SEBRING, Fla. — The Central Florida Region of Sports Car Club of America held its annual “June Bug Dash” on the weekend of June 10th and 11th.
The races, which included the Vintage Group and various Regional Club Racing classes, were held on the Sebring short course, 1.7 miles. For this configuration the track eliminates the long back straight and the start/finish front straight used during the 12-hour race. Without these long straightaways the higher-horsepower cars have less of an advantage, and cornering ability becomes the important factor.
This was my first race of 2017, my last race being an HSR Sebring event in December 2016 when I rolled my Spitfire exiting the hairpin and destroyed the car. The Triumph GT6 has been undergoing an engine rebuild after bending a valve and blowing the head gasket last fall. The car now has a fresh look with prepared cylinder head and valves, new pistons and rings, new rod and main bearings — plus I had everything balanced. My goal for this race was to break in the new motor, bed the new brake pads, and regain confidence in my racing ability.
Joining my wife Mary and me at the event were fellow vintage racers and BCCSWF club members Ken Taylor (Triumph TR7) and Steve Schultz (MGA). We all cleared registration and tech inspection on Friday afternoon, set up in the Green Park Paddock, and then proceeded to the hotel for drinks and dinner.
Everyone was up early on Saturday morning, since the Vintage Group had a combined practice and qualifying at 8 a.m. There were 18 cars that qualified, with Steve Smith on the pole with his Lotus Elan.
American cars were the featured marque for this event, including Steve Piantieri in a Shelby 350 GT at 2nd. Ken Hazelton in a Corvette was 5th, Derek Stennes in a Shelby 350GT was 7th, and Dale Lagasse in a Mustang was 15th. I stayed with my game plan, taking things easy, and qualified 12th. Steve Schultz would start 13th and Ken Taylor qualified 16th due to problems with his timing transponder.
Our first race, billed as a “fun race,” was only five laps and started about 10 a.m. Our tires were just getting up to temperature when the checkered flag came out. Ken Taylor in the TR7 came up behind me within the first or second lap. He followed me for about one lap while I tried to make the GT6 as wide as possible. I signaled him to pass in the carousel and then did my best to stay with him. At the checker it was Steve Piantieri in the Shelby in 1st place. Ken finished 11th, I was 12th and Steve Schultz was 14th.
The next race on Saturday was at 3 p.m. and my car had several maintenance issues that needed attention. First, the valve cover gasket was leaking badly and had covered most of the engine compartment with a generous coating of oil. Ken came over with cleaning materials and I proceeded to use about half a tube of gasket maker to fix the leak. Second, the bolt holding the right side of the front sway bar was gone, making this suspension component totally useless. Steve Schultz came over with a 60-lb. box of nuts and bolts and I found one that fixed the problem.
The second race found our group at the grid with rain starting to fall. Rain usually favors the small-bore cars and this proved to be true during the race. Steve Smith, in the Lotus Elan, finished 1st. I experienced a good race with Harvey Lewis’ Datsun 510 and passed him in the hairpin on the last lap, but then missed a shift. He got me back before the checkered flag. I finished 8th, Ken Taylor finished 5th and Steve Schultz finished 14th, dropping out early due to some handling issues.
The Sunday race began about 11 a.m., with Ken coming up behind me in the early laps again. I waved him around and chased him for the rest of the race. The weather was good, but Florida-hot, and the race was pretty unexciting. Steve Smith in the Lotus Elan won, Ken finished 9th, I finished 10th and Steve finished 13th.
We were all loaded up and gone before the lunch break was over. My goals had been achieved and now I am ready to race again. Our next race (as of this writing) will be July 22nd at Sebring on the same short course.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The July meeting of the BCCSWF was held at the usual location, Famous Dave’s in Fort Myers, with 26 members attending.
Several guests/new members and the cars they own were quickly introduced: Tom and Martha Lambert, owners of a 1953 MG, Rick and Chris Green, who drive an MGA, and Bob Field and Bonnie Bauer, members who joined several months ago but were attending their first meeting. Tom told us he was already ordering parts for a car he has owned for only two weeks. Bob spoke about his 2007 Jaguar XKR and also quietly mentioned his German Mercedes.
