Goodwood Members Meeting 16th – 17th October 2021

It seemed very strange to be back at Goodwood for the Members Meeting so soon after the Revival, but no one was complaining! This time it was the rear-engined cars’ turn with the Taylor Trophy being a separate award for the first all drum braked car, although the results did not make this apparent. It was, however, unfortunate that this rescheduled event clashed with the final rounds of the Silverline Championships at Silverstone. But it indicated the strength of FJ that Goodwood mustered a full entry of 30 whilst at the same time there were 26 FJs due to be at Silverstone.

The Members Meeting entry included the debut of Alex Ames’ Lotus 22 (22-J-51) in a maroon livery with white nose band, a car that he had discovered whilst browsing the Italian equivalent of Autotrader a year ago and located in a warehouse in Austria and Geoff Underwood was out in Cameron Jackson’s Brabham BT2, having a test-race with a view to purchase. The ex-Bill Norman Lynx Mk3 116 of James Hagan was taken over by his preparer, and occasional FF driver, Joseph Pomfret whilst Harin De Silva’s Lotus 18 was piloted by the very fast Miles Griffith. Simon Diffey was in his white ex-Peter Warr Lotus 20/22 with son George in the gold car. Two “non-shows” were Richard Smeeton (Wainer) and Andrew Hayden (Lotus 22), whose car was still hors de combat after its accident earlier in the year, but Andy Harrison (Envoy) was added to the field to bring the number up to 29.

 There were a couple of heavy rain showers in the early part of the morning so qualifying was on a very wet track. From the word “go” Peter de la Roche (Lola 3) set the pace, recording a 1’53.778” on his second lap, improving to 1’52.279” on his third. A spin at Woodcote ruined his next lap and thereafter he could find no improvement. Several drivers commented that the track seemed to get more slippery as the session progressed, despite no more rain. Second fastest was Ames with 1’53’655” set on his third lap. Stuart Roach (Alexis Mk3) completed the front row with 1’53.735”, also on his third circuit. There was then a 1.2” gap to Pete Morton (Lightning/Envoyette), having his first outing since 2019, with Richard Wilson (BT6) making up row 2. Looking down the times, Miles Griffiths, having replaced the clutch release bearing before practice, was eighth, 0.5” slower than third in Drums (after de la Roche and Roach) Chris Drake (Elva 300) whilst Simon Diffey and Lee Mowle were lower down the grid than expected in 10th and 15th. John Sykes stopped with vibration problems, perhaps a drive shaft, and spent much of the time post practice on the concrete between the stalls with body off while work was going on to restore “ Mr Pooh” to better health. It had been hoped to bring the ex US Mk3 drum braked Merlyn but it would have been untested.

The race was mid-morning on Sunday and the weather was pleasantly warm for mid-October and the track dry. The big news was that Michael Hibberd had ricked his back and decided to stand-down in favour of Andrew, who therefore had to start at the rear of the grid. As events unfolded, this made the FJ race one of the best of the day.

 Alex Ames appeared to get away first but Peter de la Roche was in front at Madgwick and the opening lap ended with Peter, Simon Diffey, from his 10th on the grid no less, and Pete Morton in a group with a small gap to Lukas Halusa (driving, father Martin Halusa’s ex-Geoghegan Lotus 22), Richard Wilson (BT6) and James Murray (Lola 5A). Stuart Roach had fallen back to ninth and soon retired with engine problems. Ames had an all too short race “My car had a cutting out then picking back up issue which made me run wide, did a lap to see if the fuel surge would fix itself but nope”. Lukas was also out early when the engine cover came loose and after pitting, a marshal would not let him go out without it.

 Andrew Hibberd came round in 12th in the flying Team Lotus liveried Lotus 22, ex-Bob Anderson although the commentary team persistently called it ex-Arundell, on the basis that it was Arundell who drove this chassis at Monza for the Falkenberg “wager”. He overtook three or four cars per lap so that on lap 5 he was fourth but with a big 9” deficit to the leading trio, who were still circulating nose-to-tail. As Andrew was only around half-a-second a lap faster, this looked to be too much of a challenge.

On the ninth lap there was drama as the leaders swept through Woodcote; de la Roche’s Lola drive shaft broke and pitched him into a 360˚ spin which, happily, ended without contact with the barriers. This left Simon Diffey just ahead of Morton and, by lap 9, Hibberd in third some 5” down, then Murray, Wilson and Chris Drake with the now Taylor Trophy leading Elva 300. Lee Mowle was seventh, tailed by Andrew Beaumont and Miles Griffiths who was showing just how fast a Lotus 18 can be made to go. His best race lap was 1’29.95” which was a good deal faster than the 1’33.4” Jim Clark and Trevor Taylor did in 1960 in their 18s.

 Without de la Roche to act as pace setter, Diffey’s lap times slipped a bit whilst Hibberd continued to lap in the mid 1’24”s and the gap shrunk quite rapidly between laps 9 and 12 and on lap 13 Hibberd demoted Morton to take second and swept by Diffey into Madgwick on the final lap to secure a spectacular win that was much appreciated by the crowds in the stands. Behind Morton, Richard Wilson passed Murray shortly before the end to be fourth with the top ten completed by Murray, Drake (Drums winner), Mowle, Griffiths – after an “autocrossing” moment at Woodcote, James Hicks and Sir John Chisholm, who had started from the back with gear selection problems, while Chris Wilks in the Deep Sanderson retired when an original rose-joint failed.

By Richard Page