Category Archives: Newsletter – The British Marque

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 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.

How to Subscribe to IFLBCC’s Monthly Newsletter in British Marque.

Did you know that Illinois Flat Land British Car Club (IFLBCC) is a Participating Club with the British Marque Car Club News?

Each month , the British Marque is published eleven times a year in a 40-page, tabloid newspaper format, in both Print and On-line Editions. They have subscribers and correspondents from Ontario to Texas and from Maine to California, plus a number in the United Kingdom.

As a Participating Club, the Illinois Flat Land British Car Club has been contributing articles to be published in the Marque for the past year. Along with our articles, notifications of our events are added to the Marque’s monthly calendar in the paper and on their website. This gives our club national and international publicity, helping build
the events and our club at the same time. In December alone, the Marque website boasted over 26,500 unique visitors!

You can download a free sample copy of the Marque from their website,, if you’re not familiar with the paper. We have been publishing articles in the Marque since June 2022.  Reprints of our articles have been published on Facebook and in the What’s New section of the IFLBCC website.   A copy of their subscription form is available for download below.  

Each member of a Participating Club who resides in the USA is entitled to a reduced subscription rate of $18.00 per year for the Print Edition. A subscription to the On-line Edition for Participating Club members is $12.00. Subscribers to the Print Edition can get the On-line Edition at no additional cost – all they have to do is sign up for it on their website. 

Need a Classified Ad? Subscribers from Participating Clubs have the privilege of one free classified per issue, up to 20 words. At their option, they can continue running their ads in subsequent issues until their items are sold (the “for sale” ads) or purchased (the “wanted” ads). This is a $7.50 value per issue that is offered for non-commercial ads only

How To Subscribe!

British Marque is in the process of redoing their checkout process page –

To checkout, please call them at (401) 766-6920 or e-mail them at [email protected] and Faith Lamprey will send you a link to pay online by credit card. Of course, you can always print out the Subscription Form and mail your check for $18.00 for an annual subscription.

Faith Lamprey
Business Manager
British Marque Car Club News
5 Old Nasonville Road
Harrisville, RI 02830-1905
(401) 766-6920

[email protected]

IFLBCC Newsletter Writers Wanted!

As you may already know, the British Marque is published eleven times a year in a 40-page, tabloid newspaper format, in both Print and On-line Editions. They have subscribers and
correspondents from Ontario to Texas and from Maine to California, plus a number in the United Kingdom.

As a Participating Club, the Illinois Flat Land British Car Club has been contributing articles to be published in the Marque for the past year. Along with our articles, notifications of our events are added to the Marque’s monthly calendar in the paper and on their website. This gives our club national and international publicity, helping build
the events and our club at the same time. In December alone, the Marque website boasted over 26,500 unique visitors!

When we send them articles to print, our club is given a section in the paper highlighted by our club logo and masthead. The person contributing articles is credited in the
Marque as a “Contributing Editor”.

Contributed article are also published in the What’s New section of the IFLBCC website. Click HERE to see some of last year’s articles.

Would YOU like to HELP?

There’s no ongoing commitment necessary!

  • Do you have a favorite event or car show story?
  • Share your project car restoration process/progress?
  • Memories of how you fell in love with British Cars?
  • Tech Tips? How To article?
  • Club related activities?
  • Digital images, illustrating your story, are encouraged

When you’re ready . . . let me know at [email protected]

8th Annual Halloween “Mystery” Cruise – British Marque

8th Annual Halloween “Mystery” Cruise

By Brian Davis

The final IFLBCC driving event of 2022 featured a Fall drive down some of Central Illinois’ scenic back roads to Haynes on Main, Mackinaw Valley winery PLUS a “Surprise” stop at a private collection of cars, neon, trains, toys and MUCH more!

The 8th Annual Halloween “Mystery” cruise began just west of Bloomington, on October 29, where owners of approximately fifteen British vehicles gathered for the day’s Drivers Meeting. Alan Kleinschmidt was the event organizer and led the Drivers Meeting and the drives throughout the day.

