Steve Cropley: Goodwood is a cause for celebration

Steve Cropley: Goodwood is a cause for celebration

Saturday AM

Serious elation this morning as we headed into the Goodwood Members’ Meeting, first and most intimate of the great Sussex estate’s three big car events this year.

Not only had the organisers lucked into a perfect crisp, sunny day but our transport was remarkable, too: WO Bentley’s personal 1930 Mulliner-bodied 8 Litre ‘company car’. In 10 miles was an experience that said much about the direction of motoring progress.

On one hand, the giant in-line six belched and blew back like a draught horse until warm and you needed a blacksmith’s forearms to turn the steering wheel. It wasn’t possible to effect a smooth gearchange (even if you’re handy with crash gearboxes; I’m not) until the oil was well and truly warm.

On the other hand, the 8 Litre’s level of luxury and style effortlessly equalled that of top cars today, and the visibility was a lot better. Most striking of all was the (warmed) engine’s amazing mechanical refinement and its mighty torque from 1000rpm. In some ways, vintage cars aren’t old at all.

Saturday PM

Happy afternoon watching a mixture of practice sessions and racing, especially enjoying the effect this unique circuit’s long, fast corners have on cars – particularly Gerry Marshall Trophy saloons – that by today’s standards have too much weight, high centres of gravity and not enough rubber on the road. From where I was, the lurid slides and generous drift angles looked downright graceful. (I’m sure they felt rather more violent in the cars.)

The whole experience always makes you wonder how modern, non-classic, non-vintage racing can ever match this spectacle, where the car-control challenges are almost as clear to a watcher 100 yards away as they are to the driver. If people want Goodwood crowds at modern racetracks, surely that’s an avenue worth exploring…

Tuesday

Half my income seems to go on club magazines, so I’m well used to pitching barely flicked-through club organs into the recycling bin. What a pleasure, therefore, to spend an absorbing half hour with the latest online copy of Motorsport UK’s magazine, Revolution, every one of whose coverlines caught my interest. How to buy a racing car is a perennial story, but you still read it when it’s done well. Which it was. Haven’t done much with my competition licence so far this year, but this definitely boosts my desire to make some plans.