Needless to say, we were late and did not get to see the cars come down Lake Street in Elkhart Lake and surround the street around Siebken’s. We got cold and tired and hungry standing there waiting for them to come back, so we walked to a restaurant next to the only place in town that sells beer, wine, toothpaste and racing fuel. We do not remember the name of the restaurant, but it was recommended by Wilbur Mennell and was next to a laundromat called the “Lost Sock”. Some suggested that the restaurant name should be the “Dirty Sock”, but this epithet was not in anyway substantiated by the excellent food and the excellent service. We happily dined on, while the race cars drove back to Road America without our cheering support.
When we finally gathered for the evening campfire, we found quite a long list of participants, including Kim and Diane Tonry, John Schroeder, Bob Simon, Ed Misch and a pal, Jeff Powell, Mike Cobb, Pat Morse, Fred and Gail Baker, Seth Jones and his brother, Wilbur Mennell, Susie and Dave Tucker and their two sons and daughter-in-law with grand daughter Riley, and Bud Yeager. (Sorry if we missed anyone, but we think we had twenty-three persons and nine MGs.) The MGs included a TC, several Midgets and a reasonable assortment of MGBs, both roadster and GTs.
As always on this weekend, everyone is free to do as they please. The Plymouth Rock Campground is one that is classified as a ‘destination’ campground, so one could spend the entire weekend in the pools, lake and visiting. There is beer and ice in the campground store, and there are two restaurants and several bath houses. It really is not camping, but it is very reasonable accommodation at time of year when the hotels in Elkhart Lake price their rooms at four hundred dollars a night. Many of us go to the track. The tickets for this event were sixty-five dollars for Saturday and Sunday combined, and commensurately less for a single day. The ticket gets you everything you need. Parking is free if you are willing to walk either under or over the track to get to the paddock.
Once inside the track, there is an assortment of things to do. One, of course, is to watch the cars on track. Another is to walk the paddock looking at cars that you have only seen before in magazines and books of historical racers or here at Road America in years past. When one of our favorites is not to be found, we hope that neither the owner-driver nor the car itself has suffered misadventure elsewhere.
There is the food, of course, and this cannot pass without a few words. At one time the only breakfast worth considering was a “ham and egger”, preferably from the concession at St John the Baptist in the center of the paddock area. The favorite this year (at least by the vote of one of us) was (1) Kiwannis of Kiel at Corner 12, (2) the Gearbox, just up the hill from Turn 5 and (3) sadly, St John the Baptist, where the classic “ham and egger” with hand-cut ham on real bread from a local bakery with a real egg fried in a round shape and with a slab of real cheddar cheese has been replaced with a big commercial roll devoid of texture or flavor, a piece of processed ham-like substance, a piece of processed cheese and a bit of processed non-fat egg. No further comments on this topic, except to hope that they come to their senses very soon.
Another big thrill is to actually talk to the men and women who are running in the races. We had a particularly delightful happening when a colleague who had never before been to Road America brought his twelve year old son with him. We had previously asked Dave ‘Cowboy’ Bralich if he would perhaps let the lad sit in the racing seat. Dave did that and more, spending at least a half-hour explaining the clutch, gearbox, engine, fuel cell and fire suppression system. All this while Cowboy’s lunch whet from edible to cold. The youth left dazzled, and he and his father are quite well prepared to attend the track again and perhaps to consider rebuilding an MGB as a father-son project. We will see.
We had the annual picnic supper together on Saturday evening, and then it was back to Elkhart Lake for the concours d’elegance of street cars, again centered on Siebken’s. This is great experience, and gives MGB drivers physical proximity to the Ferraris, Rolls and Bentleys. Finally, back in the campground, exhausted from the day in the heat and sun and exhaust music, we sat around the campfire as long as possible and then collapsed into our tents.
The next morning a few went back to the track and many had to head back to Chicago to get ready for work the next day. A very few continued on to a vacation week further north. As we sat enjoying a last cup of coffee together, it was easy enough to believe that the three generations represented at this camping trip might someday be represented by four generations. We hoped that all would be there, and we with them.