The 2001 New England 1000 Rally

My excitement was barely containable. For the FOURTH consecutive year, I would be driving in Rich and Jean Taylor’s wonderful vintage car rally, along with about 50 like-minded car enthusiasts. My good friend and rally partner Steve would again be joining the troupe, with one significant difference: we would each be taking our own cars. Steve would be teamed up with his girlfriend (now wife) Carol in their Sunbeam Tiger, and I with my fiancé (now wife) Margaretanne would drive our recently-acquired ’72 MGB. Oh boy.

Packing the Tiger's trunk: spare parts, tools, and the all-important wash bucket
Packing the Tiger’s trunk: spare parts, tools, and the all-important wash bucket

 

Cover page of our route instructions; the rally at this time was still sponsored by M-B
Yogi provides all the driving philosophy you need

 

They can’t say they didn’t ask for it. As alluded to in an earlier post, after three straight years of hearing us rave about the rallies, the ladies wanted in. We departed from Steve’s home in Morristown NJ and caravanned to the rally starting point in Lake Placid NY. My B, purchased just a month prior, was relatively untested, and I’ll admit to some trepidation about its roadworthiness (Lucas electrics and all that). However, Steve’s British car (aside from its Yank lump) had been a bastion of reliability all these years, so I did my best to cast aside doubts.

 

En route, the two Brit roadsters sit at a NY Thruway rest area
En route, the two Brit roadsters sit at a NY Thruway rest area

Arriving at the Mirror Lake Inn on Sunday May 20, the field of rally vehicles did not disappoint; if anything, this year’s variety of cars got more interesting. The number of domestic vehicles was greater than previously seen, and included a ’64 Corvette Sting Ray, ’70 Ford Mustang, ’63 Dodge Dart, ’61 Chrysler 300G, and ’62 Ford Thunderbird (ALL convertibles).

Nice overview of the parking lot, prior to the rally's start
Nice overview of the parking lot, prior to the rally’s start

The European sports cars continued to dominate the field, and we became almost blasé at repeated sightings of Mercedes 300-SLs, Porsche 356s, Aston-Martins, Jaguar XKs, and Ferraris. The BMW 507 seen earlier returned; and of special note to me, our friend Dave Allison, who had previously entered an Alfa Giulietta spider, a Porsche 356, and a Lotus Elite, showed up with a 1971 Austin Mini. His conclusion? Of the four, the Mini was his favorite to drive!

 

Aston, Jag, BMW (would make a nice collection for my garage)
Aston, Jag, BMW (would make a nice collection for my garage)

And drive we did; as always, it’s almost exactly 1,000 miles over four days (that’s why it’s called the N.E. 1000), not including our mileage up and back. Fears about the MGB were totally unfounded; we suffered no ill effects from driving an almost-30-year-old car (not counting a very fiddly convertible top). For my wife, truth be told, getting up early and adhering to a rigidly-scheduled day was not her idea of a vacation, but she did admit that the concept and the camaraderie made it fun.

Typical queue waiting for our time out
Typical queue waiting for our time out

 

And this was the line behind us
And this was the line behind us

 

The future Mrs. Reina takes her tun behind the wheel of the B
The future Mrs. Reina takes her turn behind the wheel of the B

The return trip was uneventful. I kept the MG for the remainder of 2001, but with the BMW Isetta finally being show ready, I wanted to focus on only one collector car. Besides, the newish ’93 Mazda Miata in the garage offered plenty of sporty top-down driving whenever I wanted, so in the spring of 2002, I sold the B for exactly what I paid for it.

Shortly after the conclusion of the 2001 rally, Steve and Carol relocated to California. Due in large part to our geographical separation, it would be another four years before we again entered a vintage rally together, driving a yet-to-be-purchased vehicle. Stay tuned for that story.

