Want to see thirty original Minis racing against each other?
Few cars have captured the public’s imagination so vividly over the last six decades as Britain’s version of the ultimate people’s car. So to celebrate 60 years since production began Goodwood will celebrate the life of the Mini with a single-make race at the 77th Members’ Meeting.
The new race – to be called the Betty Richmond Trophy in tribute to the current Duke of Richmond’s grandmother – will see thirty pre-’66 Minis battle on track in what promises to be an exciting and extremely close battle.
Regarded as one of the central figures in 1960s British pop culture, the Mini enjoyed huge success from the outset, both as the Austin Seven and the Morris Mini-Minor, going on to become one of the most recognisable vehicles on British roads. The Mini was produced under many names – BMC until 1968, British Leyland (following the merger of Leyland Motors and BMC) until 1986 and finally Rover (a renamed British Leyland) until the turn of the millennium.
The final Mini was completed in October 2000, ending a 41-year love affair with the British public and also signalling the end of the 1,275cc engine that had powered not only the Mini, but many more BMC, British Leyland and Rover cars for 36 years. However, one year later, now owned by BMW, the Mini returned to the market and continues to thrive today.
Goodwood’s tribute to the diminutive family car takes its name from the Duke of Richmond’s grandmother, who would tear around the Estate’s roads in her beloved Mini, one of the very first off the production line thanks to her husband, the 9th Duke of Richmond’s good relationship with Alec Issigonis, the designer of the original Mini.
It was a bright-red Austin Seven with a steering wheel as big as the car! My grandfather loved it. He was fascinated by clever, light, small-engined cars. It’s where his love for Lancia came from. But Betty loved the Mini even more and used to go hurtling around the Estate in it, to the extent that my grandfather wouldn’t let her venture outside the park.
Thinking back, Betty was really the one responsible for my love of motorsport. She used to buy books on cars, which she then got my grandfather to give me. She also encouraged my grandfather to spend time with me at the circuit, taking me round to see the cars and meet the drivers. It was an eight-year old’s dream."It is, therefore, entirely fitting to name this new race at the 77th Members’ Meeting after my grandmother who is really the person, more than anyone, who got me hooked on cars, bikes and racing.”
It is, therefore, entirely fitting to name this new race at the 77th Members’ Meeting after my grandmother who is really the person, more than anyone, who got me hooked on cars, bikes and racing.
The Mini and one-make racing go hand-in-hand. While many at Goodwood will hold dear the memories of Minis going head-to-head with the brutish Ford Mustangs and nifty Ford-Lotus Cortinas both in period and in current historic racing, Minis have really taken the one-make world by storm. With the classic shape on display in the Mini 7 Racing Championship, while the modern BMW Mini is catered for in the Mini Challenge – a championship which is now becoming known as a breeding ground for future British Touring Car challengers. Numbers on these grids are always swelling, and the quality of racing is some of the most exciting on the club circuit.
Words by James Charman, photography courtesy of Motorsport Images.