2018 New England 1000 Rally, Summary Report

The 2018 edition of the New England 1000 rally was held during the week of May 21. The rally started and ended at our host hotel, the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY, with additional overnight stays in Newport RI and Lenox MA. The group also visited Wayne Carini’s F40 Motorsports and Mystic Seaport.

In all, about 35 cars drove in the event (the number is estimated because first, not every car listed in the tour book showed up; and two, some of the cars spotted earlier in the week seemed to have dropped away by the end of the week). The oldest vehicular participant was a 1952 Cunningham convertible. Tied for newest set of wheels were a 2017 Audi R8 and 2017 Porsche 911.

For rally co-driver and co-navigator Steve Hansen and me, this year was a double-milestone: it was our tenth NE1000 (although not all 10 were driven with each other), and it was the 20th anniversary of our first such rally in 1998. We both recall that during our initial drive to Freeport ME in Steve’s Tiger, we pondered what other vehicles might be joining us. Instead of the resto-modded Camaros and slightly rusty Chargers we envisioned, the first car spotted in the hotel lot was a white four-door Bugatti. We instantly knew we were in for something special.

Rallyist extraordinaire Steve H behind the wheel

This year’s rally was different in several ways:

  • The semi-official featured marque was Cunningham. The realized dream of Briggs Cunningham, a total of 25 road cars were manufactured. Four were scheduled to run the rally, but only three actually did so. It was a rare thrill to see three in the same place at the same time, and even more rare and thrilling to hear them run and watch them move.
  • For the first time in our experience, one of the four “rally days” consisted of no driving events. Tuesday was spent in Newport RI; participants were given the option to ride on an America’s Cup yacht, visit an automobile museum or two, and/or tour the “cottages”, as Newport’s mansions are euphemistically called.
  • Also for the first time, there were no optional driving events, such as hillclimbs, gymkhanas, or drag races. In large part due to only three days of touring, we drove slightly less than our usual 1,000 miles. As per the tour book, the mileage total for the week was 837.

Those of you in the Northeast know all too well what disappointing spring weather we’ve had. Things were no better as we departed Neshanic Station on Saturday. We drove in a near-steady rain on Saturday afternoon, the trip made more bearable only by its brevity (Mohonk is just two hours away). Sunday dawned damp and cloudy, but by that afternoon, we saw the sun, and except for some sprinkles on Tuesday evening, we were spared further precipitation.

Our steed, my 1967 Alfa Romeo GT 1300 Junior, was in its fourth (2013, 2014, 2015, 2018) NE1000. Its performance was almost flawless. Tuesday morning, intending to drive into town, the car would not crank. The battery was drained, but the car instantly roared to life with a jump start. With the help of Peter and Keith from RPM (thanks guys!), we determined that the alternator was intermittently charging. It’s very likely that the Saturday drive, with lights and wipers on the entire time, helped accelerate the battery’s depletion.

The local NAPA store, in exchange for some credit card info from me, donated a new battery, and our starting problems were solved for now. From my phone, I ordered a replacement alternator from my preferred supplier, Classic Alfa in the UK. The alternator was on my front porch on Thursday afternoon, a day before we arrived home. How’s that for service?

Participation in multiple events has taught me that rally photography is a tricky proposition. Once the driving starts, opportunities for the camera can be few and far between; after all, I’m either driving or navigating. Below is a sampling of pictures, organized roughly chronologically by location. Please note that all these photos are different from the “Photo Gallery” pictures posted last week. Enjoy the shots!


ARRIVAL, SATURDAY & SUNDAY

Although the official festivities begin on Sunday afternoon, many participants (including us) arrive on Saturday to feel less rushed as we perform any final car prep. Here are some of the cars as they arrived in a lot set aside for the rally participants.

Lamborghini Miura

 

The ceremonial mounting of the rally plate

SUNDAY CONCOURS

Every year, the rally events begin with an informal “concours” on the hotel property, done as much for the owners to show off as to present our wares to the hotel guests and public. At Mohonk, we were crowded onto a narrow walkway.


F40 MOTORSPORTS VISIT

On Monday, we made a scheduled stop at F40 Motorsports, the home of Chasing Classic Cars starring Wayne Carini. Mr. Carini was on the premises, and gave a short informal presentation. Better still, he led us into the back shop where many treasures are hidden away. He was warm, gracious, humble, and obviously a very knowledgeable enthusiast.


