The Goodwood Road Racing Club, not just any assembly of friends. Robbert Moree joined the Members Meeting for us and got acquainted to four intriguing gentlemen.
Meet John, James, Peter and Peter. Four friends from Surbiton. Once, in a time where it wasn’t completely overgrown by Greater London, a suburb south of the capital. This is where these four lads went to school and became friends.For life, as it turns out today, when I meet these four gentlemen on the lawn in front of the club house, where they celebrate life with a bottle of Veuve Cliquot.I ask their permission to take a photograph of their little gathering, since they all look very smart in their attire according to the GRRC Members Meeting requirements. I get their consent for the picture and a complementary offer of a glass of Champaign. To good English standards I kindly refuse. That’s the way things are done in these circles. To the very same English standards they insist and so I accept and pull a chair.
John appears to have worked for Nato many many years and used to visit The Netherlands frequently. James was a naval officer and at least one of the Peters did pretty well, regarding his collection of great British motors including an Aston Martin and a Rolls Royce. How did these gentlemen get lost at this members meeting of the prestigious Goodwood Road Racing Club? As it happens they have been members for a long time. There is no other way, is there? When you were raised in Surbiton, the very town where John Cooper did his magic on cars. Ultimately resulting in very competitive Formula One cars, whom the greats like Jack Brabham, Stirling Moss, Maurice Trintignant and Bruce McLaren used to race.Cooper gathered no less than 16 Grand Prix titles with his great cars. In the fifties, a time when every brit dreamt of building his own motor vehicle. A bit like the Belgians all want to construct their own house. Except for James none of the friends embarked on doing the latter. Especially since James failed dramatically at doing so, a thing his friends still make fun of. What are friends for?
Once in secundair school they used to get of the bus in an area with some old industrial buildings where people used to grow herbs. In these days they housed Jack Brabham’s racing car facility. What could be more exciting for four adolescents with a bit of petrol in their blood than to snoop around the factory secretly? For a while their little expeditions went swell, until one day Jack Brabham himself caught them in the act.
‘What the hell are you doing here?’ Seemed like an appropriate question.
‘Well Sir, we do think your cars are ever so cool.’
What followed was a tour by the man himself, who even drove them home afterwards. Something well remembered in the neighbourhood, even years later.
John’s first ever visit to Goodwood must have been the most remarkable one. It was the day of the great Stirling Moss’s legendary crash. 1962. He remembers it as if it where yesterday. We chat a little more about the old days. About traveling Europe from one track to the next circuit. They’ve led a nice life, these four gentlemen. And they still get out there together. It has been on honour to travel back in time with them, but I’d like to move on. So many things I’d like to see and live at this Goodwood Members Meeting. The pictures will tell the rest of the tale.