Saturday, October 25, 2014

British Car Festival 2014: An Unqualified Success

Fun Ahead
The 24th annual South Alabama British Car Club's British Car Festival is in the books, and it was the club's most successful to date: 131 cars registered; 126 cars on the field, easily besting last year's record-setting car count. And the day was one that dawned cool, bright and clear - perfect for a car show.

At the conclusion of last year's British Car Festival, the show committee leaders were informed that the South Lawn site at Faulkner State Community College in Fairhope would be unavailable to the club for the event due to the planned construction of a new pavilion and walkway system. While the college regretted the disruption, it simply could not be avoided. Once again, the show was in search of a home. 

The committee heard the participants of previous shows state that they enjoyed the show site closer to the fine shopping and dining district in downtown Fairhope, Alabama. The former site of the show along the shore of Mobile Bay was pleasant, but it was remote from the downtown area. The show committee faced a formidable challenge: find a site large enough to contain the expected entrants while remaining near the desired downtown area. 

Featured Sunbeam Tigers
Several committee members were associated with the leadership of Fairhope United Methodist Church and mentioned our plight to them. After a few conversations, the club had an invitation to conduct the show on the lovely campus of the church. And as a bonus, it is located just one block south of the Faulkner campus site- still close to the downtown area that the show participants enjoy so much. Once the site was confirmed, committee volunteers were solicited and planning began in earnest.   

Big Healeys a Crowd Favorite
The show committee was made up of volunteers who had served in positions on previous shows along with some newcomers wanting to help out. The experienced show committee chairs set to work with their groups to prepare for the day.

Late MGBs
First and foremost, the field layout required some professional help and we got it in the form of club member and civil engineer, Fletcher Thompson. Fletcher measured the site's various parking areas and drew up detailed drawings showing the committee how many cars could be parked in a given area. His professional opinion said we had room for 141 cars.

Now we needed to get the word out to public at large and SABCC'er Myra Evans worked with local media to make sure that our event was on the calendars of the many newspapers and magazines that serve the Mobile and Baldwin County area of south Alabama.

Registration is the most crucial part of the event and the committee ably lead by charter member Jack Ross kept the records correct for those pre-registered for the event and for those who chose to register on site. Registration is a daunting responsibility, and this year's field was set with little delay. 

TR6s in Attendance
Of course, it's always fun to win a drawing for something and door prizes have become a tradition of the show. Robb Ogletree worked with the club's membership to obtain a number of interesting gifts that were drawn for during the show. 

Another tradition is the souvenir photo taken at the field entrance. David Turnipseed once again volunteered to shoot photos of the cars as they arrived. Since photos don't print themselves, Ron
The High Rent District
Wolverton played runner to the print shop and then organized their distribution to the participants.

Becky Kramer stepped up to manage the sale of the event souvenir T-shirts along with a committee of able volunteers. 

Every event needs a "fixer"and SABCC's is in the form of Dick Bishop. Dick became the club's representative to city officials and the neighbors that surround the normally-quiet church campus. Of course,
Title Sponsor MINI of Pensacola's Display
Dick was supported by a number of volunteers that assisted him in his tasks. 

If it's a car club event we will be eating and Frank Stabler raised his hand to take on the role organizing the day's cookout menu. Burgers, ribs and sides were available for purchase by the hungry show attendees. About a half dozen SABCC'ers worked all day cooking, serving,cleaning or making supply runs. Those who purchased lunch at the show were highly complimentary of the food.

Good Food Here
The show committee was stunned by both the number and quality of the cars on the show field this year. Several pre-war vehicles were on display which, for this show, is unusual.  It was a real delight to welcome no fewer than six Sunbeam Tigers- this year's  honored car in observance of its 50th  anniversary. Reflecting their popularity with American drivers, Triumphs and MGs were out in force, making up almost 50% of the total cars registered.

Lovely MGAs
Jaguar, too, was well represented with a couple new classes dedicated to the luxury performance marque. For the first time in several years, modern MINIs were numerous on the show field. The show included representatives of nearly all MINI models sold today.

If unusual is more to your liking, we had a Caterham 7, Morgan Aero 8 and a Bentley Continental to name but a few. 

Modern MINIs on the Field
There was a constant stream of visitors walking through the show area and the car owners were there to answer questions and perhaps listen to a couple of  "I had one like that..." stories. Most gratifying was the large number of young people who toured the site. Some of them found the cars on display fascinating. One young teen was overheard asking, "What's a Sunbeam car, dad? I've never heard of it." Speaking of young people, SABCC's highly creative Don Pritchett devised a Kid's Choice prize that was determined by the number of votes cast by kids visiting the show. The award went to the Caterham 7.

Pre-War MG M-Type
The afternoon sun was still high when the awards for the popular choice balloting were presented. Delighted owners were given a trophy in the form of a heavy glass double photo frame where a place placard and the souvenir photo can be displayed. These unique trophies have been an SABCC signature item for a number of years.

After the awards ceremony, goodbyes and promises of getting together again soon were passed around by the participants. This was the signal for the tired but happy SABCC team to start cleaning up the area and packing away the show equipment until it is needed next year. 

It cannot be said strongly enough that without the unselfish volunteers that step up to own a task this event could not be possible. I ask you to think of it this way: While others all around are relaxing and enjoying the events of the day, these generous people willingly miss out just to make sure that the show participants are able to have a great time. From the guys in yellow vests directing cars to their spot to those who made sure that there was a pot of coffee on, we as club members and show entrants owe them a debt of gratitude.

Thank you for making our day so successful!     

Check back for links to the winners list and more photo albums. 

1 comment:

  1. Outstanding article, Rodney. Thanks go to all of the volunteers for a great day.


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