On December 15, Bruce & Carolyn Skaggs and Jack & Karen Knuese plotted a fabulous Tour of Holiday Lights through the neighborhoods where some of Sarasota’s finest and most elaborate decorations were on display. Thirteen cars were on the drive that culminated at the home of the Skaggs for dessert and coffee. Unfortunately, there were so many other gawkers with the same idea that a few members got separated from the group and ended at the Skaggs’ via independent GPS. Bruce said this mishap will be taken into account in the planning for next year. Regardless, it was a great night weather-wise for the drive and everyone had a good time, with a delicious ending.
The annual dual celebration of Sebring International Raceway’s rich auto racing history and patriotic aviation heritage returned there December 4 – 8, 2019, with an awesome lineup of historic race cars and iconic aircraft. Pistons and Props is a celebration of the 12 Hours of Sebring at historic Hendricks Field, the World War II era military and civil aviation facility on which the famous sports car race has been run for more than 65 years. The Classic Sebring 12 Hour features four full days of historic and vintage sports car racing.
Jim and two other club members traveled the 80 miles to Sebring for the fourth annual rendition of this event. Bob Tullis, the man behind “Group 44,” had his awe-inspiring P51 on display. Bob’s Group 44 raced British cars – Jaguars, the TR6 and TR8 were some of the vehicles he raced and made famous. Louis Hamilton of F1 fame uses 44 as his car number to honor this legendary British Racing Team.
Included in the photos below is the Old Salty Dog Lotus Elan owned by the proprietor of the Old Salty Dog Restaurants in the Sarasota area. Note also a TVR, a beautiful Lotus 23, a Sebring MGB, and several Lola T 70’s. The weather was great, a perfect day to watch these classic vehicles race. And like all vintage races we had total access to the pits, along with the bonus of the static aircraft display, for a very reasonable ticket price. Hopefully, we can get a larger group from the SBCC to go next year.
On December 1, we celebrated the start of the holiday season and the anniversary of the founding of our car club with a Dinner-Dance at the Venetian Golf & River Club in Venice, Florida. This annual event was a joint effort between the SBCC and the Sunshine Region AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America).
The evening began with a Bruschetta Bar and warmup beverages in the lounge and then progressed to a tasty buffet dinner featuring chicken scaloppini, grilled Scottish salmon and slow roasted short ribs. Dinner was followed by a dessert table and then dancing to classic music spun by West Florida DJ, Inc. About 40 members attended and all enjoyed the opportunity to socialize and bust some moves on the dance floor.
“High Wind Warning. Use Extreme Caution,” presaged the electronic highway sign five miles ahead of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Members of the SBCC knew the most direct route to the St. Petersburg Yacht Club Vintage Motor Classic on Nov. 10 was up and over the windy Skyway bridge. It was a brisk early morning drive, with the temperature around 65 degrees, and only a mild breeze rustling the palm fronds at sea level. Then, as the six-car caravan rounded a corner, there it was, the concrete mountain landmark towering over the whitecaps in Tampa Bay. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is 4.4 miles of cable-stayed bridge, that rises 12 stories above the water.
The Skyway is listed as one of the most spectacular bridges in the world by website DangerousRoads.org. Some drivers enjoy the scenery as they go up and over. Others find it a white-knuckle experience and seek the inside lane. If the wind or weather becomes too severe, the bridge is closed. But not using the bridge requires a journey around Tampa Bay, adding about three hours to the trip. The LBC’s were undaunted by the caution sign, and began the climb. Being small cars, they were all pretty low to the pavement. Toward the summit of the span, the wind picked up noticeably and it was blowing heavily on the other side as they descended. Leaving the wind behind, the group wove through the quiet Sunday streets of St. Petersburg to the destination. Once at South Straub Park, adjacent to St. Petersburg Yacht Club, Club President Jim Wilson and wife, Debbie, parked their Triumph nearby Wyatt Rinker’s DeLorean. Stuart Keen and friend Bill Swan, with Stu’s MG TD, and John and Joan Magine, with their MGA, were next to each other. The Vintage Motor Classic has one of the best locations in the area for their annual event. The yacht club and tree shaded park in downtown St. Petersburg are surrounded by the Waterfront Arts District, a big marina, restaurants, hotels and high-rise condos. It’s a popular show and always draws lots of people. Featured were pre-1980 cars, trucks, motorcycles and boats. The weather was beautiful with the temperature rising to 80 degrees. Hamburgers and hot dogs were grilled on site, but the lure of the numerous nearby cafes and restaurants was hard to ignore. The caliber of cars was outstanding, and for the first time in recent memory, the Suncoast British Car Club didn’t take home any awards. But the show was a pleasant place to spend a Sunday among car enthusiasts and the public.
On October 26, six members of the SBCC caravanned north to Safety Harbor, FL for the 33rd Annual Tampa Bay Austin Healey Club All British Field Meet & Auto Jumble. This is always a very popular regional car show. This year the little town closed off Main Street for several blocks in order to park upwards of 220 cars in all British classes. In spite of the threat of rain, this year’s show had a huge turnout, with over 40 Jaguars and some 25 Morgans.
Our club’s vehicles usually stand up very well against the competition in this event and this year was no exception. The rain finally arrived during the mid-afternoon awards ceremony but our modest contingent garnered three trophies. Pat Kelly collected First Place for his 1961 Bugeye Sprite; Bob and Ruth Faria a First Place for their 1932 Austin Boat Tail; and Bruce Skaggs picked up a Second Place trophy for his 2006 Jaguar XK8.
Bruce Skaggs contributed to this report and both he and Jim Wilson provided the photos