Rollie Welch once again mentioned that articles for British Marque are welcome and encouraged members to submit any content relevant to British cars. Rollie thanked Lin Dworkin for her fine article about the Arcadia Memorial Service. Also acknowledged was Bill Newman’s article about vintage racing at Sebring.
The January Shell Point display event was mentioned, with 19 vehicles agreeing to participate. More details will follow as the January 6, 2018 date draws closer.
Lauren Welch summarized the Treasurer’s report. Membership now stands at 93 with more memberships yet to be renewed. The meeting paused to sing “Happy Birthday” to Gary Dworkin and Tom Brewsaugh, who were enjoying their birthday month in July.
Webmaster Gary Eidson thanked everyone for their efforts on the web page and told us how easily the transition to Mary Newman worked. Mary will be the Webmaster for the upcoming year. Gary pointed out how much improved the web page is, with quite of bit of relevant information for club members. Club members gave Gary a round of applause for his web work.
Bill Newman spoke about how the club needs to remain active through the peaks and valleys of attendance throughout the year. Our snowbird members cannot attend summer events, but it is important to have activities planned for the winter months.
Activities Coordinator Gary Dworkin spoke about the monthly breakfast get-togethers at Mimi’s on the last Saturday of each month. Gary expressed in detail his desire for the club to change venues on July 29th to the Garden Café in Bonita Springs, about eight miles south of Mimi’s. Gary listed the menu items and price points while expressing the setting, which in his opinion has more privacy for conversation about cars and such.
Several members asked if moving the location without contacting the full membership was too rushed of a decision. Much discussion ensued with several motions for membership surveys to be submitted. Members voiced concern about alienating a percentage of the membership by a location that may be less centrally located. Other suggestions were to alternate locations. Gary felt that the Garden Café would offer better service performance, but that seemed not to be a motivating factor for other members. A motion was made and seconded to send out via e-mail a simple survey to gauge which members would be in favor of a venue change.
Bill Newman mentioned the SCCA event at Sebring on July 12th. Bill also reminded everyone of the big event, the Safety Harbor show on October 21st, which promises to be a huge gathering of British vehicles.
Bill also mentioned the need to “polish up” the club’s by-laws regarding monetary concerns along with more precise procedures for club policy. Cecil Carter and Bill Newman will review the by-laws and propose recommendations within the next few months.
Kenny Taylor moved that monthly meetings at Famous Dave’s begin a half hour earlier at 6:30. The motion was seconded and passed with a majority. Thus, the August 8th meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m.
Gary Dworkin will conduct the next meeting as Bill and Mary will be vacationing in Nova Scotia.
Mike Wheeler won the 50-50 raffle of $32. Congrats!
The next meeting will be on August 8th — with a starting time of 6:30 p.m. —Rollie Welch
ARCADIA, Fla. — Each year on Memorial Day, a service organized by the Arcadia Rotary Club is held to honor 23 Royal Air Force trainee pilots who were killed during training at nearby Carlstrom and Riddle flight schools during World War II. Buried with the cadets is one of the flight instructors, John Paul Riddle, who died many years later. He was also one of the originators of the Embry-Riddle Aeronautic University in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Over one hundred people attend, many of whom bring floral tributes and congregate at the beautifully maintained British Plot in the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Arcadia to express their appreciation for the ultimate sacrifice made by these 23 young men.
The one-hour service, which begins at 10 a.m. each Memorial Day and is always attended by members of the British Car Club of Southwest Florida, is a very dignified, unexpected and moving experience.
This year was no different. A further touch of British atmosphere came with the Union Jack and RAF flags fluttering overhead.
Our group gathered among the flags and gravestones to remember what these young men did in another time to keep the world safe and end all wars. We still pray the same prayers to end conflict between the peoples of the world and sing the same songs to get closer to their hopes for a peaceful world.
It was a beautiful day, clear and warm. The service was lovely, complete with placing a flag on each tomb of each of the 24 servicemen. There were also many wreaths presented by various associations, including one from the British Car Club of Southwest Florida.
