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76th Goodwood Members’ Meeting

There’s No Business Like Snow Business

 Marcus Pye reports

Racing in snow was an unwelcome novelty to most competitors, marshals, officials and spectators, faced with that scenario at Goodwood’s 76th Members’ Meeting – the fifth of the 21st century and 50th of the Duke of Richmond and Gordon’s modern era – on March 17-18.  Then again, Britain’s weather is notoriously fickle.  Beautiful sunshine and 13C on Friday raised hopes that the vernal equinox had come a few days early and that forecasters were wrong, but a wind change saw temperatures plunge to minus figures overnight and the sky remain a sullen grey.

It was as if the celestial lights were switched off to mourn the death of Goodwood’s uber-enthusiastic and knowledgeable team member and commentator Henry Hope-Frost, in a road traffic accident the previous week.  As racing friends bravely turned the MM into a celebration of Henry’s life with #FEVER helmet visor strips and stickers on their cars, the only reminder of ‘Fred Opert’ blue overhead through the weekend was the taut event banner straddling the start straight.  Salted and gritted, the track itself remained clear though, thus in true bulldog spirit the show went on!        

Played out on a bizarre but rather wonderful monochrome stage, the old RAF Westhampnett aerodrome set against the backcloth of an increasingly snow-covered Trundle hill (a bonsai Mount Fuji, thought some) and the vividly-hued cars providing welcome splashes of colour as their drivers trod the tarmac, gingerly at first, this was remarkable theatre once more.      

McLaren Automo ve’s sensa onal supercars took to the track on Sunday, with the range-topping Senna making its public debut. Poignantly, Amanda McLaren – daughter of marque founder Bruce who lost his life tes ng a Can-Am car at Goodwood in 1970 – commentated on them

Saturday’s programme opened with the Ronnie Hoare Trophy race for 1963-‘66 GT cars, named for the charismatic Maranello Concessionaires’ founder who started importing Ferraris to the UK in 1960.  The colonel’s red and Cambridge blue colours became familiar in an era when Graham Hill (RAC Tourist Trophy winner at Goodwood in 250 GTO and 330P in ‘63 and ‘64), John Surtees and Jackie Stewart were star throttle jockeys on his prancing horses.

Driving the only Ferrari, a glorious 275 GTB/C, Belgium’s Vincent Gaye outdragged poleman James Cottingham, in one of eight agile Porsche 904 Carrera GTSs – reminding marque fans of Dickie Stoop, Mike de Udy and John Morris’ efforts at Goodwood in ‘64.  Winding the agile two-litre quad-cammer up in light snow, Cottingham quickly ousted the priceless V12 coupe, only for a gaggle of traffic to negate his handy lead.  As Gaye challenged James anew he spun exiting the adverse camber Fordwater sweeper.  Billy Bellinger, who had driven Keith Ahlers’ Morgan SLR like the savage easterly wind to keep the pair in sight, had a grandstand view of the drama and gleefully claimed second as Gaye kept third.

The Sears Trophy Pre-‘66 saloon set rewarded those who stayed un l the bi erly cold end with a sensa onal nale embroiling the cream of Lotus Cor na drivers, as Steve Soper, Andrew Jordan and Andy Wolfe went head to head, the race eventually won by Jordan Photo John Retter

The Gerry Marshall Trophy mini-enduro brought Touring Cars of the ‘70s and ‘80s into focus as what light there was faded on Saturday.  Spectators in every layer of clothing they could carry, many gathered round the GRRC’s fire pits, were treated to another stunning display as World and British champions shared with enthusiastic amateur car owners.

With the power of Chevrolet Camaros and Rover SD1 V8s pegged-back this year, transatlantic Fords were initially to the fore.  Mike Whitaker (ex-Gordon Spice Capri 3.0S) boldly grabbed the early advantage, chased by Sub-Zero fridge magnate Craig Davies (debuting an Alan Mann Racing-built Boss Mustang, in homage to the ‘69 car raced by Frank Gardner) and Kerry Michael in his Castrol Escort RS2000.

Start of the Gurney Cup race won by David Hart in the debut ou ng of his gold ex-Willy Mairesse GT40 on an exceedingly slimy track Photo Eric Sawyer 

 

Michael was the first frontrunner to stop, handing over to 1992 Le Mans victor Mark Blundell two laps before double BTCC titlist Jason Plato took the Mustang and three laps before Mike Jordan was strapped into the leading Capri in which Whitaker had excelled.  As conditions worsened, Blundell hared after Jordan and ambushed him at St Marys.  When the chequered flag was flown early, with snow encroaching on the circuit’s edges narrowing the line, Blundell took it barely a second ahead of Mike to a great reception on the pit wall.

The thundering Mustang lost its bonnet before retiring, thus 1991 BTCC champion Tim Harvey rewarded Rover owner Andy Bruce with his maiden Goodwood podium after a typically gritty run up the order.  

Sunday’s Group 5 Special Produc on demo took place on a dry track, permi ng proper high-speed ac on with old master Jochen Mass in the outrageous factory Mar ni Porsche 935 ‘Moby Dick’, pictured right. Dutch rallyman Kevin Abbring uno cially lapped inside Nick Padmore’s (Pre-’66) Historic lap record in the ex-Markus Hö nger BMW 320i of the late ‘70s

Sunday’s reverse-grid sprint race for owners was a fiasco, Peter Mallett’s Rover and Patrick Watts’ Capri sustaining hefty damage in a three-car shemozzle at Madgwick at the start.  After a safety car interlude Pantelis Christoforou outran rivals in another flat-front Escort RS2000.

