12        AC, ASTON MARTIN

10        DRW, MORRIS

9          HWM

7          HEALEY

6          ALLARD

  • 75MM

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