The Goodwood Members Meeting, the private party for the Fellows of the Goodwood Road Racing Club, recently celebrated its 76th edition. Matijs Jutte survived the harsh conditions.
It is bitter cold, snow is drifting across the grounds of the 11th Duke of Richmond’s estate, winter is showing its teeth one last time. All around the domain groups of benumbed members are gathered around open fires. Warming their hands and discussing their strategies for the day. This is the Members Meeting, here everyone does his part in the battle amongst the four fictional ‘houses’. Wether you are a racing driver or a visitor, gather points on the track or while throwing hub caps, here everyone’s effort is of the same importance.
In the paddock the Formula 5000 monsters and the Group 5 Silhouette racers from the late seventies steal the show, on the track it’s the heroes in the monoposto’s and pre-war racers. Where the racing monsters are reluctant to trust their abundance of power to the slippery tarmac, the real heroes are one with the elements. Lightweight racers and large volume 6 or 8 cylinder beasts, under these circumstances they become worthy opponents. David or Goliath, it can go both ways at any given time. Literally speaking as wel as figurative. Under these circumstances the distinct layout of the Goodwood track, with its long straights, pinching corners and rolling hills is perfect for a fascinating competition.
On Sunday morning I discover a magnificent, two tone blue Alfa Romeo 8C 2600 Monza, that is slowly idling to warm up. The owner invitingly points at the outboard exhaust pipe. The velvety smooth grunting straight eight, actually it’s two four pots put together, doesn’t only warm our hearts, but through the slowly warming exhaust our hands too. An example that leads to many more beautiful interactions at most of the pre-war racers. This is where solidarity is given new elan, where most animated conversations arise, as do, I can’t believe anything else, friends for life are made.
As ever on Goodwood, there is so much more than just cars and racing. On days like these, where the weather forces visitors and participants to join each others company underneath shelters and gazebo’s, the unique atmosphere of this authentic track comes forward even stronger. An event like this Members Meeting soon turns into one where eating and drinking together is key. Pulled pork, sausages and mince meat, it doesn’t get any more British. Gin and Whisky complement the hot beverages. Enjoyment with moderation, but ever so passionate. Further on the real heroes blast along the snowy white fields in their hellish machines. Soon they’ll return, roaring engines passing the stands. As we see them disappear through the next corner, we are sure of one thing, this should last forever!