Panhandle British Car Association: Article

CBA XIX held in Grand Rapids, Michigan

August 19-22, 1999

I would like to give a complete update as to the activities and events of this year’s CBA for those of you who were unable to attend. It was a grand event thanks to the large number of MGCs and owners in attendance. The old adage, the more the merrier could definitely be applied to this whole affair. I was informed that the Saturday night banquet room could seat 600 people and it was sold out. I don’t believe anyone has an accurate count as to exactly how many took advantage of the opportunities as most of the parking lot activities, daily viewing, and the actual showing and judging of cars at Douglas Walker Park were open to the public.

Although some participants arrived Wednesday, there were no planned activities - just getting checked in at the hotel and staking out your nest in the parking lot. Jim Jones and I left about 3:00 a.m. Wednesday for the 1100 mile drive with the MGC-GT on a trailer. We had a stop to make in Birmingham, Alabama, and got into a traffic snarl between Nashville and Louisville, but made it into Ft Wayne about 10:00 p.m. to spend the night. We drove on in to Grand Rapids Thursday morning and got there as most of the vendors, including our own #1, Tom Boscarino, were setting up. The 1,000 mile rally around northern Michigan was just about to start, and we got a photo of two of the Cs in the competition. I think the count was about 15 cars and they all made it back in safely about noon on Friday. I do believe several of our members got to practice their diagnostic skills on the venture.

Thursday afternoon the MG Council met for about 2 hours to discuss the upcoming MG 2001 and continue the task of putting together the grandest MG event that you can ever imagine. We will be picking the motel for each affiliated group and getting early registrations out to your between now and the end of the year. During the meeting, our overseas guest, Mr. Graham Robson provided those interested with a walking tour of the MGC. I was not able to attend, but understand he provided many personal comments about the development and production related to the MGC, and answered a few “why” questions about our little vehicles. I wish several of you who took the tour would provide an article on his talk for the next newsletter.

Thursday night provided everyone the chance to catch up on old friendships and socialize in the parking lot. I would guess there were over 200 cars in the Holiday Inn lot alone, and most people did not arrive until Friday night or just for the show on Saturday. Jim and I stayed up visiting until about 1:00 a.m.. as there was a steady stream of late arrivals all evening and more new cars to inspect.

Friday was registration day and people were lined up into the parking lot before they even opened the doors to the registration area. John Twist had everything under control; and they took care of both the preregistered and unregistered attendees in speedy fashion, but the numbers were boggling. They directed the C owners over to my table where we registered most of our new members on the spot, and I presented all our members with an event shirt that was designed by Bruce Wyckoff. It was a design used by John Twist on one of the early press releases for this year’s summer party that I modified to meet the needs of a T-shirt. The shirts were bright yellow with a lighthouse on the shore and a C-roadster sitting on the grass in front of it. In the light beam was “CBA” and “Summer Party” with the dates. If you would like to order one of these shirts, complete the order form in the back of the newsletter. I can do them on the bright yellow or a white shirt.

Friday evening John held a reception for the MGC owners for about an hour and we each had an opportunity to tell something about ourselves and our car(s). This was followed by the annual AMGCR auction we always hold at our CBAs and was open to all attendees. The money raised was used to defray our register cost in participating in the event, the cost of the shirts and about $800 was given to Myasthenia Gravis (the MG disease) research.

I need to say a big “thanks” to our many members who helped out with the auction, helped take up money and pumped up the crowd to keep the bidding wars alive. There were many great buys, and everyone went away happy. After the auction we again returned to the parking lot for more eyeballing of an even bigger collection of cars than Thursday night had offered.

Saturday morning was show day, so I was up at 6:00 a.m. to wash and clean up my car. We met for breakfast at the Hilton and then it was off to the show, about a 20 mile drive if you went straight to it. (see the article titled “I almost didn’t make it to the show” for details). I have never seen such a fine collection of British cars, about 95% being MGs, gathered at one place, and the quality of the cars was outstanding. I didn’t see any “trailer queens.” Everything was driven under its own power, and the collection took up about 4 acres. The vendors also spread out under the trees in about as large an area, plus another 200 spectator cars were parked outside the viewing area.

The finale was the Awards Banquet held at Calvin College. There were about 30 classes for the cars, with six places in each class. There were also awards for the rally, valve cover races, technical wiring challenge, and many, many presentations to John and Caroline in recognition for their services rendered to the British car community over the past three decades. I was also afforded the privilege of awarding our own Tom Boscarino with a plaque for serving as “Founder, Chairman & Editor” of the AMGCR for the past 20 years. He was also the recipient of the John Thornly Spirit Award presented by the North American MGB Register (NAMGBR).

On Sunday morning those who did not have to depart for home visited the Grattan Raceway to make laps of the track in their cars and view some vintage races. I had to miss this activity, but I’m sure it was just as enjoyable to those who participated as everything else. As you can see, it was a packed weekend and most enjoyable to all that took the effort and had the time to make the most of this great British car opportunity. I am very sorry I had never made John’s Summer Parties in the past, but the 2200 miles round trip was well worth the time and expense. I, like most who attended, will be looking ahead for Summer Party Reunion in the years to come.

- Keith Sanders

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