United I – 1977
In the beginning
When I first became aware of the plans to have a “United” on the East Coast back in December, 1976 at an informal meeting between the Sunbeam Car Club and the then Tigers East organization, I could not believe what my ears were hearing.
For so long the only contact the Eastern Sunbeam enthusiasts had concerning such events was what they heard from the West Coast Sunbeam Tiger Clubs. Upon hearing what Uniteds were all about, we hoped that such an event would take place on this coast. Sure, Tigers East and S. C. C. had small local events at that time, but just think of the possible turnout of a centralized event that gave everyone reason to participate in rallies, parts swapping, autocrosses, and films.
The idea was great and the enthusiasm was shared by all. Now came the hard part …to put it all together and make it work. Committees were set up, plans made, locations studied more and more. Advertising and other related expenses had to be figured out and voted upon, and although still 8 months away, plans had to be completed as soon as possible in order to have sufficient time to publicize the event.
Williamsburg, Va., was the logical choice for the “United” because it was centralized between north and south, and it gave us the opportunity to see a great American historical landmark as well. The location was now known and advertising for the “United” began. Both clubs ran ads in their respective newsletters and TE/ AE also placed ads in Road and Track and other publications.
The results were not unrewarded for the “United I” turned out to be the largest gathering of Sunbeams on the East Coast.
Curt Meinel, President Sunbeam Car Club
ON REGISTRATION AND PRE-REGISTRATION
Pre-registration for the United East I at Williamsburg was used by 66 out of approximately 110 people. It is hoped by the Registration Committee that more participants in United East II will commit themselves to registering in advance to avoid the problems encountered at Registration this year. Several ideas to persuade participants to pre-register are being considered at this time, such as greater differential in price between pre-registration and late registration, no allowance for registration for individual events, and I.D. cards indicating which functions at the United the person is involved in. Remember, full payment of the total registration fee is used to maintain Tiger East/Alpines East financially, so make a total commitment and pay the whole shot. Get involved in all the events. It will make United East II more fun for you:
Approximate Round Trip Miles Traveled By Pre-Registrants By State:
- Pennsylvania 7,500
- Maryland 2,500
- California 2,700
- Massachusetts 2,300
- New Jersey 2,100
- Georgia 2,000
- Connecticut 1,900
- New York 1,700
- Florida 1,100
- North Carolina 1,100
- West Virginia 400
- District of Columbia 300
- Total Of 25,600
State Representation by Family Group Pre-Registration:
- Pennsylvania 12
- Maryland 7
- New Jersey 3
- Connecticut 2
- Georgia 2
- Massachusetts 2
- New York 2
- North Carolina 2
- California 1
- District of Columbia 1
- Florida 1
- West Virginia 1
Prepared by John Kathmann
ON THE UNITED
From the moment we arrived early Friday afternoon, long before the throngs of Beam owners arrived, we could sense the enthusiasm. For this was the first event of this magnitude ever attempted west of, the Rockies. By the time the last car and trailer left the following Monday morning, we knew it was a reality.
For this event people came from as far away as Florida and the northern New England states. In other words the entire East Coast was represented, but did not attend. That’s next year.
Watching all those cars come in Friday night was a sight to behold. I didn’t realize there were that many spiffy Tigers out there! We socialized in the parking lot until dark, leaving our Beams in the safe care of an armed security guard. We then gathered in the Hospitality room in the presence of an open bar until the wee hours of Saturday morning, greeting all the late arrivals. We knew from those in attendance Friday night we were going to have a fast and exciting weekend.
Those of us in parts were up at 5:30 A. M. Saturday to set up our parts stands. Oh, what a price a parts purveyor must pay! Anyway that’s when Saturday really started. It wasn’t too much longer when we were still setting up our parts that the early birds started arriving to pick out the best parts. The parts swap continued all day while the Rally and Concours were going on.
As for the Rally and Concours, I can’t report much. I wasn’t able to be there. Even had to have a friend enter my cars for Concours.
Saturday night was the stage for the weekend. As an elegant banquet was served with a program afterwards, that consisted of words of wisdom from ATE and Sunbeam Car Club presidents Ron Rogers and Curt Meinel. The greatest words of wisdom emanated from none other that Father Tiger himself, Ian Garrard. He presented two movies of rallies in Europe, one with the Tiger and one with other Beams. Ian also fascinated us with a personal rendering of his conception and marketing tales (no pun intended) of the Tiger.
0ne of the purposes of the banquet is to present awards–and there were plenty. The “biggie” was the Lord Rootes trophy, awarded to the Beam owner with the highest number of event points accumulated during the United. It included points earned from the Concours, Rally, Popular Vote and a questionnaire presented at the banquet by Curt Meinel of the Sunbeam Car Club.
Another special award presented by ATE were for the most desirable Alpine and Tiger. Their trophies were made and donated by ATE owner Wally Swift and were very befitting.
Other trophies were awarded for the Concours and Rally.
