Fall IFLBCC Update!

This Fall was a busy couple of months for the Illinois Flat Landers. Below are a few of the IFLBCC Events and Activities. Be sure to check this website and our Facebook page for updates on future events!

4th Annual IFLBCC Harvest Days Cruise-in & Picnic – October 14, 2023

Todd and Linda Reid hosted the IFLBCCs Fall Gathering at their home this year on Saturday, October 14.   They’ve got a wonderful setup on the Lake with firepits and plenty of outdoor and indoor space when the weather didn’t fully cooperate.

We started arriving around 3:30 which gave us the opportunity to do a little early leaf peeping around the lake before watching the rain roll-in from their back patio. We had been hoping for a spectacular sunset, but Hey! . . .this is Illinois.

They provided us with gourmet appetizers, sides and light bites as well as beer and wine. Folks also brought their favorite dogs/brats for the grill or fire pits. ‘Smores fixings were all set up for dessert!

The ladies collected in the Reid’s beautiful Great Room as the men retired to Todd’s  Man Cave to discuss his wonderful selection of automobiles. 

Many thanks to Todd & Linda Reid for opening up their beautiful home to host this year’s 4th Annual Harvest Days Cruise-in & Picnic. The day was a little dreary but the fantastic food and camaraderie more than made up for it

9th Annual IFLBCC Halloween Cruise – October 28, 2023

Thanks to Alan Kleinschmidt for arranging the 9th Annual Halloween Cruise to enjoy some fall scenery, a unique snowmobile collection, lunch and then our final stop at Mackinaw Valley Vineyard for a glass of wine with good friends.

The cruise began forming-up at the Bloomington Casey’s General Store on Saturday, October 28th around 9:45 am and departed at 10:15 am for the 30-minute drive to Hopedale.  Hopedale’s Willis Snowmobile Museum has 265 antique sleds and memorabilia to view on three-floors of the building. Fellow Flatlander Dick Hanson has a couple of family heirlooms displayed there also. The museum curators were on hand and were a wealth of information on the evolution of snowmobiles and many of the backstories on how the items on display were acquired. 

The museum tour was followed by lunch at Micki’s Farm to Table in Hopedale, IL around noon. Good food, with a down home feel.  After lunch we will head over to Mackinaw Valley Vineyards for a little taste of the grape, and excellent views from the veranda, before heading home.

IFLBCC “Garage Squad”

IFLBCC members formed a “Garage Squad” to inspect a “Barn Find” that had not been on the road in 35-years!

Our chapter was contacted, through the Austin Healey Club of America website, by a family that recently inherited a 1966 Austin Healey 3000 Mk3.

According to the family: “ . . . the owner lived in Springfield IL and had owned the car since the late 60’s. Legend has it his best friend from Flora IL bought the car on his behalf while stationed in England with the Air Force, so technically you can say he was the single owner. The car hasn’t been driven since the early 90’s but has lived indoors in a metal shed on his property….so it does need a lot of work but all things considered it looks pretty good.”

They reached out to us because they are trying to decide if they want to take on the restoration project or if they should sell it, and were hoping to connect with our club chapter to give them some advice on what it would take to restore it or where/who potential buyers might be.

Illini Chapter Members Gary Brown, Doug Crew, Brian Davis, Richard McDonald and Nigel Keen answered the call! A group of us met for lunch at Motorheads in Springfield before gathering to view this barn find BJ8 Austin Healey that had not been on the road in 35-years!

As expected, it had flat tires, a dead battery and areas of the body had rusted and become “mouse-condos”. That said, the Healey look remarkably solid and complete. We were able to locate all of the ID plates, point out the many pros and cons of the vehicle and provide them with many photographs to send on to potential buyers or restorers.

Hopefully the current owner came away with some answers or at least additional things to consider. 

The Illinois Flat Land British Car Club announces their 2024 Champagne British Car Festival!

ALL Aston-Martin and Austin-Healey cars get the Featured Marque spotlight at the 2024 Champagne British Car Festival on May 31 – June 2, 2024

Registered entrants “Start Your Engines” and your Festival weekend by joining us Friday evening, May 31st  for a Welcome Reception, sponsored by the Illinois Flat Land British Car Club 

The fun continues Saturday morning, June 1, 2024 at our first time ever venue – Davis Lodge at Lake Bloomington. This beautiful lodge will be the hub for all of Saturday’s activities until the sit-down banquet at the Chateau Conference Center.

