PORSCHE: WERKS REUNION MONTEREY 2021

Having recently joined the Porsche owner’s ranks with his ‘Poor Man’s’ 914, Car Guy Chronicles’ Jim Palam took a Friday-the-13th detour from Car Week events in Monterey and headed to Seaside to catch the air-cooled action at the PORSCHE: Werks Reunion Monterey 2021.

PORSCHE: WERKS REUNION MONTEREY 2021

In the wide-wide-world of sports cars, Porsche is the one enthusiasts call The Perfect Athlete. Built with the promise of perfection, performance and reliability, over two-thirds of all Porsches ever built are still on the road. When I saw the army of Stuttgart cars on the event fields and in parking areas, I wondered if all of these road athletes were heading to the Porsche: Werks Reunion MONTEREY 2021 at the Bayonet & Black Horse Golf Course in Seaside, CA.

The Werks Reunion is organized by the Porsche Club of America (PCA) and makes its splash twice a year – here in Seaside during Monterey Car Week and also as a concurrent event to the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in Florida. This, the seventh Monterey Werks Reunion, featured judged categories, model-specific corrals, live music, vendors, and a sea of Porsches that drove to the gathering from points near and far. While there is judging at the Werks Reunions the events are more about comradery than competition.

With 529 Porsche Corral cars, 167 judged cars, and hundreds more to inspect and admire covering the outlying fairways and parking areas, the PORSCHE: Werks Reunion Monterey 2021 was a resounding success.The Bayonet & Black Horse Golf Course had proved once again that it is well-prepared to handle the crowds and the following day hosted the 2021 Concorso Italiano. Even though it took me buying a used 914 to spark my interest in the Werks Reunion I would whole-heartedly suggest that all Car Guys put it on your “Must-Do” events calendar.

This tasty orange “Sports Purpose” R-Grupp ‘71 911ST was built by TRE Motorsports. It’s powered by a Twin-Plug 3.4 motor mated to a 915 transmission. Period-correct Road course illumination comes from a six-lamp display that includes Cibie Pallas hood lamps.

Be still my heart! This is the gem that many a Porsche collector’s heart beats for – a 57 356A, T-1 1600 Super Sunroof Coupe. Finished in sensuous silver, this modified 356 features recessed body-mounted fog lamps – an original option installed by Reutter.

PORSCHE: WERKS REUNION MONTEREY 2021Here’s the view you usually catch of a Porsche 918 Spyder, albeit likely all blurry and far-ahead of you! This V8-powered hybrid had a limited production run and sold for over $800,000. This Lipstick Red example drew non-stop attention at the Michelin Tires display tent.

It’s my understanding that Greg Welch, the long-time owner of this perched-to-race 914-6R, is ready to move on to a new driving adventure. If you’re looking for a beautifully detailed and maintained 914, this show-stopper would be an awesome score. You can probably connect on the 914World Facebook page.

Don’t let the soft baby color fool you: This modified ‘75 Gulf Blue 911 Carrera from Patrick Motorsports was not created to be coddled; it’s built to kick ass and look good doing it! Mods include a bored & stroked 3.5L motor and Turbo fenders. PM handles every aspect of a car’s transformation – including engine, drivetrain, suspension, interior and paint.

The audacious 1,100 horsepower, 2,600-pound, BBi Autosport’s highly-modified Pikes Peak winning, 911 Porsche looks wicked parked in front of Yokohama’s show tent. I can drop a few orange-juicy words here but better yet – check out this drool-inducer video: @ https://www.bbiautosport.com/bbihc2021

Michael and Ann Marie Hartmann’s impeccable ’71 914-6 was open for inspection at the 2021 Werks Reunion. The Hartmann 914 is highly lauded in the online 914 community. Powered by an ’87 3.2 engine it is flawlessly finished in Glausurit single-stage Irish Green paint.

I maxed-out my telephoto lens to get this shot and was unable to get up-close to study the details. So, I’m guessing that it’s a road-huggin’ ’57 Porsche 356 Wide-Body replica. It wears racy-red paint, leather bonnet straps, chrome Porsche Crest hub caps and a Carrera nameplate.

Nicknamed the “Brazilian Tree Frog”, this 1-of-1 ‘08 987.1 Cayman S is believed to be the most expensive 987.1 ever built – with a MSRP approaching that of a 997 Turbo! Extensive options include the rare 1972 Paint to Sample LinGrün exterior finish, a Carrera Red full-leather interior, Turbo wheels, Sport Design Package and Aerokit.

