‘We’re absolutely gutted’ my contact at Goodwood told me. ‘As late as yesterday evening, we thought [the 78th Members’ Meeting] could go ahead. We’d put so many contingencies in place to protect the staff and visitors.’
Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. This morning, with track tests still taking place, Goodwood announced that the Members’ Meeting had been postponed. In the end, the staff separation (working as totally separate ‘blue’ and ‘red’ teams) gallons of hand gel and home working wasn’t enough. The straw that broke the camel’s back was Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s statement that emergency services support to large events would be withdrawn. For an event that thrives on what my Goodwood contact described as ‘full-on racing’, it was just too much of a risk to go ahead without ambulance and fire service backup. Volunteer medics just won’t cut it when you’re racing everything from Edwardian monsters to British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) tin-tops.
Actually, a few hours later, Goodwood’s decision was overtaken by events, when Motorsport UK withdrew all permits until 30th April 2020 at the earliest.
My feeling is that for the Duke of Richmond, the postponement is also a personal hit. The ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ attitude could have been created with Goodwood in mind, and the postponement will have been a major disappointment. Over the last few years, I’ve attended events at the motor circuit that have been battered by high winds, torrential rain and even driving snow; the 76th Members’ Meeting was notable in that it’s the only time I’ve seen Formula 5000 cars driving on slick tires through a blizzard. Goodwood’s response is usually that the show goes on.
One thing Goodwood were keen to point out was that the MM has been postponed, not cancelled. As we speak, their events team are exploring new dates. For more information, visit Goodwood.com.