United III: 1979
If you’ve ever wanted to see a fabulous collection of Sunbeams showing and going, the United III (October 12, 13, 14) was the place to be. For you guys and gals that missed its sorry ’bout that. You passed up the biggest Sunbeam event ever held on the East Coast. My unofficial count was a grand total of 76 cars with over 150 people attending the banquet. And what a banquet! Lots of good food all piping hot. And prizes. Good speakers. And prizes. A good movie. And prizes. A dual screen slide show. And prizes. And then there were the prizes. And don’t forget the surprise prize door for a door prize. Yes, there were a few prizes, compliments of the Ehrharts, the Calverts and others. And gals never let it be said that you weren’t part of United III. Cathy Calvert saw to that. Worked herself to a frazzle to insure that everyone took home part of the convention. There were all kinds of give always, including you ready for this? (drum roll here:) Hot off the presses, the all new model of the Sunbeam Tiger. You gotta check it out. An entire case of the kits were given away. There wasn’t much left to ask for from the people who put together the United III. It was superbly organized and come off in grand style.
The things that the convention were not can be summed up as, none other than the weather. Friday was the arrival day of most everyone, in cloudy and sometimes misty cold. Just think of what it was like to wonder who would be coming to the convention, then watch the Sunbeams roll in beyond anything you expected. And roll in they did. Alpines and Tigers were everywhere and they came from everywhere. The longest being Toronto, Canada. Would you believe it was 650 miles in only one stop. Now that’s dedication y’all; how about the dancing the little lady did while waiting for the next pit stop. Whew! but everything goes better in a gorgeous green Mk II. The closest Sunbeamer probably would come down to Wally Swift or Bob Rhodes, just across town. (Bill Rosenbusch, from D.C. didn’t have his Tiger there so he don’t count. What? Didn’t have it ready for the United. Bill’s car was voted “Most Popular” last year.) All tolled, there were well over 150 representing the Marque from all around the Eastern U.S., which became the largest Sunbeam event back East. (That deserved to be said again.) But there were some folks we missed; Bob and Nancy Gaskill, but Bob is still recovering; how about Bill Wells, Larry Miller, John Felicione, Bob Reaser and lots of others. Maybe next year? Then there’s the casualty of the convention, that being John McFarlane’s fine Mk I that was severely crunched both front and rear while being towed to the United. Kinda hurts don’t it?
In past events there have been some comments that such events as the United are directed toward Tigers. Well, being an old Alpine fancier, I’m here to tell you that many Alpines were part of United III. There were competition Alpines, personalized and stock ones that would make your eyes bug out. And if you don’t think Alpines are for real, just note that Wally Swift laid waste to all but one Tiger in the Autocross. And as a gentle reminder, don’t forget that Alpines pretty well dominated their SCCA classes back in the good ole days.
Well, Friday was settling in time, getting acquainted, lying about the cars and expending goodly amounts of elbow grease in a waxing and polishing free-for-all befitting the Admiral’s Barge. Now what about all that rain? There was plenty of it but Wise Wally Swift foresaw the problem and selected a site that had lighted, indoor parking. Sure to be a must henceforth. Take a look at the photos and gaze over the 54 cars in Saturday’s concourse, inside and dry. Mike Smith and team put some time into that judging. There were so many truly fine cars that trying to be impartial must have been really tough. Some of them just reached out and grabbed you. I wonder how many times it was said, “If only mine looked like that.” And more and-more are looking like that. Fantastic!
Results of the concourse were no less that 19 awards by class:
- 1st Ernest McCormick
- 2nd Jerry & Kim Bandy
- 3rd Dave & Elenor Lawler
- 1st Larry & Lucy Schroeder
- 2nd Wally & Helen Swift
- 3rd George & Jean Steigerwalt
- 1st Dave & Elenor Lawler
- 2nd Bill & Pat Deeter
- 3rd Dave Leilly
- 1st Bob Yurasits
- 2nd Larry & Lucy Schroeder
- 3rd Scott Woerth
- 1st Wally Swift
- 2nd Vi Stanbro
- 3rd Rich Elliott
- 1st Pat Eddington
Now come on guys, only one modified Tiger? You’re kiddin’.
Most Desirable Alpine
- Ernest McCormick
Most Desirable Tiger
- Bob Yurasits
Lord Rootes Trophy
- Ernest McCormick — Alpine (Two years running)
- Scott Woerth
(Was that red thing that won the autocross a “Tacky Tiger”?)
Saturday was really fun, including the morning’s cold drizzle. Tiger Tom brought a vast array of parts and stuff we all need. The Classic Sunbeam Auto Parts folks from Ossining, N.Y. brought in new repro rubber items and other choice pieces. Bill Barnett from Ohio had the literature to keep us straight on the part numbers. Yours truly brought some LAT options packets. The guys from Cobra Automotive Specialists, New Haven, Ct. brought their high quality repro cast aluminum Tiger oil pan that is sure to be a hot item. And would you believe there were two hardtops for sale, both in decent shape at decent prices? Other parts and cars traded hands, as you would imagine. For instance, Ron and Donna Dyak of Gambrills. Md. became new Sunbeamers with the purchase of a Mk II that they say will knock ’em out next time you see it. Lots of good things like this are happening to the Marque from Coventry. It’s getting bigger and better all along, thanks to everyone who made the United III happen, those that attended and those that wanted to. (That should cover about everyone.)
