Panhandle British Car Association: November 2011 Newsletter

PBCA masthead from British Marque




November 2011

Contributing Editor: Richard Lewis, email: bettyrichardlewis (at)
President: Bob Manske

Recent Happenings

Heavens, what a whirlwind of activities have recently occurred, enough to give one a bad case of the marthambles! PBCA and her sister organizations have been busy little bees with events, shows, attempts at elegance, parties—the list goes on.

The “Brits on the River” British Car Show , moved from Vadalia, LA back to Natchez, MS, was a highlight for September 24.PBCA members Bob and Risa Manske (55 MGTF), Bill and Melissa Silhan (67 Aston Martin DB 6) John and Judy Mahone (73 MGB) Robert Herman et fil (69 E Type Jaguar)Tom and Jeanne Schmitz (towing a 67 Mini Cooper S behind an 11 Mini Cooper S Clubman), and Henry and Pauline Pearson (Lexus) saw some victories at the show. The Manskes and Mahones took first in class, with the Silhans earning both a first and People’s Choice award. The Schmitz’s Minis won a first and second in a class of two, but would have fared well regardless of the number. Tours of antebellum homes and downtown Natchez, and the house special at Fat Mama’s Tamales were topped only by the largest ever Friday night’s Welcome Party hosted by the English Motoring Club of Mississippi and the largest number of cars, 51, at Saturday’s show that they have experienced in years. The event was especially pleasantly located in the tree shaded park on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. This wonderful Mississippi club excels both in hospitality and the quality of their show, making the 300 mile drive well worth it. We hope to return the hospitality when many of their members attend the PBCA’S “Brits on the Bay’ show on April 21, as they have done in the past.

First on anybody’s list should be and is the Ice Cream Social on October 1, sponsored by the South Alabama British Car Club(SABCC), and hosted by Donna and Richard Cunningham in the fabled Garagmahal at their home near Daphne, Alabama. This temple dedicated to British cars saw an array of folks from SABCC and PBCA, with over 25 British cars in the parking lot. Inside, the Cunninghams provided refreshments of various kinds, but the piece de resistance was homemade ice cream with innumerable toppings. PBCA members, some of whom are also SABCA members, attracted to this fete included, of course, the Cunninghams, Mike and Nancy Darby, Tom and Jeannie Schmitz, Mickey and Kay Kay and granddaughter Stevie, Bob and Risa Manske, Bob and Margaret Henson, Gordon and Diane Levi, Jeff and Marie Olive, Rich and Darla Willows, Mickey McNair, Richard Lewis, Henry and Pauline Pearson, Jon and Wendy Gosnell, Bill and Melissa Silhan, and David Anderson. An additional treat was to see the E Type coupe Richard Cunningham is restoring, with what seems the precision of a watchmaker. I for one was much impressed. What fun!

The October 8 Euro Cars Show in Ridgeland, MS. got rave reviews by those PBCA members who attended. Bill Silhan, with his vintage Aston Martin and Bob Manske’s MGTS 1500 were much admired and Bill walked away with a first in class. A day well spent.

October 15 saw a day for choices, as members had to choose between the Fallen Heroes Memorial Cruise-In in Mobile and the Navarre, Fl Car and Bike Show. With an array of events at the Fallen Heroes Cruise-In, including speakers honoring our military heroes and a vintage plane flyover, it was an event hard to resist. All funds collected through parking fees and donations at the event are devoted to a memorial, to be erected at the site of the Battleship Alabama, honoring the over 100 Alabama soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over 200 cars from all over the area were in attendance, including PBCA members Tom Schmitz (Morgan), Jon Gosnell (TR 6), and Brian Daly (MGA).

The Navarre Car and Bike Show attracted a wide array of vehicles, including American, European, Asian, and International cars, as well as motorcycles from around the world. Modified hot rods were also well represented in what has become one of the largest shows in the area, attracting at least 100 cars.

“Polo at the Point,’ held in Fairhope, AL, on October 16, which includes polo as well as British and other cars and elegantly dressed ladies and gentlemen sipping distilled spirits while they picnic on pate foie gras, attracted a number of PBCA members, including Rich and Darla Willows (TR 3A), Bob and Margaret Henson (Jaguar XJS), Tom and Jeanne Schmitz (Mini Cooper S Clubman), and Carlos and Judy Dias (MGTD).

The monthly PBCA meeting at Sonny’s BBQ in Pensacola on Oct 17 saw the usual array of business matters, with special emphasis given to the upcoming Brits on the Bay show, scheduled for April 21 and sponsored by PBCA. The call for volunteers and the assignment of duties was vigorous, but more of that later. Rich Willows, assisted by Darla Willows, presented a very well done history of Austin Healey that captured everyone’ s attention.

