I last attended the Members’ Meeting back in 2015 (#73MM), it was incredible. Imagine the Festival of Speed in full flow but with loads more room and less than half the people there…that’s the Members’ Meeting. Imagine more McLaren F1 GTRs than you are ever going to see again in your life, all lined up in the paddock with almost nobody surrounding them – Members’ Meeting. Imagine 90% of the circuit being completely devoid of spectators, despite ultra-rare racing cars battling wheel to wheel with plenty of famous racing drivers filling the grids – Members’ Meeting.
The downside? It’s in March and it’s usually very cold out around the exposed airfield circuit. This year took that to another level though, as you can see from the photo above. With a feels like of -10, strong winds and heavy snow it was quite an experience.
Rewinding a bit, I packed my Sony a7RII, Sony FE 55mm 1.8, 85mm 1.8 and the 100-400mm G Master. I’ve never shot a single frame of action with the Sony so I was looking forward to seeing how it would perform. The 100-400mm was on hire from the good folk at LensesForHire so it would be my first experience of that too.
The first bit of fun for the day? The car park. March + grass parking rarely works too well but most cars seemed to get in ok. From then on I had a few hours to explore the paddock before the track action was due to begin. Unlike the Festival of Speed you really have room to breathe in the paddock and the people are generally far more civilised.
I then braved the elements and headed out into the open. I found some nice angles out around the circuit and due to it being so cold I rarely bumped into anyone, unlike the Festival of Speed I could shoot from wherever I liked. Goodwood is strange in that it has zero conventional debris fencing, instead it’s a combination of raised banks and low fences. It looks great and is fantastic for spectating, but does limit the number of really low angles available. After an hour or so the snow arrived, a light flurry at first but then turning into a fairly decent blizzard. Remarkably the track action carried on largely to schedule, giving me the opportunity to shoot through the snow for the first time.
The a7RII and 100-400mm held up really well considering the conditions. Between the wind and feeling colder than I ever have before it was pretty challenging. AF would regularly lock onto the wall of snow coming down rather than the vehicle, but once it gained a lock it would rarely let go. As expected the batteries really took a hammering. Shooting motorsport you can usually squeeze 3-4 times the CIPA rating out of a mirrorless battery, but not so much when it’s that cold. I went through 4 full batteries within 1600 shots, yet on a warm day that would be two at most.
Next up was the paddock as I was really keen to get some snow shots whilst it was still coming down. This was my favourite part of the day, everywhere I looked there were unique scenes to shoot, I would guess a once in a lifetime experience.
I called it a day very early, heading off at 12:30 after 5 hours of shooting. Although the weather was due to improve at Goodwood we had an amber warning at home for later in the afternoon. As I had to get back that day I didn’t want to risk it (a good choice, as it happened, as we were snowed in later that evening). I missed the Group 5 stuff, but cheered up as soon as I started working through the photos as I realised I had a wonderful record of a unique few hours at Goodwood…