The Cars and Coffee movement is taking off around the world and here in Australia it’s alive and very strong. Here’s our lowdown on what it’s all about.

I’M SURE YOU’RE well aware of the Cars and Coffee movement that is going on around the world. And If you’re not, then you should be.  The simplistic beauty of these events, if we can call them that, is something that car culture has been missing for years – overtaken by tales of hoonish behaviour from car gatherings…   

Here in Australia, on any given Saturday or Sunday, usually once a month, you can find one of these gatherings going on at a race track, or somewhere suitable to host a gathering of cars and offer coffee.  Whether it be in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane or Adelaide, a quick Google search will quickly tell you when and where the next event is.  Then, just as the name suggests, everyone gets together for a coffee and the chance to either show off their car and it doesn’t have to be a concours winning car, or a hypercar… You simply bring what you own. 

And, even if you don’t own a car you want to show off, you can still turn up and chit-chat about everyone else’s cars.

The relaxed atmosphere is the true draw card of this congregation.  No-one selling you anything, no one advertising anything, no one trying to hock a new product, just a group of like-minded people, cutting away all the fluff of the Automotive industry. 

Up here in Queensland, a group called Downshift Australia have been adding an extra shot of espresso to this type of thinking.  They call it Circuit and Coffee, and you guessed it, it involves a racetrack.

The premise is the same as a traditional Cars and Coffee event.  Invite anyone that likes cars, whether they own one or not, to an appropriate and accommodating location, which is, in this case, Queensland Raceway.  Throw in some coffee and breakfast, and let everyone mingle.  The only difference here, is that for 90mins you are able to take your car out on to the track!  Yes, drive your car on a racetrack. 

Isn’t this just a Track day? Not quite.  A track day is about exploring either your car’s ability around a racetrack or your ability, most likely both.  Track days are about “the racing line” “apexes” and “braking zones”.  While hunting apexes is a hoot, it doesn’t really gel with the laid back ethos of the Cars and Coffee movement.

Circuit and Coffee isn’t about crushing lap times on the track.  Instead, it’s used as a controlled environment for the owners and admirers to experience their machines away from public roads.  Queensland Raceway is perfect for this type of thing with it’s very simple and wide lay out, its long front and back straights and the ability to see the entire course from anywhere in the facility. 

Participants are asked to respect the fact that this is not a race meet or Track day and to use the track accordingly.  This means that there is no high speed cornering and no drifting. Current vehicle registration is also required to get access to the track.

Maytas Fulop from Downshift Australia told Practical Motoring that the event is about trying to give enthusiasts the chance to not only get their own vehicle on to a track, but to see and hear other “lust worthy” cars used without some of the restrictions of road laws.  There’s nothing like seeing and hearing a Porsche GT3 pull away from you down the back straight to put some perspective on the price tag.  Only to see on the very next lap, a modified Nissan Silvia stay with said Porsche, and throw that perspective in to disarray again. You can even take advantage of the laid back atmosphere to get a ride in some of your favourite cars.

Maytas also spoke of the difficulties of such an assemblage.  The race tracks themselves seem to be a limiting factor with regard to safety.  He used Lakeside Raceway as an example of a track that is not suitable due to its undulating nature and narrow track width, really accentuating the point that this is about finding a controlled environment to have fun with, and not to challenge people with a racing mentality.  

Phillip Island is another fantastic facility, but is too far from a densely populated area to keep with the low key character of Circuit and Coffee.  “We’re exploring as many options as we can” Maytas said “but it is difficult to do something like this and keep costs to a minimum.”

Renting a race track comes with restrictions.  They can only allow a certain amount of cars on the track per event and, of course, racetracks aren’t free.  So, it’s quite a feat for Downshift Australia to be able to create this kind of access and provide a hot breakfast for only $60 per vehicle.  

Do we need more events like this, we say yes, but what do you think?

Melbourne people – don’t miss the regular Cars & Coffee events!


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About Author

Lachlan Wornes

Whether it is trying to name a car just from its exhaust note, to being able to identify it from only a partial view of a tail light, Lachlan always finds himself wanting to know more without ever having to make a conscious effort to do so. He loves to look at them, listen to them and talk about them. Somehow driving them always makes him feel excited and relaxed at the same time. Growing up in rural Victoria made for some very liberal driving experiences from a very young age, which may have something to do with the passion that still exists.
After spending all his 20’s in the snow fields of North America, the 9-5, 40hr work week never really suited him. After a brief stints with Road Magazine in the UK, and Jalopnik in the US, he has found his way back home to do what he loves, where he loves to be.

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