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  Chicagoland MG Club:Club Info
The Abingdon Endurance Trials

by Kim Tonry

This year's Abingdon Weekend started a little earlier than usual with a special addition. Dennis Trowbridge offered the suggestion last year that our club should put on an endurance rally in addition to our regular rally and autocross schedule. Bill Hedrick and I have thoroughly enjoyed participating in the Missouri and Lake Michigan runs and accepted the challenge to develop the rally and Jim Evans welcomed the idea of putting it on in conjunction with the Abingdon Weekend. This gives the Midwest the Missouri Rally in the Spring, the Lake Michigan Rally in the Summer and the Abingdon Trials in the Fall.

The contestants looked rather bleary-eyed at the 7a.m. meeting on Thursday morning at Jumers. A meeting held most appropriately around an octagonal table in the center of the lobby. The rules were passed out with a list of five checkpoints-convenience stores and gas stations to be visited and a receipt obtained as proof of the visit. The challenge was to plot and drive the shortest route as lowest mileage determines the winner. This could involve dirt and gravel backroads-it was the competitor's decision on how they wished to proceed.

Roger & Shirley Goebbert in their immaculate '70 MGB, Ed Polonus and Bill Herring from Peoria in Ed's rubber bumper 'B, Rick Ingram and Rick Verhey of the infamous Team Fokowee in Rick Verhey's MGB GT, and Curt Bork by himself in his newly restored TD all lined up in the drizzle outside as we led them in a line through Galesburg and headed south to Abingdon. We stopped at the Town & Country Restaurant in Abingdon and took an odometer check to determine a correction factor for each car to put everyone on an equal footing. Happily the rain was abating. Roger & Shirley then jumped right on the road. Curt sat down in the restaurant for a minute with us but quickly ordered a cup of coffee to go and headed out himself. The Polonus/Herring and Ingram/Verhey teams ordered breakfast and spread out maps over their respective tables on opposite ends of the room. But soon they too jumped into their MGs and were gone. Bill and I had driven the wide open roads a month before to set up the checkpoints and knew what was in store as they visited Warren, Illinois and Prairie du Chien, New Glarus, Elroy, & Hyde, Wisconsin. The beautiful scenery along the Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers and the refreshing lack of bumper to bumper traffic make these perfect roads for enjoying ones MG.

It was well after dark, in fact almost 9p.m., when Curt Bork was the first to return to Jumers. The others soon followed. And the good news was that all had big grins on their faces. Rick Ingram popped the bonnet and retrieved the goodies he was cooking on the manifold of Rick Verhey's GT. As Bill Hedrick tapped the calculator keys, we made our way to Jumer's lounge for a few of the tall glasses of Jumer's Ale which seemed to be a well justified reward at the end of a good days drive.

The first days results were:
1st - Ingram/Verhey
2nd - Bork
3rd - Polonus/Herring

Day Two dawned foggy. The four teams from the previous day got to sleep in an extra hour since they didn't need to run the calibration leg again. Dennis & Joanne Trowbridge in a rubber bumper 'B and Dave Mullis running solo in his newly repainted 'B joined the festivities. We ended their calibration run in front of the Police Station in Abingdon
where we were soon joined by the other four cars. Everyone posed for a photograph with their cars. The days checkpoint list was then handed out-a series of Casey's General Stores in Nauvoo, IL, Memphis, MO, and Montrose, Columbia Junction and Buffalo, IA. The fog was burning off and the day turning pleasant. It was to be a shorter day of driving so that everyone would make it back in time for the fish fry at the American Legion in Abingdon that evening. More on the order of 350 miles rather than the first days 550.

This time it was still light out as the cars returned. With the same kind of grins they had the day before. There was more of a crowd to applaud their return as the parking lot was filling up with MGs arriving for the weekend festivities.

The 2nd days results:
1st - Trowbridge/Trowbridge
2nd - Bork
3rd - Ingram/Verhey>

Saturday nights awards banquet led off with recognition of all those who participated and then the awarding of the engraved wood plaques which also featured the group photograph of everyone and their cars in Abingdon.

The final 2 day results were:
1st - Ingram/Verhey
2nd - Bork
3rd - Polonus/Herring

Curt Bork was within .2 mile of the winning Team Fokowee entry! The whole event was a tribute to the spirit of the builders of MGs and their faithful followers who maintain the breed today. We had a lot of fun putting this event together and the participants were very enthusiastic about the great roads and fun of driving it-so we're doing it again next year. Bring your MG and join us!

©1998 Chicagoland MG Club, All rights reserved.