GT-48 Memphis, TN USA

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Memphis! This town has been on our bucket list for a very long time, and since it is relatively close, about 600 miles, we've just never planned a time to visit, which is typical procrastination: it's close — there will always be time to get there. Now GT-48 gives us no excuses. We have a long list of places to see: Sun Studio, Beale Street, and Graceland, for example. Then there must be some unusual sites to see while traveling down and back.

GT48 Image

The best laid plans... We, indeed, attended GT-48 in Memphis with PRNCZ. Steven was adamant that PRNCZ would be driven to this event. Unfortunately, he managed to mess up his back several weeks before our departure. Although there were multiple visits to the chiropractor, he still had problems as he wedged himself into the cockpit. As long as he could press the clutch and manage the pain, he thought there wouldn't be a significant problem: wrong! Driving PRNCZ for an hour isn't the same as driving for six hours, as it turns out. This limited our ability to visit some locations. Of the places on the list, we did manage to see Sun Studio and Graceland.

Good Intentions

We planned to attend GT-48 and then extend the trip to Tupelo, MS to visit the Elvis Presley birthplace complex. It's also always been Steven's goal to drive up the Natchez Trace, so it would be simple to drive from Tupelo to the Trace's northern terminus at Nashville, TN. We would spend the night nearby and spend the next day traveling to Columbus, IN, via Santa Claus, IN, where we would overnight before heading to the GoF in South Bend, IN. Santa Claus is a small town, but it does have the Santa Claus museum, and Columbus, IN, is well known for its architectural buildings.

However, considering the condition Steven was in, we canceled those plans and headed north toward home after the GT.

At the GT

After two days on the road, we arrived in Memphis on Sunday. Luckily, we had put up the top that morning in anticipation of rain, so when we arrived at the hotel, we just left it up. There were quite a few torrential downpours during the week, so PRNCZ stayed relatively dry.

We unloaded the car and essentially spent the rest of Sunday in the room with Steven stretched out on the bed, attempting to convince his back that it really wasn't as bad as it felt. With the wisdom of someone who'd experienced this before, he had packed his back brace, just in case.

<Monmouth Scot
At Registration

Monday morning we went down to the vendor room and collected our registration packet. Most of the vendors were already there and setting up for the week: we perused the area. The big thing was the NAMGAR Garage Sale: everything must go! NAMGAR was cleaning house, and there were some great deals on regalia and other NAMGAR items. Nothing was going back to the NAMGAR house. Diane managed a shirt, a hoodie, and some foibles for a very reasonable price.

Cecelia Bruce from Scarborough Faire attended with her standard array of parts, her extensive knowledge of MGA problems, and her solutions to your MGA ills. We always enjoy catching up with her. Silent auction tables hosted the usual fare of books and parts, but with the addition of discount cards at many of the local shops and various baskets with local Tennessee products, even some nice jewelry.

<Monmouth Scot
Bill & Sarah's 1932 J2

In the middle of the vendor area was the featured MG J2, owned and beautifully restored by NAMGAR members Bill and Sarah Richey. This MG was also destined to be featured at the Gathering of the Faithful (GoF) in South Bend, IN the next week.

After wandering the vendor area and talking with other folks who'd arrived, we attended two tech talks: one by John Twist on the MGA electrical systems and the other by Mike Sabelhaus of LiteZupp on lighting up your MGA.

John, in his talk, walked through each of the major wiring systems, providing his wisdom with his particular droll humor on the more common problems and solutions. Mike Sabelhaus of LiteZupp Industries discussed LED lamp technology and its application to vintage cars as well as the MGA, pointing out potential issues with MGA installations. Diane didn't quite make it through the entirety of each talk, claiming that the conference room reminded her of a meat locker. That's why she bought the hoodie.

On Tuesday we visited Graceland with Bill and Sarah who graciously drove us in their Land Rover Defender, understanding Steven's back problems. Bill and Sarah had visited Graceland quite a few years ago and were very surprised and impressed at the museum additions to the site. We took a shuttle to the home which was really nicely preserved, with all the kitsch of the 60s and 70s. Diane particularly liked the noteworthy gates at the entrance, also used in the GT-48 logo. Then we spent another hour touring the new addition of archives and museums. Afterwards we had dinner in Mississippi, so we can now cross MS off of our list of visited United States (only two to go).

Graceland Visit
Elvis Museums
NAMGAR Enters Graceland
Elvis Museums
The Living and Music Rooms
Elvis Museums
The Pool Room
Elvis Museums
Vernon's Office
Elvis Museums
The Red MGA
Elvis Museums
Elvis' Lincoln Continental Mark II

We were excited to see the red MGA that Elvis drove in Blue Hawaii, but were distressed to see an MGB poster as part of the display. There were also a number of MGA owners huddled around the car, discussing what they thought might be wrong with the "restoration." Knowing a little about how vehicles are treated on a movie set, we would bet money that this particular MGA was modified a bit to meet the demands of shooting a movie and in addition to being treated generally badly. So, yes, it isn't an "original" MGA, but it's famous!

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Show Day

The car show on Wednesday was to be held close to downtown Memphis on Marshall Avenue which has the Edge Motor Museum and Sun Studios.

