The 74th Goodwood Members’ Meeting was a combination of the old, the loud and the downright dangerous. Here, are my 5 best moments.
Super Touring Cars
From Vauxhall Vectras to Renault Lagunas, the 1990s saw these benign family saloons at the centre of a multi-million pound dogfight. Turbo’d up to 300bhp and packed with enough technology to embarrass a Le Mans car, each manufacturer well and truly bought into the idea of ‘win on Sunday, sell on Monday’. This year’s Members’ Meeting gave a rare glimpse back in time, as once again these tricked-out rep-mobiles took to the asphalt. Star drivers such as Emanuele Pirro, Patrick Watts and John Cleland also returned, doing battle in a series of predictably break-neck ‘demonstration laps’.
2-time F1 World Champion Mika Häkkinen made his first visit to the Goodwood Motor Circuit on Saturday, doing so in some style. Piloting the Mercedes W196, historically driven by Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio in the 1955 F1 Championship, the Finn was joined on track by Jochen Mass. Hurtling around in tandem, Mass took control of the 1954 ‘streamliner’ car. Despite the radical design of the older ‘Type Monza’ machine, problems at high downforce circuits and complaints from Fangio, meant the open-wheel model was brought back for 1955. The 2.5-litre, straight-eight engine remained however, with Saturday audiences treated to a double-dose of its bellowing soundtrack.
First seen in the late 1970s/early ‘80s, ‘ground-effect’ F1 cars were the forerunners to the downforce-obsessed racing machines of the 21st century. Piloted by Mario Andretti, the Lotus 79 dominated the 1978 Formula 1 World Championship, becoming the first car to take advantage of ground effect aerodynamics. Accompanying the 79 were numerous other F1 cars of the era, including the 1980 championship-winning Williams FW07 and the iconic McLaren MP4/1. The ground effect F1 grid was by far the most aurally stunning of the weekend, with its deafening V8s falling in stark contrast to today’s sanitised V6 equivalents.
Alan Mann Trophy
As the sun set on Saturday evening, a grid of 30 Ford GT40s raced into the darkness. Rewind 50 years to Le Mans and the image would have been eerily similar; Ford finally breaking Ferrari’s stranglehold on the famous race. Named in memory of the man who ran Ford’s factory race teams of the 60s, the trophy’s one-hour race witnessed many a battle for the lead. As the rumbling V8s faded into the night, the flickering headlamps and glowing brakes provided a mesmeric end to Saturday’s proceedings.
S.F. Edge Trophy
Almost certainly the maddest contributions to the weekend came from the scarcely believable Edwardian racers. Featuring in the Sunday race, was the land speed record setting Darracq 200hp. Capable of 109.65mph in 1905, the Darracq was 10 times as powerful as the 1908 Ford Model T. The star of the show however, was the 1905 Fiat. Powered by a 28-litre Isotta Fraschini aircraft engine, it developed a faintly ridiculous 3,000 lb-ft of torque(!) and 250bhp. Completing the spectacle – whilst hanging on for dear life – was driver Mike Vardy. Deserving of a bravery award for simply going out on track, Vardy somehow wrestled his beast to the finish line – much to the appreciation of the Goodwood crowd.
Same time next year Lord March?