It was announced last November that Goodwood would celebrate the 60th anniversary of the mighty Mini with a new race at April’s Members’ Meeting – now a surge of entries means there’s been a shake-up to the schedule.
The new Betty Richmond Trophy for pre-1966 Mini saloons and variants will still run on the Sunday afternoon, but it will be preceded by two heats, each with its own qualifying session to accommodate the 60-strong entry.
Expect close battles throughout these evocative contests, if previous single-marque races at the West Sussex circuit are anything to go by, culminating in the top 15 going wheel-to-wheel in Sunday’s final.
The Mini’s Members’ Meeting debut looks set to be an exciting addition to the timetable.
Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Richmond was the current Duke’s grandmother and it was her husband, Frederick ‘Freddie’ Gordon-Lennox, the 9th Duke of Richmond, who turned RAF Westhampnett’s perimeter road into the Goodwood Motor Circuit.
The family has a long connection with Minis – indeed, Freddie knew Alec Issigonis and, in 1959, became the owner of one of the first Minis.
“It was a bright-red Austin Seven with a steering wheel as big as the car!” remembers the current Duke of Richmond.
“My grandfather loved it, he was fascinated by clever, light, small-engined cars. It’s where his love for Lancia came from.”
“But Betty loved the Mini even more,” he continues, “and used to go hurtling around the Estate in it, to the extent that my grandfather wouldn’t let her venture outside the park.
“Thinking back, Betty was really the one responsible for my love of motorsport. She used to buy books on cars, which she then got my grandfather to give me.
“She also encouraged my grandfather to spend time with me at the circuit, taking me round to see the cars and meet the drivers. It was an eight-year-old’s dream.
“It is, therefore, entirely fitting to name this new race at the 77th Members’ Meeting after my grandmother who is really the person, more than anyone, who got me hooked on cars, bikes and racing.”