by Jim Lindner, Event Co-Chair
United 36 is now history. 2017 marked the 40th year we have “United” since our first annual gathering in Williamsburg, VA back in 1977.
This year we returned to the Commonwealth of Virginia, choosing Staunton, VA as our base of operations. The theme for this year’s United was “Cruisin’ the Blue Ridge” and the turnout was excellent.
We had 143 people preregister and another six walk-ins. Two registrants turned out as no-shows, so the official count is 147. As for cars, 73 preregistered, although five of those were non-running examples transported in for TAC inspection. In addition to the two no-shows, there were also several cars that experienced last minute issues and could not make the trip. So the final count was just under 60 cars.
Mother Nature blessed us with glorious weather and by Thursday evening most had checked-in. This year our “goodie bags” included ceramic coffee mugs with the United 36 Logo and a poster to commemorate 2017 as the 40th anniversary of the “United” tradition. The poster displayed images of every dash plaque since United I.
The weekend’s activities kicked-off on Friday morning with a driving tour down the Blue Ridge Parkway. The weather was seasonably mild and the scenery was spectacular, with the leaves just beginning to turn into their autumn colors. Drivers had a choice of routes…120, 80 or 50 miles long and although the Blue Ridge Parkway provided a memorable drive, it was the secondary roads that drop down from or ran up to the Blue Ridge that provided an even greater test for our cars and their drivers, as they twisted and turned up and down the ridge. By staggering the start everybody arrive at the Devil’s Backbone Brew Pub around noon where all enjoyed a wonderful lunch under the outdoor pavilion.
Saturday saw the centerpiece of our weekend activities…the Concours d’Elegance. The weather was again perfect as we gathered at Ridgeview Park in Waynesboro, VA.
Almost sixty cars were parked on the showfield, forty of which were entered in the judging. The competition was very keen, especially in the Tiger Personalized class which had over a dozen cars entered. Bob Sharkey, our Concours Coordinator and Chief Judge, assisted by twenty assistant judges and volunteers who tabulated the results, worked diligently judging all the cars in just over three hours. The club thanks Bob and his team for their efforts. At the conclusion of the judging we were treated to a lunch of barbecued pork and chicken from Pecks BBQ, one of the premier BBQ restaurants in the area. By the time lunch was finished we had pretty much picked the serving trays clean…so the food must have been good. After lunch, President Joe Parlanti convened the annual general membership meeting during which Sy Block announced that United 37 in 2018 will be held up on Long Island at Glen Cove, New York on 13-16 September.
The parts room was very active this year, with over a dozen tables filled with those hard to find original parts. Because of the local ABC laws the parts room and hospitality suite were separate, but that did not seem to affect the level of activity in either, as both were going strong into the late night hours.
Sunday offered a variety of activities for the attendees depending on their preferences. Our traditional autocross was held and eleven cars participated. More were originally signed up, but last minute technical issues prevented some from participating. The Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Blue Ridge Region (BRR) hosted the event and they went out of the way to accommodate our needs and make things as easy as possible for our people. We ran in our own run group and were off first. We were all done before noon, with each car getting four runs. As guests, the SCCA excused us from having to perform course marshal duties. The SCCA people have the timing and everything else computerized so they simply had to print out the final results from their computer when we were finished.
For those wanting to play tourist, the club sponsored a trip to Luray Caverns and Car Museum. About 25 individuals made the one hour drive to Luray to view one of the more famous natural wonders on the east coast.
Finally, a group of two dozen visited the CrossKeys Vineyards where they enjoyed a wine tasting complimented with some light snacks to help better enjoy the locally grown “fruits of the vine.”
The weekend concluded with our annual awards banquet. Attended by 130, the banquet serves to not only conclude another United but to also honor those receiving awards. The club also gave out a variety of door prizes which this year included two Grand Prizes: an Edelbrock Performer Intake Manifold and matching carburetor and a $200 gift certificate from Coker tires. We would like to thank Edelbrock, Coker, Champion Motor Oil, Griots Garage, Moss Motors and Sunbeam Specialties; in addition to our own members for their generous donations.
After welcoming remarks from our President, Joe Parlanti we took a moment of silence to remember our fellow members who had passed away since our last gathering: Tod Brown, Armin Urban, and Vernon Brady.
As the buffet dinner began to wind down, we heard from our guest speaker “Tiger” Tom Erhart. Tom was chosen as guest speaker in keeping with the 40th anniversary theme for this year’s United. Tom is a founding member of the club and the ONLY member to attend EVERY United since 1977. Tom spoke to us about who we were in the beginning, what we have become over the past forty years and where we might want to go as a club in the future. The photos he displayed brought back great memories especially those that highlighted the haircuts and fashion styles from decades past. At the conclusion of Tom’s presentation the attendees acknowledged the contributions of our founding members who were present…Tiger Tom and Tom and Kathy Calvert.
Roger Plaskett then provided the group an update on the activities of the Rootes Archive Center and the construction of their new facility. At the conclusion of his presentation, donations were solicited and the “hat was passed.” We are pleased to announce that thanks to the generosity of our members $700.00 was collected and is currently “in the post” on its way to England.
Finally, it was time for the awards and all one can say is that it was a special night for John Logan Jr. and his black Tiger Mk2. John won 1st Place Tiger Street Prepared Class in the Autocross, as well as the Fastest Time of Day. He then went on to win the Keith Porter Award (Tiger) and the Wally Swift Award.
The prestigious Lord Rootes Award went to Russ Eschelman. Russ is a thirty-plus year member and owns just about every model of Rootes vehicle. He has long supported the Rootes marque and our club in many ways, most recently as the Virginia Region Representative and the host of United 36. A full list of the awards follows.
And with that United 36 was over. Many said their goodbyes that evening as they were homeward bound early the next morning. Some stayed to enjoy breakfast together, but by 11:00 AM just about everybody had departed. On behalf of the Virginias Region, thank you for attending. Best to all until we “Unite” again up on Long Island next year at United 37.