The climax of the event was the banquet-where everyone ,was talkin’, listenin’, eatin’ and gettin’, those awards and prizes. Dave SpIwak MC’d the slow and a fine job it was considering he had at least 2 minutes notice. Tiger Tom handed out prizes like the IRS was checking up on him. All five original owners got a round of applause. And the gal with the oldest title with her name on it was none other than Mary Gabbard, June 1966. Wally Swift took honors among the guys. Keith Porter let us know what it’s all about and brought in a California Hit Man to give the Tacky Sunbeam Surprise. Mike Smith and Tom Calvert made the awards presentations while Ernie McCormick wore a path in the carpet collecting his. There was a great slide show as mentioned earlier and Carroll Shelby’s own “How to Win the World Championship Driving Techniques” movie was shown. The legendary Ken Miles demonstrated the do’s and don’ts (the camera man surely won an Emmy) when we go out driving our GT-40, Cobra or GT-350R. And they called driving them work! Where do I sign up?
Lest we get too far in to the United III without saying so, we all enjoyed it, compliments to Tireless Tom Calvert who put it all together and kept all the loose ends nailed down tight. (And another thanks from all us family folk to who ever it was that came up with providing child watching services at the Sheraton.) Thanks Tom.
Now for some observations; your standing outside with Keith Porter talking Tigers, in defiance of the cold, when a couple of D.C. area hot shoes rolled through in their Camaros, all jacked up and burbling. The driver of the lead car almost falls out the window exclaiming to the one following to “look at that, that, that …whatever it is.”. Just sittin’ there low to the ground, on fat tires spread wide apart, just waiting, ready to bite your leg off and, “look at that, there’s another one! Jeeze they’re.all over the place!” An almost rear-end collision results. Friends, you’re now introduced to the Sunbeam Tiger and you’ll never forget it. If they are stunning sitting still, imagine them unchained, out doing what they do best, dusting off Camaros and ‘Vettes and just about anything else.
Then comes the Autocross, Sunday about noon, compliments of the D.C. area Morgan Club in conjunction with Rich Elliott. Rich and his very pretty wife, Debra, own a very tough Alpine (the red one with refrigerator white enameled fittings) lowered to within a kiss of the road. For some reason Rich elected to share driving the modified white (I wonder ?) Alpine with Rich Choyce than drive his own in the stock/prepared Alpine class. Maybe he didn’t want to embarrass Wally Swift who, I am told, doesn’t know what a 2nd place trophy looks like. Our thanks go to you Rich for the best autocross yet.
Some more cold and blustery is thrown in here; at least it wasn’t wet, but a little warmth would have helped. About 6 Morgans were there, some fine vintage cars for sure. A Formula V, a prepared Corvair (a what?), Porsche, Silver Sled ‘Vette (50th Anniversary) and other stuff I’ve forgotten about. Then came the Sunbeam caravan, about 50 cars; just makes you grin to see’em all. And then they got down to serious business, 15 Tigers were entered, 3 Alpines and 3 Modified Sunbeams. Looking over the results:
|Tiger (First Five)|
|1st||Scott Woerth||50.570 seconds|
|Alpine (All Three)|
All times include penalties which gives an average of 55.713 sec excluding the shortest and longest times. As I recall, a 911 Porsche ran the course in just under 55 seconds. That should say that Tigers handle pretty dang good. You’ve no doubt heard the myth that Tigers are snout heavy? We know it just ain’t so. The Silver Sled was well into the 60’s while the Morgan looked impressive at about 67 seconds. (It should be noted that Tom Calvert would have had the 3rd fastest time of 53.811 sec without penalties. He was probably tired.)
You might recall that yours truly was out there taking some fantastic photos of the autocross. Due to a slight error beyond my control (I didn’t load the camera correctly) none of the autocross photos are mine.
And then we all went home. All considered, I thinks it’s been a very good year.
Swapping Parts at United III
What makes a United successful? It could be the Friday evening Hospitality in the Tiger Suite, or the accumulation of all those Alpines and Tigers indoors under one roof. Maybe the banquet or perhaps the pent up enthusiasm left over from the last United. Whatever the reasons, there is one that nobody will argue with, that’s the Saturday PARTS SWAP.
Because of it’s popularity, we’ll have to call it an event. More owners and participants attend this event than any other during the weekend. Virtually everyone, even the guy or gal off the street is seen browsing around, and buying too! Somehow less is said about this event than any other.
Items found on the track after the autocross? No, its part of the parts display at the United parts swap.
We have set a precedent of sorts for our marque by the sheer magnitude of this event. No other Sunbeam meet has so many vendors and merchandise on display at one time. Most encouraging is the number of owners who bring their wares for swapping or some extra pocket money. Its very rewarding to know you have that one part some soul has been searching for for several years. The money helps too!
We hope each of you found that ever-evasive part this year. For those who didn’t make this United, here’s what you missed: several hardtops, LAT wheels, Tiger oil pans, etc. We strongly encourage all owners to bring all the parts and information to the United’s. There will always be special accommodations for you to display your wares. So, start saving everything, no matter how trivial it seems, and bring it to the United next year. Because next year, everybody will be there.