Steven and Elena Berggren’s perfect ‘51 356 Pre-A Split-Window Coupe holds coachbuilder Reutter Stuttgart S/N 10627. This rare and meticulously restored Porsche is finished in Adria Metallic Blue with a gray cloth interior. It’s powered by a 1300 cc motor hooked to a “Crash Box” transmission.

Bill Packwood’s Collier GT tribute is a 70 914/6 GT featuring steel fender flares, balsa wood reinforced fiberglass deck lid plus 911S struts and brakes. Bill is one of the Three Amigos in hats standing behind the car on the left. In the middle is Sergio Meza who manufactured the GT’s custom engine lid.

This Guards Red ‘76 911 S appeared right at home in Seaside. It served as the location for Fort Ord, a WW II era U.S. Army Training Center. The post was closed in 1994 but a small portion remains an active military installation. This 911 S remains fully active – its ’84 Carrera 3.2 engine firing-up at command.

Here’s what happens when you roll your 911 into Russell Built’s transformation facility in Sun Valley, CA. You get the Dual-Sport Baja 911! TJ Russell and his team of Porsche magicians outfitted the donor car with a full-race suspension, luxury interior that includes a chromoly race-spec roll cage and a Rothsport Racing 365 horsepower 3.8L engine. This is a very specialized Porsche with a $600,000 starting price. If you’re interested in one, check out https://russellbuiltfab.com/ and allow approximately 14 months of build time!

PORSCHE: WERKS REUNION MONTEREY 2021Jim Chambers ordered his ‘18 Gelb Grün Lime Green 991.2 Porsche GT3 with the intention of driving it all over the U.S. and Europe, visiting his favorite race courses. To date, he’s hit Nürburgring, Monza, Mugello, Bugatti Circuit at Le Mans, Monaco, Sonoma, Thunderhill, CoTA and Laguna Seca.

Inspired by the spirit of a bygone Porsche era, this state-of-the-art Albert Blue ‘21 Targa 4S Heritage Edition is emblazoned with a large No. 50 race number and includes the Sports Package front and rear bumpers, and a Porsche 356 Homage instrument cluster.

What’s the buzz? Perhaps it’s from this all original, limited-edition Bumble Bee74 Porsche 914 LE owned by Tom & Janet Tyer. Only 500 914s were produced in this Black and Sunflower Yellow color scheme. Another 500 LEs were painted in Light Ivory and Phoenix Red and were known as Creamsicles.

San Jose, California Tech executive Phuong Le is comfortable in a world of technology and precision and is always looking for ways to improve his user experience. His testing ground just might be his ever-evolving ‘14 Cayman S 981. It has a GTS “firmware flash “and a full GT4 conversion. It’s finished (for now) in Custom Purple paint and LD97 Race Wing wheels.

Words & Photos ©Jim Palam, https://www.jimpalamphotos.com/

For more information about PORSCHE: WERKS REUNION MONTEREY 2021 and the PCA Werks Reunion organization, please visit https://www.werksreunion.com/monterey.cfm

PEBBLE BEACH 2021: CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE

CGC’s Jim Palam spiffs up for the 70th Anniversary of the premier venue for the best-of-the-best classics and specialty vehicles with new gear, classy cards, a black mask and a snazzy haircut. In the process, he coins a new word to describe MONTERREY 2021: PEBBLE BEACH CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE: Automotacular!

PEBBLE BEACH 2021: CONCOURS D'ELEGANCEThere are a number of judged automobile events that capture the undivided attention of the automotive press and the pulsating hearts of automobile enthusiasts – and then, there is the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance – the international pinnacle of automotive Pomp, Panache, Power and Perfection that has been rolling gracefully onto the panoramic 18th Fairway at Pebble Beach Golf Links since 1950.

In a word, Pebble Beach is Automotacular – a beautiful automotive spectacle of perfection. To attend this year, I would need more than my media credentials – I would need a new camera backpack that wasn’t so worn, classy new business cards, a fresh & formal black face mask for inside events, and while I was at it, a snazzy haircut couldn’t hurt. Once spiffed-up I drove into Monterey to grab a 6 AM shuttle that would take me into Pebble Beach. Event-side parking for most media is no longer included with your credentials and as it turned out, the shuttle was convenient and direct. By 7:15 AM I was sharing a morning coffee at the event with Gonzalo Silveira, a car collector who splits his time between homes and collections in Uruguay and Los Altos, California. I was now perked-up and it was time to hit the fairway!