Beautiful backdrop for classic car lineup
Beautiful backdrop for classic car lineup

 

Dave shows all of us what that Mini can do (he WON the competitive driving award this year)
Dave shows all of us what that Mini can do (he WON the competitive driving award this year)

 

Big Chrysler almost looks at home among the sports cars
Big Chrysler almost looks at home among the sports cars

 

Two M-B 300SL roadsters sit it out
Two M-B 300SL roadsters sit it out

 

The best of Britain: Jaguar E-Type and Aston Martin DB-6
The best of Britain: Jaguar E-Type and Aston Martin DB-6

 

Drizzle required top-up, no quick job in the MG
Drizzle required top-up, no quick job in the MG

 

Lotus Europa
Lotus Europa

 

Aston Martin DB-5
Aston Martin DB-5

 

Alfa Romeo GTV #1
Alfa Romeo GTV #09

 

Alfa Romeo GTV #2
Alfa Romeo GTV #39

 

BMW 507
BMW 507

 

Dave Allison's Austin Mini
Dave Allison’s Austin Mini

 

Jaguar XK-150
Jaguar XK-150

 

Ferrari 275GTB/4 NART spider
Ferrari 275GTB/4 NART spider

 

Porsche 356
Porsche 356

 

Hard to believe, but this Maserati Mistral just passed our MGB
Hard to believe, but this Maserati Mistral just passed our MGB

 

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

 

The 1972 MGB roadster

By the year 2001, my rally brother Steve and I had participated in three New England 1000 rally events: 1998, 1999, and 2000. We had every intention of making it “four in a row”, except, we had a small problem. After each running, we had excitedly exclaimed to our girlfriends how thrilling it had been to drive the bucolic highways and byways of New England in a classic convertible with like-minded enthusiasts. After all these years of listening to our exploits while they sat at home, they wanted in.

Okay.

For Steve, that meant gearing up the Tiger for yet another run, and given its exemplary performance so far, there seemed to be nothing that would prevent the Tiger from achieving a Grand Slam.

For me, that meant obtaining a rally-eligible car.

To car collectors, this is what is known as a “good problem to have”. Many a hobbyist will tell you that the thrill is in the hunt. While I generally agree, my hunt was complicated by the facts that a) I had just gotten engaged, and there was a wedding to plan; and b) we had just purchased a house, and were planning to move into it in March.

Okay.

What do we do when faced with such challenges? Of course: we confine our search for a rally car to the local area! So it was with a great amount of fortuitousness that I happened to see an online listing for a 1972 MGB roadster, in western Hunterdon County (only 30 minutes away) for sale for $5,000. I drove out to see the car; it had some issues; I conveniently ignored them. I offered the owner payment with a personal check; he accepted. I drove the B home. Things were looking up!

To prepare the car for the upcoming rally, I installed a set of Vredestein tires (I must like that brand, as the Alfa has Vredesteins on it), and while the tires were off, resprayed the painted wheels with wire-wheel paint from Moss Motors. An oil change, a quick tune-up, and we were rally-ready.

This MGB was my first British car. Like all Bs before and after, it had a 1.8L 4-cylinder engine, in my case, producing about 95 horsepower. Carburetion was via two SUs, complete with manual choke. Transmission was a 4-speed manual, without the desirable overdrive. The color was a true ‘70s pumpkin orange, complemented by a beige and black interior. (I was later informed that the seats were out of a later-model MGB.) Braking was discs in front, drums in rear, and steering was rack & pinion. As a 1972 model, its chrome bumpers were much better-looking than the big rubber bumpers soon to come. It was an easy car to drive, and a very easy car to work on.

The complete story of our participation in the 2001 New England 1000 rally will be covered in the next blog post. Suffice to say that after three years of joyously sharing seat time in that Sunbeam Tiger, this MG proved its mettle as a formidable (albeit slower) competitor.

