Several of our members have been racing their British cars with organizations that sanction road racing for vintage automobiles. Locally there are two groups that sanction races at nearby racetracks: the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) and Historic Sports Car Racing (HSR).
The SCCA’s Central Florida Region (www.cfrscca.org) has a Vintage Race Group that runs events at Sebring, Daytona, Homestead and Palm Beach as part of their Regional Club Racing Program. The Vintage Group usually consists of 25-30 cars ranging from Bugeye Sprites to big horsepower Corvettes and Shelbys, all on the track at the same time. The rules require that only cars from 1989 and earlier are eligible, but most are pre-1972.
SCCA races are members only, non-spectator events, but entry can be had by special invitation or by serving as a crewmember for one of the drivers.
Historic Sports Car Racing (www.hsrrace.com) is an organization that can find a race group for almost any age and type of car. Many of the top drivers, now retired from professional racing, call the HSR their home. Our small-bore British cars race in Group 2 and Group 3 and are called Vintage or Historic Production Cars, depending on age. These Groups have their own races and are more or less equal in performance and handling abilities.
All HSR events are open to the public for an entry fee (usually $45) and you can even take your car on track at the lunch break for an additional fee.
Any BCCSWF members interested in vintage racing can contact me, Bill Newman.
Upcoming vintage races
September 1-2 — SCCA, Sebring.
September 20-23 — HSR, Road Atlanta.
October 25-28 — SCCA, Sebring.
October 25-28 — HSR, Savannah.
November 7-11 — HSR, Daytona.
November 29-December 2 — SCCA, Sebring.
FT. MYERS, Fla. — The meeting was called to order by President Bill Newman at 6:30 p.m. There were no new members or guests.
The Secretary, Mary Newman, stated the minutes of the June meeting are on the website. She also wanted people to update what cars they want listed on the website. The Treasurer, Tom Brewsaugh, gave his report and stated we had 87 members.
Past events — The Miromar Outlet Car Show was attended by several club members. Bill and Mary Newman brought both their 1972 Mini Clubman and the 2016 MINI Cooper S Coupe, along with some needed shade from a canopy. Larry and Marcia McCartt brought their 1977 MGB, John Sergeant his MGA, Mike Wheeler his MGB, and John and Heather Dent their Bentley. Chris Cosden had his MG TD and Ed O’Neal brought his Austin-Healey 3000.
We did our birthday celebration for Tom Brewsaugh and Gary Dworkin. A dessert was provided by Famous Dave’s.
Upcoming events — As of the meeting date, there was an upcoming race at Sebring Raceway on July 20-21. It also would be a Drivers School and Enduro.
The Safety Harbor Show is slated for October 27th, and we always have a lot of members attend.
The McCartts talked about a cruise that they will look into for a future event. Also we will look into the Muscle Car City Car Shows to see if they are something the club would like to be involved with.
The Gold Coast British Sports Car Club will be getting together with our club for dinner on December 1st at the British Open Pub in Bonita Springs.
The Christmas Party was discussed. We are looking at various options along with having the party at the December meeting date at our usual location.
The 50/50 raffle was held and won by our Vice President, Ken Taylor.
The meeting adjourned. —Mary Newman, Secretary
My history with cars goes back to when I took my driver’s training class in the summer of 1966. I took my test that fall in my aunt’s 1962 Corvair. I had some hand-me-down American cars until my senior year of college, when I purchased my 1966 Corvair Monza convertible. It cost $600. How times have changed.
After the Corvair I went through a series of small cars until I met my husband Bill in the early 1980s. He had a 1976 Triumph Spitfire, which was his daily driver.
Bill purchased the car from a British Leyland dealer in Baton Rouge, La. (We still have that car today.) He was autocrossing the Spit at the time and invited me to bring my 1982 RX-7 and give it a try. So I got involved in autocrossing also.
Before we got married we both did a Skip Barber Driving School at Roebling Road Raceway outside of Savannah, Ga. That started the racing bug for Bill, and I was content being crew chief. Many years later he went back racing in the Vintage car group with the Sports Car Club of America.
