The preparation for this GT actually began as the planning for GT-42 in Solvang, California. We had determined that, barring any calamitous event, we would be driving PRNCZ to GT-42 and that it would be prudent to determine what upgrades and fixes might be required for a five thousand mile trip. So, when the driving season ended in 2015, PRNCZ was put way up on jack stands so that Steven could fit his ample body comfortably beneath and begin to take notes on her condition.
It had been many thousands of miles since anything other than normal maintenance had been performed on PRNCZ, so Steven wasn't surprised to find that a few things needed tending. Our plan was to handle mechanical issues for the 2016 driving season to allow plenty of time to sort out any problems caused by his mucking around. Then at the end of the 2016 driving season, tend to the body and cosmetic issues.
It turned out that the drive-shaft universal joints were near the end of their lives: they served well for sixty-four thousand miles. Then there was a significant amount of lateral free-play at the right front wheel for which the cause was not immediately obvious. By now it was seriously cold outside and that meant it was seriously cold in our garage. Our ability to heat the space relies on an 85,000 BTU kerosene heater, which works well from the waist up. But on the floor, it's not unusual to have your breath turn to snow.
After tearing down the right side suspension, the culprit turned out to be a combination of a loose steering lever and the lower threads of the swivel link having worn out. New swivel links and a complete front end suspension kit were ordered. Then Steven waited for Spring. About April, it became warm enough to spend some serious time in the garage. After a few days working on PRNCZ, the front end was rebuilt.
We managed about three hundred test miles before heading off for GT-41, or MG2016, the fifth all-MG event that takes place every five years. This time we had a relatively "easy" drive of about five hundred miles to Louisville, KY. We still decided to take two days so that we could take our time, enjoy the scenery and arrive at the hotel in fairly good shape for three old dogs. The dates for GT-41 were June 13 to June 17, 2016, although nothing was planned for the 17th, not even an informal farewell coffee.
On to the GT
We left early on Saturday, June 11. We always leave early, even on weekends, mainly to avoid trucks and other vehicles. The easiest way to get south out of Chicagoland is to take an expressway: we headed south via Route 53/355. The weather cooperated as did the traffic. We got to the last exit before I-80 in need of gas and a rest room, not necessarily in that order.
It Seems We Can Never Pass This McDonald's
An hour later we were in Bradley, IL, looking for breakfast which we found at Bill's Diner. Two hours after that we arrived at Kentland, IN. For some reason, whenever we head southward, we end up driving through Kentland: we stopped at the McDonald's for a cold beverage. This particular McDonald's is a very busy and popular spot, so we were there awhile, waiting in line and chatting with gawkers.
Next we headed south on US-41, passing a spot where we had car trouble on the way to the first all-MG meet in Indianapolis: GT-21. PRNCZ had been out of restoration for a month or two, so that was also the shake-down cruise. This time we had equally sunny and hot weather, but also a horrendous wind out of the west. Neither one of us could keep our hats on very well. We arrived in Crawfordsville, IN at about 3PM. We were both cooked and thirsty. The drinking water in the car was quite warm by now, too. As Diane was checking in, she asked the gal at the desk where to eat that wasn't fast food, which was all we saw coming in. Also, we were both in need of an adult beverage. She directed us to the Creekside Lodge, a former canoe livery on a near-by river. Even though the patio looked inviting, we opted for air conditioning and Fish & Chips. Burned out, from the sun and the drive, we turned in early early.
At Last, Some Shade
Sunday started out as another pretty day but quickly turned hot. We stopped for breakfast at McDonald's in Loogootee, where we had stopped on our way to GT-38 in Asheville, NC. We also located an AutoZone for oil. Steven's routing took us through Hoosier National Forest, figuring that there would be lots of shade along the route. There were lots of trees, but they didn't shade the road! But there was one stretch, where we got off on a road that paralleled the Ohio River. It was a very small two lane with curves to rival some of those you might see in the Alps. After crossing the river and entering Kentucky, the rest of the trip was fairly uneventful, except for the last few miles before the hotel. It was confusing as hell, but we finally got there mid-afternoon.