Lining the premier bayside display-lane past the entry gate were ‘Class E’ Pebble Beach Best of Show Reunion cars and first in line was this breathtaking 1986 winner, a 36 Mercedes-Benz 500K Special Roadster from the Keller Collection. This year’s overall Class I Best of Show car was also from the Keller Collection, the very rare ‘38 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahn Kurier.

OK: Bear with me for a minute. I know this is the prestigious Pebble Beach report and decorum needs to be followed but I’m sorry, when I look at this ‘31 Daimler Double Six 50 Corsica Drophead Coupé I want to, no, I have to scream Bad Ass! Is this perhaps the quintessential Robber Baron car? It enthusiastically gets my vote.

While it was hard to peel away from the Reunion cars another magnificent Mercedes-Benz caught my eye. Impossibly sleek, impossibly sexy and impossible to ignore, this 37 540K Special Roadster is owned by Richard & Melanie Lundquist of Palos Verdes Estates. The Lundquists are not only avid car collectors but avid benefactors to the McPherson College Automotive Restoration Program: https://www.mcpherson.edu/autorestoration/

This 36 Bugatti Type 57C Atlantic needs no introduction. It is considered by the cognoscenti in the automobile collector’s world to be perhaps The Most Desirable & Significant Car ever produced. It is currently co-owned by Merle & Peter Mullin and Melanie & Rob Walton. So let me introduce you David Chamberlain, one of the artisans working with Jim Stranberg’s Restoration Shop, who helped bring this French car to its show-winning concours condition. He was responsible for restoration of the Atlantic’s exceptional woodwork – including chassis and interior components.

David was also responsible for inviting me in beyond the display area’s chain link barriers to get a closer look at the Atlantic’s interior. I had seen this car before on display in the Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, CA, but this was the first time I had the privilege of inspecting its highly-refined and purpose-built ‘cockpit’ interior. This is the only surviving Aéro Coupé. It was delivered new to Britain’s third Baron Rothschild in 1936.

We’d need a Car Guy Chronicle’s widescreen here to show you the full profile splendor of this 2005 Best of Show ‘37 Delage D8-120 S Pourtout Aéro Coupé. So, I decided to snap a closer look at the aerodynamic rear-of-cowl sections. This streamlined sensation is proudly owned by Sam & Emily Mann of Englewood, NJ.

With its swooping twin-arch fenders and low body profile, this deep cherry-burgundy 25 Lancia Lambda Casaro Roadster has the look of a lean, long-distance runner. The Lancia is owned and passionately cared for by Paul & Victoria Tullius of Chico, CA.

https://www.mcpherson.edu/autorestoration/This ‘24 Miller 122 Junior 8 Special was brought to PEBBLE BEACH 2021: CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. It was on display with an impressive collection of early Indy 500 winners that were designed and driven by automotive racing innovator Harold ‘Harry’ Miller in the 1920s and 1930s. Miller cars were not only beautifully designed and powerful; they were proven podium grabbers – having won the prestigious Indy 500 10 times!

A rare, one-of-two ‘66 Ferrari 365 P Pininfarina Berlinetta Speciales took 1st Place in Class P-4. This triple-take concept sports car is often referred to as the Berlinetta Tre-Posti to describe its three-across seating positions with the driver in the middle. The car is featured in the Tour d’Elegance 2021 poster and is part of the impressive RQ Collections, The Woodlands, TX.

Speaking of unique interiors, this hypnotic, rococo blue cabin often leaves people speechless. It adorns Peter & Merle Mullin’s ‘35 Voisin C 25 Aérodyne. The New York Times described the Aérodyne as “A Deco confection, flamboyant and French.” The C25’s designer Gabriel Voisin spent his early years designing and building airplanes. His experience and streamlined visions no doubt heavily influenced his automotive forays. By the way, the cars ashtrays are made of Lalique glass. Mais bien sûr!

The PEBBLE BEACH 2021: CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE paid tribute to the Lamborghini Countach this year, marking the 50th anniversary of Ferruccio Lamborghini’s low and chiseled, scissor-doored Supercar classic. It was first introduced in 1971 as an audacious follow-up to the Miura.

WOW! Rare ‘64 ATS 2500 GTS Allemano Sports Coupé  – two-seater GT with mid-engine power from a 2.5L alloy V8. Designed by ex-Bertone stylist Franco Scaglione, coachwork by Carrozzeria Allemano of Turin. The ATS 2500 GTS was launched at the 1963 Geneva Salon but unsurmountable financial challenges doomed the venture. ATS closed its doors in 1964. This Pebble car is from Stephen Bell Classic Investments Inc. of Colorado.

