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Goodwood Breakfast Club is worth getting up early for | Axon’s Automotive Anorak

29th May 2024
Gary Axon

Nostalgia and lasting memories are frequently made at Goodwood’s class-setting motoring events, and this coming Sunday (2nd June 2024) will be no exception when the Goodwood Motor Circuit hosts the 101st edition of its popular - and still free-to-attend - Breakfast Club meeting.

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Regrettably, unlike most of the previous 100 Goodwood Breakfast Club gatherings, I will not be able to attend Super Sunday at the weekend due to a prior commitment abroad. However, I was able to attend the special ‘100 Sundays’ centennial edition of the Goodwood Breakfast Club a month ago, which attracted as rich and diverse a collection of cars that you could ever wish to find, with something for all tastes; from a humble Austin Seven to an Aston Martin Valkyrie.

Despite seeing some exceptional cars as always (a few of the personal stand outs including a stunning Iso Grifo, an original and unmolested Fiat Uno Turbo, a long-wheelbase Mercedes-Benz 600 full of some suitably shady-looking characters, plus a delightful 1913 Hispano Suiza), the 100 Sundays Breakfast Club was particularly special for me as it brought back many happy memories of the previous 99 meetings, spread over the last 18 years.

I well recall attending the very first Breakfast Club meeting on the first Sunday of May 2006 in my latest new Saab 9-3 Convertible, which I’d driven down from my Chiltern Hills home bright and early that Sunday morning. As well as being intrigued by this then-new pioneering format for an informal gathering of fine cars and fellow enthusiasts, I was especially interested as, less than a month later, I was due to give up my job at Saab GB and begin a new career at the Goodwood Road & Racing Company as the new PR and Marketing Manager, responsible for promoting all of Goodwood’s world-class motoring events, including the Breakfast Club.

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As with many things that Goodwood do exceptionally well, back in 2006 the Breakfast Club was truly pioneering as a free-to-attend early Sunday morning gathering for like-minded motoring enthusiasts. The Breakfast Club format has subsequently been copied many times throughout the UK and mainland Europe, with Cars and Coffee-type events frequently springing up everywhere, usually attracting a poorer vehicle selection with an entry fee to boot.

As well as initially having to promote the Breakfast Club meetings (and give up my precious Sunday mornings to drive the 90 miles from home to attend the events), I soon acquired the task of deciding the themes and vehicle selection for the meetings, the latter proving to be quite a tough job. At first, the idea behind the Breakfast Club was to freely open Goodwood up to non-regular visitors and event attendees, as well as to promote Goodwood’s then-recent organic farm produce, with Goodwood reared bacon and eggs for breakfast butties, etc.

Until the first-Sunday-of-the-month Breakfast Clubs settled into a workable and proven format over the next couple of years - to become the ever popular event it is today, we experimented with many of the monthly Club themes, most of which worked very well, but some notably more popular than others. Given my slightly eclectic car tastes, a personal favourite, for example, was the French Car themed meeting. It poured with rain that Sunday (as it seemed to for a number of the early Breakfast Club meetings), and I remember that the theme’s attendance was one of the lowest of any meeting, as monitored by the low number of bacon butties and coffees sold, as well as the number of cars parked up on the grid.

Though the attendance wasn’t great for that meeting, it was arguably the best case we ever had of quality over quantity. Among the few Gallic cars that did turn up were some truly exceptional Bugattis, Delages, Facel Vegas and so on. I did rather get it in the neck at the time though for suggesting the theme, so the French Car day has so far remained a one off, and don’t hold your breath for another one anytime soon.

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Another early Breakfast Club memory relates to an open top sports car themed day, held in the early Spring, to give the owners of rag-topped cars an excuse to give their cherished classic Triumphs, MGs, Lotus’, Morgans, etc. their first run out for the season. That day started off promisingly with some very welcome sunshine, which tempted out a healthy number of soft tops, arriving with their roofs down. By mid-morning, however, the weather took a dramatic and unforecast change for the worst. It quickly became very chilly and overcast, and before a number of the attendees could leave it unexpectedly began to snow quite heavily!

This wasn’t quite so bad for the owners of sports cars that had a roof and a heater, but I recall that a many didn’t with their very open Caterhams and so on. A few reaming hardy visitors all huddled in the Jackie Stewart Pavilion at the Motor Circuit pit lane for some warming cups of coffee and to watch the opening laps of the Monaco Grand Prix, whilst numerous reports of TVRs sliding off the slippery roads and into hedges when heading back from the snowy Breakfast Club meeting were fed back to us! At the time there was a TVR specialist based just north of Goodwood that reported unusually strong service and repair business the following day!  

This weekend’s Super Sunday Breakfast Club, however, looks set with a fine, sunny forecast, and with a paddock showcasing some of the most beautiful and powerful cars in the world where else would you want to be on a sunny Sunday morning?

 

Photography by James Lynch.

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