As published in the December 1999 edition of the "British Marque" newspaper.
PRESIDENT: Jeff Olive, (850) 944-5509 EDITOR: Pete Peterson, (850) 435-6859
Our years as “The British Line” Editor are coming to an end. My roommate Norma and I have been on again, off again editors for the last decade (1989-1999), and it is time for us to step back into the ranks of PBCA membership and help as members rather than officers. What a decade it has been! Reflecting on all that has occurred, we are moved by so many memories, good friends we have made and new friends we are about to make, and all the events that make tacit membership in the British car community so rewarding.
A big task is upon the PBCA as we face the future. I urge each member to keep “The British Line” alive, vital, and effective. Each member must make an honest effort to share our love and enjoyment of these beautiful machines with all Anglophiles (and prospective Anglophiles; let’s not forget the upcoming generations who may not understand why we love our treasures), to enjoy successes along with defeats, provide car anecdotes, car show news, tech tips, driving and riding events.
I began my tenure as PBCA editor in 1989 when the PBCA newsletter did not have a by-line name. Norma contributed the name, which has been accepted by the club since 1990, when the newsletter was published under “The British Line.” Highlights of the decade:
1989 - PBCA participated in the Mardi Gras Parade; we brought a King Cake, explaining that whoever got the “baby” would be endowed with good luck for the coming year (plus be required to bring the next year’s King Cake). Thus, the PBCA tradition of bringing the King Cake during Mardi Gras began.
PBCA was recognized as a participant in the 5th Annual VTR Southeast Regional Gathering of Triumph Motorcars in Savannah, Georgia June 22-25. The PBCA logo, Bill Silhan’s creation, was included on the main event logo and tee-shirt. Two PBCA members attended.
The first ever congregation of all marques, makes and models of cars, The Greater Gulf Coast Auto Expo, organized by PBCA, and held on October 21-22, 1989 at Five Flags Speedway, recognized our very own Bill Silhan, who designed an award winning poster, said poster numbered and autographed by the artist and handed out as awards.
This was the year PBCA discussed, for the first time, incorporation.
1990 - PBCA members enjoyed Sunday drives, picnics, and attended an SCCA TSD rally. During Mardi Gras, the tradition of bringing a King Cake to the parade was continued, but the question of where to go or what to do after the parade came up. Thus, the Peterson’s Annual Gumbo Cook-Off was born.
The 1st Annual Austin-Healey drive-in was also put on by the Pensacola Austin Healey Car Club at Buz Merchlewitz’s home, where PBCA folks added 2 Triumphs and an MGB to the menagerie.
PBCA participated in the British Night festivities of the Pensacola Fiesta of Five Flags and the Fiesta of Five Flags car show.
PBCA was instrumental in contacting area clubs to form an Auto Council to coordinate activities of general interest (parades, car shows, drive-ins, etc.), which led to the 2nd Annual Greater Gulf Coast Auto Expo’s success. The Pensacola News Journal published it as being bigger and better, with the proceeds donated to the Pensacola Humane Society.
The club boldly went where no car club has gone before. Bill Silhan’s idea of “Banquet on the Run” was set. It went like this: We all meet in our little cars and eat one meal at a different club members’ home. For instance, house #1, appetizer; house #2, soup; house #3, main meal; house #4, dessert; house #5, cheese biscuit; house #6, fruit. We’re re-printing the First Annual Alka-Seltzer Run in this issue.
1991 - The Peterson’s sponsored a sequel to the 1990 Austin-Healey British Car Drive-In with a new twist - the PBCA British Car Drive-in, Pool Party, and Bar-B-Que was born. This event coincided with Pete’s parents’ visit from Klamath Falls, Oregon, daughter Maria’s graduation from high school, and his initiation to the Elks Lodge #2108.
1991 also marked PBCA members attending the New Orleans IMSA races as spectators, a very enjoyable event. We also said good-bye to Buzz Merchlewitz, who spearheaded the Austin-Healey drive in, and who now belongs to the Memphis British Car Club.
This year was also remarkable in that PBCA was exposed to more Triumph activities by participating in the 1991 VTR Triumph Meet in Jekkyl Island, Georgia. Four car club members attended.
The Fairhope car show in October 1991 was well attended by both PBCA and SCCA. PBCA members were also exposed to SVRA events by going to Road Atlanta as pit crew for Bob Lembcke, #74, who races an Elva Courier.
This year, Jeff Olive, dressed up in a top hat and British attire during the Downtown Pensacola Christmas Parade.
1992 - The First Annual PBCA Pensacola Beach Bash, in collaboration with the Pensacola Austin Healey Car Club, began. Hence, the ritual of “bag stuffing” was started for registration packets for car show participants.
The Peterson’s Annual Gumbo Cook-Off began as an Mardi Gras after-parade party and became a PBCA tradition. This is also the year when your humble editor returned to motorcycling. Bob Boeggeman is the person responsible for this.
The annual British Car Drive-In, Pool Party, and Bar-B-Que sponsored by the Peterson’s this year was a memorable event for PBCA members. Her Majesty’s Ship CORNWALL stopped in Pensacola for a visit during the Fiesta of Five Flags celebration, and PBCA was invited to bring their British cars and tour the ship. Following the tour, the Chief Petty Officers’ and Warrant Officers’ Mess of the British ship attended a PBCA pool party; the Peterson’s were presented with a picture of the HMS Cornwall and a British flag in appreciation. What a time it was for PBCA! Bob Lembcke, SCCA racer, also loaned his racing tent to the club to shield the guests from the oppressive heat.
PBCA attended the Grand Prix Du Mardi Gras IMSA race in New Orleans as a group, along with SCCA members.
Tom & Jeanne Schmitz hosted their First Annual SABCC/PBCA party/meeting with a potluck, which has become an annual event.