The earlier Sears Trophy Pre-‘66 saloon set rewarded those who stayed until the bitterly cold end with a sensational finale embroiling the cream of Lotus Cortina drivers.  Team Lotus ace ‘Gentleman Jack’ would have approved.  Andy Jordan, Andy Wolfe, Mark Sumpter – who wriggled from 18th to fourth on the first lap – and Steve Soper went at it hammer-and-tongs after a full-course caution while marshals shovelled up Shaun Lynn’s Cortina which had rolled after Fordwater, close to the point of Stirling Moss’ massive single-seater impact in 1962. .

Sunday’s double-driver Moss Trophy GT race celebrated Stirling’s RAC TT victories of 1960 and ‘61, although try as they did Vincent Gaye/Anthony Reid could not emulate the maestro’s results in another Ferrari 250 GT SWB/C.  They finished a strong fourth, behind the snarling Breadvan – evolved by Giotto Bizzarrini for Count Volpi in weeks when Enzo Ferrari refused to sell the Venetian nobleman a new GTO – of quintuple Le Mans winner Emanuele Pirro and Lukas Halusa.    

Up front the Jaguar E-types that Commendatore Ferrari so admired ruled the roost, Jon Minshaw (hooded roadster) and John Young (fixed head coupe) trading positions in the opening laps.  Young’s was looking hot as son Jack took over, but as Minshaw put talented British GT partner Phil Keen in, it was job done once again at Goodwood.  

Formula 5000’s 50th anniversary celebra ons, overseen by three- me US champion Brian Redman, took place during the Saturday’s heaviest snow shower Redman was one of few brave souls who ventured out in the 500bhp bolides, but Stephen Hepworth enjoyed his late father David’s eponymous four-wheel-drive car. Sadly an innocuous low-speed spin damaged one of three Lola T400s present. This is Lindsay O’Connell’s 1974 Begg-Chevrolet FM5

The sports prototype race proudly carried the Gurney Cup title in memory of the recently departed Dan, who had a huge fan following in Britain.  Victorious at Le Mans in 1967 with AJ Foyt in a seven-litre GT40 and four-time F1 GP winner, Dan wholeheartedly supported Goodwood’s retrospectives having always enjoyed racing here in period.

Dutchman David Hart claimed gold in ‘his’ race on his debut in an ex-Willy Mairesse GT40, pursued on an exceedingly slimy track – following the retirement of Olly Bryant in Michael O’Shea’s unique ex-Roy Salvadori Cooper-Maserati T61M – from Andrew Smith and teen prodigy Olivier Hart (David’s son) in evocations of the fabulous Shelby American Cobra Daytona Coupe he raced to a GT class-winning third in the ‘64 Tourist Trophy.

Craig Davies, Chris Wilson and Shaun Lynn filled the minor places in GT40s.  Roger Wills (Elva-BMW Mk8) made the early running among the smaller four-cylinder cars, but Chris Goodwin trumped him, finishing seventh in his Lotus 23B, originally hillclimbed in Austria.                

In freezing conditions Sunday morning’s single-seater races were thinned by withdrawals.  When Hawthorn Trophy poleman Geraint Owen’s Kurtis-Offy was pushed from the grid with a gearbox failure, Tony Wood won as he pleased in father Barry’s Ecurie Ecosse Cooper-Bristol.  Eddie Williams’ splendid baptism in Niall Dyer’s Cameron Millar Maserati 250F netted second ahead of Belgian veteran Paul Grant (Cooper-Bristol) after Crispin Harris (in the Scuderia Uptoni AC-Bristol) faded.

 

While remaining rivals spun, Anglo-Croatian garagiste Jon Milicevic drove his Brabham BT21 faultlessly to Derek Bell Trophy 1000cc F3 honours.  Frenchman Thierry Gallo (his Tecno repaired after a practice shunt), Simon Armer (March 703), Ian Bankhurst (Alexis) and Marcus Mussa (Tecno) chased him home.  Smiling Swiss Christoph Widmer (Brabham BT18A) extended his perfect Goodwood finishing record in sixth. 

Martin Stretton (Lister-Jaguar) just managed to repel the Lotus 15s of resurgent Roger Wills and Olly Bryant to win the Salvadori Cup World Championship sportscar race.  Marino Franchitti took Nick Mason’s ‘birdcage’ Maserati to fifth.

Giant killing: Kerry Michael’s Escort RS2000 co-driven by Mark Blundell won the Gerry Marshall Trophy race when it was shortened due to snow gathering on the edges of the track Photo Nick Dungan Courtesy Goodwood 

Patrick Blakeney-Edwards rasped Peter Neumark’s Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza past Duncan Pittaway’s (later bonnetless) Bugatti T35 for Caracciola Sportrennwagen victory, but Stephen Gentry clonked the Lavant tyrewall in Ed Burgess’ T51.  Moritz Werner (Alfa Monza) pipped Alastair Pugh (Frazer Nash BMW) for third after early lead challenger Chris Mann pitted his Monza with white smoke billowing from a blown head gasket.

Tim Llewellyn’s Bentley 3/8 Special, in the family for 60 years, emerged from a long rebuild to win the Bolster Cup, celebrating special builder, racer and moustachioed journalist/commentator extraordinaire John Bolster.  Having rumbled from 15th to first on lap one, Llewellyn laid down a smokescreen which hid Tom Walker’s staggering Amilcar-Hispano Suiza – a hybrid marrying 1930 chassis and 12-litre V8 engine from a WW1 SPAD biplane – and extrovert Justin Maeers’ punier and more utilitarian but 6.1-litre Cirrus aero engined GN Parker.

For the full story and full results, see our April 2018 issue

 

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