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The Goodwood Breakfast Club: “Soft-Top Sunday” – 7th October 2012

All of mans best ideas: nuclear fusion, the Supermarine Spitfire, the worldwide web…Pot Noodle, were dreamt up over a pint in a Kentish pub, (probably). And so it came as no surprise that we resolved to visit The Goodwood Breakfast Club’s “Soft-Top Sunday” over a pint at the Three Horseshoes at our last Thursday gathering.

I was looking forward to bringing out the 105 for the last hurrah of the season and having polished the cam cover so that I could shave in it, fuelled the car with unleaded petrol, (5% Ethanol) and the requisite fuel additives, (Millers VSPe?), I noticed an unhealthy amount of oil on the garage floor! I wasn’t the only one with problems. Dean Prudence had come down with ‘Man Flu’ having fitted his 916 with standard factory alloys and Mark Webster had sought help from Kofi Annan in negotiating his pass. I had woken up with the lovely Carol Kirkwood in my bedroom every morning last week…BBC 1 weather report…and things were looking up!

Sunday came and I decided to take the 916 for safety…having fuelled the car and discovered that the hood wouldn’t come down, I also found it wouldn’t start either. No juice in the battery. An anxious call was made to Doug and Jack who were waiting outside the Ye Olde White Lyon with Max Haycocks, Fred Baker and Damon Morphew. I Checked the battery leads. The positive terminal was loose. A quick finger-tighten and away we go with Mike Hylton, (thanks for the photos Mike), as co-piloti.

Having rendezvoused with the guys at Locksbottom, it was off at speed to Pease Pottage which is clockwise around the M25 for those joining at the A21. Leading off, Fred, in his lovely white Bertone GTV headed for the Dartford Crossing! However, he managed heroically (and possibly driving a bit faster than the national speed limit?) to catch us up at Pease Pottage Services.

What fantastic weather and what a fantastic turn-out from the Club. Spiders were represented obviously in abundance with coverage from 105 boat-tails and series 4, 916’s (2.0 and 3.0 litre) and what the Registro Ricambi calls ‘New Spiders’, (Paul Goodwill is still to chose the top coat…can I suggest red!). Throw in Fred’s GTV and Keith’s Brera to take the tally to 16 and you’ve got a seriously fun convoy to blast across the Kent/Sussex countryside.

Having worked out a careful route down the A23 to Bolney, Doug and Jack equipped with the SatNav on Jack’s mobile phone, blasted off along the A264 to Faygate. I hastily performed a “Pastor Maldonado” (without contact and with later apology), up the inside of a very nice black series 4, 105 out of the car park a Pease Pottage and then fell into line. As it transpired, Doug had hit on the perfect route down to Goodwood! So hats off to him and Jack.

We drove in convoy through Warnham, Billingshurst and Pulborough which are amongst the prettiest villages in Sussex. As we drove down the various roads threading through the centre of these picture-postcard English villages, our engines and exhausts resonated in the most satisfying of cavalcades. This was only trumped by the winding and often undulating B roads across the South Downs, with breathtaking views across Sussex, the mist rising from the surrounding valleys.

When we got to Goodwood, (around 10am), there was some confusion amongst the various marshals and most of us ended up in a soggy field outside the circuit. But for the lucky few who chose to ignore the officials; Mark, (who now owes a debt to Mr. Annan) and Dave and Amanda Norman, there was a place on the hallowed circuit with Mark Rayss who had arrived with the sunrise!

The Goodwood circuit is still used for racing and Lord March keeps the whole venue in perfect condition. A real time-warp with the pits bearing Girling, Dunlop, Champion and Ensign livery. Garage areas are also set aside for John Cooper, Juan Manuel Fangio, Mike Hawthorn and others. The Earls Court Motorshow sponsored by the RAC is a replica façade which gives the whole place such an evocative feeling.

As for cars, yes other Alfa Romeos, (including some interesting Marlins masquerading as P3s), Jaguar SS, C, short-nosed D and E-Types, Bentleys, Ferraris, Maseratis, Jensens, Morgans and many many more. Probably a couple of hundred.

A Chance to admire other cars, to walk the circuit and to soak up the atmosphere. And of course a chance to devour a sausage, bacon and egg roll with a stout cup of tea amongst fellow petrol heads.

Then at 11.45, engines started and by 12noon we were stood in an empty field. The classic car equivalent of a ‘reverse flash mob’.

We made a few friends along the way and hope to have encouraged at least one new member.

Those left behind followed Doug around the edge of the Goodwood Race Course and up to the M25. I brought up the rear and was enjoying studying the other cars ahead when my concentration was shattered by some ‘flash g*t’ in a Mercedes soft-top who suddenly filled my rear view mirror flashing his headlights. Once able to focus I recognised AROCKES’s own Jason Bennett at the wheel with Mark Fuller in the passenger seat. Jason, I unreservedly withdraw the ‘flash g*t’ comment.

The convoy continued back up to the M25 with Jeff Kaby blasting off in his still relatively newly acquired Phase 3, 916; Steve Watts followed suit in his rosso Phase 1, 916 and Doug, Jack, Max (and son) and I separated at Bromley.

A super (driving) day to remember…let’s do it again next year.

David Smith



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