From the first drop of the flag, this weekend’s Goodwood Members’ Meeting delivered action-packed racing.
Then again, given that the racing in earnest kicked off with the opening heat for the all-Mini Betty Richmond Trophy, that’s hardly a surprise.
The top 15 would qualify for the final and as the 30-strong grid pulled away, pole-sitter Ian Curley took the advantage with a super start, Tom Blomqvist and Bill Sollis in hot pursuit, before tangling at Madgwick.
Sadly, that was the end of Sollis’ race, but Blomqvist fought back to finish third, 1.174 secs clear of fellow World Endurance Championship racer and Goodwood regular Darren Turner. Curley won, in his first race at the track, but Lars Ekorness kept him honest, finishing just 0.788 secs adrift.
No sooner was one grid of Minis cleared, another lined up, ready for heat two: the battle of the Quick Nicks. With Nick Padmore and Nick Swift one-two respectively on the grid, it was expected to be tight at the top.
And they didn’t disappoint, David Edgecombe getting in on the action and taking the lead at the first part of St Mary’s, the trio three abreast into Woodcote at the close of lap one. Edgecombe’s challenge was halted by mechanical failure, but a thrilling, race-long tussle between Padmore and Swift transpired.
Swift was ahead at the start of the final lap, before Padmore edged ahead at Fordwater, but Swift sealed it with a move at Woodcote. And this was all ‘just’ to secure a top 15 place and thus entry into the final; appetites were well and truly whetted.
Day one’s competition closed with the enthralling 45-minute Gerry Marshall Trophy for Group One saloon cars. Porsche pro driver Neel Jani took the Rover SD1 he was sharing with James Wood into the lead off the line, only to run out of road moments later.
It turned into a battle of the Mustangs, Craig Davies/Andy Newall versus Romain Dumas/Bill Shepherd, which came to an end when Dumas and Davies came together, causing the former to retire and leaving Davies/Newall out front. However they were later disqualified and Jani/Wood were ultimately victorious.
“We were swapping places like touring cars,” said Nigel Batchelor, who brought his 1954 Kieft-Climax GP home second, 2.123 secs behind Will Nuthall’s Alta F2 in the Parnell Cup, which kicked off Sunday’s racing.
The volume was turned up when the 1-litre F3 cars came out for the Derek Bell Cup. The battle out front was between Andrew Hibberd (Brabham-Ford BT18) and Ben Mitchell (Brabham-Ford BT28) and although the lead changed twice on the final lap, Mitchell eventually took the win by 0.158 secs.
After Graham Higlett had taken his ’72 Rob North Triumph T150 ’bike to victory in the Sheene Trophy, roadgoing sports and GT cars were on track for the Tony Gaze Trophy.
David Coulthard (Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing) had been tussling for the lead with Richard Woolmer’s Austin-Healey 100 Coupé, but when the latter’s car let him down, 13-time F1 winner Coulthard took the chequered flag by more than 7 secs.
Bentleys, in their centenary year, were out in force in the John Duff Trophy, but it was Gregor Fisken in the 1925 Vauxhall 30-98 Brooklands Special who overcame clutch failure and then a battle with Philip Champion (1928 Frazer Nash Super Sports), taking the lead at Madgwick on the final lap to beat Champion by 0.992 secs.
The two-driver, 45-minute Graham Hill Trophy followed, and sadly time was called on the duel between the Jon Minshaw/Phil Keen Jaguar E-type and Mike Whitaker/Mike Jordan TVR Griffith 400, when the latter was shown the orange and black flag as the exhaust was hanging off. Swift pit work meant the car was soon on its way, but sixth was all they could manage, Minshaw/Keen taking a comfy win.
Sunshine gave way to cloud as the cars lined up for the second Gerry Marshall race, a 15-minute sprint with a reverse grid determined by the results of the previous day’s two-driver contest. Rally legend Stig Blomqvist took the flag in Nick Jarvis’ SD1 after 10 laps, 3.5 secs clear of Nick Padmore (BMW 530i).
The SF Edge Trophy’s return to the Members’ Meeting saw the fire-breathing Fiat S76 ‘Beast of Turin’ round out the grid, and it made steady progress to come home 15th in the hands of Duncan Pittaway. Out front, with the minutes counting down, it was between Tony Lees (1913 Vauxhall Viper Special) and Julian Majzub (1916 Sunbeam ‘Indianapolis’), Majzub snatching victory by just 0.018 secs in a much-replayed photo finish.
Next was the spell-binding Betty Richmond Trophy final, which lived up to the hype by serving up a scintillating contest with race-long battles. As expected, it was Padmore and Swift dicing for top honours, a sideways moment for then-leader Padmore at the final corner letting Swift take it by half a second. Padmore finished second, with Jonathan Lewis only 0.270 secs behind in third.
The Gurney Cup for 1060-’66 sports-racing prototypes followed and Cameron Jackson took an early and ultimately unassailable lead in the ’64 Crossle-Oldsmobille Mk5S, finishing as the winner by 25 secs from a line-astern trio of GT40s headed by Davies.
There was a stunning front row for the Members’ Meeting’s closing race, the 20-minute Peter Collins Trophy, with John Pearson and poleman Steve Brooks in D-types and Simon Hadfield lining up in an Aston Martin DB3S. Pearson was able to establish himself out front as Martin Stretton in another D-type closed in on Brooks for second, eventually passing at Fordwater.
However, a safety car and then, only a few laps after racing had resumed, a red flag, brought the race to a disappointing end after much promise, resulting in an all-D-type top three of Pearson from Stretton and Brooks.
And so another mesmerising Goodwood Members’ Meeting came to an end, having produced two days’ worth of fantastic racing. We’re just glad we don’t have to foot all the repair bills.