THE AUDRAIN MUSEUM

On Tuesday’s “open” day in Newport, we had every intention of visiting two of the local car museums. Our battery issue, while fortuitously falling on the non-driving day, shortened our available time. We were only able to get to the Audrain Auto Museum, located in downtown Newport. The building itself is an architectural masterpiece. The smallish display area featured American muscle.


MYSTIC SEAPORT

Wednesday found us in Mystic CT, with about 2 hours to kill at the Mystic Seaport Museum before our scheduled lunch. As lunch ended, the parking lot served as an ideal staging area for our departure, and was also a great photo op.


THE RALLY ENDS

By Thursday, everyone feels a sense of accomplishment at just having driven the roads. That evening’s banquet dinner will reveal the final score, including how many teams “zeroed out” (this year, only one). As the cars arrived back at Mohonk, they were prepped to be either driven or shipped out on Friday morning.

All photographs copyright © 2018 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

The Alfa Returns From Its Stay At the AACA Museum

The AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) Museum in Hershey PA has both permanent and temporary automotive exhibits. In November of 2016, a 5-month long show was launched there, entitled Amore della Strada (“Love of the Road”), a tribute to Italian machinery of both the 4-wheel and 2-wheel varieties.

I was humbled to have my 1967 Alfa Romeo chosen as one of only about 20 cars for the exhibit. Aside from the honor of having your vehicle on display for the public to admire, there are the logistical challenges of getting the car there, and getting the car home. All transportation arrangements are the sole responsibility of the vehicle owner.

The Alfa poses in front of its temporary home.

Bringing the car to them was easy, because my wife and I decided to spend the weekend in Hershey. The Alfa made the trek without incident (with the driver thankful that there was no early snow). My wife followed in her modern iron, so getting home was simple.

I knew from the start that the museum exhibit was scheduled to end the same April weekend as Spring Carlisle. My good friend Larry and I made plans to attend the Carlisle show together, and he generously offered to pick me up at my house, drive me to Carlisle, then drive me to the Museum. There had been previous email exchanges with museum staff that I would show up sometime on Friday to get the car.

Larry’s such a good friend that he stuck around to make sure my departure was OK.

Upon arrival, there was one hitch: my car’s battery, which the museum had assured me would be charged up, was not. When I sat in the car to crank the engine, the revolutions were so slow that you could count them. A 12V powerpack was brought to the scene, and the Alfa started right up. Any concerns about re-starting were alleviated when I turned off the car, and it immediately cranked back to life.

Day #2 of the Carlisle Auction was in action on Friday, and I wanted to be there. I drove to the showfield, and parked in a private driveway (five bucks, thanks Rita!) arranged by another good friend, Rich S. Then, back to my hotel Friday night, with the Alfa safely tucked behind the building.

Saturday morning, up bright and early, and I was on the road again in the little Alfa. Traffic was surprisingly heavy along Routes 81 and 78, but I’ve learned to stick to the right lane and stay out of the way. At 155 inches and 2,000 pounds, my 1300 Junior would be flicked off the road like a pesky bug should an SUV or 18-wheeler make an errant maneuver.

I-78 eastbound, somewhere in PA. At 70 mph in 5th, engine is turning just under 4k.

The car ran beautifully the entire way home. One hundred and thirty-four miles later, it was back in the garage that the car hadn’t seen since November of last year. Once some basic maintenance is attended to, we can start with the first of a number of events which have been scheduled for the car this year.

Back home, safe and sound

 

All photographs copyright © 2017 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

A Late Winter Visit To the AACA Museum

A 1958 Chevrolet Impala “on Route 66” inside the AACA Museum

 

On March 18, 2017, seven intrepid souls, expecting a delightful early spring day, ventured instead into the dreary dampness to visit the AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) Museum in Hershey PA.

One of our rides for the day

The trip was planned weeks ago as a “rain or shine” event, and our travels were assuaged by riding in modern chariots, that is, two brand new Volvo XC90 SUVs. After an obligatory Dunkin’ Donuts stop, we were at the Museum by 11 a.m. Once there, Museum employees informed us that the basement had been emptied of many of its cars in preparation for an afternoon private event, so the daily admission fee was discounted. (AACA members are granted free entry.) But with the main floor fully stocked, there was plenty to see.

Hybrids are allowed to park up front, and recharge for free at the same time

In addition to the permanent exhibits, two temporary exhibits were in the house. “Amore della Strade” features cars and motorcycles of Italian heritage, and “Mopar Midsize Muscle” delivers big block excitement from the Chrysler Corporation.

