Part of enjoying a British classic vehicle is taking a drive and getting together with other enthusiasts. What’s better than combining both by attending shows where over 200 British classics attend, representing virtually every marque.
On Friday evening everyone was welcomed to the local Coastal Cantina Grill & Bar for nibbles, drinks and chat. A new feature was that registered drivers could collect their package there, allowing immediate vehicle placement Saturday morning. Joining us at the Meet & Greet were members Lionel and Jackie Hill, who recently moved to Crawfordville, Fla., in the Florida Panhandle. The good news was they were spared the wrath of Hurricane Michael.
On Saturday, October 27th, the 32nd Annual All-British Field Meet & Autojumble was held in Safety Harbor, well known for being really well organized by the Tampa Bay Austin-Healey Club in a perfect venue. The event supports the Special Olympics charity. It is always a well-attended event, often regarded as the opening of the Florida classic car season.
No exception this year, although only four BCCSWF family groups took on the 300-mile round trip. Club members in attendance were Peter and Pam Sales, Bill and Mary Newman, Steve and Nancy Volk, and Dennis McKinley. The weather for the drive was not perfect, with some rain showers, although on Saturday it recovered, and some clouds around made the day a lot more comfortable than usual.
At 2 p.m. participants gathered at the Main Street bandstand to hear the trophy winners in their class. Three BCCSWF members came away with 1sts and were warmly congratulated by their peers. Another highlight was to learn that a check for over $1,000 was passed to the designated charity as part of the 50/50 drawing.
BCCSWF winners at the All-Brit were:
Jaguar Saloon: 1st, Peter and Pam Sales, 1962 Jaguar MkII.
Minis and Varieties: 1st, Bill and Mary Newman, 1972 Mini Clubman.
Race Prepared: 1st, Dennis McKinley, 1965 Triumph TR4A.
My adventures with British cars began in 1976 when I purchased a yellow 1976 Triumph Spitfire with 20K miles from a British Leyland dealer in Baton Rouge, La. That car was my daily driver for 10 years, and both of my children learned to drive in the Spitfire. I still have that car and it is an important part of the family.
After the Spitfire came a 1972 Jensen-Healey, a Spit 6 of mixed years, a 1972 Triumph GT6, a 1960 Bugeye, a 2003 MINI, a 2005 MINI, a 2016 MINI and a 1972 Mini Clubman. All of these were road cars with some of them on the road more than others.
Of this bunch, the Jensen-Healey was the worst vehicle I have ever owned. It was haunted by the ghost of Lucas and had a tendency to stop just before the highest points of all bridges, which was almost a daily occurrence when we lived near Pensacola.
Motorsports adventures began for me shortly after purchasing the Spitfire. I began autocrossing in the Central Louisiana Region, SCCA, and soon found myself the Regional Executive of that organization. The Spitfire and I were at an autocross event somewhere in Louisiana, Texas or Mississippi almost every weekend. After rebuilding the Spitfire engine several times, I bought a 1964 Spitfire G Production racecar for autocrossing and retired the yellow Spit to the more relaxed life of a road car.
Around this time I met my wife Mary, who had a 1982 Mazda RX7, and one of our first dates was an autocross. In addition to marriage, our thoughts turned to road racing and we both attended the Skip Barber Racing School at Roebling Road in Savannah, Ga. The school cars were Crossle 35F Formula Fords, and even though I was terrible in the open-wheel cars the racing bug had bitten me.
The first racecar was a first-year VW GTI purchased from Tom Benson’s dealership in New Orleans. We put in a rollbar and a fire extinguisher and went racing in SCCA’s Showroom Stock Class.
After a few years, I bought the Chassis #120 Sports Renault, an SCCA Spec Class Sports Racer. The car had a single seat surrounded by a fiberglass body and powered by a 1700cc Renault Alliance engine. I raced this car at Texas World Speedway, Road Atlanta, Nelson Ledges, Ohio, and my home track and old airport course at Lake Charles, La.
By the end of 1986, Mary and I were living in Navarre Beach, Fla., and I had become unhappy with the ever-changing rules in the SCCA Spec Class. At this point, we sold the racecar and got back into boating and other things we enjoyed.
