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Chicagoland MG Club: Driveline
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  Chicagoland MG Club:Driveline
Camping at Road America 2006

Ann and Jake Snyder
The tried-and-true formula worked as well this year as in the past: we took our tent to Plymouth Rock Campground, basically across the street from Road America near Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. We had made the reservations along with quite a few CMGC members back in January: other campers were Kim and Diane Tonry, Bill and Debby Mennell, Barney Gaylord and son Elliot, Curt Bork and Sheryl, John Schroeder, Bill Hedrick, Shirley and Roger Goebbert, Dave and Susie Tucker and son Jeff (and two friends), Jeff Powell and Pat Morse. And we were all there to see the Kohler International Challenge with Brian Redman. This event has had a few different sponsors and names (Chicago Historic Races and Brian Redman International Challenge are two we know) over the years, but always meets on the third weekend of July.
Friday night of this event features a concours of race cars in Elkhart Lake. The cars are driven in following the last race at Road America and park in the block surrounding Siebkens Resort (immortalized in Burt Levy’s “The Last Open Road”). Watching the cars drive in is the great adventure, and the streets are lined with spectators as the unmuffled engines run the powerful machines at speeds much lower than their design intended. Mingling with the cars and owners followed our group supper at the Lake Street Café (sadly, the owner of the Village Green Tavern passed away, and one our favorites places in Elkhart Lake was closed and with a ‘For Sale’ sign in the window). As dark approached, the race cars headed back under police escort – very few have headlamps or any driving lights. Stragglers were necessarily retrieved by a service truck.
Saturday was spent watching the qualification runs, walking the competition paddock, eating ham-and-egger sandwiches, grilled chicken sandwiches, Johnsonville bratwursts and ice cream from Saint John the Baptist’s and other local organizations’ concession stands. One strange set of coincidental associations presented itself: while walking the competition paddock, we were greeted by Jeff Powell near the canopy shading a McKee CanAm car. Jeff introduced us to Bob McKee who had built these competition cars at his shop in Palatine, Illinois back in the heyday of CanAm racing. Another of the cars under the canopy was a sports racer that had recently been restored at the McKee facility and that had been owned and raced by Tito Nappi, the founder of Blackhawk Farms Raceway near Rockton, Illinois. Bob told us that he was expecting Tito’s daughter to bring him to the track later that day, to be surprised to see the restored car. Our connection with this is that the daughter, Bunny Snively, an active participant in Midwestern Council of Sports Car Clubs, instructed us at our first corner-working session at Turn 1 at Blackhawk about ten years ago. And all this came together because Jeff Powell was having the front suspension of his MGTC race car rebuilt at Bob McKee’s shop. A further connection is that Midwestern Council began as the Midwestern Centre of the MG Car Club.

We always pay special tribute to the CMGC members who race, and present and competing were Dave Bralich, Kelvin Palmer, Chris McGrath and M.L. Hillard.

At the end of the race day, we all gathered at the campground for supper. Everyone who ate meat brought their own to grill, and everyone passed a dish of their favorite. Of course, there was much more than we could eat, try as we did. That Saturday evening closed with a concours d’elegance (Jeff Powell and Pat Morse were two of the judges for both concours events) of street cars in Elkhart Lake. Gesserts, the drug store and old fashioned ice cream parlor, was still open for business, and is still operated by the couple who have had the place their entire lives.
Saturday night at the campground proved too hot to burn any of the half-ton of hardwood that Bill and Debby Mennell had brought in their full-sized pickup truck. But we all had a very good final hour seated in a circle about the ring where the fire would have been if the temperature had been a little more accommodating. The beverages were cold and abundant.
Sunday started with a surprise breakfast prepared by Bill and Debby Mennell. Never before, and especially not at a campground, have we had crepes with lingonberries and presaged with mimosas to drink. Then the group began to go its several ways – some had to come back to Chicago early for work, some were continuing north for vacations, and a lucky few got to spend another perfect day at Road America watching the races.

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