We have had three British racecars. The first one was a 1964 Triumph Spitfire roadster. It really was a cute little car with an 1147 motor. Bill wanted more power, so when an opportunity arose to buy a 1972 Triumph GT6 we jumped on it.
The GT6 has been a pretty reliable car. It is in Group 44 colors and looks great.
A few years later we traded the little Spit racecar along with some cash for a 1965 Triumph Spitfire Le Mans Coupe Replica, which we sold back to the original owner after a few track mishaps.
Our other British acquisitions included a 1970 red Triumph GT6. We did some mechanical work on it and sold it. Bill said it fought him all the way (but I think most of them do).
We also owned a 1969 Spit-Six, which we took off the hands of a guy going through a divorce. We did not do much with that car and found a willing buyer.
One of our less satisfying acquisitions was a 1972 Jensen-Healey. It was a beautiful yellow convertible, for which we traded a pontoon boat to our neighbor. It had a bad habit of dying at the top of bridges. We sold that car to a young man who told us he never had trouble with Lucas electrics in the past. I’m sure it gave him a new perspective on that subject.
Another car that was in our stable for a while was a 1960 Bugeye that we rescued in Fort Myers. It was in good shape but needed some restoration and we finally realized that we did not have the time or the energy to do it. We sold that car to a good home, and hopefully we will see it out and about one day.
In 1999 Bill and I went to the Mini 40th Birthday Celebration at Silverstone Raceway and saw over 5,000 Minis in all different body styles and configurations. It was there that we saw the introduction of the new MINI One. It was in a giant bubble and piqued our interest — so much so that in December 2002, we took delivery of our 2003 Chili Red MINI. I named her Chili Girl, and that was the start of my love affair with my MINI.
When we picked her up she had a big bow on her bonnet, and we received a snow globe with a MINI in the city inside. We also were sent several other goodies throughout the next year. A special MINI mug was my favorite. I’m still using it.
Bill really wanted to drive the new MINI more but I used her as my daily driver to work. Ultimately we ordered his 2005 Hyper Blue Metallic with a British flag on the roof.
In 2005 we went to the British Grand Prix at Silver-stone and arranged a trip to tour the new MINI factory outside Oxford. It was the first tour of an automobile factory I had ever taken and it was very impressive.
I have driven my MINI over 164,000 miles. She just had a new paint job that makes her look like she just came off the showroom floor.
Our Mini saga went on after we purchased a classic 1972 Clubman from our friends. It is our primary show car and has won some trophies. We have really enjoyed the little purple Mini. It is right-hand drive and people ask us if it is legal in this country.
Our most recent acquisition is a 2016 Mini Cooper S, for which we traded in our 2005 MINI. It is much different from my MINI in that it has a lot of technology. No key, but a fob that you have to have in the car. The start-up procedure takes a while to get used to.
I am still in love with my MINI and intend to have many more adventures with her.
Our club was invited to bring our cars to the Miramar Outlets Mall on Father’s Day, June 17th, for a car show.
One of the local hot rod clubs, the Cool Cruisers, has a monthly display at the mall and wanted to expand the show with our British cars for Father’s Day. Since many of our members travel north for the summer, I called the other local British car clubs, Triumphs of Southwest Florida and the Jaguar Club of Southwest Florida, to round up a few more cars.
The parking lot venue was on a lake, but shade was very scarce with the Florida sun shining brightly in the 90°-plus heat.
Mary and I brought the 1972 Mini Clubman and the 2016 MINI Cooper S. We also brought some shade and a lot of cold water.
There were several MGs — Chris Cosden’s 1952 TD, Larry and Marcia McCartt’s MGB and Mike Wheeler’s MGB. John and Angela Sergeant brought their MGA.
John and Heather Dent came in style with their 2007 Bentley. Ed O’Neal brought his Austin-Healey 3000. Representing the Triumphs were Dennis McKinley with his TR7 and Mark Shilen with his TR6.