The event location was the Crowne Plaza Hotel at the Louisville airport, where there were several other large hotels in close proximity, hosting over 800 MGs and their associated owners and families. We opted to stay at the Marriott across the street. Besides being Marriott members, we knew from our experiences at the other all-MG events, that parking at the host hotel is nearly impossible unless you find a spot and never leave, difficult to do because dining at these places is expensive and geared towards business travelers who are in, out and typically on expenses.
We checked in, unpacked, cleaned up and adjourned to the lounge for refreshments. Neither one of us wanted to get back into the MGA to look for dinner so we ate there: limited menu, fairly good, but expensive. By 6:30PM it was pouring rain so we didn't even walk over to the Crowne Plaza to survey the cars that had already arrived.
Registration day. Again, since we had no idea where the local restaurants were, we ate at our hotel. Good but expensive. There's a theme here. We walked over to the Crowne Plaza for registration. It was already hot and humid. As we were waiting in line for registration, we greeted many friends and caught up on the past year.
On The Back
Mouse Over to Read Back
Since we were free until the 6PM welcome reception, we took off in PRNCZ to find the local eateries, an antique shop and a Walgreen's for more sunscreen. Then we went back to the Crowne Plaza bar for a drink and an order of quesadillas. We ran into Bill and Trudy Gallihugh from Carmel, IN, and made arrangements for dinner before traveling to Churchill Downs for the welcoming reception. We planned a dinner first because we were told by the committee that there would be no food, so "eat before or after the event."
At the appointed time, we all headed to a Mexican restaurant Steven had scoped out earlier. The food was decent, but it must have been on a "dry" city block: there was no beer! Afterwards we drove over to Churchill Downs. Entering was confusing with so many entrances, many of which were closed — grrrrr. To add insult to injury, when we entered the building, there was food and beverages. Obviously, me missed the last memo.
Diane with Trudy Gallihugh
at Churchill Downs
After some chaos, we did get to view an interesing 360° video about the history of Churchill Downs. We toured portions of the track, paddock, stables, staging and betting areas. Then we scooted through the museum and gift shop. By then, all four of us were quite thirsty so we had to figure out how to get a drink. More confusion — man! If there was a formal welcome, we missed it. Not sure this was worth it. Diane had been to the "Run for the Roses" in 1987, and Steve is not particularly fond of horses.
We all headed back to the hotel. The next day's forecast called for rain so we put up the top before we hit the sack.
Corvette Factory and Museum Day, plus the NAMGAR Dinner. We'd located a McDonald's on the previous day's excursion, so we drove over for a quick breakfast before the two hour bus tour to Bowling Green, KY. The Factory Tour was fabulous. We learned alot about the manufacture of Corvettes and even saw the area where the robots do their work. But, it was lunch time, so they, too, were off to lunch, and we missed seeing them in action. We were lucky enough, however, to see the two final tests, dyno and water leak, before the Corvettes were ready to get their last seal of approval. Unfortunately, no photography was permitted during the tour. We were then bussed to the Corvette Museum for lunch.
The Corvette museum was nice. A large part of the exhibit was about the sink hole that damaged several Corvettes a few years back. We were lucky that the museum had reopened in time for our event.
Service Station Display
Only 1983 Vette in Existance
One of Six Cars Recovered from the Sink Hole
from the Sebring 12-hour Endurance, March 1957
A Car in Diane's Future?
On the return trip to Louisville, there were many nodding heads. Diane awoke at one point to notice a sign for USED COWS. What's that all about? We got back to the hotels in time to ready ourselves for the NAMGAR Register Dinner. We joined Bill and Trudy at a table near the buffet set-up (Trudy takes care of her peeps). We chatted with many friends and people whom we'd encountered at previous GTs. Afterwards we ended up in the bar with Pat and Dick Newman whom we've know since GT-3. Lots of laughs and reminiscenses.
Tech Sessions. After another quick trip to McDonald's, we went back to see Dave Godwin's slide show about the Aussies' trip around the world, including Beijing to Paris and England, South Africa to Egypt and England, South America to Canada along the Cam-Am Highway, and eventually to the GT. Subsequent to the GT, they made it to the far east coast of Canada and, thus, circumnavigated the earth.