The Great American Race made a stopover in Mobile, Alabama. Several PBCA members visited to welcome the racers from all over the country.
More PBCA members attended the VTR National Convention in Savannah, Georgia where Pete and Norma Peterson’s 1976 Triumph Spitfire took first in its class in concourse judging.
PBCA members also attended the SCCA Valvoline Runoffs, SVRA racing and attended several car shows, including the Highland Games in Jackson, Mississippi.
PBCA was finally incorporated on December 15, 1992, with the editor drafting the by-laws and articles of incorporation for the club.
1993 - A big year for PBCA and your editor. PBCA members attended the Walter Mitty Races at Road Atlanta. The Beach Bash was held again in collaboration with the Austin-Healey Car Club. March 13, 1993, known as “the Blizzard of 93,” blanketed Pensacola with light layering of snow. Your humble editor turned half a century old in July of this year, in which a 3-day non-stop party was held to celebrate his 50th birthday, the PBCA British Car Drive-in, Pool Party, and Bar-B-Que , with friends coming from all over to celebrate some more!
This was the year the Peterson’s spent $300 for lunch for 2 in New Orleans. That’s another story.
This also marked the year PBCA participated at The Roadster Factory summer party in Armagh, Pennsylvania, where the clutch in Peterson’s Spitfire failed to engage for 300+ miles on the way to Pennsylvania. Gus Fell was instrumental in ensuring a new clutch and bell housing were installed in the middle of a muddy field, a feat that took most of a day that should have been spent autocrossing.
During the Christmas party, Bill Cristea found himself the proud owner of the biggest box of Tortilla Chips known to man or beast. We heard he was still munching away until the middle of 1994.
This is also the year that Fairhope celebrated its Centennial on December 31, 1993, with a trip through the past 10 decades: Turn of the Century, 20s through the 90s. One had to dress up according to the era of their car. Norma wore a mini skirt, high heel boots, big bulky sweater, and leather jacket. Pete wore bell-bottoms, turtleneck, and wide-collared flowered shirt to match the year of their Spitfire, while Bob Lembcke drove his Mini and wore clothing reminiscent of the ‘60’s.
1994 - Marked the end of PBCA’s participation in the Mardi Gras Parade.
The Pensacola Beach Bash and British Car Show was becoming larger, with participants from all over the Southeast.
Several PBCA members attended the VTR National Convention in Asheville, North Carolina. What a sight to see, all the Triumphs lined up in front of the Biltmore Estate and along the banks of the pond at Taylor Ranch. This is also the year the Peterson’s continued the journey in their Spitfire towards upstate New York, for a total of 3,568 miles on December 3-14, taking them to Kingston/Grananoque/ Toronto, Ontario Canada and back to Pensacola without a major breakdown. Also, a 1964 TR4 was added to the Peterson’s family of cars.
1995 - This year marked the publication of The British Line in the British Marque. For the 2nd year, Mardi Gras parade participation for British cars was found to be too restrictive and costly. The organizers wanted a walker for each wheel of the car, club insurance in case of litigation, and $10 for each car to participate in the parade.
This year is another first in PBCA history. Jerry Wise, a PBCA member with a 1963 Jaguar XKE, took the 1993 and 1994 Best of Show, the JCNA Southeastern Champion in 1993 and 1994, was ranked #2 in the nation for 1995 with an average concourse score of 99.95, and had the Jag placed on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
The Beach Bash and British Car Show became even larger!!
1996 - Bill Silhan opened up his Winged Wheel Garage, where the first Board of Directors meeting for PBCA was held.
Your humble editor, during autocross at the Southeastern VTR Regional Triumph Convention in Tallahassee, Florida, wiped out the timing light, causing the red flag to be displayed during autocross. The Triumph Spitfire sat idle and underwent repair, overhaul and repainting following return home and hitting 200,000 miles on the odometer.
1997 - The South Alabama British Car Club found itself in quandary as to what class to put the Peterson’s Triumph Bonneville motorcycle. They ended up allowing it in the field for display only.
Drive your British Car Week began as an answer to the charge that few British cars were seen on the road anymore.
The Beach Bash and British Car Show not only became bigger, it became more organized!!
1998 - PBCA meeting was changed from the 2nd Sunday of each month to 3rd Monday, with the 2nd Sunday being set aside for driving or fun events.
The Beach Bash and British Car Show was a roaring success, bigger, and more organized.
Rate increased for British Marque subscriptions from $4 to $6.
The Regional VTR at Ocala, Florida, saw a contingent of PBCA Triumphs do quite well.
The Christmas party was moved from members’ residences to the Best Western on Pensacola Beach.
1999 - Name tags for members was implemented. Members coming to the meeting without a nametag are now required to contribute $0.25 to the general fund.
Mike Japp placed PBCA in cyberspace, allowing more club exposure and an increase in club membership.
Tom & Jeanne Schmitz MGTF took first in the Southeastern MGT Register show at Chateau Elan British car gathering. This is significant, as it is not a competitive show. To receive recognition at this gathering is an honor.
The Regional VTR at Lake City, Florida, was attended by 6 PBCA members. As always, it was a great success, enjoyed by all. Gus sold quite a few of his treasures, which made Ann very happy.
IN RETROSPECT, the PBCA has been a viable part of the British Car community in Northwest Florida. The past 10 years have flown by, with so many events and high lights, with great club participation, with all the things that make this a GREAT club. We need to keep it up. Our future depends on ya’ll.
THE NEXT MEETING WILL BE HELD AT HALLS SEAFOOD ON GREGORY STREET, MONDAY, December 20, 1999, DINNER AT 6:00 P.M., MEETING AT 7:00 P.M. YA'LL BE THERE!!!
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