Chicagoland MG Club: Driveline December 2009

A History of the Chicagoland
MG Club

Author’s Note: This history is about the Chicagoland MG Club in its various configurations over the years. You won’t find many names mentioned here for that reason: it’s about the club, not the members. Yes, the club wouldn’t be where it is today without the contributions of members, but I like to think that they did what they did for the benefit of the club itself and not to glorify themselves. Most information here is drawn from the archived copies of the club newsletter, now online as part of our website. Some information comes from the memories of members who have “been there, done that”.

Part III: On To The New Millennium

The year 1991 was important to the club. In addition to conducting the national AMGBA convention that year, there were several other firsts, most notably the initial “Lucas Night Rally” in August and also the initial appearance of “Tales of the Mongrel”, which is arguably the longest running member contribution to the newsletter. Membership was reported to be 260 at yearend.

For the next few years, the club prospered with a mixed program of continuing events and some newer activities. The first “Fall Tune-Down” party occurred in 1993 while the long established Land’s End and Spring Chicken Rally continued to draw crowds. A third “Project Car” made its debut in the spring of 1994. In 1995, the club legally changed its name after an extended period of debate to the current “Chicagoland MG Club” from the earlier “Chicagoland MGB Club”. This year also marked the first annual “Cruise to the Rock” on Thanksgiving Day and saw the start of “Natter ‘n’ Noggin – North” that same month; this event was phased out after a few months and ran in conjunction with the traditional “Natter ‘n’ Noggin” which continued at Mack’s on its regular schedule. Treasury balance exceeded $4,200 at the end of 1995 and membership was reported to be about 225. And the club newsletter name becomes “The Driveline” in late 1995, having had no specific name since the old “Chicago Chapter Reporter” name was dropped back in the early 1980’s.

The monthly club meeting moved to Mack’s in June of 1996, where it remains to this day, after a brief stint at “D’s Little Italy” in LaGrange. In 1996 the club successfully put together a week long vacation package to England as a raffle prize that was well received and contributed about $5,000 to the club treasury.

The year 1997 marked the inaugural year of the club’s “All British Car Swap Meet & Autojumble” which has grown to become the club’s major fundraiser over the years since then. Also, the first Amtrak Road Trip was held in January of 1997. The club archives were officially started in late 1997 by drawing together the collected old newsletters and other documents held by club members. Records show that club rallys drew a combined total of 115 entrants that year. Treasury balance at yearend was about $9,300 – this would drop by over $1,000 in


1998. Also in 1998 was the first attempt at a club website; this new technology would be a challenge at first but a new approach in 2001 has lead to one of the most respected and popular MG club websites in the world.

Beginning in 2000, the club absorbed the old University Motors “Summer Picnic”, which had been discontinued, under the name “Abingdon Summer Party”. First year attendance at 125 cars registered was never met in the following three years. In 2004, University Motors resumed conducting an event under the “Summer Party” name for several years; when this event was eventually discontinued again, no club chose to continue it as The Chicagoland MG Club did during its first hiatus. Subsequent to conducting the “Abingdon Summer Party” and resumption of the University Motors “Summer Party”, the club resumed its old “Abingdon Weekend” program, which had first started as a club event in 1986; initial attendance was up to the old 50 to 60 car level but this dropped to the point where the event was discontinued after 2006. The “Abingdon Weekend” had been a popular event and a major fundraiser for the club for all but the last few of its many years; its absence is still missed by many members.

Also in 2000, the Bennet Raceway (aka “Utica Go-kart Track”) closed down. This facility, near Starved Rock State Park, had for many years been the site of most of the gymkhanas/autocrosses conducted by the CMGC as well as by many other clubs in the Chicago area. During its heyday, the club ran and/or participated in as many as a half-dozen or more driving events there each year. Although the club had already started to stage autocrosses in local parking lots, the loss of this site has never been overcome by the sports car community in Chicago as there is no substitute facility like it in the area. The club has periodically staged parking lot autocrosses since then but the level of attendance at these continues to be much lower than the old “Utica” levels.

There were some other program changes, too, in the new millennium. The Land’s End Rally and the Lucas Night Rally were both cancelled in 2004 after many years of uninterrupted attendance, but were reinstated in 2005. Other longstanding events, such as the “Spring Chicken Rally” and the “Halloween Rally” would also morph into different formats; new events, such as weekend driving tours with no competitive aspect, began to gain popularity.

The “Natter ‘n’ Noggin” moved in late 2005 to McNally’s Pub in Elmhurst. Although this was initially a popular site, attendance dropped so low in a year that the club staged a contest to locate a better site. At this writing, the monthly “Natter ‘n’ Noggin” alternates between Rounhead’s Pizza Restaurant in Downers Grove and Finn McCool’s Pub in Schaumburg. Both of these sites evolved from the contest and both seem to have more appeal to the group as attendance is back to earlier levels.

In 2006, the club began work on its fourth “project car”. This car was not conceived as a fund raising project and was sold in mid 2008 to a local buyer after having been refurbished to a high standard. In the spring of 2007, the club entered into an affiliation agreement with NAMGAR, the national registry club
(Continued on page 7)

Pg 6 of 12 homebacktopnext

©2009 Chicagoland MG Club, All rights reserved.