80th Goodwood Members’ Meeting

A great weekend of racing formed the perfect start of the eventful Goodwood season

In 2014, the Duke of Richmond revived the tradition of the period Members’ Meetings on the Goodwood Motor Circuit. When the track operated as a contemporary venue, from 1948 to 1966, it already hosted seventy-one editions for the members of the British Automobile Racing Club (BARC).

These Members’ Meetings were run alongside the higher profile events like the Nine Hour races, Tourist Trophy, and the Glover Trophy for Formula 1 cars. The 72nd Goodwood Members’ Meeting was also intended as a lower profile race weekend alongside the prestigious Revival Meeting. A set fixture on the calendar since then, the Members’ Meeting is now a highly anticipated event in its own right.

A subtle difference was that the 72nd Members’ Meeting was intended specifically for the members of the Goodwood Road Racing Club (GRRC). Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the GRRC was created in 1998 by the Duke of Richmond to help organize the inaugural Revival Meeting. Tickets were available exclusively to the GRRC members, which meant the event was much quieter and more intimate than the high-profile Revival and Festival of Speed held later in the year. Initially scheduled as a season curtain raiser in March, the event was moved up a month after snow lined the track during the 76th Members’ Meeting in 2018.

The Porsche 75th anniversary was celebrated with a demonstration run of 911-based competition cars.

Whereas the Revival has a strict cut-off date of 1966, the Members’ Meeting is not bound by these restrictions, which is much in the spirit of the first seventy-one editions. These were open to a large variety of machinery for the BARC members. Set fixtures of the revived Members’ Meeting have become the S.F. Edge Trophy for Edwardian behemoths and a race for 1970s and 1980s Group 1 touring cars. This was originally dubbed the Gerry Marshall Trophy but from this year’s 80th Members’ Meeting is known as the Gordon Spice Trophy. Spice was a seven-time British Touring Car Champion who had sadly passed away in September of 2021.

While the emphasis during the packed two-day event is on the racing, there was some track-time reserved for demonstration runs. One celebrated a Brabham test at Goodwood during the 1983 season. Story has it that Nelson Piquet used a BMW-engined BT52 to record the only ever sub one-minute lap. According to former Brabham team-manager Herbie Balsh, the precise lap time was recorded on a piece of paper. As luck would have it, that piece of paper has yet to surface again. Piquet would go on to win the World Championship with the BT52, so the Gordon Murray machine certainly was capable of very quick lap times. To mark that occasion, two BT52s were out on track with David Brabham and former Brabham driver Riccardo Patrese behind the wheel. Murray’s current enterprise was also celebrated with a pair of howling Gordon Murray Automotive T.50 serving as a glorious wake-up call on both mornings.

The GT1 demonstration run was a spine-tingling spectacle.

On Saturday evening, the action concluded with a high-speed demonstration of GT1 racers of the 2000s. Under a setting sun, the glorious howl of the V12 Aston Martin DBR9s and Ferrari 550 Maranellos combined with the thundering Corvettes and Vipers brought back fond memories of when these machines were raced in the 24-hour races at Le Mans and Spa Francorchamps. Keeping up a Goodwood tradition, quite a few of these were reunited with their original drivers, including Darren Turner, Johnny Mowlem and Cor Euser.

Gregor Fisken was also back behind the wheel of the DBR9 he raced at Le Mans in 2007: “I had forgotten what a stupendous car the GT1 Aston is. Being inside the cockpit is like sitting in the middle of an orchestra with that sonorous V12 engine encasing you in spine-tingling sound!” Fisken continues: “I had forgotten just how quick it is as well, but with the sun setting just like at Le Mans, the demo speed picking up and the downforce kicking in it was like waking up a titan. It just got better and better with every lap. Just as well that the demo came to an end as I was really starting to get into it! DBR9/01 was bought a few years ago as a souvenir for our family by my wife, and I am now working on her to let me take it racing again! 

Gregor Fisken was reunited with the Aston Martin DBR9 he raced at Le Mans in 2007.

The third demonstration on the schedule celebrated the 75th anniversary of Porsche by bringing together an eclectic mix of 911-based competition cars. Among them were early 911 Carrera RSR factory cars, including the Martini-liveried example that was driven to an outright victory in the 1973 Targa Florio. This was the last time the legendary road race was run as part of the World Championship. Also included was a colorful mix of the 911 Turbo or 930-based 935 and also four examples of 1990s 911 GT2. The most extreme of all 911s was also present in the form of the 1998 Le Mans winning 911 GT1 Evo ’98. Built around Porsche’s first carbon-fiber monocoque chassis, it really is a 911 in name only.

Even though the Members’ Meeting is billed as a lower profile meeting, two races were aired live on British television. The first was a single-make, two-driver race for the Ford Lotus Cortina, which turns 50 this year. The appropriately named Jim Clark Trophy saw 29 examples go head-to-head. After some spectacular racing, it was the Cortina shared by David Dickenson and Andrew Jordan that won the 45-minute event. This was followed by the second leg of the S.F. Edge Trophy for the ever-spectacular Edwardian machines. Another close race, this was won by Mark Walker in the former land-speed record setting V8 Darracq. Little more than a frame, four wheels, a seat and a mighty 200 hp engine, the Darracq was fittingly faster than anything else on the straight.