After the service, we proceeded to Mary Margret’s Tearoom for lunch with our club members. All and all it was a very fitting Memorial Day for those who attended and experienced a touching tribute to those brave souls who gave their all for peace.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The June meeting of the BCCSWF was held at the usual location of Famous Dave’s on June 13th, with 24 members attending.
Several guests and new members (and the cars they own) were quickly introduced. Jim Pace, newly arrived to Southwest Florida from New York, mentioned his 1972 TR6, which has a Toyota transmission David and Julie Mizzoli, also new to the area and from Long Island, spoke about their TR250, with David noting that he loves the mechanical work and is looking for a shop in the area.
Gary Eidson introduced Scott Allen, who is connected with a development project and is interested in promoting storage suites, which Scott called “man caves,” to local car clubs. There will be 68 units total and 12 have already been sold. For more information, Scott told us to contact Island Storage Units at (239) 333-3637 or islandstoragesuites.com.
Rollie Welch once again mentioned that articles for the British Marque are welcome and encouraged members to write about the history of their British cars and how they came to own them. Rollie also recapped the impressive identification of Jaguars used in Pippa Middleton’s wedding that was e-mailed to club members. Derry Haynes was able to identify the cars within three minutes of receiving the e-mail photos!
Lauren Welch summarized the Treasurer’s report. Membership now stands at 90, with more memberships yet to be renewed.
Webmaster Gary Eidson again voiced his desire to turn over the Webmaster duties to any club member, and Mary Newman volunteered to do the task for the next year.
Bill Newman spoke about the wonderful and moving experience of the Memorial Day service at Arcadia (see the accompanying article). The event honors the British airmen who perished in World War II training accidents and are buried in Arcadia. Around 20 club members attended the ceremony, and BCCSWF donated a wreath to be set at the gravesite. Even though it was a hot day, club members agreed that the experience was rewarding. Thanks to Terry Luck, Bill Newman and also Cecil Carter for organizing the event.
Bill and Kenny Taylor summarized vintage races held on the weekend of June 10-11. Kenny and Bill entered three races over the weekend and Kenny outdistanced Bill in all three, including a Saturday rain race. (Bill claims he was being cautious, breaking in a new motor.) Kenny drives a TR7 that is running well and even has a new paint job. Bill talked about how much fun vintage racing is as there are British, Italian and German cars, plus several American vehicles including two Shelby 350GTs. Bill was thrilled that his British car passed several Corvettes. Bill also mentioned Steve Smith of Sarasota, who won races driving a Lotus Elan, which Bill described as “wicked fast.”
Lionel Hill told us that the Isle of Man TT motorcycle races were currently being held, and that it was well worth watching the madness of this dangerous race.
Bill ended the meeting by reminding club members that the SCCA will again sponsor car clubs for a courtesy lap on the track at Sebring during Labor Day weekend. Last year several members took part in the lap and enjoyed it tremendously. More information will follow in the July meeting.
Rollie Welch won the 50-50 raffle of $30. The next meeting will be held on July 11th. —Rollie Welch
Before any comment about the Best in Class trophy (for Jaguar Saloons) presented to my 1962 Jaguar Mk2, it first must be noted that in 2017 the “Wheels Across the Pond” classic car show celebrated its 11th successful year. The venue was once again Carlin Park in Jupiter, Fla., with this premier event welcoming over 200 classic cars, motorcycles and several historic bicycles that were placed in groups.
Vehicles were grouped by marque and displayed over the beautiful, undulating parkland complete with a lake vista. The spring weather, combined with strong sea breezes off the Atlantic, was once again picture perfect.
Car shows always allow enthusiasts to meet and talk about a wide range of subjects that usually resolve around their specific cars. As for the Mk2 Jaguar, I tend to emphasis its history, though I cannot claim to have carried out the restoration that now invites so many compliments.
A quick summary shows the car was originally purchased directly from Jaguar by Rex Sage — for his wife Jane’s birthday — in 1962, during a vacation in England.
The original Mk1 model, fitted with a 2.4-liter, twin overcam straight six was first shown at the London motor show in 1955 and was an instant success. In 1959 the improved Mk2 was launched, with the choice of 2.4-, 3.4- and 3.8-liter powerplants offering speeds well above 100mph.
