Sunday, October 23, 2011

British Car Festival 2011 is in the Books

The London Bus
As British Car Festivals go, the 2011 edition was one of the most successful events the club has put forward. The BCF committee chaired by John Shaw and co-chair by Dick Bishop and Richard Cunningham left nothing to chance. Everything ran according to the well-executed plan.

Row of Triumphs
The show site was on the lovely south lawn of Faulkner State Community College in downtown Fairhope, Alabama - the first change of venue for the show since 1999 when we adopted the bayfront site of a Fairhope city park. As written about before, the city decided that the park should be rented by any entity (other than a school in the city limits) for any reason. When the executive committee added up the cost for the use of the facility it came to over $1,000.00 - a sum we could not afford to pay and keep up our charitable contributions from the show's proceeds.The community-oriented leadership of Faulkner State Fairhope graciously invited us to host both the Friday night welcome party and the actual show on the campus.

We could not ask for better weather than we had for the day of the show. A cloudless sky with what seemed to be an endless supply of south Alabama sun dominated the day, giving every car on the field a brilliant glow - and a few sunburns to the participants. While there was more than enough shade at the edge of the field for refuge, most people simply enjoyed the early fall bonus sunshine. 

MINI of Pensacola Display
MGAs Aplenty
The field layout team got the class signs out and in order with the new field offering several challenges that were not expected but the layout was logical and easy to follow along with the popular choice ballot forms. As always, bright flowers were placed near the class signs to add beauty to an already gorgeous field of classic British cars.

The class areas were filled soon after the field opened with each car getting a souvenir photograph of the day. The kind folks of the OK Bicycle Shop - an eating and drinking establishment in downtown Mobile - brought their double deck London bus as a backdrop for the photo. And several members of the Dogwood Trail Court of Baldwin County were present in their pastel "antebellum" costumes to add an even more special touch to the photo. 

MINI of Pensacola brought two new MINIs to display as part of their sponsorship support. We had a newly-introduced MINI Coupe and MINI Countryman open for the crowds to inspect. It was one of the most popular areas of the show field and we certainly thank MINI of Pensacola for their support again this year. 

Jaguar E-Types
A Few of the MGBs on Display
The club was very pleased to see enough Lotus and Sunbeam cars present to create classes just for them. It was a treat to see two Sunbeam Tigers and a Lotus Exige and Elise. Both are not all that common in our area and the other entrants spent a lot of time talking to the owners about them.

 We also had a great turnout of Triumph fans, too. TR6s were on the field in large numbers and a tasty selection of TR4s and TR250s were on hand to keep the TR3s and Spitfires company. One lovely TR4 was driven to the event from Wheaton, Illinois earning the owner the Longest Distance Traveled Award with a one-way mileage figure of 1,082. Hope to see you again next year, too. 

As always, MGs were well represented with a crowd of T-series and one of the largest turnouts of MGAs in recent memory. MGBs and Midgets were thick on the ground as well. 

Restoration Class
But this year's marque feature  - the 50th anniversary of the Jaguar E-Type - brought a record number of the show stoppers to the show. The committee separated the coupes from the open E-Types and those filling out the popular choice ballots were glad they did. It was difficult indeed to choose the finest of these beauty queens. We were indeed fortunate to have representatives form the very early days of the E-Type all the way to the end of production with the mighty V12-powered cat. 

The crowds strolling the field were just as thick as when we were at the bay front site. The new site also allowed for easier access to the shops of downtown Fairhope. It was obvious from the number of shopping bag-carrying ladies that new venue was OK in their minds.       

SABCC Chef-in-Residence, Chris Cronk kept the grill going all morning to make sure that the hungry crowds had plenty of ribs, sausage and hamburgers for their enjoyment. Nearly everything offered was sold out. 
MG T-Series Cars
Fairhope Mayor Tim Kant (left) Checks Out BCF
Ballots for the popular choice voting were passed out shortly after noon and the tough choices were made by the voters. The balloting was closed shortly after two and awards were presented at three. Needless to say, the voters chose some great cars for awards. And in keeping with tradition, the awards consisted of a specially-ordered twin photo frame with one side filled with a graphic indicating the winning position and the other side reserved for the souvenir photo taken at the show. 

As the sun sank lower in the western sky, the field started up and headed for home or for another night at one of the hotels in Fairhope. The show committee began the process of taking the show materials down for storage.
SABCC owes a great deal to the tireless efforts of the show committee, those members who volunteered for the various tasks, MINI of Pensacola, all the many class sponsors, door prize donors, Faulkner State Community College-Fairhope and most especially, those who brought cars and participated in the event. We thank you all and we hope to see you again next October! 

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