In 1989 we moved again to the Ft. Myers/Cape Coral area in southwest Florida, where I found a job with the County and Mary went to work at Florida Gulf Coast University. We became charter members of the newly formed British Car Club of Southwest Florida in 1993.
We started autocrossing the Spitfire again. The racing bug bit me once more after I attended a track day at Palm Beach International Raceway driving a Factory Five Cobra in 2005. I followed this with a session at the Panoz Racing School at Sebring and purchased another early Spitfire racecar. The decision was to stay away from production car club racing and concentrate on racing with the Vintage group.
I had lots of fun with the little Spitfire, but had the opportunity to buy a 1971 Triumph GT6 racecar in 2009. The inline two-liter, six-cylinder engine had more speed and opened up a new adventure in racing excitement.
Another racecar was purchased in 2012, a 1965 Spitfire Coupe built to replicate the Triumph factory effort at Sebring and Le Mans in 1964 and 1965. That car was really pretty and fun to put on the track. Unfortunately I crashed it at Sebring in 2013 when the right rear tire went flat.
The final race for me in that car was in December 2016 at the Sebring hairpin, when I experienced violent oversteer, causing the car to go airborne, bounce off the roof and land wheels down. I was O.K., but the car was done.
I continued to race the GT6, but began having breathing problems at the beginning of 2018, struggling to finish a race in February. A July race caused similar breathing troubles and I only did two laps. My doctor diagnosed COPD.
A trip to Put-in-Bay, Ohio, was an attempt to see if cooler weather would help my breathing situation. After having lots of fun at the non-competition events, on Tuesday morning, September 25th, I strapped in, put on my helmet and headed to the staging line for the first practice. Once released on the track, I began gasping for air. I made two laps, came in and hung up the helmet for last time.
I sold the GT6 in Ohio to the son of a friend of mine, another Spitfire driver, whom I had driven with in the past. It was not too hard to let the car go because I realized I just couldn’t race anymore.
Yes, I will miss the excitement, but I still have several British cars that will keep me busy — and we bought another boat. —Bill Newman
The meeting was called to order by President Bill Newman at 6:30 p.m.
Bill recognized guests Susan and Tim Coyne from Canada. They drove their MGB GT from Canada to Cape Coral. They said they also had driven their MGA from London, Ontario, to Key West. Quite an adventure!
The Secretary, Mary Newman, stated the minutes are on the website from past meetings. She also gave some details about the Christmas Party, which will be December 11th on the regular meeting night. She will send out an e-mail for club members to RSVP.
The Treasurer, Tom Brewsaugh, gave his report and stated we had two new members and the membership now stands at 90. He also stated dues are due in January and will remain $30.
The Nominating Committee consisting of Bill Newman and Cecil Carter gave a report and stated we have a full slate of officers. They are: President, Cecil Carter Vice President, Ken Taylor Secretary, Mary Newman and Treasurer, Tom Brewsaugh.
Ken Taylor reported on a race he ran at Sebring on October 13th. He ran his Miata. The vintage group had 30 cars. He said it was a good weekend.
Peter Sales and Bill Newman talked about the Safety Harbor car show put on by the Tampa Bay Austin-Healey Club. Those in attendance included Bill and Mary Newman, Peter and Pam Sales, Dennis McKinley, and Steve and Nancy Volk. There will be an article with pictures in the December Marque. (See accompanying article.)
Upcoming events (as of the meeting date)
November 17 — Luncheon Run to the Hut Restaurant in Buckingham, Fla.
December 1 — Dinner meeting at the British Open Pub in Bonita Springs, Fla., with the Gold Coast British Sports Car Club.
December 11 — Christmas Party at Famous Dave’s.
January 5 — Rally by the Alfa Car Club, starting in Punta Gorda. Check with Dennis McKinley.
January 26 — Celtic Festival, Centennial Park, Ft. Myers, Fla.
February 9 — Cars on Fifth, Naples, Fla.
February 16 — Cape Coral Charity Car Show at Jaycee Park.
February 23 — Car Show at Muscle Car City, Punta Gorda, Fla.
