Epic battles light up Goodwood Members’ Meeting

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Emanuele Pirro’s thrilling charge through the pack and Jackie Oliver’s storming, mostly sideways drive in a Ferrari 250GT SWB ensured that the first Goodwood Members’ Meeting since 1966 got off to the best-possible start on 29 March. The 72nd Members’ Meeting had it all, from the largest-ever gathering of Bugatti racers to the finest drivers in some of the world’s most expensive cars. But this was an event with a twist.

While a packed schedule of qualifying and racing ensured there was plenty of on-track action to keep spectators entertained, the theme of School Houses added a competitive element that drew in event-goers of all ages.

Each ticket was assigned to a house, and each house was captained by a racing luminary – Goodwood Revival favourites Anthony Reid, Nicolas Minassian, Emanuele Pirro and Jochen Mass. Throughout the weekend, a race win was worth 100 points to the tally, while welly-wanging, croquet, tug of war and even a pub quiz allowed visitors to do their bit for their teams.

The event, which is modelled on the Members’ Meetings of the circuit’s heyday, with a healthy dose of that magic Revival atmosphere, was only open to members of the GRRC, and as a result was a less-crowded meet than others on the Goodwood calendar. The Great Hall, which will be better known to many as ‘Earls Court’, was transformed into a school dinner hall more reminiscent of Hogwarts than the Motor Show. Each house crest was hung from the ceiling, while long benches were festooned with candles.

The open paddocks were packed with all sorts of metal, from Revival favourites such as the ‘60s GTs of the Moss Trophy to newcomers including British saloon racers of the 1980s, Group C prototypes, ‘Turbo-era’ F1 cars and Group B rally machines. There were plenty more classics to be seen around the circuit, with a car park concours of some 200 cars also on show and a for sale section for those looking to buy. The biggest draw, however, was on the track.

The morning race schedule was dominated by qualifying for the weekend’s races, but the afternoon hosted the first three competitive events of the weekend: Part 1 of the Gerry Marshall Trophy, the Threfall Cup and the Moss Trophy.

The Gerry Marshall Trophy Part 1

 The Gerry Marshall Trophy, which kicked off at 2:45pm, catered for 1970-’82 saloon racers. The field was made up predominantly of Rover SD1s, Triumph Dolomite Sprints and Ford Capris, but there was also a smattering of Chevrolet Camaros, Mazda RX-7s, Alfa Romeo GTVs and even a Volkswagen Golf to add diversity. Qualifying for the race had taken place in the morning and proved a strain on the cars (many of which hadn’t raced in years). The result was a session filled with the smoke of locking tyres, burning clutches and cooking brakes, with the contents of one Dolly’s engine exiting its exhaust down the home straight!

The race grid was down on numbers as a result, but what remained were the battle-hardened contenders, with the 1978 Ford Capri 3.0S of Emanuele Pirro on pole and the 1980 Rover 3500 SD1 of Tim Scott-Andrews alongside. Disaster struck early for Pirro’s Capri as its starter failed, forcing it to start from the pitlane and offering a clean run for the JD Classics Capri and Nigel Garrett Camaro, both directly behind. All was not lost, though – with the five-times Le Mans-winner at the wheel, the crowd had high hopes.

As the starter’s flag dropped, Scott-Andrews’ Capri took an early lead, with Paul Pochiol finding the grass, closely followed by Alex Elliott’s BMW 3.0 Si at St Marys. By lap two the screaming Patrick Motorsport-liveried SD1 of Chris Ward had the lead, but the crowd was gripped by the action at the back of the grid where Emanuele Pirro’s red Capri was storming through the field. From dead last, Pirro had steered the Ford to ninth by the second lap and only two tours later he was in third behind the Mini of Nick Swift and the Ward Rover. In the dying seconds, a back-marker’s Rover pushed a frustrated Swift onto the grass down Lavant straight, allowing Pirro the space to charge into second behind the assured Ward at the chequer.


 
The Threlfall Cup

 A field of 30 Formula Juniors, all of a type that raced between 1958 and 1960 formed an impressive grid of Elvas, Geminis and Bonds, while the aerodynamic Lolas hinted at Formula 1 cars in miniature. Most eye-catching were boxy U2-Ford Mk2s, which had been built by Major Arthur Mallock in 1960. Both had a homemade cheer that proved popular with the crowd, and that #32 was piloted by Mallock’s son, endurance racer and team owner Ray, only added to the competition.

The U2-Fords were a dominant force in period, and quickly took the lead with Will Mitcham storming ahead of Mallock’s 1962 car. The race was far from a foregone conclusion, with a multi-car crash caused early on involving Andrew Tart’s Bond-Ford, Michael Gans’ Stanguellini-Fiat and several others, while Justin Fleming’s 1960 Lola-Ford Mk2 sounded ill from the off. Fastest laps were posted by Mallock and then Mitcham, of 1 min 30.489 secs and 1 min 29 secs respectively.

The battle for third was between the Lola-Fords of Chris Goodwin and Simon Goodliff, the later eventually taking the spoils despite the best efforts of the hard-charging Barrie ‘Whizzo’ Williams.
 
The Moss Trophy

 Named after Goodwood legend Sir Stirling – who drove a lap of the circuit before the grid assembled – the Moss Trophy featured an exotic grid of 1959-’62 closed-cockpit two-seaters, and produced arguably the day’s most exciting racing.

From the off, all eyes were on the 1961 Ferrari 250GT SWB ‘Breadvan’ driven by Rob Hall, which powered into an early lead from pole, closely followed by the James and Jeremy Cottingham E-type, with Jackie Oliver completing the top three in a yellow Ferrari 250GT SWB after nipping past the Aston DB4GT of Wolfgang Friedrichs.

Getting straight into his stride, Hall soon began to pull away while Oliver pressed typically hard for second, throwing around the exotic Ferrari but nearly losing it at St Mary’s on lap four – the gap at that point being just 3.69 secs. Further down the field, the 1964 Lotus Eleven GT ‘Breadvan’ was having a terrific battle on its debut with Friedrichs’ Aston, nipping at its heels in the corners and being left for dead on the straights.

The running order changed on lap 19, as Oliver’s Ferrari suffered a rear-left blowout, forcing him to pull onto the grass and retire, while the MGB of David Green found itself in fourth by delaying its required pit stop. It would be the stop that finally decided the running order, too, as Hall made way for the Ferrari Breadvan’s new owner, Martin Halusa, who made a slower start than his teammate. Clearly struggling with the conditions as darkness fell, he was quickly gobbled up by the Cottingham E-type, eventually falling to fifth place.

The scene was set for an epic tussle for first between the Lotus and the Aston of Friedrichs/Hadfield. As the race edged closer to its hour conclusion, the Aston’s tyres were beginning to fail, forcing it wide in the bends and allowing the lighter and more nimble Lotus a tempting sight at victory. Gaining all the time, the Lotus’ chances were dash at the Chicane on the penultimate lap, when the Aston nearly collided with Jason Wright’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint, forcing the Lotus to fall back.

Victory was taken by the Aston, with the Lotus second and the Cottingham brothers’ E-type third. 

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