A 1967 Plymouth GTX

Certainly, the most extraordinary permanent display is the “Cammack Collection”, a grand showing of Tucker automobiles, engines, artifacts, and history. The late David Cammack had begun collecting all things Tucker in the early 1970s. Before his passing in 2013, he willed his entire collection to the AACA Museum. The Museum in turn has done a marvelous job in setting up an interactive display to teach the public about this enigmatic automobile.

A Tucker in front of a reproduction Tucker dealership

Three hours or so after entering, we were on our way out. More importantly, we were hungry, and our stop at The Manor Restaurant & Bar up the street (thanks, Ted!) satisfied everyone’s hunger and thirst. To cap off a wonderful day, in spite of the cold, we made it (almost) all the way back without hitting any of the promised rain and snow. We each declared the day a success, and promised to make return visits.

 

Some of the oldest cars on display; the vehicles are arranged by decade

 

A 1932 Studebaker

 

The Italian motorcycles were in their own display room

 

Several of our group stand near the author’s ’67 Alfa, on loan as part of the Italian car display

 

The Tucker exhibit includes prototype engines against a photo of the engine manufacturing plant

 

Colleagues pose next to one of three Tuckers in the museum (out of 51 built)

 

 

First- and second-generation Dodge Chargers

 

1970 Dodge Charger

 

The basement includes buses and a reproduction 1950’s diner

 

A mid-60s Corvette is the centerpiece display of numerous Chevrolets

 

A wall mural pays tribute to Milton Hershey, whose businesses still dominate his namesake town

 

All photographs copyright © 2017 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

An Unplanned Visit to “Cadillac House”

A few weeks ago, my wife and I were in downtown Manhattan, where we spent a pleasant afternoon at the new Whitney Museum. Our trip into New York County was via the Staten Island Ferry, and while we had taken a taxi from the ferry terminal to the museum, the afternoon weather was pleasant enough for us to make the return trip to the terminal on foot.

Much of our walk took us south on Hudson St., through the West Village and SoHo. These areas are full of trendy bars, coffee shops, and galleries, and autumn’s Sunday warmth had lots of people out and about.

 

Just about the last brand name I expected to see in SoHo
Just about the last brand name I expected to see on a building in SoHo

 

I’ll be the first to tell you that my eyesight isn’t that great … except when it comes to spotting cars. A few blocks past Houston St., in the glass window of a building across the street from where I stood, was the unmistakable chrome face of a 1958 Cadillac. “Wait, wait”, I yelled to my wife, whom I knew would have no choice but to follow me. “What is this place? Wait, the Cadillac emblem is on the front of the building!”

 

The view that first caught my eye
The view that first caught my eye

 

My wife went in first; I wasn’t even sure they were open. But sure enough, they were. We scooted past two young adults who were building some kind of display, and entered the first floor ‘showroom’, all glass and mirrors and chrome. Oh, and several Caddies from the ‘50s and ‘60s.

 

Public area on first floor is all hard surfaces
Public area on first floor is all hard surfaces

 

We wandered around a bit. There was a hipster coffee bar, and a small clothing boutique in the rear. A large placard gave details about an upcoming Andy Warhol exhibit. The space is open seven days a week, and “hanging out” is encouraged.

 

Sit, stay a while, enjoy the views
Sit, stay a while, enjoy the views

 

Cadillac + Andy Warhol - who knew?
Cadillac + Andy Warhol = who knew?

 

We didn’t stay long, and on the way out, I asked the young woman at the desk if this was in fact Cadillac’s headquarters. “Oh yes” she exclaimed enthusiastically. “All the upper floors are where all the offices are. We like it here, because this is a great neighborhood.”

 

Fun with mirrors, part 1
Fun with mirrors, part 1

 

Fun with mirrors, part 2
Fun with mirrors, part 2

 

The Cadillac brand, in an attempt to establish independence from its General Motors parent, moved its national operation to New York in 2015. This is all part of brand chief Johan de Nysschen’s grand plan to take the luxury car maker upscale.

 

Say "tailfins", and most will conjure up an image of the '59 Cadillac
Say “tailfins”, and most will conjure up an image of the ’59 Cadillac

 

My presumption had been that their offices would be somewhere in Midtown: perhaps near Bloomingdale’s (and Trump Tower), or maybe around the corner from Rockefeller Center. So Johan wants to be where the young trendsetters are. Hasn’t this been tried before?

 

1963 Cadillac, in black, natch
1963 Cadillac, in black, natch

 

I had one more question for our hostess: “Where are the new cars?” She said that they had all been moved out in preparation for the Warhol event. For now, these behemoths from Cadillac’s heyday had the floor to themselves. Here’s hoping that Cadillac finds its muse somewhere in lower Manhattan.