Spring of 2001: the MGB on the front lawn of our new home
Spring of 2001: the MGB on the front lawn of our new home; note triple wipers

 

For such a compact car (153" long), interior was roomy
For such a compact car (153″ long), interior was roomy

 

 

Interior shot shows wheel, seats, and 3rd version of B dash
Interior shot shows wheel, seats, and 3rd version of B dash

 

 

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

 

 

Sunday Morning Breakfast Drive, May 15, 2016

8 a.m.: sunny before departure
8:30 a.m.: sunny before departure

After a relatively mild winter, the spring of 2016 has been taking its sweet time arriving in the Northeast. Any fears of summer heat waves in early May have been unfounded, with daily temperatures often running 10 degrees below normal. Our little driving club tried to get an early start on the season by planning a mid-April event, which had to be cancelled due to the threat of snow! Our scheduled drive on Sunday May 15 did successfully occur, in spite of cool weather and surprise showers.

Hey guys, do you want to eat, or would you rather stand around and shoot the breeze?
Hey guys, do you want to eat, or would you rather stand around and shoot the breeze?

Checking back on last year’s blog entries, we never had more 15 participants on any one run (excepting Spousal Accompaniment Day). Today, we broke that record with 17 gentlemen occupying 12 cars. Obviously, we had 5 passengers, several of whom were joining us for the first time. Our destination was a crowd favorite, the Silver Spoon Café in Cold Spring NY.

We pull over to give those in back a chance to catch up

We pull over to give those in back a chance to catch up

The cars: we usually count up the Chevys, and then all the rest. Today, the Europeans won the day with a total of 7 cars: 3 Germans, 2 Brits, and 2 Italians. We had 4 U.S. brand cars, and one Japanese. There were old(ish) and new(ish) vehicles in all the subcategories with multiple vehicles.

The Mother Country was beautifully represented Rich S’s black MGB and Rich L’s white Jaguar F-Type.

The MGB of Rich S
The MGB of Rich S

 

The F-Type Jag of Rich L
The F-Type Jag of Rich L

The 2 Italians cars were both Alfas: EC was the proud papa bringing his ’91 spider out with us for the first time, while your humble scribe brought his trusty, un-rusty ’67 GT Junior.

Enzo's 1991 Alfa Spider
Enzo’s 1991 Alfa Spider

 

The author's '67 Alfa GT Junior
The author’s ’67 Alfa GT Junior

German marques ruled the roads today with 3 cars: Peter’s stunning red 911, Sal’s BMW 325is, and John M’s new Audi A3 cabrio.

Peter's Porsche 911
Peter’s Porsche 911

 

John's Audi A3
John’s Audi A3

 

Sal's BMW 325is
Sal’s BMW 325is

Among domestic product, it was all Chevrolet, including 3 Corvettes: Bill’s C1, Ron’s C4, and George’s C6. Larry ran his reliable Camaro.

Bill's C1
Bill’s C1

 

Ron's C4
Ron’s C4

 

George's C6
George’s C6

 

Larry's '94 Camaro
Larry’s ’94 Camaro

The sole Asian car was Jim N’s Datsun 280Z.

Jim's Datsun 280Z
Jim’s Datsun 280Z

We departed the Sheraton Crossroads parking lot (almost) right on time and headed north. As soon as we did, the skies darkened, and the clouds threatened. In spite of the weather, several drivers motored with convertible tops down. After a beautiful ride along Seven Lakes Drive and over the Bear Mountain Bridge, we were at our destination with 10 minutes to spare. The staff at the Silver Spoon had a table for 17 waiting. Coffee was almost immediately served, with hot breakfast plates soon following. As always, the camaraderie around the table made it difficult to leave.

The obligatory wave before breakfast
The obligatory wave before breakfast

When we finally wrenched ourselves away from the food and endless caffeine, we stepped outside to some slight sprinkles. Those who had left their tops down scurried back to their cars. Several of us continued to linger and chat, not wanting the festivities to end. But end they eventually did. We’ve assured the group that we’ll do our best to get out at least once a month this driving season.

A crowd favorite is the Silver Spoon Cafe, on Main St. in Cold Spring NY
The Silver Spoon Cafe, on Main St. in Cold Spring NY, survived our visit

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