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.

Drive Your British Car Week

After nice drives along the SunCoast, SBCC members meet to celebrate the occasion at TJ Carney’s in Venice, FL.

British Car Week is an annual awareness event intended for owners of British Cars to get them out of the garage and on the road to be seen. The purpose is to help create awareness of the classic British car-collecting hobby in local communities, particularly where there are groups of like-minded individuals, such as the Suncoast British Car Club. And, like other clubs, we also include newer models of the legendary marques of the British motor car industry in the club. The official start date of the week world-wide is May 27, but we upped it a day in order to include a few of our snowbird members who were heading north that weekend. 

Our club’s celebratory activity for this occasion was to meet at TJ Carney’s Restaurant, located in the heart of downtown Venice Island. Those for whom it was convenient, met at a central location and caravanned to Carney’s. Others drove their LBC’s directly to the restaurant.

It was a great day to be out and about showing off your British car.

Devereaux-Kaiser Collector Car Show 2023

The idea and principles of the original organizers of the car show that still bears their names are carried on by family and friends.

Held at the Sarasota County Fairgrounds (as last year) on April 30, 2023. The show had allotted 300 registrations, and all were used. A weather front with heavy rain passed through the area the night before, but fortunately by opening time, the rain had moved on to the east. As a result, we had a beautiful, partly sunny day in the high 70’s, although very windy. Rallying at a nearby landmark prior, the Suncoast British Car Club was able to enter and park as a group. We had 10-12 cars present.

This was somewhere around the 52nd edition of this long-running and very popular event. The first show was held in 1970, in the front yard of Maurice Devereaux. There were seven classic cars present. After the event became so popular, it was held in a variety of venues around the Sarasota area. Participation in some years was reportedly in excess of 2000 cars, with thousands of spectators. The event is for cars 25 years or older and there is no registration fee. Nor judging or awards, for that matter. The founders’ original motto remains, Show up and Show off!!

It is currently organized by the Sunshine Region AACA, with spectator entry fees donated to the Sarasota Fire Fighters Benevolent Fund. 

Kimal Lumber Classic Car Show

Shiny trophies ready to be awarded to a variety of cars in different classes at the 2023 Kimal Classic Car Show.

On April 23, a half dozen members participated in the Kimal Lumber Classic Car Show at the Venice (Florida) Community Center. This annual event also serves as a fundraiser for Kimal Cares for “All Kids.” This year, over $25,000 was raised, benefitting both Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House.

Jim Wilson provided the photos. He also reported, “it was a beautiful day with a huge turnout of all types of cars. The Mustang is Sinda Daughty’s, and Walt Mainberger has a new red interior in his Healey 100.”