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!

Exotic Car Show Lakewood Ranch 2020

On February 29, Main Street at Lakewood Ranch was turned into a “street of dreams” as dealers and owners of high-end exotics put their cars on display under clear blue skies.

Our club was invited by the Sarasota Ferrari Driver’s Group to participate in the 4th Annual ‘Exotic Car Festival’ in downtown Lakewood Ranch, FL on February 29. The Model A club was there as well. That Saturday, some 150 cars flooded Main Street, spilling over onto adjacent streets and lots. The list of exotic autos included such marques as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, McLaren, Jaguar, Rolls Royce, Aston Martin, Bentley and others. 

We had 11 member cars, augmented by Bill Stelcher’s Model A Speedster and Bob Tone’s vintage Porsche. The distinctive classic LBC’s and vintage pre-war cars were in nice contrast to the millions of dollars of late model exotics, many of which, quite frankly, look similar. 

The weather was beautiful, helping to bring out a crowd estimated in the thousands for this popular event. It was a fun day for car enthusiasts, but more importantly, all proceeds went to The Flight to the North Pole, a charity benefitting terminally ill children in our community.  

Photos by the author.