The weekend culminates with the Champagne British Car Show on beautiful Clover Lawn of David Davis Mansion, Bloomington, IL. 

For more information https://iflbcc.club/2024-cbcf-overview/

DRIVING THE NATCHEZ TRACE – in a Miata – British Marque August 2023


By David Hauman

Many people, myself among them, consider the Miata to be the contemporary iteration of the classic British sports car. Small, front engine (some say a little under powered), rear wheel drive, manual transmission and a top that for the most part is water-proof. The Miata checks all of those boxes and was the car of choice for this trip.

Our trip began in Bloomington, IL. We were at first a bit wary of being able to pack for two people for eight days and get everything to fit in the trunk of a Miata.  Fortunately, we had two carry-on bags that just fit with a few cubic inches to spare.

Since we were going east, we decided to make our first stop in Cincinnati to visit friends and overnight. Then it was off to Nashville and the Natchez Trace.

The Natchez Trace began as a way for wildlife, including bison, which were plentiful in the area at the time, to reach the salt licks located around the area which would later be known as Nashborough and later yet, Nashville, Tennessee. The Choctaw and Chickasaw found it a convenient route for inter-tribal trading.  As the Cumberland River Valley became more settled and pioneers/farmers flat boated their produce and trade goods down the Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers to a trading center as were Natchez and New Orleans at the time. The Trace provided a path for the long walk north and home.

Ironically, just as the volume of traffic on the Trace was near its peak, the Trace suddenly became irrelevant. The advent of steamboats provided a faster, more convenient and far safer way home.

Today the Natchez Trace Parkway is 444 miles of smooth, uninterrupted, two-lane blacktop without a single stop sign or traffic signal.  All intersecting roads use either an underpass or an overpass. Speed is limited to 50 mph and sometimes 40 mph. Traffic, at least when we were there, was extremely light. So, we set the cruise at 50 mph and watched the trees go by, some of which were tall enough and straight enough to warrant being made into sailing ship masts and spars. The Parkway has dozens of historic sites (more of this later), picnic areas, overlooks, and restrooms. There are also spots where the original Trace intersects the modern Parkway where people might hike a portion of the original path. The Parkway transverses three ecological zones, containing no fewer than 100 species of trees, 215 species of birds, 57 species of mammals, and 89 species of reptiles and amphibians. We only saw three wild turkeys and one turtle that I missed while he was crossing the road.  But there are NO franchise eateries or gas stations.

We had hoped to again visit the Lane Museum. Unfortunately, it was closed the day of our visit. The good news, however, is the National Corvette Museum was open. It is a must stop for anyone with even a mild interest in automobiles. It contains the definitive history of the birth, life, and near death of the Corvette. All of it attractively displayed, including the 2014 30 foot deep and 40-foot-wide sink hole that swallowed 8 cars, some of irreplaceable value.

We entered the Parkway on the north end in Franklin, TN with a posted speed of 50 mph.  Quite frankly, the road twists and turns, with many blind corners, I’m not sure how much faster any prudent person would want to travel on a public roadway.  So, if you’re looking for a “tail of the dragon adrenaline rush,” this isn’t it. But the overhanging trees and the split rail fences along the sides make for a very pleasant drive.

Our stops included Grinder’s Stand (“stand” meaning a place where a traveler might spend the night) now a reconstructed log cabin. Merriweather Lewis, of Lewis and Clark fame, stopped here to overnight. On the morning of October 11, 1809, he was found dead of a suspicious gunshot wound. Many suspect it to be suicide. A monument marks his burial site.

Our next stop, Tupelo, is as everyone above the age of 60 knows, the birthplace of Elvis Presley. And the good citizens of Tupelo are not about to let the world forget it. The restaurants all feature Presley themed sandwiches, including peanut butter and banana. The city fathers named two of their streets Elvis Presley Drive and two others Presley Drive and Presley Circle. Our visit coincided with Elvis Presley weekend. We were warned that unless we were big Elvis fans to avoid downtown.  We did.

