Newcomers Welcome Party

The excitement of the membership in the photo is palpable.You could almost cut it with a knife. Or, you could use the knife to cut the pizza which has just arrived at the rear.

On October 14, a great turnout gathered at the Turtle Beach pavilion to enthusiastically welcome the new members who have joined the club (since the beginning of the year). The celebration was enhanced by club-provided pizza. A raffle was organized with numbers drawn for a large number of “prizes,” of which there was an inordinate number of car wax application pads. “Wax on, wax off,” as one wag observed. The weather was pleasant and a good time was had by all. 

Drive to Lunch at Harpoon Harry’s

Harpoon Harry’s Restaurant and Sports Bar. The tables at the rear of the restaurant have the best view of the Peace River activity and, obviously, are the most popular.

With cooler weather forecasted for the weekend, SBCC Event Organizer, Jim Wilson, planned a drive on Saturday, October 7. The route began in Sarasota, wound through the countryside to the southeast and ended in Punta Gorda. The destination was lunch at Harpoon Harry’s. The popular restaurant/sports bar sits at the end of Fisherman’s Wharf on the widest section of the Peace River. The Wharf also is the site of a couple dozen little shops and other eateries.

It was a great, scenic drive. The odometer on our MINI Countryman registered about 132 miles from home to Harpoon Harry’s and return (via I-75). The food was good and the restaurant was doing a brisk business. It’ll be hard to get a table when the flocking snowbirds really start arriving in numbers. The event was organized on relatively short notice, which probably led to a smaller turnout than usual. Those who were unable to join in missed a truly enjoyable day.

Photos are by the author and Debbie Wilson.

2023 VTR National Convention

Bruce Skaggs proudly displays the trophy for Best Every Day Driver, awarded for his 1980 Triumph TR8.

This year’s Vintage Triumph Register National Convention was held in Dillard, Georgia, September 27 to October 1. The gathering included driving tours, tech sessions, competition drives, a wine tour, poker/dinner/ice cream runs, a photo contest, the Concours & Participants Choice Car Show and, of course, plenty of vendors from dawn to dusk. It concluded on the last day with a VTR general meeting, cocktails and the awards banquet. You can pack a lot into five days! We had three club members make the 600+ mile (one-way) trip.

Jim and Debbie Wilson drove their 1973 TR6 while Bruce and Carolyn Skaggs decided to trailer their 1980 TR8. 

In the Participants Choice Car Show, the Skaggs collected two awards with their TR8 – third place in the TR7 & 8 Class and BEST Every Day Driver. The third SBCC member, Frank Malowany, won an award for his TR6 in the Concourse.

Jim reported afterwards that, including the round trip, the daily commute from lodgings some 60 miles away, the VTR events, plus numerous side excursions of their own over the curvy, hilly roads, they put about 2,800 miles on their Triumph. And, with zero mechanical problems to boot! Thanks to Bruce and Jim for the input for this report.

June Wilson at 100

The honoree, proudly displaying one of her gifts to mark this special occasion. It’s a fan scallop seashell with June’s high school graduation photo transferred to the interior (after the scallop was reluctantly removed). The artistic handiwork was fashioned by member, Irene Corbino. [Note; the light reflection makes the photo appear to be partly smudged. That’s not the case.]

June Wilson is club VP Jim Wilson’s mother, and last year we saluted her on her 99th birthday with a drive-by of her housing development by club member cars. At the time, we marked our calendars to return the next year. And, on the occasion of her 100th birthday, this June 24, we had the honor and pleasure to repeat our horn-tooting celebratory parade through June’s neighborhood. After two circuits, we ended at the housing association’s clubhouse to join her family for refreshments and the opportunity to extend our best wishes personally. 

As last year, the SBCC was joined by our partnering club, the AACA. Thirty-five members and 18 cars took part in this momentous tribute. Very personable, and with a vivacity that belied her years, Ms. Wilson clearly enjoyed HER day! We are looking forward to number 101 next year!

Photos by the author.

Memorial Day at British Cemetery

Beneath the British Union Jack and the RAF Ensign, volunteers prepare to lay memorial wreathes at each of the 23 headstones marking the grave of a Royal Air Force cadet.

On May 29, the SBCC recognized Memorial Day by honoring the 23 Royal Air Force cadets who perished in South Central Florida while in flight training during World War II. Members motored east to Arcadia, Florida to a special section of the city cemetery set aside for the British pilots. This annual Memorial Day service dates back to 1956. In addition to the local service clubs, participants included members of all the Sarasota British Clubs, and also, the British Car Club of Southwest Florida. As President Bruce Skaggs reported, “Our two clubs made a rather nice showing of British cars.”

As the war worsened in Europe in the early 1940’s, the U.S. Army Air Forces recommissioned nearby Carlstrom Air Field, as well as Riddle Field in Clewiston, about 80 miles to the southeast. The first of the 1,800 RAF cadets who would eventually pass through the training arrived in Arcadia in June, 1941, six months before the United States entered the war. The first cadet death occurred barely a month later – from meningitis. A burial site was set aside for the British airman at the city-owned Oak Ridge Cemetery. The “British Plot” was subsequently expanded in the ensuing years as other deaths followed, predominantly from aircraft accidents near Clewiston. The average age of the young cadets interred is only slightly more than 20 years old.

Following the moving service organized by the Arcadia Rotary Club, our group had lunch at the Azul Tequila Mexican restaurant in Arcadia. Many thanks to Jim and Debbie Wilson for organizing our attendance.

Historical Footnote: In the British plot, there is also a memorial to honor John Paul Riddle (1901-1989), the American aviation pioneer. He was co-owner and instructor at the flying school where the British Cadets were trained (Riddle Field). He was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire for his contributions to Britain’s defense during the war.