 

The organic coffee sign symbolizes the distance between this '58 and its trendy surrounds
The organic coffee sign symbolizes the distance between this ’58 and its trendy surrounds

 

All photographs copyright © 2016 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

The AACA Museum Hosts “Amore della Strada” Opening Reception

On the evening of November 18, 2016, the AACA Museum in Hershey PA officially opened its “Amore della Strada” Italian machinery exhibit with a reception at the museum. The public was invited to attend, and turnout was large, making for crowded aisles. The doors opened at 6pm, and your $20 admission included antipasti, beer, and wine. Those who owned cars on display were admitted “gratuito”.

Italian cars come in colors other that red!
Italian cars come in colors other than red!

There were approximately 20 Italian cars, and perhaps a dozen or so Italian motorcycles. The museum is arranged in such a way that there was no practical way for the curators to place all the special exhibits together. Therefore, they were arranged in smaller groups of 2, 3, 4, or more, and placards with each vehicle provided sufficient history regarding the make and model. Owners who were loaning their wares for the five-month duration of the show were dutifully acknowledged. (Last week’s blog entry covered this author’s drive to deliver his ’67 Alfa Romeo GT 1300 Junior to the exhibit.)

Fiat, Alfa, and Christmas tree
Fiat, Alfa, and Christmas tree

Fiats and Alfa Romeos seemed to comprise the bulk of the vehicle displays, and some might agree with me that it was a refreshing change of pace for an “Italian Car Show” to NOT be dominated by late-model supercars from the Big 3 of Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati. (Of these three makes, I counted only two Ferraris.)

 

Ferrari 308GTB shares floor space with modified Fiat 124 Spider
Ferrari 308GTB shares floor space with modified Fiat 124 Spider

Among the Fiats, we saw three 124 Spiders, two X1/9s, and an 850 Spider. The X1/9s were a study in contrasts, as the bright green one was a first year example wearing the original bumper-less design, while the white one from 1987 wore no Fiat badges at all, as it was manufactured and sold by Bertone, and badged as such, since Fiat left the U.S. market after 1982. The only Italian prewar car on the floor was a delightful 1937 Fiat Topolino (Little Mouse).

Adorable 1937 Fiat Topolino (owned by AACA Museum)
Adorable 1937 Fiat Topolino (owned by AACA Museum)

 

1974 Fiat X1/9 - note lack of battering ram bumpers
1974 Fiat X1/9 – note lack of battering ram bumpers

 

1987 Bertone X1/9, one of the last of the breed
1987 Bertone X1/9, one of the last of the breed

 

Nose of '87 X1/9 wears this in place of Fiat badge
Nose of ’87 X1/9 wears this in place of Fiat badge

 

 

Fiat 850 Spider
Fiat 850 Spider

The four Alfa Romeos included two Giulia coupes, one early step-nose and one 2nd generation design, a rare Montreal Coupe (with a factory V8), and the last Alfa sold in the U.S. market (until Sergio’s recent resurgence), the large front-wheel-drive 164 sedan.

 

 

Owners Ed and Shayna Geller with their stunning Alfa Montreal
Owners Ed and Shayna Geller with their stunning Alfa Montreal

 

Alfa GTV in red, Alfa 164 in black
Alfa GTV in red, Alfa 164 in black. Snake eats man; it’s part of the Alfa legend.

 

Yes, there were speeches too
Yes, there were speeches too

The show included vehicles that required an explanation how they passed the entrance exam, as two of them had big American V8 engines, and one had a British 4-cylinder lump. The DeTomaso Longchamp and Italia Omega are vehicles belonging to a class long known as ‘hybrids’ (decades before that term was used to describe a gas/electric vehicle).

Most car aficionados have heard of the DeTomaso Pantera, sold here by Lincoln-Mercury dealers in the early 1970s. The Longchamp is the squared-off, four-seat sister to the Pantera. The one on display featured a Ford 351 Cleveland engine mated to a 3-speed automatic. I’ve seen many a photo of Longchamps, and this was the first one I’ve ever seen in the metal.

The car labeled as a 1967 Italia Omega is more familiarly known to me as an Intermeccanica Italia. Based on my reading of the car’s placard, the history of this car company is convoluted at best. (Indeed, none of the several import-based compilation books in my library make any mention at all of this company.) The vehicle in the museum was an attractive convertible, using a front-mounted Ford 302 V8 paired with a 4-speed manual transmission.