The next day brought us to Jackson, Mississippi, the state capital.  We decided to retire early. The following day was a detour off the Parkway to Vicksburg, the siege of which was a turning point in the Civil War.

Both the Union and the Confederacy understood the importance of Vicksburg. Jefferson Davis called it “the nail head that holds the South’s two halves together.” Abe Lincoln said that Vicksburg was “the key! The war can never be brought to a close until that key is in our pocket.”

Vicksburg sits on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River and thus controlled the flow of traffic on the river. If the Union could capture Vicksburg, it would cut off the supply of cotton from Louisiana and beef from Texas, thereby limiting the Confederacy’s ability to feed and clothe their troops. It would also allow the Union to control the Mississippi from the port of New Orleans north. After some clever maneuvering of Grant’s troops and a 47-day bombardment from both the artillery of Grant’s troops from the east and from Union gun boats from the west on the river, General Pemberton surrendered the town on July 4, 1863.

The National Park Service operates the large National Battleground Memorial that forms a crescent (essentially the positions of both sides during the siege) around the town of Vicksburg.  Every state that had troops participating in the battle has a monument honoring its soldiers.  Some states had monuments for each military unit.  Illinois has constructed the largest rotunda with 47 steps leading up to the dome, one step for each day of the siege.

From Vicksburg, we got off the Parkway and took the more direct route to Natchez, thinking that we could travel the last few miles of the Parkway going north.

Natchez proved to be a fascinating town. During the “boatman” era, the “under the hill” area of Natchez housed all sorts of allures to separate the newly cash rich boatmen from their money. Taverns, gambling houses and brothels were plentiful. And if the pioneers escaped the temptations of Natchez, they still had to travel 450 miles of dangerous pathway lined with bandits and highwaymen.

With an eye toward safety, the boatmen frequently met at King’s Tavern to form larger traveling parties. Today, King’s Tavern is one of the oldest surviving structures in Natchez.  

In addition to the bandits, there were the native Americans who were none too happy about the settlers moving across their hunting grounds. And they were particularly clever in ways to put their captives to a slow and agonizing death. Constant vigilance was a necessity for travelers. And frequently the path was several feet below the surrounding countryside, making it difficult to spot both bandits and Indians.

Evidence of early habitation and the Mississippian mound culture can still be seen along the Parkway, including Bear Creek Mound, the Chickasaw Village Site, Owl Creek Mounds, and Bynum Mounds. The Park Service distributes a free detailed accordion-folded map highlighting these and the many other significant points along the current Parkway, including where gas is available on the intersecting highways.

Today’s Natchez is a welcoming throwback to the antebellum era.  We were told that Natchez has more restored and untouched antebellum mansions than any place in the south. And from what we saw, I wouldn’t doubt it. Our guide said it is because when Natchez was surrendered to Flag Officer David Farragut, and in sharp contrast to what happened in nearly every other Union capture of a Southern city, he ordered his men NOT to ransack the town. They were to leave everything as it was. Hence the claim.

I subsequently learned that this was not just a benevolence.  The Union quickly appropriated the mansions for both personal and military uses.  Ulysses S. Grant, after his victory in Vicksburg, moved his temporary headquarters into one of the mansions in Natchez. Sometimes benevolence can be self-serving.

We shared a seafood platter for dinner.  I tried once again to acquire a taste for catfish. It didn’t work. Unfortunately for me, fried catfish is a nearly ubiquitous item in local restaurants.  

The next day we drove the Parkway north (the portion that we had not yet driven) to Jackson, MS where we picked up Interstate 55 and headed back to Bloomington.  Along the way we encountered two hellacious, but short lived, thunderstorms. Fortunately, while not completely water tight, the Miata was still infinitely dryer than one of our other toys.

I had hoped to reach St. Louis, thus making a short 3-plus hour trip to Bloomington.  But such was not to be. When nearing Cape Girardeau, MO, we decided we had had enough fun for one day and stopped for the night. After a hotel supplied breakfast, and a large go cup of coffee, we pointed northeast and arrived home around noon.