Racing Legends! Porsche brought their world-famous Circuit de la Sarthe cars to Pebble Beach and what a powerful display it was. At the leading-end of the lineup was arguably the most famous Porsche racecar of the period – 917 KH car number 22, the 1971 Le Mans winner driven by Gijsvan Lennep and Helmut Marko. I was lucky to get this shot of it and car number 20 early in the morning, as it was rarely not surrounded by fans for the remainder of the Concours.

66 Ferrari 365 P Pininfarina Berlinetta SpecialeIt happens: Color is transmitted from your eyes to the brain, the brain releases racing hormones and your heart begins to beat faster as a gasoline grin forms on your face. You’ve just eyed a bold blue and orange Gulf livery on a Porsche 917. This response is sometimes called an involuntary Automotacular reaction. But don’t worry, it’s good for you. Just ask any Car Guy!

Almost all sanctioned racing has regulations and back in the day, at Le Mans, if you wanted your entry to pass inspection it had to have two seats, space for a suitcase and it had to carry an inboard spare tire. Here it reveals itself from the “Long Tail” end of Porsche 917K car # 2.

Lights! Camera! Ferrari! This sexy-silver competition-heritage ‘54 Ferrari 375 MM Scaglietti Coupe was originally ordered by film director Roberto Rossellini and was the Pebble Beach Best of Show in 2014. Surprisingly, this was the first and is still the only time Ferrari took the Top Honors at Pebble.

Perhaps you caught a glimpse of this four-seat ’54 Chrysler GS-1 Ghia Coupe purring along Pacific Coast Highway in Thursday’s Tour d’Elegance? I had to wait until Sunday’s Concours to get a close-up look at this 1950s collaboration from Chrysler and Italian coachbuilder Ghia. Powered by a 235 horsepower Hemi V8, this coupe was built on a New Yorker chassis and made its debut at the 1954 Paris Auto Show.

I’ve long been a fan of the Chevy powered Iso Grifo and was really excited to discover Peter Wilde’s gem, the one-off 63 Iso Grifo A3/L Prototype Bertone Coupe parked near the back fairway. This historic Iso was exhibited at the 1963 Torino Motor Show and the 1964 New York Auto Show. Its significance did not go unnoticed as it took 1st Place, Class N: ISO at Pebble.

It’s still a bit shocking to learn that the first electric automobiles made their American debut around the 1890s. That’s soooo UnTesla! Fast-forward to 1922 when this six-window Milburn Light Electric 27L Carriage first whirred-up its GE 81-volt, 46-amp motor and rolled out of the Milburn Wagon Company. Here’s another shock: Cost when new, $2,000!

It’s been called the Duesenberg Brothers’ Crowning Achievement. It had a Fred Duesenberg centrifugal supercharger and 320 horsepower Straight Eight. On August 31, 1935 its streamlined yellow fuselage blew past the timers at Bonneville clocking 160 mph with driver Ab Jenkins at the wheel. It’s the ‘35 Duesenberg SJ Mormon Meteor Speedster and it was one of the showstoppers at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance 2021 – and it is indubitably – Automotacular!

Words & Photos ©Jim Palam, https://www.jimpalamphotos.com/

For more information about PEBBLE BEACH 2021: CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE, Pebble Beach history and event calendar, please visit https://pebblebeachconcours.net/

MONTEREY 2021: ROLEX MOTORSPORTS REUNION!

Jim Palam set his GPS and focus on WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, as he headed out into a dense morning fog to capture the action and excitement of Monterey Car Week’s largest event – historic car racing at MONTEREY 2021: ROLEX MOTORSPORTS REUNION!

MONTEREY 2021: ROLEX MOTORSPORTS REUNION!

I consider myself a good driver but I was unusually nervous heading into a heavy fog shrouding the long, ridgetop South Boundary Road that leads to the admissions checkpoint at Laguna Seca. The unforgiving fog was one thing, but the realization that I had left my camera backup batteries and charger at the motel I had just checked out of was a foolish mistake – and now there was no turning back. I had just 15 minutes to make it to the Photographer’s Safety Meeting where I’d pick up my wristband and track-issued photographer’s vest. Without these items there would be no trackside shooting or hot pit access.

The good news was that I wasn’t the only media person running a little behind as the fog had slowed the start-up activities for the day’s racing. By 7:45 AM however, I could hear what sounded like the crackle of a twin-turbo running some hot practice laps on the 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course. By 8:15 AM I was on a volunteer shuttle that brought me up to turns 8 and 8A, the famous Laguna Seca Corkscrew. It was now time to shoot and I had to make do with one battery.