After touring the United Kingdom, this vehicle was shipped back to America and stayed with the family for around 54 years. Jane passed away in 1999 and the Jaguar was left to daughter Cyndi who, with car enthusiast husband Jack, decided to invest in a complete restoration in memory of Jane. By 2002 the car was looking great again and back on the road in Florida, christened “Lady Jane” in Mum’s memory!
I took over stewardship from the second owner in the spring of 2016 and have enjoyed “the ride” ever since. As with any old vehicle maintenance is essential, and there is always the need to prep for presentation before showing. The result is a classic automobile that is truly an elegant sports sedan that turns heads wherever driven.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The May meeting of the BCCSWF was held at the usual location, Famous Dave’s in Fort Myers, on May 9th with 33 members attending.
Guests and the cars they own were quickly introduced. Several members mentioned they had recently acquired new vehicles. Cy Ling has purchased a 1995 Jaguar XKS convertible with 35,000 miles. John and Angela Sergeant now own a 1980 TR8. The astounding thing is they drove the TR8 from Seattle to Fort Myers! That’s a total distance of over 3,200 miles, which is a formidable feat. However, John stated, “Never again!” Bill Newman announced he would soon acquire a right-hand-drive 1972 Mini Clubman.
Rollie Welch mentioned that articles for British Marque are welcome, and encouraged members to write about the history of their British cars and how they came to own them. Rollie also announced that Shell Point Residential Living Center has asked if the BCCSWF would be willing to display members’ cars in January 2018. Many members showed interest — another “excuse” to drive their cars.
Lauren Welch summarized the Treasurer’s report. Membership now stands at 89, with more memberships yet to be renewed. Webmaster Gary Eidson announced that the members’ roster on the website has been updated. Gary also informed the club that the Palm Beach International Raceway has an offer where you can drive the car of your dreams for five laps with a cost of around $250. Gary encouraged us to look into the offer. Gary also voiced a plea that since he is currently without a British car, he is willing to drive any other member’s car to events.
The meeting paused to sing “Happy Birthday” to club members with May birthdays: Rollie Welch, Margrit Vegter, Peter Sales and Lionel Hill.
Bill Newman expressed the need for a quick commitment to the Memorial Day ceremony held at Arcadia. The event honors the British airmen who perished in World War II training accidents and are buried in Arcadia. There’s a limit of 22 people for the post-ceremony luncheon. Thanks to Terry Luck and Cecil Carter for organizing the event.
Mary Newman has agreed to be the organizer for the BCCSWF Christmas/Holiday party in December. Bill and Kenny Taylor spoke about the upcoming vintage races on the weekend of June 10-11. Bill and Kenny encouraged club members to attend as it is a good show.
At the “Wheels Across the Pond” event in April, Peter Sales’ Jaguar Saloon took a 1st place. John Sergeant took a 3rd place with his British car.
Lionel and Jackie Hill drove their MGA to a first-time car show event on the Sanibel Causeway Islands sponsored by the SanCap Motor Club. It was a great location with the Gulf of Mexico as a backdrop but what stunned Lionel and Jackie was they met a former neighbor of years ago that lived nearby in New Hampshire! It’s a small world. Their former neighbor now owns two AC Bristols.
Bill Newman will be selling a 1960 Bugeye Sprite. Terry Luck mentioned that autocross is a great event and encouraged members to take part. Kenny Taylor, who normally races his TR7, raced a Miata in Daytona and experienced all sorts of weather — cold on Saturday and warm on Sunday — but a good weekend of racing.
Cecil Carter won the 50-50 raffle of $41. John Welch donated a $25 coupon for an auto parts store, and Angela Sergeant won that gift.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday, June 13th. Check the BCCSWF.com site for more information. —Rollie Welch
Sunday is always a beautiful day for a car lovers’ picnic and March 19th was just perfect! Members of the British Car Club of Southwest Florida gathered in the parking lot in Fort Myers early that morning to line up and caravan to the Franklin Locks Recreation Area, situated on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River in Alva, Fla.
We had about 14 cars from our club proudly driving through the byways towards our Annual Picnic. Those of us lucky enough to have convertibles had our tops down and were enjoying the best weather Florida has to offer. Crisp warm breezes were ruffling our hair that morning, with everyone watching from the sidelines wishing they had a little British car just like us!