Two other very special awards were presented, both to Ian Garrad. The first was ATE’s plaque to show their appreciation for the honor of his presence at the United. The plaque was a decoupaged full-size print made from the original transparency used to make the two page color photo of Richard Guthoehrleine’s Tiger in the March issue of Motor Trend. (We’re sorry Dick couldn’t be at the United this year; he was hospitalized with a back problem. Dick and his wife Marsha have been active behind the scenes since the inception of ATE.)
The second award (!) was a birthday cake for our father Ian Garrad. Ian’s birthday was the first day of our United, October 7. Is there a better way to have a birthday party than at United East?
After the banquet program officially ended, the birthday party and social hour began. It was here that Ian shared his birthday cake with us, along with Tiger ice cream sandwiches provided by ATE. And to wash all this down were cocktails, UGH! Anyway that’s how Saturday ended.
When Saturday was over, there wasn’t one minute of the day that something hadn’t been happening for everyone. From a quaint trip to Williamsburg, a Rally, Concours de Elegance, a parts sway or just socializing, there was something for everyone.
Sunday everyone awoke to the pitter-patter of BIG rain drops on Beam roofs, but our spirits were not dampened, for our Sunbeams shown through. What happened in the next few hours was something that no one had ever envisioned. A tour to the autocross site in which the procession of Alpine and Tigers was one mile long. No one ever knew it was raining because our egos were so high our feet didn’t even get wet. What a trip this made the weekend!
Our bubble burst, though, when we arrived at the autocross location. There was enough rain and water to run an unlimited hydroplane boat race and here we were trying to float Beams. Who says VWs are the only cars that float?
The die-hards that we are, we set out to race, and race we did. As would be expected on a tight course, the Alpines did the Tigers in. In fact, the Ole Silver Fox, Wally Swift, in his prepared hydroplane Alpine almost got FTD. In the Tigers Den, Scott Woerth got first place honors in both Stock and Modified. He won modified by driving my car faster than I did.
All in all, we stood in the rain from noon until 5 P. M, like sponges, but we enjoyed it. Even Ian watched until 3:30 when he had to depart to meet his plane.
This was to be the end of the United, but for a bunch of die-hards, we stayed until Monday, drying out at the hotel and partying until late (early?).
The final farewells were said, as about 20 of us goodbyed Monday morning saying “See you at next year’s United.”
ON THE CONCOURS
There was a good turn out of Tigers for the Concours , but the Alpine contingent was somewhat sparse. There just have to be more than four Alpine owners willing to enter their cars in the Concours. Now’s the time to start planning for next year–get that Alpine (or Tiger) all cleaned and fixed up this winter so you’re ready for United II. Anyway, back to United I. The judges had their work cut out for them as the Tigers and Alpine entered were some of the nicest to be seen. The final results of the judging were as follows:
|Alpine:||Stock class||1st place||Rich and Kathy Choyce|
|2nd place||Dave Lawler|
|Modified class:||1st place||Rich Elliott|
|2nd place||Wally Swift|
|Tiger:||Stock class:||1st place||Larry and Lucy Schroeder|
|2nd place||Wally Swift|
|3rd place||Bob and Nancy Gaskill|
|Personalized class:||1st place||Ed Anderson|
|2nd place||Anton Wojtowicz|
|3rd place||Tom Ehrhart|
|Modified class:||1st place||Jeff Hicks|
|2nd place||Brad Garber|
|3rd place||Ron Roger|
Rob and Nancy Gaskill and their 3rd Place Stock Tiger (Car featured in Car Collector Magazine).
|Rich Choyce’s Most Outstanding Alpine in Show, 1st Place Stock Alpine.|
The awards that were presented.
|Larry and Lucy Scroeder and their 1st Place Stock Tiger.|
We are slowly getting our Concours act together and the judging went pretty smoothly with just a few problems. One of them is in trying to compare a race car with a custom car when they are entered in the same class. A possible solution might be to change the class Modified to Race, so that Personalized would be for appearance type changes and Race would be for technical modifications intended to make the car raceworthy. If judging criteria were changed to reflect these ideas, perhaps the scoring would be both easier and fairer. This is supposed to be your club, so make your views known.
I’d like to close with a big thanks for those who entered cars, those who did the judging, and my wife, Diane, who helped in getting entrants and judges together and totaled the points on all the judging sheets. Here’s to a bigger and better Concours next year at United II.
One of the highlights of any auto event is the parts swap. United I was no exception. The fact that it was scheduled to last only a few hours on Saturday morning yet did not close until after 5 P. M. must say something for the significance of this event.
To begin with, one must consider the uniqueness of the parts swap location. No one had to sell his parts outside from one trunk to another. Instead, it was held indoors in a red-carpeted room large enough to accommodated the largest purveyors of Rootes parts on the East Coast. These included Team Tiger, Tiger Tom’s, Classic Sunbeam Car Parts and last but not least all the swap and shopping of Beam owners in attendance.
