Although all Get-Togethers have their high points, GT-8 stood out for us. First, Steven had this bright idea that perhaps we should do the "Route 66" thing and camp going down and coming back: save a couple of dollars, enjoy the outdoors. For Diane camping is a night in a Holiday Inn. Needless to say, the trip was, indeed, an outdoor MGAdventure!
Part of the "Route 66" thing was to travel only on the "blue lines": roads that were used as highways before the advent of the four lane limited access thoroughfares of today.
We got lost in Kentucky, but happened across a museum that had Abraham Lincoln's parents' log cabin enshrined. We broke down in a Tennessee TVA campground with an intermittent electrical problem which prevented the car from starting, without being pushed, most of the time -- until we got someplace where there were parts to fix it -- that meant leaving the car running while one or the other of us ran into the restroom, and eating from restaurant drive-through windows.
Once into Florida, the motels ended up being cheaper than the campgrounds: we think you can guess the results of any decision to camp. The first night across the Florida line, Diane soaked in the motel tub for two hours, and dinner cost more than the room. Diane thinks campground facilities are just so unglamorous, not that she has an opinion.
Diane, Mickey Mouse & Steve
The meet was small by most standards, about 50 MGAs in all: mostly cars from the south with a few from the midwest and the Atlantic states. We don't remember a rally, but one morning there was a driving tour over to Disney World. About a dozen cars decided to go. Those that didn't go missed a treat. The tour ended in a parking lot somewhere in the hinterlands of the Disney compound. We all stood around, wondering why we were there. Then from the other side came a white van which pulled up along side us. A Disney associate got out and opened the sliding door of the vehicle. Then the Mouse, himself, stepped out and greeted us. We learned a lot about Mickey: the first thing is that he never talks. The second is that the associates don't talk about the Mouse. Diane learned you have to keep an eye on his hands, too. 8-)
We read something, subsequently, that said the performers are only allowed to be in costume for twenty minutes. You also have to understand it was hot and humid by this time (or is it all the time in Florida?). Well over forty-five minutes later, Mickey was still jumping in and out of cars and posing for pictures, despite the urgings of his associate.
The hotel was just outside the gates to Cypress Gardens, and the car display field was nestled in amongst the palm trees just behind. At the show of cars, Dave Holland managed to coax one of the Southern Belles out of Cypress Gardens proper to pose with his car for pictures. Now you know that Dave has to be one of those sweet talkin' Southern boys, because the girls, in their full length hooped dressed are actually sitting on air conditioners while they're posing in the park! At the Cypress Gardens Water Show the skiers were towed passed the reviewing stands, each holding a flag pole with a flag. All the flags together spelled GT-8 NAMGAR.
On The Back
Mouse Over to Read Back
Every evening it rained for a couple of hours, which was a good thing because it cut the humidity considerably. It was especially pleasant the evening of the banquet. Preceding the banquet was a pontoon ride around the lake. It was well into dusk, and as we passed strategic points along the shore, lights would come on to illuminate an MGA parked on the bank, under a tree or perhaps amongst a bed of flowers. When the pontoon returned to the docks, everyone was ushered to an area where we dined under the stars and tiki lamps.
Tom Jevcek, ever the showman, emceed the awards presentation, and as the first in class was announced, the winning automobile was driven to the presentation area illuminated by a stage spotlight. It was really thrilling to see each shiny car in its own spotlight. Also at the banquet, the Chairman's position of NAMGAR was turned over to Steven by Ruth Renkenberger. This was the beginning of a new era for the Mazureks: continuing the tradition of NAMGAR.
At Chalet Suzanne
Sunday morning the group paraded over to Chalet Suzanne where we had a bountiful, elegant breakfast. Chalet Suzanne is a quirky place that caters to the rich and famous. Its vichyssoise ended up going to the moon on one of the Apollo missions. The First in Class cars were lined up in front. Steven still remembers Tom standing on top of Lyle York's motor home taking pictures just as fast as everyone could pass their cameras up to him. That was a very gracious send-off.
We stayed in the area for several more days before the trip home in order to tour Epcot Center, Disney World and Bok Gardens. We even stopped at the Citrus Tower Centre on US27 to view the vast expanse of Orange groves, most of which are gone now. We even bought some orange wine. Last year (2000), we blew the dust off the bottle and gave it a try — yuck! — either screw tops don't age well, or it was never good to begin with (probably the latter).
The electrical problem that plagued us on the trip down mysteriously disappeared and didn't trouble us on the return home. We used the tent once on the return — it hasn't been used since. Diane also learned a valuable tip on the trip for MGA motoring: SPF 25 for the head is critical!
In our opinion the best produced of all the GTs, GT-8 still elicits the fondest memories, and we'd to it again in a New York second. We tip our hats to Tom & Eileen Jevcak, and the other folks in the Sunshine As, who did some really amazing things.