Someone asked: “What was it like spending eight days and traveling nearly 2,000 miles with the same person in the cozy confines of a Miata?” My response was that we’re still married.  And to the best of my knowledge, neither one of us has called an attorney.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR : Dave Hauman was the Champaigne British Car Festival’s Organizing Committee Chairman for seven years, attracting over 140 cars annually from throughout Illinois and the adjoining states.  He’s also served as a concours judge at Road America for several years.  In addition to Road America, he and his wife Diana attend races at Black Hawk Farms, Sebring, Watkins Glen, and Talladega.

Celebrating 100 Years of MG at The Mansion

Celebrating 100 Years of MG at The Mansion

By Angie Davis

The 2023 Champagne British Car Festival (CBCF) held June 2nd – 4th is now one for the books!  Sponsoring club, the Illinois Flat Land British Car Club (IFLBCC), hosted a fun-filled and action-packed weekend complete with  Friday evening Welcome Reception, Saturday drive and cruise-in on historic Route 66, Saturday evening banquet and a Sunday Car Show that attracted nearly 150 beautiful British vehicles to the remarkable David Davis Mansion in Bloomington, Illinois.

Dozens and dozens of pre-registered drivers and guests kicked off their Festival weekend Friday evening at a Welcome Reception held at the Chateau Hotel and Conference Center. Everyone had a chance to pick up their name badges and registration packets, get reacquainted and catch  up with old friends and meet new LBC enthusiasts over tasty food and beverages.

After a drivers’ meeting Saturday morning, motorists took off – driving instructions in-hand – on a rally style drive and cruise-in around Lake Bloomington and up Historic Route 66 to Pontiac, Illinois. Drivers and passengers of the 40 cars that participated in the adventure were met by members of the Pontiac tourism bureau and treated to welcome bags with VIP buttons, information about the city of Pontiac, access to museums, walking tours, discounts to local shops and restaurants and terrific photo opportunities at wall murals around town.

Several folks took advantage of two “Behind the Scenes” tours conducted by Tim Dye, owner of the Pontiac-Oakland Museum.  The automobile museum offers rotating exhibits to ensure a new and exciting experience.  The only Pontiac-Oakland Museum in the world, they display hundreds of pieces of memorabilia alongside the ever-changing selection of cars. 

But the day was far from over! The Saturday evening banquet afforded an opportunity to socialize during a great dinner and delicious desserts decorated with the CBCF rondel and logos celebrating 100 years of MG Motors, this year’s featured marque. Guest speaker, John Twist, regaled the 100 banquet guests with his entertaining presentation “MG Was my Destiny.” He left attendees looking forward to viewing his famous “Rolling Tech Sessions” scheduled during the Sunday car show.  

Dave Fitch’s MG TD takes its turn at John Twist’s “Rolling Tech Session” under the watchful eye of Gerald Lofthouse of the Chicagoland’s British Car Union.

Registered participants and hundreds of spectators were treated to a brilliant, sunny and warm Sunday for the Car Show at David Davis Mansion. The Midwest was well-represented with British car owners traveling from seven states – Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin – to participate in the Festival.

The shady, welcoming David Davis Mansion grounds were resplendent with a spectacular Union Jack as a backdrop and flags of the various British marques gently fluttering in the afternoon breeze. Food vendors and music added to the lively atmosphere throughout the day as car owners shared stories about their beloved cars and curious spectators posed questions to learn as much as they could about the vehicles on display.

This year’s MG Featured Marque included the pictured MGBs and MG Midgets

Registered participants voted for their peers to name 1st, 2nd and 3rd place  winners in 21 designated classes and Car of Show. Spectators who attended the Show cast their votes for the People’s Choice Award.   

Congratulations to Simon Griffin of Edwardsville, Illinois who took top honors this year in a clean sweep!  Simon, who at past CBCFs has shown his lovely Austin-Healey 100, left his Healey in the garage and drove to the Show in his recently-acquired 1930 MG 18/80 MKII. His stunning pre-war automobile took 1st in the MG Other class, was awarded Car of Show and claimed the People’s Choice Award. If you are fortunate to see this beauty at a future show, be certain to check out its rich history.

First in Class, Car of Show and People’s Choice Winner – Simon Griffin’s 1930 MG 18/80 MKII

First place winners in the five remaining MG Classes – MG T-Series, MGA, MGB Chrome, MGB Rubber and Midget / Sprite – are Steven Runyan, Alan Kleinschmidt, Doug Eppich, Nigel Keen, and Stephen Sparks.  