The Mall provided some free raffle prizes, free water, and lots of shopping.
We all lasted about four hours, escaping before the afternoon rains came down. —Bill Newman
ARCADIA, Fla. — Before Pearl Harbor there was a need to establish flying schools in the United States. South Florida became the site for two that were important British training schools: the British Number 5 at Riddle Field in Clewiston, and the US School at Carlstrom Field in Arcadia. Carlstrom Field opened in June 1941 and Riddle field opened in September 1941.
During the course of their training several young pilots had accidents and 23 died. The British authorities requested a burial spot for the fallen pilots. Five plots of adequate size were set aside for this purpose, along with two extra plots for meditation and memorials.
At Carlstrom Field training was with planes of simple design, such as the PT-17s. At Clewiston advanced trainers, the BT-13s and AT-6s, were used.
Each year a formal commemorative service is held at the British Plot in Arcadia’s Oak Ridge Cemetery by the Rotary Club of Arcadia. The British Car Club of Southwest Florida has participated in this event for many years. Each year our club has presented a memorial wreath for placement at the plot.
This year’s ceremony included memorial comments by Brigadier General Bradley Swanson of the US Central Command at Mac Dill Air Force Base, Tampa, Fla. He had been stationed in England for several years and was a pilot himself.
Our Club President, Bill Newman, presented our wreath for the ceremony. Also attending were Cecil Carter and Isabel Munoz from the club.
A PT-17 under restoration was at the memorial, having been brought there by Hal Thompson (see photo). The turnout was lower than in past years because of the threat of rain. We all then met up again at the Celtic Ray Pub in Punta Gorda for some lunch.
The June 12th meeting was called to order by President Bill Newman at 6:30 p.m.
Mary Newman gave the Secretary’s report. She stated the minutes were on the website and also in the British Marque. Mary Newman, also interim Treasurer, reported we had three new members, which brings the membership to 87 members. A motion was made to accept the report and seconded.
Ken Taylor made a motion to nominate Tom Brewsaugh as Treasurer. Larry McCart seconded the motion and the motion passed. Tom is the new Treasurer.
On May 27th the club attended the Memorial Day Service at the British Plot at the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Arcadia, Fla. Bill and Mary Newman and Cecil and Isabel Munoz attended from our club and placed a wreath at the plot containing 23 British pilots who died while training in Florida. After the event the group proceeded to the Celtic Ray in Punta Gorda for lunch.
On June 9th and 10th Kenny Taylor raced at Sebring in the vintage races, stating it rained on Saturday but was dry on Sunday.
Bill asked for an organizer for the Christmas Party. We can have it the usual meeting location if no one steps forward.
Miramar Outlets has contacted us about a car display on June 17th we have contacted the membership and hope to have a turnout.
There is a SCCA vintage race on the weekend of July 21st and 22nd at Sebring on the short course. It is a Drivers School also, along with an Enduro.
The 50/50 was held and the meeting then adjourned.—Mary Newman, Secretary
When I was in college in New England in the ’60s, I was not allowed to own or operate a car on campus because I was on financial aid. All the rich kids were tooling around in MGs and Triumphs, and I was very jealous.
Last term senior year, this limitation was relaxed, the school aware of soon-to-be-alumni from whom they would be soliciting donations. My dad gave me some money as a graduation present to buy a car.
I found a 1961 Morgan owned by a Harvard student. The price was more than I had, so I called my mom and secretly got her to give me some more money under the table. I quickly hitchhiked to Cambridge, and bought it. I spent many hours during that last term working on the car, replacing floorboards, making side curtains, etc.
I took it on a road trip, revving the engine up to red line, and it threw a rod and broke the camshaft, and I was stuck by the side of the road. I found a garage that worked on British cars, and the guy offered to swap the engine of a TR3 he had for $250. That bill ended up being $400, and since I didn’t have any money, I went into the financial aid office and begged them to increase my student loan. They looked at my record, and increased my scholarship by $400, not knowing what it was for!
