This summer while in England, I attended quite a few British car shows and thought it would be of interest to experience a bit of how car shows are presented in Great Britain.
The most recent event was called the Rye Summer Fair and held in the picturesque village of Micklesham. There were around 180 cars of all marques on display, but also folks were treated to many events including dog shows with obedience testing, a gun dog display, a contest for the best “amusing match of dogs’ looks to owner”, a falconry exhibit, an amateur horse gymkhana, a fox hunt group and all sorts of specialist stalls, a Pimm’s tent and various country style bric-a-brac outlets. All money collected from entry fees were passed on to worthy local charities.
Rye is two miles away from Micklesham and a “must see” historic town located on the south coast of East Sussex, with cobbled streets and many original medieval buildings including a 12th century church and the world famous Mermaid Inn built in 1420. Known as a Cinque Port, Rye and the surrounding area was prepared with heavy defense measures in the 14th century to protect Britain from invasion and strengthened in 1801 in preparations to fight Napoleon.
My wife Pam and I enjoyed the day with a typical English picnic, especially as we were able to spend time with ex-BCCSWF member Ted Fleet, who attended with his 1955 MG TF 1500, which he bought in Florida during one of his visits a few years back.
When I decided to send my Le Mans Austin-Healey back to England in 2016, one of the reasons was that I longed to drive the back roads around the county of Sussex, where we live during summer months. The first summer was blighted with various problems with the Healey, however, and finally I replaced the gas tank and fuel line and had the carburetors totally rebuilt, plus did a few other maintenance actions. I’m pleased to report the car now seems to be quite reliable and running great!
We’ve attended several local car shows this year and met some very nice car guys who introduced me to a variety of events. This resulted in joining a group who get together as “the Austin A35 Club.” Various marques are represented and we all meet at a pre-arranged spot. Once there we’re given a route guidance sheet and off we drive.
Not being totally familiar with the area and traveling solo (my wife Pam couldn’t be on this particular joyride), I chose to fall behind a Ford twin-cam Cortina. It turned out this driver, along with his wife, was expert in the art of route navigation. For a few miles we joined the main A22 Eastbourne-to-London road before turning off into what are called B roads. In reality these are often merely a step up from ancient horse-and-cart tracks. They’re just about wide enough to take a current-model car with surfaces that, while originally smooth blacktop, are now a patchwork of finishes with an abundance of medium depth potholes. Twisting and turning of the steering wheel is needed to avoid the worst hazards, and our suspensions systems and seat designs certainly receive a workout!
The route was actually a lot of fun although I did ground my exhaust once and it was clear all drivers dreaded the possibility of cars coming in the opposite direction. Yet there were no major incidents, although on two occasions we had to rely on the courtesy of truck drivers who pulled over into field hedges to allow our classic car caravan to pass!
As can be seen from the photos the weather was very pleasant. In fact it was a little too warm, which sent the Healey temperature north of 180°F for most of the drive. At one point the Cortina suddenly pulled up and after quick map reading took a right, letting the main group proceed in the wrong direction!
Our destination turned out to be a lovely country pub where, by taking the correct route, we were the first cars to arrive. Drivers and passengers relaxed with a cool (if not cold) drink and awaited the main group, who arrived shortly after us safe and sound. We all ordered typical pub grub to enjoy before heading out in different directions and making our way home.
All in all the route covered about 50 miles and featured a very enjoyable group of classic enthusiasts — a classic British drive along classic country roads, thus resulting in an authentic classic British car day!
FORT MYERS, Fla., Aug. 8 — The August meeting of the BCCSWF took place at the usual location, Famous Dave’s in Fort Myers, with 27 members braving the oppressive evening heat.
As voted on during the July meeting, the starting time was 6:30 p.m., moved up from the prior 7 p.m. time. With President Bill Newman on vacation, Activities Coordinator Gary Dworkin conducted the meeting. Two new members/guests were introduced to the club: Dane Green, who owns a 1980 MGB that is in “so-so shape,” and Glenn Green, who owns a 2003 Jaguar S-type that is “keeping him busy.”
Kenny Taylor informed the group of the generous event sponsored by the SCCA at Sebring on Saturday and Sunday, September 2-3 (Labor Day weekend). It will be “British Car Club Weekend,” and club members are invited to drive on the track during lunch hour in a controlled lap behind a pace car. All members have to do is drive their car to Sebring and mention at the gate they are with the BCCSWF. It was a fun event last year for several members who braved the rainy weather.
Lauren Welch recapped the Treasurer’s report and mentioned that we now have 99 members in the BCCSWF. Rollie Welch once again mentioned that articles for British Marque are welcome and encouraged members to write about any topic of British car interest.
The mystery car photos submitted by Peter Sales while spending his summer in England were mentioned, and club members agreed how much fun it is to see photos of extremely rare British cars.
Rollie mentioned that the roster for the Shell Point display of members’ cars set for January 6, 2018 is up to 20 cars and 38 members.
In the area of old business, Gary Dworkin reminded members of the October 21st Safety Harbor show, which is the premier British car show in Southwest Florida. Other car shows coming up are the 32nd Concours d’Elegance at St. Armand’s Circle in Sarasota, Fla., on October 14th, and the car show at the Vanderbilt Shoppes in Naples, Fla., sponsored by the Rotary Club on November 5th. More information will follow.
Club members sang a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday” to Kenny Taylor and Isabel Munoz.
Gary Dworkin offered his resignation as Vice President and Activities Coordinator, effective immediately. Gary has found retirement to be quite busy, and his volunteer commitments will take him out of the country for extended lengths of time. Thanks to Gary for all his organizational efforts for the club, especially corralling members and their cars for the huge “Cars on Fifth” show.
Tom Shaw won the 50-50 raffle of $31.
The next meeting will be at Famous Dave’s on Tuesday, September 12th. --Rollie Welch
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
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...