Once we reached the Locks we were greeted by our best mates cooking up a storm for lunch. Doesn’t everything taste so much better alfresco? Really, it couldn’t have been better! We had a spread fit for the Queen. If she could have fit it in her schedule, she would have been with us I am sure! It was a lovely affair as tried-and-true grill masters Lionel Hill and Larry Gleeson cooked up burgers, hot dogs and chicken and deftly used spatulas to keep plates filled. The club gives thanks to Alan Shakman for generously providing the abundance of meat for the grill. They all really put their hearts into their work.
To work off the comfort food, lawn games of horseshoe pitching and cornhole toss were organized. Many club members took their turns with varying levels of success. Under the watchful eyes of judges Jackie Hill and Bunnie Gleeson, each attempt was measured. At times the audience heckling could be quite biting in sarcasm but was all in good fun. However, the completion, although intended to be casual, had an underlying spirit of competition. Winners of the horseshoe pitching were Gary Eidson for the men and Janet Lemesis for the ladies. The cornhole toss was won by Rich Lesinski for the guys, and, in a triple overtime of extended tosses, Margrit Vegter won for the ladies.
After a quick cleanup it was a tough sell to get our members to leave but we did convince them to get back in their great little cars and hit the road home.
Another great season is in the rear view but we have a great year to look forward to. Thank you everyone who made this Picnic and made the year a great one for our club. Same time next year?
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The April meeting of the BCCSWF was held at the usual location of Famous Dave’s in Fort Myers, Fla., on April 11th with 39 members attending. New members were introduced: Janet and Aldis Lemesis, owners of a 1962 Jaguar E-type, Rich and Judy Fifield, who own a TR250, and John and Angela Sergeant, who own an MGB, but have also rebuilt a TR3 and a TR4. Also introduced were guests Jack and Francis Breece, who own a 1980 MGB. Jack told the group he has owned in the past two MGAs and ten MGBs.
President Bill Newman mentioned several e-mails he received from outside people. One person has a 1961 Morgan for sale another needs help starting his car that has been sitting for some time, and another is interested in exchanging MG T Series info. Club members should contact Bill Newman if any of these queries sound intriguing.
Rollie Welch once again mentioned that articles for British Marque are welcome even if bullet points of an event are provided. An article can always be formed around them. Rollie also reminded members that jpeg is the preferred form of photos for articles. Lin Dworkin was mentioned as the author of an upcoming article detailing the Annual Club Picnic. Lauren Welch summarized the Treasurer’s report. Membership now stands at 82 with many more memberships yet to be renewed.
Webmaster Gary Eidson reiterated the process to post photos of members’ cars for sale on the website. A jpeg is needed along with specific information about the car (year, model, price, any flaws or recent improvements). Gary also is involved with tweaking the B.I.G. show next March to make it an even more attractive venue along the banks of the Caloosahatchee River. Since 60% of the automobile entries come from BCCSWF members, Gary feels better signage and a more favorable parking layout for showing cars are needed.
The meeting paused to sing “Happy Birthday” to three club members with April birthdays: Richard Bartlett, Aldis Lemesis and Steve Ruppert. Bill Newman introduced the possible change in location for the last-Saturday-each-month breakfast run. The current location of Mimi’s has been up and down in service and several members have voiced their displeasure. Gary Dworkin has discovered The Garden Café in Bonita Springs, which is a possible destination. Much discussion ensued about central location, service, parking and ease of access. No decision was made, as this was the opening discussion of a possible change in location.
Bill Newman mentioned the many upcoming events through April and reminded members to check the webpage for details. Several members spoke about the good times at the Annual Picnic, including the thrilling competition of horseshoes and cornhole. Thanks went to cooks Lionel Hill and Larry Gleeson, along with Alan Shakman who provided the food.
New member Margrit Vegter won the 50-50 raffle (for the second month in a row) of $48.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday, May 9th. Check the BCCSWF.com site for more information. —Rollie Welch
A nice story was posted on the website www.news-press.com about BCCSWF member Peter Sales and his Austin-Healey 100M. Here is the link...