Panhandle British Car Association: Jan/Feb 2015 Newsletter

PBCA masthead from British Marque




Jan/Feb 2015

President: Taber Tompkins,
Contributing Editor: Richard Lewis, email: bettyrichardlewis (at)

Christmas in the Panhandle

by Richard Lewis & Tom Schmitz

On December 6th, fifty-five members gathered at 6 p.m. at the Pensacola Crowne Plaza Grand Hotel to celebrate the Christmas season. The evening started with a cocktail party for conversation and drinks. A buffet dinner was then served in our private dining room, followed by awards and installation of new officers.

The event was very well orchestrated by Therese Hemmert, who also prepared a nice gift basket that was won by one of the attendees. Bob Manske presented the “Members Most Likely to Get Lost on Rallyes” Trophy to Mark and Judy Huber. This is a “tongue-in-cheek” annual traveling trophy presented to the couple that have shown the most disastrous tour and rallye results for the previous year.

Officers for 2015 are Taber Tompkins, President; Marc Cherry and Paul Salm, Vice Presidents; Richard Lewis, Secretary; Tom Schmitz, Treasurer; Franz Bachmann, Bill Weeks, Bob Henson and Therese Hemmert, Members-at-Large.

Following the dinner and awards, the group had a fun time with the annual Dirty Santa gift exchange.

Lillian Christmas Parade

PBCA fielded 10 British cars for the annual Lillian, Ala., Christmas Parade. Three cars from the Mardi Gras MG Club joined the gala event. The weather was beautiful and in the 70s. Members had a variety of throws for the children, and a large group of older folks, and littered the streets with Tootsie Rolls, beads and stuffed animals. All of the cars were well decorated and everything went well other than one car making it only about 100 yards before coming to an abrupt stop. Tom Schmitz’s Mini Moke, driven by Mickey and Kay Kay, lost the fuel pump, so they were the only ones to see the entire parade from the side of the road. Oh, well, there will be another one next year.

Christmas Bake Contest

This was a first-time event for the PBCA and was so well received that it is already on the agenda to be repeated in December 2015.

Twenty-four members gathered Sunday, December 14th, at the Bagdad, Fla., Historic Museum. Richard Lewis made a very interesting presentation on the history of Bagdad, which was a major business and industrial area in northwest Florida 100 years ago. He then led the group of 12 cars on a tour of historic Bagdad, viewing several styles of homes dating back to the 1800s, including the home where he grew up.

Most everyone attending the party brought their favorite dessert creations and Therese Hemmert prepared a lavish luncheon. It was definitely not a day for dieters. The cakes, cookies, pies, brownies, cheesecakes and cupcakes were devoured with gusto and folks headed home after a highly successful and filling afternoon.

Winners of the contest were Judy Huber, German Chocolate Cake; Darla Willows, Chocolate Fudge Cheesecake; and Melissa Silhan, Bread Pudding. All three were delicious and oh, so decadent.

Recent events

Breakfast at the Grand

PBCA started 2015 with its monthly first Tuesday Breakfast at the Grand on January 6th. About thirty members showed up at the Pensacola Grand Hotel to visit, trade notes on holiday doings, and greet two special guests from New Zealand, Fred and Elizabeth Smits.

Fred and Elizabeth are on a five-year world tour, driving a 1957 Mercedes 220 sedan and towing a specially designed pop-up camper. They are currently traveling the United States for about a year and will move on to Mexico and South America next summer. PBCA member Bill Silhan met them at an auto museum in Tupelo, Miss., and when they told him they were making a stop in Pensacola, he invited them to join us for the Tuesday breakfast.

After meeting most of the members they made a very interesting presentation, telling the group about how they developed the idea for touring the world, the planning that went into the project, and some of the sites they have visited so far. Later they visited the Naval Aviation Museum and spent time with Bill and Melissa Silhan. They were staying at the KOA in Lillian, Ala., and Wednesday morning, before leaving to head for Tallahassee, they spent several hours visiting Tom and Jeanne Schmitz and viewing his collection of both full-size cars and model cars and toys.

You can follow Fred and Elizabeth as they tour the world on their website,, or at

Snowbird Festival

The organizers of the Orange Beach, Ala., Snowbird Festival invited the three area British car clubs to put together a “Show & Shine” display of their LBCs on Saturday, January 10th. Members of South Alabama British Car Club, Mardi Gras MG Club and PBCA weathered 30° temperatures and showed up with 17 cars for the display. The nine PBCA members attending were Keith and Gail Sanders, ’97 Jag XJ6; Vince and Pat Cooke, ’69 XKE Roadster; Tom Schmitz, ’69 XKE 2+2; Rich and Darla Willows, ’58 Austin Healey 100-6; Mike Lindley, ’80 MGB LE; Richard Cunningham, ’64 XKE Coupe; Jerry Crompton, ’07 XK8 Coupe; Allan and Jane Comer, ’14 Jag F-type V8 Roadster; and Bill Moseley, ’80 Triumph TR8.

Comments on our cars from the Snowbirds were very positive and enthusiastic. A lot of the Snowbirds were in our age group and fondly remembered the British cars from their youthful days. Many of them told stories of the British cars that they had had back in their 20s and 30s!

A note from the President

I am personally very thrilled and excited as the newly elected and installed President of the Panhandle British Car Association. I will take over the reins from our outstanding past President, Dr. Richard Lewis, though he is a tough act to follow.

Richard will remain our Contributing Editor and Club Secretary. It is the guidance and leadership he has provided to our Association as President for the past two years that has resulted in a very strong club, two years of extremely successful Brits on the Bay car shows, a large and enthusiastic membership, and a schedule of events that has kept everyone socializing, touring and showing their cars. Many thanks go to Richard. — Taber Tompkins