Cruise organizer, Alan Kleinschmidt, holds the Cruise Drivers Meeting

Our first destination was a “Mystery” location until that morning.  Alan had arranged for our group to drive to an unidentified location where members were treated to a vast collection of vehicles, man cave memorabilia and a train layout with 1,050 feet of track.=

The owner of the collection had his friend act as the Conductor for the various scaled trains that traveled through many villages and Disney themed vignettes.  The layout included 92 buildings, 232 characters, 6 monorails and 2400 miniature lights. This beautiful facility was spacious and allowed out group to leisurely browse the collection or sit and visit.

Leonard Lee and Rudy checking the Web as the Elimons, Judy Bess, Mike Shuck and Carol Brown take a break from touring the beautiful private collection.
A small corner of Dr. Kruger’s vast collection of cars, memorabilia and collectables

The next stop on our adventure was Haynes on Main, 108 S. Main St., Mackinaw, IL for lunch.  It was a beautiful Fall Day, so to add to our experience we traveled along Old Peoria Road and a variety of twisty scenic roads.

Haynes is a wonderful smalltown tavern that set aside a private dining area just for our group.  Several members that could not make the start of the drive joined us for lunch.

Mike Shuck, Todd Reid, Rudy Mortimer, Gary Brown and Alan Kleinschmidt making the tough decisions on what to have for lunch.

After lunch, the group continued on to Mackinaw Valley Vineyards for a little taste of the grape. The winery features a large variety of wines for tasting as well as an extensive gift shop and beautiful grounds.  After selecting our beverages, the group retired to the large deck that overlooks the expanse of grape arbors.

Alan Kleinschmidt and Gary Brown wine tasting at the Mackinaw Valley Winery

Late that afternoon we bid goodbye to our friends and IFLBCC group cruises for 2022.  We still had our November and December Natter ‘n Noggin to look forward to and to take a moment to look back on all of the terrific Club activities that 2022 had to offer.

By the time you’re reading this the Illinois Flat Land British Car Club will have begun planning our premier event of 2023, the 3-day Champagne British Car Festival.  The featured marque for 2023 will be All MGs.  We’re delighted to announce that John Twist will be speaking at the Saturday banquet and hosting his popular “Rolling Tech Session” during the Sunday car show at David Davis Mansion.

Flatlander Road Trip to Georgia’s Southeast British Car Festival

By Alan Kleinschmidt

Wednesday September 14th 2022 was a beautiful day for traveling. The Sun was bright and the temps were in the low 70’s.

We met friends, Greg and Chris Oakes, from Roscoe Illinois, at their Hotel in Bloomington and started our journey to the Southeast British Car Festival, sponsored by the Peachtree MG Registry in Dillard Georgia.

We would be driving “Black Betty’ the 1980 MGB LE and Greg and Chris would be in “Buttermilk” the 1972 MGB. Our goal for the day was to overnight in Sevierville Tennessee which lies 562 miles Southeast of Bloomington.

Buttermilk and Black Betty

We got onto Interstate 74 in Bloomington and traveled East through Indianapolis Indiana and on to Cincinnati Ohio where we picked up Interstate 75 and traveled South to Knoxville Tennessee before turning East on Interstate 40 to Sevierville.

Greg and I both prefer secondary roads when traveling in the MG’s, but sometimes you just have to get on the Interstate and go. We both have Overdrive, so cruising at 70 to 75 is not a problem. The cars ran great and about 10 hours later we rolled into the Hotel at Sevierville.

Thursday September 15th was another beautiful day. We headed South through Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg TN before heading up the mountain at Smoky Mountain National Park. The road through the park is very twisty and affords some spectacular views. We came down off the mountain and arrived at Cherokee NC just in time for breakfast at Peters Pancakes. There was a 45 minute wait, but it was well worth it.

We arrived in Dillard Georgia, early afternoon and went to Dillard House to check in and get directions to the house we had rented for our stay. We got the cars unloaded and enjoyed a cold adult beverage on the veranda with Nigel & Jane who had come down separately from Bloomington trailering their MGB.

