When the nice folk at Goodwood put on a car event, they do it rather well.
The Festival of Speed and Revival summer events are well-established proof of that. And since 2014, we’ve had the third bit of evidence to back up that claim with the Members’ Meeting, which takes place each March at the Goodwood circuit.
The original Members’ Meetings ran each year from 1949 to 1966. The events were well liked not only for the quality of the cars, drivers and racing, but also for the camaraderie that went with them. As a boy, Lord March enjoyed them and has now brought them back to much acclaim. It was a fine decision.
And it was the quality of racing that shined through during the 74th running of the event this weekend. A snapshot three hours in the late afternoon Saturday sunshine summed up what was great about the event for me: a cracking Gerry Marshall Trophy race for classic touring cars, including the Autocar-sponsored Spice Capri, followed by a track full of ground-effect Formula 1 cars doing high-speed demos and then all washed down with a packed grid of pre-1966 Ford GT40s racing into the twilight.
After the racing was over, I strolled over to the circuit paddock to drool over my personal favourite era of racing cars, the Super Tourers from the 1990s. When you’re young you never think you’ll get old enough to become nostalgic, but my high-pitched squeaks of excitement over seeing a Nescafé-branded Renault Laguna and a white Honda Accord covered in Kaliber stickers has ended that theory. What a day.
That old-fashioned camaraderie from the 1960s has carried over to the modern day. At times you could almost have been fooled into thinking you were back in the 1960s (well, I’m guessing so, not that I was born then, but anyway...), with black and white TVs in the social club and the period nature of the circuit. It was only the price of the beer and the giant television screens outside - which displayed live action and a selection of social media, such as our own Steve Cropley tweeting photos of Andrew Frankel in his classic Bentley - that brought you back to 2016.
I went to the Members' Meeting on Saturday, the same day Formula 1 shot itself in the foot again by introducing an unnecessarily complicated qualifying system that left fans baffled and bored. Has the so-called top level of motorsport ever been more out of touch with the kind of on-track action real enthusiasts actually enjoy? An envoy from Melbourne should have been sent over to learn how to run a race meeting.
I digress. You’ve probably worked out by now that I enjoyed my first visit to the Members' Meeting, and that Goodwood has again touched something that has turned to gold.