On graduation, I took the car home to Chicago and enjoyed driving it for two years, then got Jaguar fever and spent my entire annual salary on an XKE. I sold the Morgan to my best friend, who started to restore it. He eventually burned out, and the car sat in his garage in Chicago for 45 years.
I bought the car back from him in 2016, and after all those years, got back the very car I had in college. I decided to complete the restoration. After two years, the restoration is now finished, so everything has been renewed, and it now has a new TR4 engine with more power. It is a beauty, a real gem.
It has been a 50-year saga, and now that the car is done, I am thinking of moving on, so I will put it on the market. If interested you can contact me at email@example.com!
The May Luncheon Run to the Celtic Ray Public House in Punta Gorda was attended by a small but happy group on May 5th. Cinco de Mayo at an Irish pub may seem strange, but the Celtic Ray actually has the best tacos in Punta Gorda.
Mary and I met Larry and Marcia McCartt with their MGB at a shopping plaza and were joined by Tom Howard, a potential new member with a nice black MGA. Tom made part of the Run but had to get home due to some visiting relatives.
We arrived at the Pub to find Mike Wheeler with his MGB along with Aldis and Janet Lemesis with their late model Jaguar. Soon joining the group were Sindy and Carl Steinberg with their Mini Panel Van, and Cecil Carter and Isabel Munoz with his “British” Honda.
We were fortunate to be able to sit together since we were the first customers in this very busy pub. The group enjoyed great conversation and good food and drink.
The Celtic Ray Public House is owned by Irishman Kevin Doyle, who is a big fan of all Minis, both old and new. The Pub is listed on Foursquare as #5 on a list of the top 25 most popular pubs in America! —Bill Newman
The May 8th meeting was called to order by President Bill Newman at 6:30 p.m. A smaller group was present due to the absence of the seasonal residents. There were no new members or guests.
Our Secretary, Mary Newman, reported that the minutes of the last meeting were on the website. She also asked for people to submit articles for British Marque Car Club News.
We celebrated the May birthdays of the members present. Mary also asked to let her know if you have not received e-mails about upcoming events.
Treasurer Jackie Hill gave her report and stated that there were 84 paid members. This was Jackie’s last report, as she has resigned from being Treasurer because she and her husband Lionel have sold their home and are moving to North Florida. They were presented with a gift card for their past years of service to the club.
President Bill asked for a volunteer for Treasurer but no one volunteered. A motion was made by Vice President Ken Taylor for Mary Newman to be interim Secretary/Treasurer. It was seconded by Tom Brewsaugh. The motion carried.
Past events — The Jaguar Club of Southwest Florida held an event in Port Charlotte and several club members attended. They included John Welch, Cecil Carter, Al Iagnemmo, Gary Dworkin, and Linda and Bob Ray.
The local Triumph Club held a cruise-in at Nathan’s Hot Dogs in Fort Myers. Attendees from our club included Lionel and Jackie Hill, Peter Sales, Larry and Marcia McCartt and John Liversedge.
President Bill sponsored a luncheon run to the Celtic Ray Pub in Punta Gorda on May 5th (see accompanying article). Attendees included Bill and Mary Newman, Larry and Marcia McCartt, Cecil Carter and Isabel Munoz, Mike Wheeler, Aldis and Janet Lemesis, and Carl and Sindy Steinberg.
Upcoming events (as of the meeting date)
May 28 — Memorial Day Service at the British Pilots Plot at the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Arcadia, Fla. The group will meet at the McDonald’s at Jones Loop Road and I-75 at 8:15 a.m.
June 9-10 — Vintage Race on the Short Course at Sebring International Raceway.
Other business — Peter Sales had a question about sending out other clubs’ newsletters with our e-mail list. President Bill explained he did not give permission for that and will not promote competing clubs.
The 50/50 raffle was held. President Bill asked for a volunteer to organize the Christmas Party. No one volunteered.
The meeting adjourned.—Mary Newman, Secretary