Heading down from the Corkscrew I ran into comedian, filmmaker, collector, driver Adam Corolla in the Paddock area. He was kind enough to pose for a photo, above, right, beside one of his Paul Newman racecars – ’74 Porsche 911S. Corolla and his Newman 911S come out of Turn 4, below, in hot pursuit of a mid-field position in a Group 3A race. This is the car that was driven by Newman and Freeman in 1977  at the 12 Hours of Sebring.

The Corkscrew is a dive-bombing, roller-coaster series of quick turns featuring a blind crest and a 59-foot drop in elevation beginning in Turn 8 with a quick exit at Turn 8A. In other words, it’s one of motorsports’ most challenging and thrilling turns – and the perfect backdrop for this rare ‘60 Tipo 61 Camoradi Birdcage Maserati.

Stu Hanssen blasts down the Rahall Straight, seconds away from entering the infamous Corkscrew, in his Group 4A ’51 Baldwin Special. Powered by an Ardun-converted Flathead, it’s the same car he’s driven to Cars & Coffee gatherings in the Santa Ynez Valley area. A loose Panhard Bar slowed him down in the turns, but he still finished a very respectable Sixth.

Remember that early morning twin-turbo practice run I heard? Well, here’s the beautiful noise-maker. Turns out driver Zak Brown was giving the viewers of The Racer Channel some helmet-view thrills from inside Car No. 18, as he repeatedly tickled the redline during a spirited run around a foggy Laguna Seca. I caught him blasting the flat nose Porsche 935 JLP-3 later in the day out of Turn 4.

MONTEREY 2021: ROLEX MOTORSPORTS REUNION!Race Time! A mustachioed Ragtime Racer and his mechanic are all smiles as they get ready to hit the course for Saturday’s Ragtime Racers exhibition for Historic pre-1920 racecars. Fans loved watching the procession from the Paddock area to the track where they huffed and puffed their way over the hills, down the straights and through the 11 turns of Laguna Seca!

There’s no racing on the track until you get your car to the track. Back in the 1940s that may have been accomplished on the back deck of a sturdy Ford COE racecar hauler like this modified beauty on display in the Paddock area.

Racers are passionate about everything related to motorsports, and they often bring more than their enthusiasm to the track; they also tend to bring their “stuff” – like this ­pricey ‘40 Big Tank Crocker motorcycle.

MONTEREY 2021: ROLEX MOTORSPORTS REUNION!Motorsports racing is typically a heavily-funded team effort, but the nice thing about the Rolex Reunion is that you can be a privateer and still have a blast. Here a racer makes a last-minute adjustment on his beautiful Jaguar E-Type Competition Coupé.

Donald Anderson’s ‘64 Bobsy SR3 Sports Roadster. Sleek Bobsy lightweight SCCA racecars were originally created by Jerry Mong in collaboration with brothers Alan and Kaye Heir.

POTUS in the Paddock! What a surprise to see President Biden readying his Triumph TR2 at Laguna Seca! OK, this really isn’t Car Guy Joe; I added the Presidential patch just for giggles!

One of my favorite racecar liveries is on the famous Al Unser driven Indy 500 Lola. The bright yellow Johnny Lightning bolts on deep candy blue paint is electrifying. Thrilled to see this legend at the Reunion!

Mechanic Chris Clarke kneels by his racecar “responsibility” – the famous Hans Stuck driven ‘74 March 741 early ’70s tall air-scoop F1 racer. The bright orange Jägermeister livery has adorned Formula 1 and German Touring Cars for decades of championship racing.

This is the interior of the rare Car No. 33 Centurion competition roadster. Its Sting Ray-influenced body was designed by Bud Goodwin and built by Fiberfab Corp. in Sunnyvale, CA in 1964. The original Sting Ray Racer was designed by Peter Brock in 1958, years prior to production ’63 Corvette Sting Rays.

No, this isn’t a motor that would have powered any of the historic cars at Laguna Seca, but it was on trackside display for its historical significance. This is the brutish 2,000 horsepower supercharged Chrysler Hemi that sits forward of the driver in the famous ‘64 Fuller/Roberts Starlite III Top Fuel Dragster. Lots of Golden oldies at  MONTEREY 2021: ROLEX MOTORSPORTS REUNION!

