This article was written by Freddie Mycock, a British writer and photographer, about his recent experience attending the Goodwood Members Meeting.
Historic engines let off belligerent smoky belches, blending a heady scent of fuel and engine grease with the autumnal smells of fallen wet leaves and earth soaked by English rain. Caught through the trees are exciting glimpses of the automotive engineering and design marvels of the 78th Annual Goodwood Members Meeting.
Hidden along picturesque rural lanes not far from Chichester, Goodwood is a country estate like no other. Most famous for motor racing, of course, it also hosts horse racing, the Eroica Britannia vintage cycling event and a flying school.
The Goodwood Festival of Speed and Goodwood Revival motor racing events are both open to the public and blend a quirky passion for classic motorcar engineering with the quintessentially British glamour associated with the Duke of Richmond’s country home. The Members’ Meeting is only available to those who are part of the Goodwood Road Racing Club and it holds its own unique charm.
The Club is home to some of the most important cars in motorsport. It includes new production car entrants like the Gordon Murray T50, which launched on the day, and the racing is of the finest, most action-packed quality.
It could be argued that the standard of racing at the members’ meeting is of a higher form than the other Goodwood events, and drivers push their cars and themselves to the limit.
“There’s no question, this is an absolute jewel in the UK. There’s something for everyone here,” says David Coulthard, thirteen-time F1 winner during 1994-2008.
Entering the Members’ meeting is an overwhelming, immersive experience hitting all senses simultaneously. You are greeted with a cacophony of competing engine sounds: the hoarse, throaty five-cylinder snarl of an Audi Quattro S1, the percussive heavy machinegun sound of a stocky pre-war engine starting up – hitting not just your ear drums but your whole chest!
Your nose is woken by the smell of high-octane fuel, burning rubber and trackside bacon fry-ups. There’s a strong sense of purpose on the faces of artisan mechanics as they hurry past purposefully in oily overalls, grimy hands brandishing ancient hand tools alongside state-of-the-art technology.
People happily make their way to the trackside for the next race while others admire the cars on display around the outside of the track.
Unlike the Revival and Festival of Speed events this offers far better access as a member, allowing visitors to get close to all the vehicles. Here are drivers and mechanics, owners and fans all congregated around the precious assemblages – from alloys and exotic composites to hand beaten steel panels trimmed with vintage leather.
This automotive Aladdin’s Cave has something for every petrol head, whether it is shed-built single-seaters, retro tin-tops, Grand Prix legends, historic two-wheeled TT icons or the very latest examples of luxury automotive engineering like the show-stealing T.50 from Gordon Murray Automotive. But being around the pre-war cars in the paddock is an experience like no other.
The gritty, greasy texture of the carbon residue left by exhaust smoke on their body panels evokes an almost coal mine-like feeling.
My Sunday highlights were many and varied:
The Gordon Murray T50 demonstration – for the privilege of being among the first to witness something new. Seeing first-hand the McLaren MP4/6 that Ayrton Senna drove in 1991 – and to hear the swarm of hornets released by its V12 engine as it was driven by his nephew, Bruno Senna.
Watching a Ford Capri and Mustang fight it out for first place in the Gerry Marshal trophy. The raw brutish growls of the pre-war cars starting up for the afternoon sprint with a most incredible selection of classic rally cars, or the Hailwood trophy with classic bikes from the +1970s and 80s making their moves on what felt like every corner.
The battle for the Gurney Cup between rival GT40s. And of course seeing the capricious Beast of Turin with its 28 litre 4-cylinder engine, unofficially the world’s fastest car in 1913.
There is no break between races – once one is over, the next begins. Driving is precise, aggressive and tremendously entertaining. Special mentions must go to Jake Hill and Craig Davies battling it out lap after lap, Sam Hancock coming in second from a start in the pits, and Hughey Walker losing it while overtaking Ben Collins on the last lap.
Relentless masterclasses in heart and excellence, accentuated for the final race by the low orange sunset sharply illuminating the contestants, creating a poignant ambience at the end of a most memorable day.
The Members meeting is a phenomenal event, offering visitors the chance to see racing cars that are very rarely seen in person, let alone dashing flat out around a circuit.
This year’s event was postponed to October for obvious reasons, but next year’s Members’ meeting will go back to its normal springtime slot on 9th – 10th of April 2022. We look forward to a gasoline culture filled spring weekend then.
Follow Freddie Mycock on Instagram here.
Writing and photography by Freddie Mycock – copyright 2021©
Freddie is a freelance photographer and automotive designer based just outside of London, England. Featured on Silodrome before, Freddie is a highly creative person and produces automotive work in photography and filmmaking.
He is a fan of everything classic, especially Porsches. Freddie takes his inspiration from the world of cinematography and always likes to be hands on when creating. He has also just got into the world of writing in addition to his photography.