The upcoming South Alabama British Car Club’s (SABCC) October 22 event, entitled the “British Car Festival 2011,” is a show I definitely will attend. Held in the beautiful town of Fairhope, Alabama on the campus of Faulkner College, it has proven in the past to be a delight, not only for its beautiful surrounding, but for the welcoming spirit SABCC has shown to all the attendees. More on that in the December issue, with pictures, I hope. You too don’t want to miss this one. SABCC, our sister club, also sponsors a welcoming party for entrees on the night of October 21 that is also filled with the good cheer they express so well.

Choices must be made and if for some reason you can’t get to Fairhope on the night of October 21, you will want to attend the increasingly popular Gallery Night in Pensacola. This event, filled with art, cars, music, food, and fellowship, is rapidly becoming a Pensacola institution, as city streets are blocked off and revelers wander old historic Pensacola in search of its many delights.

Upcoming Events

I know it is a few months away, but don’t fail to mark your calendar for April 21, 2012. That is the date of the Brits on the Bay show, sponsored by PBCA. This, our 20th Anniversary Show, promises to be the biggest, the boldest, the baddest show ever, with not only the best array of British cars for miles around, but lot of added features that will keep you engrossed for the entire day. All PBCA members will be called on to help put on this extravaganza, so if you haven’t already volunteered, do so now to avoid being assigned the most onerous task imaginable. I’ll have more news about Brits on the Bay next month.

Closer in date will be the Marine Car Show, due on November 5.

November 12 is a date looked forward to by all PBCA members and friends as the date for the Chumuckla Hanger Party, held at the Chumuckla International Airport (the hanger belonging to hosts Mitzi and Dick Maddux. This event, filled with food, fun, and festivities, plus the piano music of Al Martin, gifted entertainer and friends of the Maddux, also includes flights in aircraft (weather permitting) provided by Dick Maddux and airport friends for those hearty enough to risk life and limb. You will surely want to be there for this event. As usual, there will be a caravan, origin to be announced, to the Chumuckla Airport.

November 18 sees another Gallery night. This relaxed downtown Pensacola art, music, and food event has consistently invited a number of PBCA members, who have enjoyed not only showing their own cars, but admiring the beautiful American cars, mostly from the 50”s and 60”s.

An event that has gained increasing popularity with SABCC and PBCA members is the “Night at the Movies,” show, held at the home of Donna and Richard Cunningham in the fabled Garagmahal in Daphne, Alabama. Popcorn, soda, and snacks accompany a carefully chosen film with a car and/or racing theme, such as past favorites, “Grand Prix” and “Le Mans.” If the audience becomes too noisy with enthusiasm, Donna is perfectly capable of restoring order with just a withering look.

November 21 sees the monthly meeting of PBCA at Sonny’s BBQ in Pensacola. Curt Derby will share with us “The Art of the Automobile-Part II,”a follow-up of his last-year’s program, which proved so popular.

The Annual PBCA Christmas Party, ably organized by Ann and Gus Fell, is a highlight of the season, and the “Dirty Santa,” (PG rated) exchange of gifts stimulates the competitive spirit in some, who have become noted entrepreneurs. As in years past, we have negotiated a very low room rate at the party site, the Pensacola Beach Days Inn for those wishing to spend the night on the beach, particularly those who wish to enjoy the excellent spirits and wine available. There is no cost for attendance, with PBCA serving as host. Mark this event on your calendar and make your plans early.

The Annual Lillian, Alabama, Christmas Parade on December 10 has in the past proven popular with PBCA and Mardi Gras MG members, and we believe this year will be no exception. Lots of candy exchange hands on that day, tossed from LBC’s.

The Brewery Tour and Luncheon on the 17th will fill out the activities for December.

The holiday spirit is abroad, so make sure you invite her in for a cup of cheer.

The Perfect Road Trip

I am spending entirely too much time dreaming about what might be, could be, or should be. Now this penchant for flights of fancy, or perhaps mental aberrations, has turned its attention to an entirely new question, to wit, “What would constitute the perfect road trip”, that ideal trip you might take in your beloved British car.

Perhaps the various elements of this fantastic voyage come to me in my idle moments more frequently now because I am, for the moment and for a variety of reasons, unable to embark on such a real odyssey myself. Therefore, I keep returning to this, an imaginary but much-longed for, sojourn.

Whatever the reason, I keep finding myself asking my inner man what it would be like to plan and execute such a delightful adventure. What, I keep asking myself, would be, assuming I can have multiple options, the elements necessary to execute the perfect trip, one that would be looked back upon with only the fondest of memories, filled with souvenirs and keepsakes, images and recollections that continuously delight the mind?