Other club business
Car for sale: 1967 Rover P5 III. Contact Cy Ling, email@example.com.
The 50/50 raffle was held.
The meeting then adjourned. —Mary Newman, Secretary
I have heard about this laid-back racing event for several years and thought this would be a good time to give it a try. Mary grew up in northern Ohio, near Cleveland, so I figured that might come in handy for this south Louisiana boy if I needed an interpreter!
We left home with our Triumph GT6 racecar in tow on Thursday, September 20th, for the 1,300-mile trip north, arriving Saturday, September 22nd, at the ferry landing for the 20-minute trip to South Bass Island in Lake Erie.
The original Put-in-Bay races were held 1952 to 1959, with another in 1963. These events ran a crude rectangular course delineated by haybales through the island’s narrow streets and was attended by many of the great drivers of that era.
In 2009 Jack Woehrle and Bob Williams, who were with the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA), decided to try racing at Put-in-Bay again. The early event caught traction and has continued to grow each year since. This year there were 73 racecars in four race groups and 15 exhibition cars including a 1985 Porsche 962.
The tourist season comes to a close in late September on South Bass Island, and this event brought the curtain down. Most of the restaurants and bars were open on the weekend when we arrived, but there were only a few places open during the next week.
The major mode of transportation on the island was the golf cart, but racecars were making their presence known as the second most common means of getting around. On Sunday the island had a weekly car parade through town, and Mary and I gladly joined in with the GT6.
Monday’s events started with a car show at one of the two Island wineries. There were 150 cars, most of which reside on the island. This event was fantastic, with wine flowing, pets everywhere, and the friendliest people you could ever meet.
Following the car show, the racers were allowed to take two laps of the original racecourse. This was my favorite portion of the event. The GT6 was making about 65-70mph through town, past the bars, restaurants and cheering residents. I hit one or two slightly low manhole covers, which bottomed the car and caused me to back off, but I will never forget the fun.
The races were held on Tuesday and Wednesday, September 25th and 26th, on the 1.2-mile airport course. More to come on this portion of the event and my life adventures in sports car racing next month!
Our October 9th meeting was called to order by President Bill Newman at 6:30 p.m. Bill welcomed Sandy and Edie Sanders and their daughter Heidi, who are potential new members. They have a 1987 Jaguar XJS that they will be bringing to their home in Naples.
Secretary Newman gave her report and stated the minutes from past meetings are on the website and also published in the British Marque. She also asked for articles for the Marque from the membership.
Treasurer Tom Brewsaugh gave his report and stated we had 89 members.
Put-in-Bay race — President Bill stated he took his last flag in racing at the Put-in-Bay races on South Bass Island located on Lake Erie.
Bill and Mary towed the GT6 racecar 1,300 miles to the ferry to the island on Saturday, September 22nd. There were many events over the next several days. There was parade of the cars around the island. There also was a car show at one of the two wineries on the island.
The car show was well attended. After the show the cars ran the old race course through town. They had two laps and Bill really enjoyed the event.
The first racing events happened on Tuesday. Bill ran two laps and determined that he had too much difficulty breathing to complete the race. We were fortunate enough to be able to sell the racecar to some fellow Triumph lovers and the car stayed in Ohio.
Upcoming events (as of the meeting date)
October 13-14 — Vice President Kenny Taylor is racing at Sebring.
October 20 — North Naples Church Car Show.
October 27 — Safety Harbor Car Show. Some members will be attending. Bill and Mary are going up on Friday evening.
November 3 — Marco Island Knights Car Show, San Marco Church, Marco Island.
December 1 — Dinner at the British Open Pub in Bonita Springs with the Gold Coast British Sports Car Club.
December 11 — Car Club Christmas Party at Famous Dave’s.
February 9, 2019 — “Cars on Fifth,” sponsored by Naples Ferrari Club. Bill appointed a nominating committee consisting of himself and Cecil Carter. They will report at the next meeting.
The meeting adjourned.—Mary Newman, Secretary
BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. — A small but weather-tolerant group of members made a run to the British Open Pub in Bonita Springs on August 26th.
