The 72nd Goodwood Members' Meeting was actually a brand new event, and there's nothing like it. Book your plane early for next March, Goodwood is just an hour from London and you'll never forget how they shake up the British countryside.
Despite a very long Friday, I was at the Goodwood Circuit early the next morning as Lord March wanted to say a few words to the members of the press. As his guest, the least I could do was show up on time. But since he was running late, I filled my plate with bacon and what Jamie Oliver would call 'succulent British pork sausages,' sat outside and watched as people started to arrive at around 7:30.
That's when the dark purple McLaren P1 rolled in. The youngest car inside the gates by a long shot.
I was just about to finish my sausages when Lord March arrived. He is exactly how you would imagine a modern English aristocrat. Wearing Tweed and being in a jolly good mood for having a hobby no less rewarding than what his ancestors used to spend their fortunes on: motor racing.
Thanks to the previous Earls of March, the Goodwood Estate has two world-class golf courses, one of the most beautiful horse tracks in the world and the Goodwood Circuit and Aerodrome, which was turned into a racetrack in 1948 after the RAF was done with the Nazis.
Although Bruce McLaren died here during testing in 1970, the last Members' Race was held in 1966 since the British Automobile Racing Club didn't want to set up more chicanes than the brick one built in 1952 to reduce speed.
Lord March on the other hand did modify the track to make it safer after the relaunch of the Festival of Speed in 1993 by replacing those bricks with Polyethylene, and the Goodwood Circuit was allowed once again to have five race days a year. Five days when noise regulations are out of the picture.
The Revival has been held since 1998 and became so big that it's attracting 80,000 visitors daily takes out three days . The Festival of Speed is a hill climb outside the circuit, leaving Goodwood with two race days to spare.
The members also got a bit fed up with the crowds, so something had to be done. Welcome to the Members' Meeting!
There are about 5,000 members of the Goodwood Road Racing Club, and they can invite four people to the Meeting. My advice is to poke a lord on Facebook and get into the circle of trust, because you have to get a ticket next year somehow. This event is like nothing else on the planet, an absolute must see.
Even without the cars, the Circuit provided a lot of entertainment. It was also stunning, as Lord March got some Dutch guy to plant 300,000 daffodils for the occasion in about four days, with a machine that's so cutting edge, even the Goodwood team was forbidden to take a photo of it.
The big dining room was built to look like the one in Hogwarts, with long tables, candles and the shields of the four houses competing at Goodwood on the wall. There's no Quidditch here, but winning a race scores a hundred points, while those without a helmet can gain for their houses by being the best at towing, darts and other quintessentially British activities. Having a meal here was surreal enough without Sir Stirling Moss enjoying his wine at the next table.
Outside, there was a barbecue on the lawn, another food tent build entirely of straw bales with a tractor in the middle, and those who wanted to enjoy the sunshine just had to grab a deck chair to enjoy the view from the top of the mound. The attention to details was evident, but than again, it had to be for the people who spent a lot of money on getting their cars here.