A list of all CBCF winners can be found at CBCF-Bloomington.com under Recent Posts – Congratulations to ALL 2023 Champagne British Car Festival Car Show Winners!

As with most car shows, it’s the local car club volunteer’s time and efforts that make the CBCF Weekend possible.  The IFLBCC Team is already planning next year’s event with special attention to participant’s Post-Weekend Survey comments and suggestions.

Remember to mark your 2024 calendars and plan to join us in Bloomington, Illinois for next year’s Champagne British Car Festival May 31 – June 2, 2024, when the Featured Marques will be Aston Martin and Austin Healey.

Kilts and Kars – The 2023 Highland Games British Car Show

Over the past two decades, the Springfield Area Highland Games and Celtic Festival has had the pleasure of presenting to the Illinois public a proud picture of what it means to be of Celtic decent.  The Highland Games are a unique mix of sports, culture and community: the whirl of the kilt during a Highland Fling, the unforgettable sound of pipers and drummers and the display of power and skill of the Celtic athletes. 

The IFLBCC was invited again to attend this year’s Springfield Highland Games British Car Show in New Berlin, IL on May 20th.  Our group has attended this event twice in the past and it has always been a fun day out and this year was no exception. 

It was beautiful Saturday morning as our group headed out from Bloomington, IL around 9:00 am for a leisurely cruise down historic Route 66.  There are many attractions along this route like the Paul Bunyan statue in Atlanta, the World’s Largest Railsplitter Covered Wagon in Lincoln and the Williamsville “Old Station” with its vintage gas pumps and classic memorabilia from the 1930’s. Traffic was light and we easily made our scheduled arrival at the Sangamon County Fairgrounds in New Berlin.

Our group was anxiously greeted by dozens of Highland Games visitors.  The car show is adjacent to the Children’s Area which is always a treat as the kids and their parents thoroughly enjoy seeing and sitting in our “little” cars.  Not long after our arrival a group of bagpipers and drummers marched by setting the tone for the rest of the day.

As we began the typical “Car Show Protocol” of emptying the boots of lawn chairs, coolers and polishing gear many of our group were drawn to the all the Highland Games has to offer –  Clan Row, Highland Dance Competition, Whisky Tasting, Celtic Vendors, Food, Live Entertainment, Children’s Area, Bagpipes, Highland Cows, Clydesdales, Springfield Celts Rugby, Historical European Martial Arts, Jurassic Scotland and, of course, the British Car Show!

There was so much interest in our cars that we were initially obligated to stick close to the collection of MGBs, Minis, Triumphs and Aston Martin. What is this? Who made it? I had one of those.  My Mum had one when I was growing up in Scotland.  So many interesting stories and chances to educate the public about our cars and hobby.

Besides meeting new folks attending the show, we’re able to rekindle our connection with car-friends that come from throughout Central IL.  We were pleased to meet a brand-new member to the LBC community and his “Survivor” 1976 Triumph TR6.  He’d only owned it two weeks after seeing it alongside the road with a For Sale sign.  It was the same color as one he owned 45 years ago so naturally, he HAD to buy it.  He was re-learning about TR’s so our “Tech Team” jumped into action, helping him adjust his hood latch mechanism and offer up answers to his many questions.

What would a gathering of British car owners be without a wee’ bit ‘o natter and noggin?   The Highland Games had plenty of opportunity for both.  We gathered at the nearby pavilion where food and beverage vendors were happy to provide refreshments as a collection of entertainers serenaded us with traditional and popular Celtic songs.

The final leg of our outing was a visit to the iconic Route 66 Motorheads Bar, Grill and Museum just 20 minutes from the Highland Games.  For some in our group, this was their first chance to experience the nostalgic atmosphere, cars, motorcycles, and more. The building was originally built as a Stuckey’s gas station in 1971. It’s called Motorheads because the restaurant is closely tied to the world’s fastest dirt mile-track, located in Springfield, IL. 

With hugs and laughs we parted ways to our separate points of the compass knowing that we’d all be back together at the Champagne British Car Festival in Bloomington, IL in just two weeks!  