Mary and I met Marcia and Larry McCartt along with Dennis McKinley and Cynthia Mahoney at the Lowe’s parking lot in Ft. Myers and braved the heat, humidity and the chance of rain on the run to Bonita Springs.
None of us had been to this pub in several years, but found the atmosphere and menu to be terrific. The British Open Pub is, of course, golf-themed but there are pictures of all things British hanging on the walls.
The pub menu has all the British favorites including fish and chips, bangers and mash and all sorts of pasties. There are also several local seafood dishes and American fare as well. The bar is well stocked with many British beers and some great Scotches.
We all had great meals, talked about our cars, and made our way home before the afternoon rains came down.
Please mark your calendar for Satuday, December 1st, at 5:30 p.m. We will be meeting our friends from the Gold Coast British Sports Car Club for dinner at the British Open Pub.
President Bill Newman called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m. There were no new members or guests to introduce.
The Secretary, Mary Newman, gave her report and stated the minutes were on the website and will be in the British Marque. In her capacity as Marque Contributing Editor she asked for members to contribute articles for the upcoming issues.
The Treasurer, Tom Brewsaugh, gave his report and stated that we had 87 members.
We had the birthday celebration for the August birthdays. The members present who received a special dessert were Ken Taylor, John Liversedge and Martha Lambert.
Old business — President Bill stated that he and Mary had attempted to go racing at Sebring for the July event but had brake issues with their truck and had to cancel. Ken Taylor participated that weekend and stated there were 15 or 16 vintage cars at the event.
There will be a race at Sebring September 1st and 2nd on the long course. Bill and Ken will both be attending.
Members Larry and Marcia McCartt suggested having a luncheon run to the British Open Pub in Bonita Springs on Sunday, August 26th. The Mimi’s Breakfast is on the day before and they did not want to interfere with that monthly event. The Secretary will send out an e-mail to get the members to RSVP to get a head count. We will meet at the Lowe’s parking lot in Fort Myers.
Events — Upcoming British car club shows were discussed. Many members will be attending the 32nd Annual All-British Field Meet & Autojumble on Saturday, October 27th. The Marco Island Car Show is on November 3rd at the San Marco Church. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The entry fee is $20.
Our club and the Gold Coast British Sports Car Club will be meeting for dinner at the British Open Pub in Bonita Springs on December 1st.
The 50/50 raffle was held and long-time member Louise Krause won. The meeting then adjourned.
September 11th Meeting
The meeting was called to order by Bill Newman, President, at 6:30 p.m. A new member was introduced: Steve Kurowski. He owns a 1953 TR3. He inquired about autocrossing with the Gulf Coast Group. We referred him to the website.
The Secretary, Mary Newman, gave her report and stated that the minutes from both the August and September meetings will be on the website. She also asked for articles for the British Marque. The Treasurer, Tom Brewsaugh, gave his report and stated that with the new member we have 88 members.
Old business/past events — Several members attended a luncheon run at the British Open Pub on August 26th. The members attending were Bill and Mary Newman, Larry and Marcia McCartt and Dennis McKinley and Cynthia Mahoney. All had a good time.
There was an SCCA race at Sebring International Raceway September 1-2 on the long course. Both Bill and Ken participated. Twelve Vintage cars took the track on the first race. During the second race Kenny had coil issues that prevented him from finishing.
New business — Bill mentioned the death of Jean Shipley Summers, the wife of Dan Summers, a past member.
Upcoming car shows and other events were discussed:
October 20 — North Naples Church show.
October 27 — Tampa Bay Austin-Healey Club show at Safety Harbor.
November 3 — Marco Island Knight Car Show.
December 1st — Joint dinner with the Gold Coast British Car Club at the British Open Pub in Bonita Springs.
High Five Pizza in Estero requested that the club do a car display at the end of November.
The Classic Mini 60th Anniversary International will be held August 8-12, 2019 in Bristol, England.
The Classic Mini 60th Anniversary US Celebration will be held October 9-13, 2019 in Wytheville, Va.
Bill announced a Nominating Committee consisting of Bill and Cecil Carter. The 50/50 raffle was held and the meeting then adjourned.—Mary Newman, Secretary