This parts swap included everything you always wanted and were afraid to ask or pay for. Items from little bolts that hold the engine together to sheet metal and exterior trim parts–all new. Of the unique items being sold were original (NOS) Tiger Rocker (valve) covers.
One thing is sure. The West Coast has been better able to maintain their cars over the years, but we’ll bet the East Coast comes up with a lot of “new” Beams in the ensuing years. We have, too. The Limey coach work hasn’t survived our weather conditions very well.
On the Rally
One of the major planned events of the annual meeting was a 50 mile rally through rural James City County north of Williamsburg. Interest in the rally did not run high and only ten cars entered. However, it was evident that the entrants and their navigators were having a good time. So were the check-point workers.
There were two classes, Novice and Experienced, with two winners in each class. Oddly enough, the two best times in the rally were from the novice entrants, not the experienced ones. This might account for funny looking little Sunbeam cars driving erratically throughout the county.
The check-point workers of number two had the harrowing experience of arriving just 15 seconds ahead of the first rally car. Typical quotes at that point were: “We’ve really got to hustle; the first car will be here any minute.” “Quick hand me the stop watch.” “Where the devil are the control slips?” “This pen won’t write.” “Oh God, here comes an Alpine.” Needless to say everyone had a good time at check-point number two since it was all in good fun… It’s a good thing it was all in good fun.
Other quotes reported were: “Hey Tom, where have you been? To this a female voice replied, “Well, Tom just wouldn’t listen to me…” “We bottomed out solid on that last bridge; this is like Monte Carlo.” “I know that sign wasn’t there: I’m gong back to look for it.” “How about that: I won first place:”
The rally was a new experience for most of us but was good training for the rally at United East II.
Mike and Linda Smith’s SKI Tiger, right hooker. This car was used by Rotes as a demonstrator at the London Auto Show. As shown here, it has Rotes driving lamps, OEM shoulder harnesses and a number of specially detailed items and has been fitted with MIKE seats. The Smiths have the complete history on the Tiger and it is documented as well. We hope to see the Smiths and this beauty at the United East II.
On the Banquet
Tiger owners sure clean up nice. They proved it at the Saturday night banquet in Williamsburg. 0nly by overhearing the Tiger Tales during the cocktail hour was I finally convinced that this was the same jeans and sneakers crowd I’d observed peering under hoods all afternoon.
But now more details about our elegant evening: The excellent service we received from the Sheraton Patriot Inn never faltered as 100 people sat down to a Southern style meal–the highlight of which, to many of us gourmets, being the peanut soup. But the wining and dining was simply a warm-up for the main act, Wally Swift acted as our very capable Master of Ceremony. He introduced Ron Rodgers, who as president of TE/AE, brought the crowd up to date on the week-end activities. Curt Meinel of the Sunbeam Car Club gave us a Sunbeam Quiz which was the most difficult test many of us had seen since our high school trig final. The highlight of the evening for all of us was the featured speaker, Ian Garrad. After passing along some of the unwritten history of the Tiger, he showed films of Tigers in action. Since one of the advantages of being banquet chairperson was a preview of these excellent movies, I was able to catch glimpses of 100 Tiger owners leaning into the turns and even an occasional abstract right-handed pawing of air which I interpreted as downshifts to 1st. Meeting Ian and seeing these films is something that no Tiger owner should miss. Hopefully, the future holds another opportunity to do so.
The evening was capped with a presentation of some truly classy looking trophies. Since 98% of us could only admire the impressive Lord Rootes trophy from afar we were somewhat consoled by the number of door prizes given out.
Of course, all this took some time, and as chairperson, I must be critical of the length of the evening. But as I wearily dragged myself away (after all, there was a RACE in the morning:) I could still catch flickers of Tiger Tales coming from the bar.
|Joe Mazzei, cofounder and charter member, relating the history of development, creation and growth of TE/AE.|
|Wally Swift, Ian, Maxine and Ron Rogers, Curt Meinel.|
|Ian Garrad presenting Rich and Kathleen Choyce with the Lord Rootes Trophy East.|
ON THE AUTOCROSS
Sunday morning (autocross day) dawned in drought stricken Virginia with light rain alternating with heavy downpours. Despite the weather, a fantastic convoy of approximately 30 shiny bright Sunbeams departed from the convention headquarters for the autocross site in Hampton. Interstate 64 in eastern Virginia never had it so good! We were a curious caravan to many who passed us and upon arrival there were many oohs and ahs from other participants, but we only received sullen expressions from the Corvette owners.
Due to the wet track, the Tigers were at a disadvantage and most of the small black Ford “rapping out” took place at the starting line. Add to that a confusing course and you end up with a bunch of somewhat frustrated Tiger owners. President Ron Rogers definitely demonstrated how smooth a spin-out can be as he just glided right around.
The Alpines fared better with Wally Swift going a long way towards saving face for the club.
When Sunbeam owners get together they invariably have a good time and the autocross was no exception.