73RD Members Meeting
After 4 years living abroad in Europe it's safe to say I have seen my fair share of epic motor racing events. From the beautiful French town of Le Mans, the tree lined valleys of Spa, the grey weathered grandstands of Hockenheim, to the deepest parts of the green hell they call Nürburgring. I have sampled some of the best classic and modern motor sports events Europe has to offer. So just when I thought all that couldn't be topped, I came across a blog post early last year that rocked my world. The blog post was simple and direct. It posted one single document. An entry list to an event that frankly I had never heard of, the 72nd Goodwood Members Meeting. That list was quite simply a game changer in classic racing, with a line up that combined the finest from almost every event I have been to and then some. At that point I sat my self down, made a pack with myself and made sure I would do all I could to photograph such and event. Unfortunately it didn't work out last year, but luckily for me last years success ensured the event was back on the calendar for 2015. So with tickets purchased, flights booked and a best mate on board to share the experience( these events are no fun alone, you have to share your overwhelming amazement with someone) we were on your way to the 73rd Members Meeting.
Let's take a minute to digest the entry list for this years event! If you're like me and probably the boys at the helm of Stanceworks you might have a bit of a soft spot for endurance racing. So if your standing up take a seat. Mclaren built just 28 examples of its triumphant F1 GTR. 28, that's a very limited run indeed and 16 of them where on display and giving it some around the beautifully restored Goodwood circuit. If that's not reason enough to get out of bed early, the line up of Group C endurance cars sure was. With 15 cars on the grid, the track was roaring with turbo spools and flaming exhausts. Everything from the beautiful Silk Cut Jaguars to the spaceship like Peugeot. Derek Bell even got some seat time in his old Porsche 962. There was a full grid of early 60's endurance GT cars who raced towards the evening into the dusk, with a drivers change halfway through the hour long race, it was simple stunning to watch. Close racing with lots of fender rubbing and waving fists. The legendary Emmanuelle Pirro would take the win in a beautiful Shelby Cobra.
Other racing groups spanned from early formula cars all the way up to 70's British touring cars. There was something for everyone at the 72MM. The icing on the cake, the main event, the grand spectacle was the celebration of the 1960's high air box Formula 1 cars. The Hunt's and the Lauda's, the Peterson's and the Fittipaldi's almost every iconic racing drivers name from this time adorned the sides of these amazing cars. The late James Hunt's son Freddy was piloting one of his farther old Hesketh cars. Sitting there patiently waiting for his run in this historic car he looked the spitting image of his father. The sound and proportions of these cars were mind blowing. It would send shivers down the spines of all those watching as they fired into motion.
What really sets this event apart from the rest, is it's extremely relaxed and laid back atmosphere. Everyone has a smile on their face. Everyone is there for one single purpose and that's to celebrate the best of best from yester year. The event has an all access policy. As a member of the public you can stand right behind the pit wall or browse the beautiful paddocks without anyone tapping you on the shoulder and asking you to "move along son" It's small and exclusive and packed full of style. Most importantly there is something for everyone, children, significant others and even the grandparents. Old fashioned playgrounds for the kids, farmers markets and shopping for the ladies and a magnificent party in the evening that hosts everything from live music to fire breathing circus acts. You can sip on a lovely English beer while stood next to ex Formula 1 driver Max Chilton. Or eat fish and chips next to endurance and touring car legend Steve Soper.
The attention to detail gives most obsessively planned weddings a run for their money. The tickets, the programs, the paddocks, the pits, the party, the dining hall ( which looked like a scene out of Harry potter ) have been meticulously planned and designed, with a color scheme and look throughout.
It is a typically British affair from start to finish. I might be a bit bias with my next statement since I was born on the British isles, but an event like this can not happen anywhere else in the world. It simple happens so naturally, it doesn't feel planned, rehearsed or fake it just simple feels like it has happened like this for the past 100 years. And every detail has just been improved over time.
Motor racing is embedded so deep in British culture, it flows through our veins and that passion and commitment to the sport is idealized at the 72 Goodwood Members Meeting. The entry list has the best of the best, the racing groups highlight the best of the best and most importantly because of it's very restricted number of the tickets, the spectators are the best of the best. They are the fans that will pay the extra few bucks, or wake up early to secure a ticket. Everyone is there to share in the passion that is beat of the best in the classic Motorsport world.
I often say at the end of my articles something along the lines of "if there is one event to see, this is the one" or "or you must do this before you die" so this time I am going to say it this way.
The Goodwood members meeting in my opinion is the best motor racing event in Europe. Hands down. Nothing else let's you get this close, this excited or most importantly this mind blown.