Friday we were up early and on the road. We traveled to Highland NC for breakfast and then Route 64 to Franklin stopping to view the various falls and rapids along the way

The Peachtree Registry put on a “Low Country Boil” Friday evening at the main banquet hall at Dillard House. The menu included Shrimp, Mussels, Clams, and of course the famous Dillard House desserts.

Saturday was Show Day! There were many gorgeous cars in attendance. The show runs from 9 until 1 affording more time for cruising the back roads around the area.

Georgia’s Southeast British Car Festival

We traveled South this time and made a run around Lake Rabun before heading to Tallulah Gorge and then up Black Rock Mountain. We finished the afternoon at 12 Spies Winery, in Dillard with friends Greg and Chris and Nigel and Jane. The wine was very good and we picked up an extra bottle to bring home.

Another good meal was provided by Dillard House at the Saturday night Banquet and award ceremony. Nigel brought home an award for his modified 1980 MGB.

Sunday found us saying good bye to Georgia and heading home. We traveled to Lawrenceburg Indiana to spend the night. Our Hotel room provided beautiful views of the Ohio River which ran just on the other side of the Levee. There was a floating restaurant a short distance from the Hotel that we walked to for dinner. We were treated to a float equipped plane flying in and tying up for dinner. Pretty cool!

Monday morning found us back on the road, heading for home. The most challenging part of the trip was navigating our LBC’s through traffic in Indianapolis. With I-65, I-70 and I-74 converging there, traffic is always heavy.

We arrived home around noon on Monday. We traveled 1561 miles total for the trip and Betty averaged 31 mpg. Not bad for a 42 year old with 150,000 miles on her odometer.

EATS – Easily Amused Touring Society

By Brian Davis – Published in October Ed. British Marque Car Club News

I recently saw a meme that read “You only live once – Don’t leave it covered in the garage”.  That got me thinking about what motivates me and other Illinois Flat Land British Car Club members to get their cars out of the garage on a regular basis?

For me it was connecting with a small group of like-minded enthusiasts with its roots in Monday morning meetings at the local doughnut shop. That was about eight years ago and boy has it evolved!

The original gathering consisted of four retired guys that liked to eat, talk and drive an eclectic group of British cars.  I’m guessing that there are lots of clubs that have a similar group of members?  As our weekly meetings became a regular thing, we referred to the get-together as “Motoring Monday” and it soon became a much-anticipated part of our week.

EATS “Motoring Monday” – Show and Tell

The earliest Motoring Monday conversations included the typical tech. issues, tips and shared experiences.  It didn’t take long before we were planning our mid-week drives to local taverns and destinations.  That’s when EATS was born!

EATS . . .The Easily Amused Touring Society, combined not only our proclivity for eating but also our desire to get behind the wheel of our cars and go for a drive just for the love of it!  We were blessed with a member that was very familiar with many of our Central IL backroads, diners and dives.  We ALL still had “working wives” so we were on our own for lunch.  How fortuitous!

EATS originally had only four members but that changed over the years.  Some members moved away or had work/family conflicts and new folks just naturally took their place.  Each change in makeup added a new twist in the conversation and, of course, a change in the mix of vehicles and experiences.  One key component has remained the same – driving your British car, weather permitting.

Motoring Monday – MG TD Tech Session

In 2020, everything changed.  COVID was on everyone’s mind that March as restaurants and taverns began to shut down and health mandates (masks and social distancing) took hold. That was the end of Motoring Monday, right?  No way!

Where could we go that was open, had enough space for social distancing and served food?  How about our garages?  Motoring Monday evolved once again.  By then our group had grown to a regular group of six or seven and all of us had garages and each of us wanted to get into “Hosting” rotation.

COVID’s cloud had a silver lining!  Each Monday the host would be responsible for providing a garage, coffee and a variety of homemade and store-bought goodies.  