Indy-legend Dario Franchitti drove this genuine GT40 to victory in the Gurney Trophy with owner Shaun Lynn.

Both days featured a combination of short practice sessions and races. The first car race on Saturday was the Gurney Trophy for 1960s sports racers. This included an eclectic mix of Ford GT40s, Chevrons, Elvas and a Crossle, Attila and Shelby Cobra 427. Grabbing pole-position for the two-driver race, by the smallest of margins was four-time Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti in the Ford GT40 he shared with owner Shaun Lynn. Just two-tenths separated the top-four on the grid for the 45-minute race. Lynn started the race and put in a great first stint before handing over to Franchitti with a healthy lead. The Scotsman won the race over the small Chevron B8 shared by Andrew Kirkaldy and Stuart Hall, who had started sixth.

One of the highlights on Sunday was the Moss Trophy for early 1960s GT cars. This was named in honor of the late Stirling Moss, who won the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood in 1960 and 1961 in a Ferrari 250 GT SWB. The most popular car in the field this year was the Jaguar E-Type, which was also used by Alex Buncombe to snatch pole position. Starting third was James Cottingham in a Shelby Cobra 260 with period competition history. Like so many other early Cobras, this car was subsequently upgraded with the 289 small-block Ford V8 during its competition career. For the current owner, ‘CSX2035’ was returned to its original configuration by specialists Pursuit Racing.

James Cottingham leads the way at the start of the Moss Trophy with the Shelby Cobra 260.

Hugely experienced in the later 289 Cobras, Cottingham had not raced a 260 Cobra before. “I had done a test session in the wet and qualifying was also wet, so I was intrigued to see how different it was.” Cottingham explains: “It has a lot of torque still but you can immediately feel it does not have quite as much power.” Whereas the later Cobras were fitted with rack-and-pinion steering, the 260 Cobra still has a steering box: “It is a tougher car to handle because there is a bit of vagueness to positive input. At Goodwood there are a lot of delicate input turns, so you have got to really load the car up and get that lock on. It is very heavy on the steering; it was a bit of an experience.”

Using the torque available, Cottingham grabbed the lead at the start: “I had a good start, but Buncombe got back past me. The first three of four laps, I was trying the figure out the car in the dry. I had to adapt my style to the car’s strengths. On the brakes, the Cobra was not as good as the E-Type, but it was much better at the corner exit.” The result was an entertaining race where Cottingham finally managed to get back ahead of Buncombe and take a popular win. “It is always nice to race a proper professional; there were quite a few opportunities where we were super close to each other but there was never any contact. It was great to have a good race with him,” Cottingham concludes.

Once a land speed record holder, this 200 bhp V8-engined Darracq won both heats of the S.F. Edge Trophy.

The grand finale on Sunday, the Gordon Spice Trophy, was quite literally grand. This race is so popular that the field had to be divided into two heats with the best fifteen cars qualifying for the final on Sunday afternoon. The fields featured a wide variety of cars, driven by professional and gentleman drivers like Raphaël de Borman, who raced a Ford Capri in the first heat: “For the Capri, Goodwood is a great track; you are sliding everywhere, and the car is controlled more by the throttle pedal than the steering wheel. It is great fun.” He would end up having more fun than he had bargained for after the two heats on Saturday afternoon.

“Qualifying went well but I was too slow,” de Borman continues: “these guys are one hundred percent from the first lap but I had only tested the car once one month ago, so had to settle for 20th on the grid.” With only fifteen minutes available for qualifying, extensive pre-event testing indeed proved invaluable. Unfortunately, de Borman missed his start: “I could not see the starter and the Mustang in front of me did not move when the other cars took off, so I lost five or six places. I did have a good a rhythm and set the thirteenth fastest time in the race.” After a great comeback, he eventually finished seventeenth in a race won by another Capri, driven by professional racer Jake Hill.

The start of the Gordon Spice Trophy with Raphaël de Borman's Capri moving up the ranks.

With only the first fifteen cars due to progress to the final, de Borman’s weekend seemed over: “I had to negotiate with my wife to stay until the final race of the weekend. We decided to go for the small miracle.” The Esso-liveried Capri was the third reserve, so de Borman decided to stay. One rival could not make the start and two others failed on the reconnaissance lap, so de Borman’s patience was rewarded: “This time I had a much better start and a really good race.” Although starting from the back of the grid, he finished thirteenth: “It was a good result, but more importantly, it was really good fun.” After two red flag periods, the race was won by former World Touring Car Champion Rob Huff in a Camaro.

The eventful Gordon Spice Trophy race ended what was a great weekend of racing. The 80th Members’ Meeting formed the perfect start of the Goodwood season during the which the 75th anniversary of the Motor Circuit will be celebrated and thirty years of the Festival of Speed and twenty-five years of the Revival Meeting.