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The Goodwood Breakfast Club: “Italian Sunday” – 6th October 2013

London Rallly

In order to assist the war effort, the 9th Duke of Richmond, ‘Freddie’ March gave over part of his family estate to the RAF. An airfield was created which took its name from the nearby village of Westhampnett. It formed a Battle of Britain airbase and it was from here that the legendary Douglas Bader flew his last sortie. Many of the pilots of the 610 Spitfire Squadron based at Westhampnett used to race their sports cars around the perimeter road of the airfield in those heroic days and Squadron Leader Frederick ‘Tony’ Gaze DFC, (who died earlier this year), suggested to Freddie March that he might like to consider opening a race circuit at the end of the war. Brooklands had closed in 1939, (never to re-open as a racing circuit) and it was felt that Goodwood could fill the gap left by its closure. And so the Goodwood Motor Racing Circuit opened in 1948 and thrived until 1966. In that period it saw the likes of Fangio, Hawthorn, Hill, Surtees and Moss tearing up the tarmac. It was revived in 1998 by the 9th Duke’s grandson the current Duke of Richmond with an event he called ‘The Goodwood Revival Meeting’ and it has not looked back since.

London Rallly

Visiting Goodwood is every boy’s dream, (every boy born before 1967 that is), and so it perfectly fits the demographic of the Alfa Romeo Owners Club, Kent and East Sussex Section!

We were much better organised this year for our second pilgrimage and most members had pre-registered with the 461 Club for a place on the hallowed tarmac. I found myself checking the weather forecast on an hourly basis in the week leading up to the event. It was like Christmas Eve in the Smith household circa 1975 with great anticipation and a sleepless night. The next morning the 105 fired up perfectly, (I put that in by way of information for John Third who has commented in some of his write-ups on the unpredictable nature of the 105 series spiders) and I was off to meet Doug ‘Tin Tin’ Hodson and Max Haycocks at Locksbottom. A warning form Max: “Please remember this is a single carburettor 1300, so keep an eye in your rear-view mirror”. He needn’t have worried. However, it did feel a bit like I was being followed by the Carabinieri most of the way. This was made more nerve-wracking by the fact that my speedo started oscillating wildly before fixing itself at 16mph, whatever the speed. Very handy in the 50mph average speed section of the M25 with Doug on a mission! We turned off the M25 at the M23 to find an over-turned vehicle blocking two lanes of the motorway and the Pease Pottage rendezvous with Jeff and the rest of the section was looking in doubt. However, after 15 minutes of crawling we just made it in time.

London Rallly

Mark Rayss had set off ‘the night before’ to get his place in the pit lane and we had 60 minutes to get there and park up within 2 miles of his position. And so our convoy of cars including Dave Norman, Mark Webster, Stuart Palmer, Jeff Kaby, and Giovanni D’Avanzo set off for Goodwood, (apologies if I have left anyone out: I am writing this from memory 4 weeks after the event). Also apologies to Barry Kadwill for losing him on the way there: A special award for navigation goes to him and Tanis for catching us up. The weather was perfect and the route is amazing as it winds through pretty B roads and some of the loveliest villages in Sussex.

London Rallly

We made it there for about 9 o’clock and the moment I had been waiting for finally arrived. We were directed onto the circuit and drove/cruised/posed (take your pick) along the Lavant Straight to the right-hander at Woodcote and then on through the parting crowds to our parking places.

And what a display of classic Alfas (too various to mention), Ferrari (F40, 250 GT Lusso, 330 2+2, 308 GT4, 575, 355, 456, 430 Stradale), Bizzarini (3500GT), Lancia (Flamina, Flavia, Fulvia, Gamma, Delta Integrale), Fiat (500, Dino, Dino Spider, Multipla), Lamborghini (Jalpa, Countach, Diablo, Aventador), and Maserati (3500 new and old) it was to. You get the idea: millions/billions of pounds/Lira sitting there! Also good to see some beautiful 2-wheelers enhanced by AROCKE’s own Terry Seal on his Moto Guzzi.

London Rallly

We then strolled around the circuit heading for the pits, where we met Mark to indulge in the other reason for going to the Breakfast Club: Sausage, Bacon and Egg squashed into a bap with lashings of ketchup and a stout mug of tea or cappuccino for the discerning Piloti Italiani. And doesn’t organic food taste so much better than the usual stuff? Rather like the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’, I find that staring at the inflated prices on a blackboard for 10 minutes convinces me it does.

Improvements are evident at the circuit and it was wonderful to see the newly renovated buildings giving it such an evocative sense of history.

And then at about 11:45 there is the equivalent of a reverse Le Mans style start and everyone somehow disappears. By the time Doug and I got back to our cars the track was virtually empty. It was then that we decided to go for it: a drive through the chicane heading for the pits and a ‘unique photo opportunity’, with Mark Rayss. I have taken licence with some of my photos to give the feeling of nostalgia that comes over you in this great place.

I hope Goodwood will become an annual pilgrimage for the club. All the cars are proper classics, the venue is amazing and entry is free…It’s a no frills, no brainer for real petrol heads! Roll on 2014.

David Smith

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