Another bright-spot to these new venues is that we were exposed to everyone’s garage, cars and projects.  Who knew that a pandemic could present us with such wonderful “Car-Themed” venues?   Soon a Motoring Monday Host List was created and everyone was anxious for their turn.

Around half of the EATS members live in suburban subdivisions or small towns in McLean Co. IL.  THAT gives us a two-fer.  We get to drive our cars for +/- 40 miles and visit an interesting car collection (garage). 

Motoring Monday – Diagnostics by our Team of Experts!

Other things have changed too.   We now spontaneously have:

  • “Show & Tell” – New tools, products, and event listings
  • Live Tech Sessions – The EATS Experts can help diagnose issues
  • Give Aways – Almost every host has some parts, tools, stuff to offer
  • Magazine Swap – British Marque News, Organization Magazines, etc.
  • Club Planning – EATS members are also “Active” IFLBCC members.

If you’re looking for a way to stay motivated and connected with the local British car community, consider starting small and see what develops.  I think you’ll be amazed at how much your LBC passion will grow.  

As I said at the beginning “You only live once – Don’t leave it covered in the garage”.

By Brian Davis

Co-Director, Illinois Flat Land British Car Club

A Special Shout Out to Volunteers

By Denny Elimon

My, Oh My, where do those summer driving days go? Just seems like they come and go more quickly each year.

With so many local car shows, monthly club meetings, local drives, and national events – the months seem to just fly past. So, which comes to mind for you this season? There may be more than one.

Many LBC owners have noticed that the backbone of all clubs is events.  Owners participate in events to keep their cars on the road and to meet fellow enthusiasts.

Two events came to mind when reflecting on my past driving season, the GT 47 NAMGAR gathering in Colorado Springs and the IFLBCC annual Champagne British Car Festival (which I missed) due to overlapping dates.

A special shout out to all the volunteers who give of their time to organize and host our events. While events are the backbone of clubs, volunteers provide the “backbones” to host those gatherings.

The IFLBCC welcomes anyone wishing to join them to plan up-coming events.  Feel free to contact them!  Those great driving days for many have passed -but future opportunities are being planned for those waiting for Spring to arrive.

By Denny Elimon

Illinois Flatland British Car Club (IFLBCC)

“A place in our garage forever” – British Marque Car Club News – Sept. 2022 ed.

“A place in our garage forever”

By Alan Kleinschmidt

Betty at Monarch Pass

I grew up in a small Midwestern town in Illinois during the Sixties. The typical cars around our town were your average Ford, Chevy or Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge, with the occasional Rambler thrown into the mix for good measure. There just weren’t any “foreign” cars around other than a VW Bug every now and then.

I was drafted by the US Army in 1970 and eventually found myself in the jungles of South Viet Nam. After serving eight months of my twelve month tour, I left for a week of R&R in Hawaii. I rented a Ford Mustang to provide transportation but after a couple of days I decided I wanted a convertible. I went back to the rental agency and they informed me that the only convertible they had was an MG. I didn’t even know what an MG was!

The car I rented was an MG Midget and, WOW! It sure was small compared to that Mustang! I had so much fun with that car while in Hawaii. I cruised all the way around Oahu and all over Honolulu. This little car was so much more fun to drive than that Mustang! This LBC planted a seed that has grown in me over the years.

Upon arriving back in the States, after my Army tour was over, I found the first of several MG’s that would shape my life and feelings about cars. It was a 1970 MGB.

It wasn’t very fashionable to drive an MGB in those days because the era of “American Muscle” was in full swing. The MG’s little 1.8 litre engine was dwarfed by the Big Block engines from all the domestic manufacturers. Even the American Motors cars had a 390 cubic inch engine!

I had another MGB, MGA, and Nash Metropolitan before my life was forever changed by starting a family. Playing with cars was replaced by raising kids and family responsibilities out ranked everything.

28 years would pass before another MG would enter my life. It was 2008 and my wife called me at work one day and told me there was an MGB for sale in her employer’s newsletter. I called the seller and set up a time to go see the car.