Globe Circumnavigating MGA
Several years ago when Dave first announced plans for the Beijing to Paris adventure, Steven contemplated long and hard about joining Dave's entourage, but had to abandon the idea for many reasons, including school. Diane didn't think too long or too hard — NO! And after attending the session, Diane was really glad they didn't sign up. Even though the scenery was beautiful, the problems were unbelievable, including horrible water, horrible roads, horrible border crossings and breakdowns. Not to mention cost, logistics, world politics, etc. But more power to Dave and his gang!.
Our original plan was then to take one of the tours on the Bourbon Trail, but due to two issues: storms and "been there, done that," we decided to find the Derby City Antique Mall and Victorian Cafe. It was a lovely mall with a delightful Cafe where we had lunch.
MGA Bonnet Decal
Then, with menacing skies above, we headed back to the hotel. Luckily, we had left the top up because during the return trip we were caught up in a hellacious downpour. We pulled onto a side street, under a tree, to wait it out. Even under the trees, we were getting wet. We managed to pull the side-curtains out of the pouch and install them without getting out of the car. Then we sat and sweated until it cleared enough for us to move on.
That evening we decided to have dinner at the Blue Horse Pub at the Crown Plaza. We enjoyed more quesadillas and nachos. Diane decided to try an Old Fashioned made with Evan Williams Bourbon. She was sold. We also shared a piece of Derby Pie — YUM! We ran into more friends in the lobby, then wandered around the parking lot with Mike Jacobsen to view people prepping their vehicles for the next day's show and chatting with the owners. We saw a couple of the MGs that the Aussies were driving in their quest to drive around the world. Their goal is to reach the east coast of Canada where the cars will be shipped to the UK for the next leg of their journey.
We also finally spotted the wash station which was not advertised anywhere. Steven figured PRNCZ probably needed a bath before the show. On the way back to our hotel from the Crowne Plaza, Diane saw a wash station on the side of our hotel. But that was something better saved for the next morning.
Car Show Day and Banquet. As we were preparing for the day, we heard on the TV that the weather forecast was sun and heat. The top was still up on PRNCZ so we decided to leave it up but took out the side curtains. We washed PRNCZ and headed to Panera Bread for breakfast. Then on to the Ohio River and Waterfront Park for the car show. Since we took local roads (highway during rush hour: no, thanks), it got hot real quick; all three of us were panting by the time we got to the NAMGAR photo stop at the entrance to the show field. As we were parking and readying PRNCZ, we met Ed and Julie Daniels from Florida with a pretty A which Ed bought at auction already restored; he's now restoring an MG-TD. We later learned that there were 715 MGs on the field.
Spiffy Airline Coupe
Sharp MG WA Saloon Car
Minnesota MG Girls Booth
MGA 1500 Wirewheel Class
Rad MG Metro 6R4-1985
We then quickly headed for shade. Luckily, part of the park was situated under the expressway, so the vendors had a nice place. And there was plenty room for the rest of us to cool down a bit. Diane spotted the Minnesota ladies, selling their cute tank tops for ladies. This is their last year, and they only had one left with an A, and it was a small. Diane conned Seve into buying it for her. It's white with an embroidered red A, under which is embroidered "MG Girl." Diane bought one at GT-26 in St. Paul, MN from the ladies. That one is lavendar with a white A. Diane wore it on the trip down on Sunday.
After looking at the prewar MGs, which we don't see often, and chatting with others, Bill and Trudy caught-up with us and decided that we needed nourishment. We headed to Joe's Crab Shack just down the street. No one had told the Shack that there was a car show, so they had to scramble to call in staff to serve this thirsty and hungry crowd. We only had to wait about 15 minutes, in the air conditioning. Those arriving behind us weren't so lucky: the wait time rose quickly. The fish and shrimp were great, as were the Bloody Marys. By the time we had finished, the show was winding down: we headed back to the hotel to prepare for the evening's festivities. But not before Steve got into a serious conversation with Bruce Woodson about the merits of installing a 5-speed transmission.
Rowdies Diane, Steve
and Steve Holiday
Before the banquet each Register had its own ceremonies to announce their winners for second place and below. The Michigan Rowdies won NAMGAR's Chapter Award. The couple that we'd met, Ed and Julie, won an award for their 1500, non-wire wheel. Unfortunately, all of the banquet tickets had been sold by the time they registered for the event. Diane was able to help them acquire two tickets and seats at our table. Julie proudly wore her medal the entire night. We think they had a good time and that we'll see them again at a GT.