Ford delivered an impressive display of style and performance both on the track and in the Paddock viewing areas. The brought a fleet of historic racers – including the legendary Holman & Moody GT40, P/1016 that finished Third at Le Mans in 1966, from the Shelby-American Collection, Boulder, CO. It’s owned by the Miller Family Foundation.

During my limited time at MONTEREY 2021: ROLEX MOTORSPORTS REUNION! I marveled at our rich motorsports history and wondered what its future is going to look like. As I photographed this current Ford GT, I kept thinking: The future might be hybrid, it might be electric, it might be virtual, or it could even be autonomous? Whatever it evolves to I’m pretty sure it will continue to be a shared participant experience, and it will continue to be exciting!

Words & Photos ©Jim Palam, https://www.jimpalamphotos.com/

Check out MONTEREY 2021: ROLEX MOTORSPORTS REUNION! and a calendar of events at Laguna Seca @https://www.co.monterey.ca.us/government/government-links/weathertech-raceway

ELKS LODGE 613: GROOVIN’ IN THE GROVE

This annual gathering of car enthusiasts – ELKS LODGE 613: GROOVIN’ IN THE GROVE – reaps big rewards for Santa Barbara area veterans and their families. CGC‘s Jim Palam brought his support and camera to capture some of the good things that can happen when Car Guys with a Cause gather in The Grove!

ELKS LODGE 613: GROOVIN' IN THE GROVEThe Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was founded in New York City in 1868. Part of their stated mission is “To inculcate the principles of Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love and Fidelity – and to cultivate good fellowship.” I’m happy to report that on Saturday, July 24th, that mission was accomplished handily at Santa Barbara Elks Lodge No. 613. Its Classic Car & Vintage Trailer Show in Goleta, CA turned out to be their highest attended car event in 12 years – with over 155 classics on display – including vintage motorcycles and travel trailers.

I had lived in Santa Barbara for 35 years and unfortunately never attended one of the Elks’ car shows. This year the timing and the motivation aligned and I was snapping and chatting as soon as the gates opened at 9 AM Saturday morning. The first gem that caught my eye was a perfect, blue 356 Porsche Speedster, above, parked by a vintage, red & white Shasta travel trailer. Now that’s how you get this reporter’s blood pumpin’ at the start of a show, and that’s one clever way to proudly display the Red, White & Blue!

A towering Weiand 6-71 supercharger kit is one of the reasons Paul Paxton of Oxnard doesn’t have a hood on his ferocious ’40 Ford Every-Other-Day Driver. I suppose if gasoline prices drop again this cooler-than-liquid-helium red coupe would be a Daily-Driver. Of course, I had to ask Paul if he was in anyway related to the supercharger folks at Paxton Automotive. His reply: “Yeah, I’ve heard that, but it’s just a lot of air.”

ELKS LODGE 613: GROOVIN' IN THE GROVEWhen Jeff and Stacey Gourson got married their wedding song was At Last. When they finally realized their ’20 years in the making’ Musclecar Dream, they plated their beautiful big-block Chevy-powered ’64 GTO, ATTLAST.  This Pontiac is a formidable pouncer, with its 468-inch Chevy delivering 580 horsepower to the rear wheels. There’s an extra “T” on the vanity plate because – surprise, surprise – ATLAST was already taken.

ELKS LODGE 613: GROOVIN' IN THE GROVECars and vintage trailers were displayed in two different areas, separated by the spacious Elks Lodge building. I found myself bopping back and forth as conversations and curiosity drew me from one location to the other. I spent time admiring David Bethard’s sexy and sleek, black ‘40 Ford Deluxe Convertible then rambled over to the trailers and discovered a fully-accessorized ‘57 Rambler Custom station wagon fronting a fully-equipped ‘56 Rainbow trailer. It was back to the cars again for a close look at the Baja-bruising Coors Light Racing No. 559 VW Bug. It seems apt that this voracious looking orange Bug was conceived and built to eat-up the desert!

Money raised from participant entry fees, food & beverage sales and donations go directly to the Elks Lodge Veteran Support programs which include homeless veterans’ breakfasts, hot meals for home-bound vets, clothing, hygiene and mental health support, plus holiday gift cards for needy veterans’ families. There’s another technique the Elks employed for raising money at the event: deploying the high-spirited Raffle Ticket Trio. Their big smiles, colorful tattoos and endless exuberance were impossible to ignore, and from what I could see, very effective at thinning wallets.