Betty ” As Found”

It was a 1980 MGB LE tourer with 43,000 miles showing and had been sitting in his garage for 17 years. I asked him what the problem was and he said “it’s just not reliable!” He said “it’s almost like it just runs out of gas” and has to be towed home.

I bought the car on the spot and borrowed a trailer to pick it up the next day. After getting it home and changing oil, installing a new battery and airing up the tires I turned on the ignition rapped on the fuel pump with a screwdriver handle and heard a very satisfying ticking sound. “Black Betty” was on the road under her own power for the first time in 17 years.

Since that cool November day in 2008, “Betty” has traveled over 100,000 miles. She has visited 26 of these United States and been to Canada three times.

She has traveled the 105 miles of Skyline Drive through the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and all 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

She has wrestled with Route 129, “The Tail of the Dragon” in Tennessee on two different occasions.

She has run the entire length of Route 66 from Chicago to California.

She has done “hot laps” at Historic Road America and participated in a tour of the old road course into Elkhart Lake.

She has been at sea level in California all the way up to 13210 Ft at Monarch Pass in the Colorado Rockies.

This little car has motored through the Arizona desert at 106 degrees, visited the Grand Canyon and seen Monument Valley in Utah.

She has circumnavigated Lake Michigan, Lake Ontario and Lake Erie and in 2019 made a run around the North shore of Lake Superior before reentering the USA at Sault St Marie.

Betty at Lake Michigan

She sailed across Lake Michigan from Ludington Michigan to Manitowoc Wisconsin on the historic car ferry, SS Badger.

Covid has slowed things down, but our travels in “Betty” are far from over. This little car will have a place in our garage forever and as long as we can fold up and get in and out of her, we’re going to continue traveling in her. There is something very satisfying about driving an MG.

What a GREAT little car!

By Alan Kleinschmidt

Co-Director, Illinois Flat Land British Car Club

How the classic road trip has changed – and stayed the same

by Brian Davis – Illinois Flat Land British Car Club

Reprinted from the August, 2022 issue of British Marque Car Club News

Are YOU planning a road trip this Summer?  As a retired baby boomer, I find myself taking more and more road trips through the Midwest and Southeast.  Along the way the old “Are we there yet?” question has been replaced by “Siri! When will we arrive in Dayton?   The AAA TripTik has disappeared in favor of Google Maps.  Best place to eat?  TripAdvisor.   The world has changed but memories and experiences of my family’s many road trips in the 5Os and 60s remain.

In my youth, ALL of my Iowa first cousins, aunts and uncles, and my mother’s parents still lived in a small northwestern Iowa farm town.  Every Summer we’d travel by station wagon from either the west or east coasts on primarily two-lane roads.  My sister and I would entertain ourselves by playing the Auto Bingo game with Dad calling out the state license plates or the make of the oncoming car or reading aloud the “See it ALIVE!” billboards that enticed us to stop in the middle of the desert for a look at the “Black Bees!”.

I admit that I enjoy the luxury of jumping in to my modern car knowing exactly where I am, when I’m going to get to my pre-booked motel and passing the time with a good audio book playing from my phone to a Bluetooth speaker.  But, OH those 50’s and 60’s road trips.

If you share similar memories and long for some of those old-fashioned experiences, here are a few of my favorite books that may rekindle some thoughts of your youth.

It Came with Oil – An adventure into the art of British car repair by Alan Cowan

This collection of true car-stories chronicles a young man’s adventures in auto-repair-shop antics, road-trips, and with those peculiar but loveable British cars.   Well written and a fun, every chapter is a separate, standalone story. It made me laugh and even caused me a few “been there, done that” flashbacks.

The Last Open Road by Burt Levy

Burt Levy’s first book about sports car racing in the US in the 1950s combines real people and events with fictional characters.  The Last Open Road is an entertaining account of a post high school young man finding his way in the world.  The main character Buddy, his girlfriend Julie Finzio and patron “Big Ed” elicit images that are very familiar to folks who were teen-agers during the wonderful 1950’s. It is almost as though I know the characters and can easily apply familiar names of real people in my past to them.