When we awoke, the sky was threatening some serious rain, and by the end of breakfast, it was no longer a threat. The rain was coming down in torrents. It was beginning to look like this was going to be another GT-11 where everyone stood in the lobby at the hotel, running out to the parking lot for a quick scan of the cars, then running back inside to vote. But in 1986, one couldn't just look at weather radar on one's cell phone to see the progress of the storm.

Here the organizers recognized that the storm would likely be out of the area by 11AM and hastily moved the car show to noon and then back-filled the time with an ad-hoc technical session featuring John Twist, Glenn Lenhard, and Barney Gaylord. No MGA topic was sacred and the banter between the "experts" added to the ad hoc nature of the session. Ignition seemed to be a hot topic, and there were some interesting opinions regarding Pertronix ignition products, as an example.

Eventually the skies cleared, the show vehicles were cleared of the standing water, then driven to the car show site on Marshall Avenue. We showed PRNCZ with the top up, which sparked some interesting questions and comments. We walked around and admired all of the entries, including Bill and Karen Marshall's new MGC - what a beauty!

The Market Avenue Show
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The Edge Motor Museum
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The Edge Collection
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Some of the 1600 Class
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1500 Non—Wire Wheel Class
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Glimpse of the Magnette Class
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PRNCZ Outstanding in Her Class
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Some in the MGB Class
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It's wasn't particularly hot for Memphis, but it was muggy. The show was spread over a couple of blocks, with the Edge Motor Museum occupying the center spot. The show went from about noon to 3PM, giving people enough time to review the cars, visit the museum with its small but interesting selection of cars, like the gold and red fiberglass 1951 Glasspar G2 roadster that Diane liked so much or the stunning white Avanti with a makeup kit.

Sun Studio Image
Entrance to Sun Studio

Towards the end of the show, we wandered over to Sun Studio where Elvis got his start in the music industry. By the time our tour was finished, the show cars were starting to head out on the next event of the day: a driving tour featuring St. Jude Hospital and the Bass Pro Pyramid building. We passed on these excursions and drove directly to Capital BBQ where a separate room was set aside for our group. After some tasty BBQ, we headed back to the Hilton to rest Steven's back.


Today was the Poker Rallye and Back Beat Tour, ending with the banquet and awards presentation in the evening at the hotel. We started the day with an early morning NAMGAR Staff breakfast, then spent most of the day packing and preparing for the trip home. There were no more tours or drives for us, just resting up for the ride home. We visited with friends, old and new, most of the day through happy hour.

After the banquet, the trophies were presented. NAMGAR created a new trophy: the John Wright Distance Award. This award was the idea of Bill Marshall in honor of John Wright, one of the founders of NAMGAR. It is presented to the driver of an MGA that travels the furthest to attend a NAMGAR GT. We were pleased that Mike Jacobsen received this inaugural prize, driving from San Francisco to Memphis.

We were shocked and honored that PRNCZ received 2nd place in the 1500 Non—Wire Wheel Class. Our sincere thanks to all who voted for PRNCZ. Leaving the top up must have been a good idea.

We thank the local British Sports Car Club and NAMGAR for their hospitality. It was Mighty Good!

Sun Studio Image
At the Show: Greetings from Memphis

Heading Home

The parking lot was a bit of a hike from the front door of the hotel, so schlepping luggage to the car was tedious. Normally, we would just pull up and load the car in front, but Steven figured once he was in the car, he wouldn't be getting out again until we reached the hotel that evening.

Sun Studio Image
Our Journey Home

The route back was almost the same as driving down. We stopped at the Super 8 in Salem, IL, which was right next door to an Applebee's, so it wasn't necessary to drive the rest of the day looking for a place to eat dinner. Diane had to unfold Steven from the cockpit and assist him in walking to the restaurant where a large beer took the edge off of the pain.

But the last day proved to be horrific. It wasn't the weather: it was blue but very warm skies, and we're glad we left the top up. It wasn't PRNCZ: she ran quite well but with a noise that Steven had time to think about and hopefully solve. It wasn't Steven's back: well, OK, it was some of it. It was the freaking trucks that insisted on pushing us off the road.

At one point a huge fuel tanker started moving into our lane, deciding it needed to be in the left turn lane, two lanes over on the other side of us. Steven was leaning on the horn, and Diane was screaming her head off. The semi finally slowed a bit, Steven accelerated some more, but Diane continued screaming. Maybe she scared him off. It was surely her intent. After putting some distance between us, Diane pronounced that MGA travel was not for her or PRNCZ any more.

In the past, driving on state routes through small towns and cities was considered to be relatively risk free. But now there are too many cars, too many trucks, too many rude and impatient drivers! These types of drives are ceasing to be fun. We were so, so happy to finally pull into our driveway and garage with 1200.1 new miles.

Future long drives will definitely need to have more considered routes for the Mazurek clan, probably avoiding many of the modest sized towns and cities that have now become choke points for state routes.

Steven and Diane hope to see everyone in Welches, Oregon next year, but PRNCZ will be staying home. Maybe we'll be in MGAmtrak, like GT-28. It's worth repeating.