NAMGAR First Timers
Ed and Julie Daniels at Banquet
The Keynote Speaker at the banquet was Dennis Gage, star of the television program My Classic Car. He made a great hit with NAMGAR when he announced that in his opinion, the A is the sexiest MG!! We all went nuts!
Then it was time for announcements, first place and special awards, which considering the pre-banquet presentations, still took a loooong time. There were 829 registrations with 44 walk-ins. There were 2.66% Pre-war; 13.15% MG-T Series; 22.52% MGA; 56.78% MGB/MGC/Midget/1100-1300; and 4.9% Other or no car.
Peter and Ann Tilbury received NAMGAR's Mac Spears Founder's Award, and Ken Smith of Moss Motors received the "Kentucky Colonel" Certificate. The Awards ceremony actually moved right along. and we were out of there by 10PM, with nowhere to go since there was no hospitality suite. We mingled some in the hallway, then headed back to our hotel to pack and get ready for the return trip home in the morning.
Homeward bound. At the beginning of the year Diane had made reservations to tour the Miller House in Columbus, IN, a wonderful architecture-centric city. This visit had been on Diane's list for at least twenty years, so she was excited to see it. Since we were scheduled for the first tour of the day at 1PM, and Columbus was about a two hour drive from Louisville, we had plenty time to get there.
It was much cooler that morning. We drove through Louisville and across the Ohio River on the 3rd Street Bridge, passing Waterfront Park where the car show was held. We stopped at a Bob Evans Restaurant for breakfast and then for gas. We headed out on US-31. I-65 kind-of parallels it and handles almost all of the traffic, so an enjoyable trip north.
About 10 miles from Columbus, Route 31 was closed for repair, so we found another route and entered Columbus on the unusual cable-stayed Robert M. Stewart Second Street Bridge. We proceeded to the Visitor Center to check in, check out the gift shop, and view the brilliant yellow Chihuly chandelier — gorgeous.
Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor
We were early and had over an hour before the tour. Steve was rifling through some literature at the Visitor Center when he recalled a tip he'd gotten from an aquaintence about the area. We headed to Zaharako's Ice Cream Parlor, an area staple since 1900. Diane had a hot fudge sundae, and Steven had a root beer float. Our waitress has been there for over thirty years. She told us about the history of the business and also told us exactly where to stand so she could take our picture. This stop is a must if you are in the area.
By the time we returned to the Visitor's Center, the shuttle was ready to take us to the Miller House. The Miller House is a mid-century residence designed by Eero Saarinen. It was commissioned in 1953 by industrialist and philanthropist J. Irwin Miller and his wife. Miller, owner of Cummins Engine Company, was responsible for bringing many architects to Columbus to design public buildings and structures. Columbus is ranked the sixth best city in the nation for its innovation and design, by the American Institute of Architects.
Diane and the Miller House
There were thirteen on the tour; with the exception of us, all architects. One of note was Peter van Dijk, a prominent Cleveland architect who, after graduating from college in the early 1950s, went to work for Saarinen and ended up designing the kitchen for this home. We had the grand tour of the House and Gardens which are currently owned by the Indianapolis Museum of Art. One item that caught Diane's attention was the fact that the black Steinway grand piano was painted red underneath to blend in with the design and color of the "conversation pit" near where it was situated. There were other musical instruments, including a sitar, but, sadly, no accordion.
After the tour, it was time to head home, since that was our goal that day. We had a pleasant journey and arrived about 9PM.
Steven is already at work planning potential changes to PRNCZ in anticipation of a hot MGAdventure to GT-42 next year: a bimini top, a 5-speed transmission, new interior? Who can say… There are probably a few other todos since it's been twenty years and 65,000 miles since PRNZ was restored.
We are looking forward to GT-42 and what Mike Jacobsen and the other Californians may regale us with in the Danish town of Solvang. We haven't yet seen NAMGAR's planned route, but we are considering a northern route in an attempt to avoid heat. Anyway, we, including PRNCZ, have driven on much of Route 66, and we can always see what it is like to drive an MGA on the PCH near Santa Monica by watching The Hedious Sun Demon on DVD.