So, let’s speculate that the amount of cash collected by the Elks for this good cause was substantial. If that were true, which one of these cool vehicles would be the best to transport the bounty to the bank? Steven Jacobson’s 23-Window ‘60 VW Bus looks pretty spacious but with all those windows the haul would be far from hidden – as would be the case with Dave Boytis’ open bed ’61 Corvair Loadside. Nope, we’re going to need something stealth and swift – like Chuck Nestor’s raked ’69 Dodge A100 surfer van. Maybe paint a Diaper Delivery logo on the side for more deception and odorous security. Yeah, I’m going with the Dodge.

In addition to cool cars and travel trailers there were about a dozen vintage motorcycles lined-up outside the lodge for display: A couple of Indians, a number of Harleys, a wispy Whizzer, a tasty Triumph and my pick of the bunch – a beautifully restored, ‘69 650 BSA A65 Thunderbolt. As appealing as these 1960s -1970s-era British touring bikes were, they succumbed to the onslaught of competition from the hard-to-beat Japanese imports. BSA production ended in 1972.

While photographing the BSA an attendee asked me if I had checked out “Big Ugly” in the trailer section yet. Before I could ask what Big Ugly was, he had disappeared, so I scooted back to the travel trailers and quickly discovered this ‘48 Studebaker 2-Ton truck sporting the vanity plate BIGUGLY. Legend has it a California surfer kid bought this work truck-to-camper conversion back in 1965 for $500. When he headed off to college his dad took the wheel and made many improvements. He dropped-in a Chevy V8 and 4-speed tranny and then addressed the camper unit with upgrades like a stained-glass bay window, an RV toilet and a wood-burning stove. Dad and his lady friend traveled extensively in Big Ugly until his death. In 2021 the son, now 74 years old, donated the sturdy Studebaker camper to the Murphy Museum in Oxnard, CA.

ELKS LODGE 613: GROOVIN' IN THE GROVEThere are some classics that outshine many of their contemporaries because of their understated balance – where line, color, proportion and restraint come together in a machine that has to be owned, has to be seen, and has to be driven. Bob Hawkin’s Turquoise Blue ‘30 Ford pickup is such a machine.

And while we’ve got the Hot Rod blues, perhaps it’s a good time to get our motors running and hop on Mike and Robin Senzamici’s blue-accented ‘48 GMC Silversides PD3751 interstate cruiser. This iconic Greyhound RV conversion bus has been driven and camped often and has also made numerous appearances on TV and in the movies. Is the Silverside a Superstar? I’ll let you guys make that decision. Was the ELKS LODGE 613: GROOVIN’ IN THE GROVE Show a success? Absolutely!

Words & Photos ©Jim Palam, July 24, 2021, https://www.jimpalamphotos.com/

For more information about the ELKS LODGE 613: GROOVIN’ IN THE GROVE Show, please visit https://www.groovininthegrove.org/

Check out Elks Lodge 613 @ https://www.elks.org/lodges/ContactUs.cfm?LodgeNumber=0613

MENDENHALL: CARS, GAS PUMPS & PETROLIANA MUSEUM

CarGuyChronicles’ Jim Palam pulls in to the MENDENHALL: CARS, GAS PUMPS & PETROLIANA MUSEUM to fill-up with American petroleum industry history and an eyeful of colorful signage and cars from a bygone era.

MENDENHALL: CARS, GAS PUMPS & PETROLIANA MUSEUM

 Sitting at a window table at Ellen’s Pancake House I could see the large neon and red Pegasus rising up above the tall wooden perimeter fence surrounding the Mendenhall Museum – located just across Avenue of the Flags from the eatery in Buellton, CA. Over the years I had picked up a bit of the Petroliana museum’s fascinating history, hanging out with some of the local car guys and decided it was finally time to check it out.

As the story goes, after Jack Mendenhall sold his Richfield gas and service station back in the 1970s, he went on the road selling business related signs and marketing materials. He also continued searching the highways and byways of America looking for vintage gas pumps and petroleum industry related collectibles. He’d been at that hobby since the 1950s. When he found items, he liked he’d haul them back to his wrecking yard in Buellton. During those years Jack also raced cars and had a passion for dry lake, oval track and drag racing. He became a Lifetime Member of Bonneville’s 200 MPH Club in 1991 and was inducted into the Land Speed Hall of Fame in 1993.