The 1961 Triumph Italia on display is one of 329 built. While the design is certainly in the Italian mold, the sheetmetal hides what is essentially the drivetrain and chassis of a stock Triumph TR-3.  One of the outstanding features of the Italia is that it is the handiwork of a young Giovanni Michelotti, who would later pen the restyle of the TR-4 into the TR-6.

1961 Triumph Italia, with TR-3 mechanicals
1961 Triumph Italia, with TR-3 mechanicals

Scan through the photos below for shots of other vehicles which were on display. (And as always, click on any of the photos to enlarge them.)

Among the motorcycles, which are not my primary interest, I could not help but be drawn to the 1958 Iso Moto, built by the same company that originally designed the Iso Isetta. Like the Longchamp, it was a first for me to actually see one of these in person.

The “Amore della Strada” exhibit runs through April 22, 2017. There’s plenty to see at the Museum besides the Italian stuff. If you’ve never made the trip, this is a good excuse to do so. If you have, the Italian cars are a nice addition to what you may have seen before.

 

1960 Fiat Autobianchi
1960 Fiat Autobianchi

 

1954 S.I.A.T.A, with Fiat 8V engine
1954 S.I.A.T.A, with Fiat 8V engine

 

1957 Vespa 400, designed in Italy but built in France
1957 Vespa 400, designed in Italy but built in France

 

1971 O.T.A.S. 820 Grand Prix, built on Fiat 850 chassis
1971 O.T.A.S. 820 Grand Prix, built on Fiat 850 chassis

 

This 1954 Fiat 1100 wears custom sheetmetal reminiscent of the Alfa BAT cars
This 1954 Fiat 1100 wears custom bodywork reminiscent of the Alfa B.A.T. cars

 

Unlike the cars, the bikes fit into one room
Unlike the cars, the bikes fit into one room

 

Yes, it's an ISO; same parent company as the Isetta and the Griffo
Yes, it’s an ISO; same parent company as the Isetta and the Griffo

 

 

 

All photographs copyright © 2016 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

The Alfa is Loaned to the AACA Museum

The AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) Museum in Hershey PA frequently presents special exhibits on a rotating basis, as a supplement to the vehicles on permanent display. One such exhibit, entitled “Amore Della Strada: Italian Cars” (translated as “Love of the Road”), is running from November 19, 2016, through April 22, 2017.

Earlier this year, the AACA invited its members to submit applications for their Italian cars to be considered. I completed said application, and was thrilled and humbled to learn that the ’67 Alfa Romeo which normally resides in my garage was accepted to be part of the show. (Of the approximately 20 Italian cars to be displayed, all but one are privately owned.)

On the crisp clear Friday morning of November 11, 2016, I started up the Alfa for its two-hour drive to Hershey (this car is no trailer queen). After putting 260 miles on it on last Sunday, this 120-mile ride would be simple. Aside from dicing it up with the tractor-trailers on Route 78 through Allentown PA, the trip was uneventful.

The Alfa arrives at the AACA Museum. The Hershey Kissmobile was also visiting.
The Alfa arrives at the AACA Museum. The Hershey Kissmobile was also visiting.

Arriving at the museum a little past 10 a.m., I drove around to the load-in entrance at the rear. Glenn from the museum staff met me there, and we went through some of the small peculiarities that make Italian cars so lovable. Glenn seemed especially astounded to learn that the ONLY way to open the trunk is by opening the passenger door and pulling the cable release in the door jamb, something he needed to know in order to access the trunk-mounted battery.

In the basement. You can just make out a Fiat 124 in front of my car.
In the basement. You can see a Fiat 124 in front of my car.

My buddy Larry, who is a saint-among-saints as a friend, met me out there in his Silverado. We toured the museum (it was his first time visiting), and got a sneak preview of the upcoming show, as most of the Italian cars were already on display. After a local lunch at Red Robin, we were back on the road by 3-ish.

Sneak preview: DeTomaso Longchamp, Fiats 124, 850, and X1/9
Sneak preview: DeTomaso Longchamp, Fiats 124, 850, and X1/9

My wife and I will be headed out there again this coming Friday for the exhibit’s opening reception – blog story to follow.  And now that I have an empty garage slot for the next five months, we’ll see if I can slip something else in there. (Honey, I know you’re reading this….)

Hamburger with arugula, spicy black beans; does it get any better?
Hamburger with arugula, spicy black beans; does it get any better?

 

All photographs copyright © 2016 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.