Don’t Make Me Pull Over! An Informal History of the Family Road Trip by Richard Ratay

This was a wonderful read! Our family took road trips across the US in the early 50s and 60s with four of us in an unairconditioned Chevy station wagon.  As a kid I loved stopping at roadside stands for a foot-long hot dog pumped full of red-dye no. 2 and a stale bun.  My only criteria for a good motel were that they had a swimming pool.   The book blends history and reality, introduces how Holiday Inn, Stuckey’s, Howard Johnson’s, and other roadside places came to be so popular, and is a great bit of nostalgia.  “Don’t Make Me Pull Over” is a fun and informative little book that is sure to resonate with readers who have memories of long trips in the family car.

Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck

For a travel story written 60 years ago, it is remarkably like road trips in the US today. The story is compelling with a great partner: Charley, the delightful French poodle.  John Steinbeck’s intention in traveling with Charley in Rocinante, a bespoke camping truck named after Don Quixote’s horse, was two folds.  First, his innate wanderlust had grown bigger as his age advanced.  Second, Mr. Steinbeck wanted to see America as he had known it on a personal level and ascertain what could define the true American identity and character.  I actually “Read” this book as an audio-book while on a road trip.  That made it even more interesting as I was experiencing several mid-west backroads and Iowa towns while listing to Gary Sinise narrate the writings of the Great American Author, John Steinbeck.  

Blue Highways: A Journey into America by William Least Heat Moon

I’ve recently begun seeking out vintage gas stations and small-town murals as a reason to jump in to our classic Mini or Austin Healey Bugeye Sprite and go for a drive.  I’ll go miles out of my way, while on a trip, just to take a few pictures to post to Facebook on Fill’er Up Friday or Mini Mural Monday.   That’s probably why Blue Highways resonates with me.  Author, William Least Heat-Moon, set out with little more than the need to put home behind him and a sense of curiosity about “those little towns that get on the map”.  I loved Travels with Charley, but I loved this book a whole lot more.  He brings to life ‘the road less travelled’ and the people he meets along the way.

The Lincoln Highway: A Novel by Amor Towles

I have to admit that I was unfamiliar with the Lincoln Highway.  According to Wikipedia: “The Lincoln Highway is the first road for automobiles across the United States.”  Come to find out, much of the Lincoln Highway has been incorporated into what we now refer to as Interstate 80.    Set in June 1954 The Lincoln Highway follows brothers Emmett and Billy Watson who plan to leave their home in Nebraska, and travel along the Lincoln Highway, America’s first transcontinental highway, to San Francisco, where they hope to start a new life. While this is an interesting novel, I was expecting more of a “Blue Highways” style narrative of their travels west.  Spoiler Alert:  Their “planned Trip” takes a sharp detour!

High Performance: When Britain Ruled Road by Peter Grimsdale

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book!  I first fell in love with Mini Coopers, owned an MG Midget and then a TR3 in the Late-60s.  With that foundation, I’ve had a continuous love and interest in the British automotive industry.  High Performance is written in an easily readable style, with 41 quite short chapters, each with their own complete little story.  The author delves into the reasons different events happened and why and gives fascinating insight into characters such as Colin Chapman, William Lyons, John Cooper, Paddy Hopkirk, Stirling Moss and so on.

Golden Milestone – 50 years of the AA by David Keir (Editor)

My final “Summer Reading” entry is only going to be found online in one of the Used Book outlets.   Golden Milestone is a readable, often amusing, but always fascinating story that David Keir tells of the first fifty years (1905-1955) of the British Automobile Association (AA).  The Golden Milestone takes the reader from a band of rebels to an organization almost as important as the Post Office.  The AA came into existence and set up an organization to patrol the roads, inspect and approve garages and hotels, offer free legal advice, elect signs, report weather conditions and to carry a torch for motoring 24-hours a day, seven days a week.  This vintage book is loaded with illustrations, cartoons and graphics