MENDENHALL: CARS, GAS PUMPS & PETROLIANA MUSEUMDuring the late 1950s and early 1960s Jack was also the crew chief, owner and co-driver of the historic Pea Soup Andersen Special, a vintage ’46 Ford flathead-powered dragster that was rumored during those racing heydays to be “Souper-Charged.” Racing often at Southern and Central California drag strips, the Special clocked a top speed of 143 mph and a low ET of 9.474 seconds. “Souper Sponsors” of this racing machine included  racing icons Bob Joehnck Automotive, Edelbrock, Iskenderian Cams and Jim Deist. The dragster still has its own special garage.

Automotive picking, collecting and racing is in the Mendenhall family blood. In the early 2000s, the transformation of Jack’s prodigious Petroliana collection into a curated museum began. After Jack’s passing in 2005, son Mark and daughter-in-law Vickie took the wheel of the museum and have helped steer it to the remarkable treasure-trove of petroleum industry artifacts it is today. Privately owned, it’s located on the site of Jack’s old wrecking yard, just a burnout from where his gas station once stood at the corner Zaca Street and Avenue of the Flags!

MENDENHALL: CARS, GAS PUMPS & PETROLIANA MUSEUMVisitors enter the museum Private-Club-style through a nondescript door in the perimeter fence. Once beyond the portal you are hit with a graphic barrage of bold and colorful porcelain, metal and neon signs that cover every available inch of the exterior walls of the garage-style buildings that line the u-shaped interior driveway. Currently there are over 100 vintage gas pumps, 400 illuminated gas pump globes, 2,500 metal and porcelain signs, 40 neon signs and 1,500 vintage license plates carefully and cleverly displayed throughout the museum’s dozen garages and two-story center building.

Of course the collection doesn’t stop there; visitors will also discover vintage oil cans and auto parts, music boxes, soda fountain signage, street & highway signs, mid-century Americana, street rods, a Red Bluff drag boat and racecars – including another Pea Soup Andersen’s Special – this, a 350-cubic-inch-powered Oldsmobile Cutlass that Jack raced at Baja in the 1970s. Being a family that loved to race together, Mark also raced a sister-car Cutlass with his Dad during those exciting Baja years.

Every time I thought OK, this must be the last room or garage to explore, another surprising space would reveal itself – like the low-lit Fire Engine Room where the Mendenhalls had somehow managed to park and display a well-used and weathered ‘39 Ford fire truck. This fire-fighting machine was apparently used at Vandenberg Air Force Base when the base was known as the Camp Cooke U.S. Army Garrison back in the early-1940s. Camp Cooke’s remote location made it an ideal site for rapid artillery and armor training.

The Mendenhall Museum has something for everyone, but if you’re a serious lakes-racing enthusiast, get ready for goose bumps and heartfelt emotion. While the museum’s event spaces are available for a variety of special functions, its biggest celebration is the biennial “Gas Up” where land speed luminaries are inducted into the museum’s Dry Lakes Hall of Fame. Not only do you get to enjoy the camaraderie of the racers and a tasty meal, you also get to inspect the famous land speed cars that are trailered to the museum for the event.

MENDENHALL: CARS, GAS PUMPS & PETROLIANA MUSEUMOn the ground floor of the center building, behind a door displaying a Southern California Timing Association (S.C.T.A.) sign, you’ll discover the Dry Lakes Racing Hall of Fame, a special room dedicated to the history of land speed racing at the Bonneville Salt Flats and El Mirage. On one of the shelves of a long, full wall display case you’ll find the racing helmet worn by Jack Mendenhall when he set the D/GR record of 207.015 mph in his Chevy-powered, Wescott-bodied Car No. 234 roadster back on August 22, 1991.

As I was wrapping up my photo shoot and exploration, I found myself back in the large room of the center building where Mark and wife Vickie had just completed one of their guided tours. The good news is that with the lifting of Covid restrictions the Mendenhall is back in business. This room had yet another impossibly dense collection of signs and collectibles covering the walls and ceiling. At the far end of the room near the exit door is a cozy and inviting bar. If I was still a drinking man, I might have asked Mark to mix me a Mendenhall Special. Instead, I headed to the rest room to the left of the bar, not to “Unfill ‘er Up” but to grab a few more photos. By this point I wasn’t a surprised that the walls were covered with signs here too. My favorites were the three, eye-level gas-grade signs above the two urinals and toilet!

If you’re looking for relief from the mundane, make it a point to visit the MENDENHALL: CARS, GAS PUMPS & PETROLIANA MUSEUM in Buellton, CA. Tell Mark and Vickie that Jim from CarGuyChronicles sent you. Check it out @ http://www.mendenhallmuseum.com/

Words and Photos: Jim Palam, https://www.jimpalamphotos.com/