| Orphan Auto Picnic |
August 29, 2010
Kendall County Fairgrounds
When one hears the word “orphan,” pictures of a poorunfortunate child trying to survive in the cruel world come tomind. As owners of MGs, we were also left abandoned to fendfor ourselves in the cruel automotive world by our parent carcompany – British Leyland – back in 1980. For the last 20years auto-orphans have been coming together in a sort of reunionto commiserate and share memories of days gone by. This year the event took place on Sunday, August 29th at the Kendall County Fairgrounds where over 250 discontinued makes met on the lawn for a picnic, car show, and to swap stories. MG made up only a small portion of the manufacturers represented. By far the largest car count came from the Chicagoland Corvair Enthusiasts Car Club which held their anniversary meeting at the show. With well over 75 pristine, showroom condition Corvairs on display, it brought me back to the 1960s.
Of course, there was a full contingent of American iron including Studebakers, Ramblers, Nashes, Hudsons, Edsels, and more plus new orphans – Pontiac Oldsmobile, and Saturn. On the European side there were the usual suspects – Triumphs, Austin-Healey, vintage MGs, and – in possibly their last appearance - Fiat. With Fiat coming back to the USA in 2011 there was talk of their exclusion from the next show. I guess you could call it a successful adoption process.
What’s unusual about this show is it’s totally free. There are no vendors for parts or food; it’s a true social gathering and picnic. Our club had its own area where we got together to share food and stories. The weather was perfect and it was fun being able to enjoy restored cars we usually don’t see at British events.
After talking to many of the Corvair enthusiasts one thing became clear to me: those of us who are members of the auto orphanage community have much in common – a love for the eccentric and unique in cars and people. If you can spare the time and enjoy a drive in the country, try to make this event next year – if not for you – For The Sake of The Orphans!!
Wine, Cheese, and Beer Tour 2010
The 6th annual Wine, Cheese and Beer Tour was a great success again this year. This annual tour seems to get better every year. John and Ann Schroeder planned a great weekend with great roads, great food, great friends and some decent weather. I don’t think John had much to say about the weather however.
Many of us gathered in Rockford on Friday September 17th and we caravanned to our annual stop for dinner, the JMK Nippon Japanese restaurant. This year we filled the entire private dining area for the first time. This attests to the fact this
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tour is growing in popularity every year.
Those that couldn’t join us Friday gathered in the hotel parking lot with the rest of us around 8:00 AM Saturday for the start of the tour. There were 21 cars total including our token 2 Triumphs that “we allow to come” every year. We headed out under some cloudy skies and the clouds eventually opened up making for a quick stop to put tops up for those brave souls that started with them down. The rain didn’t last too long and I only had to use 1 towel so that’s good. Once we traversed out of Rockford, we found ourselves on some beautiful roads. Most of the driving was on the Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive. As the sun tried to peek out we found ourselves on many roads that had no stripes, many curves and little traffic. There was even the beginning of some fall colors on this scenic drive. How John finds these great roads every year amazes us all.
After a quick stop for lunch we headed to Elkhart Lake. One of the high points of this year’s WBC Tour was that we drove the old open road race track in Elkhart Lake. From 1950-52 this 6.5 mile “track” was the premier site for open road racing. It was a thrill traveling this course as we had visions of Phil Hill, John Fitch, Bill Spears and others as they “sped” around this open road course. We then came into the Village of Elkhart Lake and some of us stopped for a cold one at Siebken’s (where the drivers used to hang out), some went for ice cream and others, like me, went for both. We then headed over to Port Washington which was our stop for the night. We enjoyed the quaintness of this small “New England type” town. Sunday found many headed out on the short drive over to Cedarburg where the Annual Harvest Festival was taking place. If you have never been to Cedarburg for this festival I suggest you put it on your calendar for next year, I have for sure. The WCB tour came to an end in Cedarburg and people stayed as long as they wished before making the trek home.
There were only a few minor “breakdowns’ fortunately. Dan Kerkman had a battery problem and Bill Mennel had a cooling fan that didn’t want to cooperate.
Thanks to John and Ann for another outstanding tour. I just don’t know how they out do themselves every year but they always seem to. If you have never been on this tour you need to make an effort next year. It isn’t always about the “Wine, Cheese and Beer”. It is about enjoying our cars and the friendships that are made and renewed every year.
Photos courtesy of Dan Herman