A wet, wild & Wintery November Sunday morning. The rain was lashing the bedroom windows & the trees outside were creaking in the wind. A perfect morning for turning over & treating ourselves to an extra lie-in. Only a fool would venture out in that weather. And so, at 7.30 am, Taz & I arrived at Lord March’s Goodwood estate in Sussex, having battled our way there through fallen tree branches, flooded roads & torrential rain.
The Goodwood race circuit hosts a monthly Sunday morning “Breakfast Club” meet with a different theme each month. November’s was “Souped Up Sunday”, aimed at drivers of all customised, hotrodded & “pimped up” cars, (their words, not mine). We’d never been to Goodwood before, so it was a good excuse to take a look around. Lord Charles March also hosts the annual Festival of Speed & the Goodwood Revival meet, which features vintage race cars with spectators in period costume. The various buildings & race gantries of the circuit provide a perfect backdrop for this & must look fabulous when they’re buzzing with white boiler suited marshals & pit crew & dashing drivers in their pre & post war machines.
Unfortunately “Glorious Goodwood” wasn’t very glorious the day we visited. That tag belongs to the world famous horse racing circuit of course, also part of the March estate & a highpoint of the turf calendar. Rain soaked Goodwood would be more apt on this occasion. I guess that’s what they call “driving rain”. So the turnout of a couple of hundred cars was quite impressive in the circumstances. Everything from British classics, to Italian sports cars, to Japanese hatchbacks -& of course, hotrods. Entry to the Breakfast Meets is free, but the full English cooked breakfast was almost a tenner each & we didn't fancy trying to eat it al fresco, so we gave that a miss. For the young & trendy types there was also Cappuchino & muffins, served from a little electric powered truck, while for we more traditional breakfasters, there was tea & sandwiches from a second world war NAAFI van, (ask your Grandad).
The marshals were dividing the cars up into various types as they arrived & parking them in allotted areas. Some were lucky enough to be directed to covered parking while others, including the rods, were lined up in the rain. I admit I'm not into the thumpy thumpy stereo'd, blue neon lit hatchback stuff myself, but plenty of people were & an equal number braved the elements to peruse the hotrod line-up. At least, being in the open made them easier to photograph. The rain never eased off –it was like trying to take photos while stood under a power shower, so I’m amazed they’ve come out as clearly as they have.
Nice to see some familiar faces -JJ & Rick in the red Chevy truck, battling their way there with the windows wide open to compensate for the lack of a heater to de-mist the glass; Colin in his bright yellow '46 Chevy truck; Derek in his Diamond diner truck in convoy with a few of the lads from the Surrey Street Rodders; Keith in his '40 Ford sedan; Ellie & Jimmy of Valley Gas Speed Shop in their Ford Falcon etc, etc. Great to see so many making the effort. Furthest travelled & surely most committed to the cause, must have been Gus Stewart & his good lady who piloted their very cool black chopped & channelled sedan all the way from Scotland on the Saturday, staying overnight in a hotel near the Valley Gas guys in Berkshire, ready for the early morning run down to the Sussex coast on Sunday. They live an hour’s drive above Aberdeen, so he really is Aberdeen Angus. They drove the sedan all the way back up the length of the country on the Monday. Pretty impressive when you realise it’s his very first hotrod & the mammoth road trip down to Sussex & back was his very first test drive in it!
Lord March, owner of Goodwood House, runs a rod of his own of course, a heavily patina'd model A Ford pick-up, which recently underwent some work at the Valley Gas workshop. Although it looks completely genuine, the entire bottom 8 inches of the bodywork has been replaced with fresh metal & all the fasteners are stainless steel, cleverly painted to look rusty. The Breakfast Meet ran from 8am until 12 noon, but having arrived early at 7.30, we braved the un-ending deluge for as long as we could, before eventually admitting defeat around 10.30 & heading for the car.
Just as we made a dash from the sanctuary of the pit buildings, Lord March arrived in his truck. As had been rumoured, he had famously hirsute, hotrod loving ZZ Top frontman, Billy Gibbons with him. Mr G & the rest of the band were in the country to play just 2 gigs, so it was quite a buzz to see such a famous face from the hotrodding/blues/rock world. They ran straight for the VIP suite but I did manage to waylay Billy long enough for a photo. He very graciously stood in the pouring rain for me, wearing his trademark shaggy woolly hat & a broad Texas grin beneath his equally famous shaggy beard. I heard later on the radio that Billy had decided to travel to his London concert at the 02 Arena on the underground. Sitting on the tube train, minding his own business, he became aware of a guy sitting opposite, staring at him intently. After a while he began to get a little worried –until he realised the guy was clutching a ticket for that night’s gig. How surreal would that be –to be on your way to a concert by one of the World’s biggest bands & find yourself sat opposite the lead guitarist on the train.
All in all, not a bad meet, with an interesting mix of machinery in a fine historic automotive setting. Just a shame about the British Autumnal weather, which is beyond the control of even the hallowed Goodwood circuit. Of course Taz & I will be back next year, hopefully in our own respective classic & custom vehicles & probably with a wet suit & flippers in the boot.