Father’s Day Drive, June 21, 2020

Although the drive was on Father’s Day, the highlight was to salute Jim Wilson’s mother on her upcoming 97th birthday. Carolyn Skaggs made birthday wish signs for all club members who hadn’t brought their own.

Although not comparable to the coronavirus, “Cabin Fever” can grip those of us who have cut back outside activities drastically because of the virus. Fortunately, Jim and Debbie Wilson organized another drive to help liberate the many who were starting to feel the walls closing in. Unlike Jim’s other Drives to Nowhere, this one organized for Father’s Day, June 21, actually had a destination, along with an intermediate point of interest. We had 19 cars, including four from our partnering club, the AACA.

Starting at the Stottlemyer’s Smokehouse parking lot on the eastern edge of Sarasota, the group was led over tree-lined back roads to Venice. The intermediate destination was a drive-by of Jim’s mother’s house to wish her a happy 97th birthday! Jim’s dad worked for Oldsmobile for 45 years and his mother, June, loves cars.

We did two circuits around the block where her home was located, allowing club members to salute June twice. She was clearly delighted and the neighbors were also impressed with the free show! This event was followed by a drive through the newly landscaped Venice downtown, and ended at the Nokomis Groves fruit store for some of their special ice cream. Nokomis Groves has been in the area for 50 years and their outdoor shop is a local favorite. This stop gave us all a chance to get out to stretch our legs and enjoy a cold treat.

Thanks to Jim and Bruce Skaggs for input to this story. Additional thanks to Carolyn Skaggs for providing the handmade signs, and to Debbie Wilson for assembling goodie bags for everyone to enjoy on the trip. It was a great turnout for a special lady and a wonderful way to enjoy our LBC’s during these trying times.

Drives to Nowhere (and Back)

Club members assembling recently for a Sunday drive around. The LBC’s are allowed to mingle, but their owners can be seen following social distancing and masking recommendations.

Suffice it to say, a significant percentage of the club membership qualify for Senior Citizen discounts at local establishments. As a consequence, when the stay-at-home guidance for the Coronavirus was issued mid-March, all club activities were wisely cancelled as a safety precaution. But, while self-isolation offers endless opportunities for perusing online sources for car parts, cleaning out the garage and Zooming family members, the walls at home eventually start to close in. 

Adding to the sense of restlessness, this is usually one of the best times of the year for top down drives around the local byways. While only the medical profession can deal with the COVID-19 crisis, SBCC President Jim Wilson has stepped forward with a remedy for the symptoms of Cabin Fever by re-instituting his popular weekend drives, albeit minus a dining destination at this time. There have been three drives since mid-March, with a dozen to 20 cars participating in each.

All drives start from one of our usual jumping off points and then briskly cover 60-70 miles on a tour over back roads through the Florida interior, returning to the starting point.

Thanks to Joe Malaney and Bruce Skaggs for input to this report.

Cancellation of Club Events and an Isolation Quiz!

Bruce Skaggs productively engaged under the Florida Stay At Home order

On March 18, club president, Jim Wilson, notified club members that all SBCC events were cancelled until further notice. In view of the deadly nature of the COVID-19 crisis, the same action has been taken by every other responsible organization across the USA. As it happens, car club members have considerable experience practicing social distancing. How many times has a car owner/enthusiast told his or her spouse that they were “…going out to the garage to work on the car; see you in time for dinner?” The governor’s current stay-at-home order has meant even more club members are confined, not entirely unwillingly, to projects in their garages during the current crisis.

Exercising the maxim that there is always something that can be improved on our LBC’s, given the availability of time, frequent contributor to this column, Bruce Skaggs, sent along the above photo from self-isolation in his garage. 

Pop Quiz: Looking at the photo, what task do you think Bruce is completing on the to-do list for his 1980 Triumph TR-8?

  1. Extricating the neighbor’s cat, “Fluffy,” from the fan belt;
  2. Completing the Florida annual spring chore of changing the air conditioning filter before the hot weather arrives;
  3. Installing new valve cover gaskets; or
  4. Tuning the flux capacitor to ensure a smoother passage through the space-time continuum.

There are no prizes for the correct answer, or any answer for that matter.

For measurement-challenged Floridians, remember that the recommended social distancing of 6 feet is about the length of one alligator. Stay safe.

Car Show at Episcopal Church Tea

Chatting and snacking in the shade of the Episcopal Church parking lot.

On Saturday, March 7, we showed our cars at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepard in Venice, Florida. The church was holding its Annual Benefit “English Afternoon Tea” and invited us to add to the event with a display of British Cars. Most of the group caravanned over secondary roads from Sarasota to Venice. We ended up with fifteen cars parked in a great spot under the shady oaks in front of the church. The sittings for the Tea were sold out resulting in a lot of interest from the participants coming and going. Following the arrival of the last sitting, we loaded up and took a 20-minute drive to the Myakka River Oyster Bar, located at the southern limit of Venice. This restaurant started out as a fish camp in the early 1950’s and has been a restaurant for the last 25 years. There were 18 of us for the early dinner. 

This turned out to be our last club event before “safe at home” and social distancing guidelines were announced for Florida due to the Coronavirus. 

B.I.G. Car Show 2020

President Jim Wilson shown collecting one of the five trophies garnered by the nine club members who forayed to the B.I.G. Car Show in Cape Coral.

The Eighth Annual B.I.G. (British, Italian, German) European Car Show in Cape Coral, FL took place on March 1, the day after the preceding event. Nine of our cars caravanned south for this popular show, jointly sponsored by the Triumphs of Southwest Florida and Alfa Romeo Owners Club of Southwest Florida. As in past years, it took place at the oak-shaded Jaycee Park in Cape Coral, on the bank of the Caloosahatchee River. This a unique show featuring other European sports and collector cars, both vintage and modern. The Club had an impressive showing, coming away with three firsts and two seconds.

On the return trip, the group stopped at the Ford Garage Restaurant in Punta Gorda for an early dinner.

Thanks to Bruce Skaggs for the input and photos!