Celebrate British Car Week with the IFLBCC!

“Drive ‘Em, Don’t Hide ‘Em” is the mantra of the British Car Week organization (https://www.britishcarweek.org/) British Car Week is an annual awareness week intended for owners of Classic British Cars to get their cars out of the garage and drive them.

Want to drive your car and need some ideas for places to go?  Plan on joining the IFLBCC for our CBCF Pontiac, IL Rally/Cruise-in on June 3rd. Drives, pop-up car show, car collections and more!   It doesn’t matter whether your car is in better than new condition, or perhaps it’s a less than perfect unrestored gem, we love them all! As long as it can be safely driven down the road, this is a great opportunity to show off your favorite car and take advantage of what British car motoring is all about. We’re calling all owners of classic British cars to get together with other car owners in the central Illinois area and [gently] kick tires, share stories, answer questions, and have a good time.

Did you know the British Car Week culminates with the IFLBCC sponsored Champagne British Car Festival’s car show on June 4, 2023? (CBCF-Bloomington.com)   We’ll be hosting John Twist’s Rolling Tech Sessions during the Sunday car show and best of all, you’ll have the chance to show your car off to the general public who rarely, or in many cases never, have the opportunity to get a real-life, close-up glimpse of these exquisite, entertaining British automobiles of days gone by. 

Flatlander’s Attend the Chicagoland’s 26th Annual All Sports Car Swap Meet and Autojumble

Nigel Keen and John Twist at the 2023 Chicagoland Autojumble in Wheaton, IL

The Chicagoland MG Club again sponsored their popular swap meet and autojumble at the DuPage County Fairgrounds in Wheaton, IL.   The Illinois Flat Land British Car Club (IFLBCC) members have made the pilgrimage north for many years, searching for those rare and parts and accessories to complete their project cars and to promote the club.  This year, members departed the central Illinois area around 6:00 am insuring that we would arrive when the doors opened to the public around 8:00.   Many notable celebrities in the British car community, like John Twist, author Burt Levy and MGA Guru, Barney Gaylord were present.  As a club, our goal was to promote the June 4th, Champagne British Car Festival’s Car Show and weekend activities to all of the Chicagoland car clubs and attract possible vendors.  We were able to reconnect with several members of the Austin Healey Club and subsequently agreed to create a co-promotion of their British Car Union car show and our CBCF weekend.  

Nigel Keen and David Fitch loaded down with Autojumble bargains!

This year the entire show was packed into a single building which made navigating the stacks, tables and boxes a little challenging but always worth the effort!  So many of the vendors are experts in their marque so even if you don’t find what you’re looking for, you’ll certainly learn a few things along the way.  Each of the Flatlander’s were looking for a few specific items so as a team we were able to spread out and “bird-dog” for each other.  Need a TR3 gauge, a shop manual, some British wiring?   If it’s there . . . we’ll find it!  After a half-dozen trips up and down the aisles and loaded down with bargains, we packed up the car to head home but not before a stop for some natter and noggin at The Seven Dwarfs.

Remembering CBCF 2022

Highlights for 2023? IFLBCC sponsored Friday Night Welcome, Saturday rally to historic Pontiac, IL, Sat. Banquet with John Twist as Honorary Chairman, Sunday Car Show with John Twist’s Rolling Tech Sessions!

Take a peek at last year’s CBCF Weekend. Then try to imagine even MORE fun in 2023!

Music: The Intro we have been waiting for

Artist: Kevin Shrout

URL: http://unminus.com

Licence: Unminus License

NEW All-British Car Show Page

Looking for other All-British car show venues to visit this year? Check out IFLBCC’s newest page – Other British Car Shows!

Chuck Ladwig, of the British Car Union Board of Directors, contacted us with a proposition for a mutual partnership in advertising each others’ British Car Festivals. This was a FANTASTIC idea!

We’ve agreed to cross-post our events through social media, websites, and direct email. Our events will also provide flyers that can be included in our welcome packet and in their direct-mailed news letter.

If you plan on attending any of of these events, let the organizers know that you “Saw It HERE” – IFLBCC Other British Car Shows

Join in the FUN! Dinners, Drives and Events