It seems that first and foremost, one has to choose the perfect British car for such an event. What would it be, you ask, seeking wisdom? Well, if you have a choice, first and foremost, it must be a drop-top, a rag top, a roadster that allows the wind to whistle through one’s hair, or at least disturb the small patches that still occupy the pate of such an antique as myself. How else can one enjoy the primal forests, the majestic promontories, the purple plains, the cerulean seas one is likely to encounter unless one is allowed the full vista provided by a car unencumbered by pillars, supports, peek-a-boo windows, and blind spots so typical of coupes and sedans. Therefore, certainly, a convertible.

But which convertible, you ask, assuming you have a choice? There are arrays of wonderful cars from which to choose-- the lovely Austin Healey 100, the graceful MGA, the voluptuous E-Types, and the manly Sunbeam Tiger. I am going to bypass all these perfectly acceptable choices for the TR 6, my favorite. (This is my trip, remember?) It is not only because I already am the loyal vassal of the shining, glistening white 1974. It is also because it won’t fry my feet like some I could name, or collapse in a fit of nerves and pique over a harsh word, like some other marques. Nor require a wrench to be applied after every day’s drive, like one I could name. Neither will it work me to death with a stiff shifter and lugubrious steering, like some others. So, the hearty TR 6 it is.

Probably next on the list to decide, even before a destination and route are chosen, is “Who will be my traveling companion?” This important decision, this need for a companion assumes that I do not choose, misanthropically, to travel alone, and I do not. Therefore, I must have someone in the second seat. Who will it be?

Requirements: candidates must be willing to deviate from the planned route on a moment’s notice if something exciting and new presents itself; must be willing to sleep in a damp sleeping bag if that unexpected something is miles away from a Ramada Inn, and eat cold Denny Moore Stew if no Shoney is in sight. If a significant other, must be willing to snuggle in the same wet sleeping bag, warm and protected from the early morning dews and damps; must be able to exclaim in wonder at the truly magnificent, or remain silent in awe at the overpowering beauty of land, water, fauna, or flora; must accept the maxim, “There is no crying on road trips” when confronting “No Vacancies,” smoking generators, clogged fuel lines, , exhausted gas tanks, missed turns, road detours, or “the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to” that will no doubt be encountered on this trip.

It won’t hurt if your traveling companion can change a fan belt, diagnose a ticking sound, jury-rig an electrical connection, and operate timing light. For this reason, I would not choose myself, nor even my good friend Mickey McNair for my traveling companion, for the mere reason that if either tried to correct any of those problem she would likely only make it worse, resulting in a conflagration. I would choose a Jeff Olive or a Mike Darby, fellows who can make a fuel pump out of chewing gum paper, or patch a tire with tree sap.

Where, you ask, would be the destination for such an idyllic trip? While if one chooses the entire world, the possibilities are so endless, like apps on an iphone, that one loses oneself in possibilities and is frozen with indecisions, like the fabled donkey, equidistant between two bales of hay, unable to decide. I am, therefore, going to restrict myself to the lower 48 as my possible destination.

Then where, within this constricted domain, should one go? Again, the possibilities are almost endless, but I think I can tease out a few favorites. My first choice is going to be California’s Route 1 along the Pacific seacoast, a drive I once partially completed in a friend’s borrowed Austin Healey 3000. It was simply breathtaking. To say more would likely cause my poor powers of speech to diminish its majesty, so I will leave it at that.

My second choice would be along the rocky coast of Maine, again a drive I partially completed, but in a rented Buick. Not the life-changing experience one might realize in a beloved open British car, but still enough to cause one to believe he has entered another plane of existence where everything is thrilling, and majestic, and over-powering.

I’ll make one more choice, and leave it to you to select some more favorites. You might be surprised, but my third choice is up the Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina coast, filled with back roads and twisty turns, as well as a softer, more serene landscape than that of Maine, but, in its own way, equally satisfying. It would also be an essentially new trip for me, as I have only been on those roads on business trips or coming from an airport.

Perhaps you noted my choices are all along seacoasts, and that I might have chosen some satisfying drives over mountains, through deserts, or along rivers. These too merit consideration, but for now, I need to go down to the sea, if not in ships at least in my Triumph.

What season is best for such a trek, you wonder? Likely, your answer will be the same as mine—spring or early fall, when Sol shines less brightly, allowing the top always to be down without one having to lather on the sunscreen, but not so weakly that one must be encapsulated in wool.

Perhaps it won’t be long before I, and you can enjoy such a trip, or one more tailored to your mood and circumstances. I hope so, and until then, I wish you always the ability to change a tire in high heels, or to find a gas station at the last moment.