Wow! That was really cool!
I went out to Buttonwillow for the Moss/VARA British Extravaganza-first-what a
great ride! I spent the night in the San Fernando Valley so as to be able to
get an earlier start with my TRSC friends. Lovely little jaunt over the Old
Santa Susana Pass-which I'd only heard of before, up the 118 to the 5 and over
the Grapevine to the San Joaquin Valley. When people visit California, usually
they only see the cities, not this heartland of farm after farm. It's
incredible. It's part of why I love California! Anyway, it's been almost 30
years since I'd been on this stretch of highway, usually I stay on the coast,
but what a beautiful ride on a Spring morning! We made Buttonwillow, about 22
miles from Bakersfield in pretty good time. Nigel doesn't really care for
mountain passes, or going above 500 feet, but he was smooth and strong. Got
about 25 mpg and cruising at around 75 mpg. Not bad for the Webers and all the
We checked in and found our way to a row of LBCs-Sprites, MGs, big Healys and
of course-Triumphs. These were cars that were there for the show, the BBQ, the
comraderie and of course, the lunch time track tours.
Representing the TRSC were Bob Muzio with his lovely TR4, Herman van den Akker
with his TR250 and me and Nigel. The only other Spitfire for the show was Jim
Funkhouser with 'Hawk 2 E'. BTW-the photographer from Moss had Bob and Herman
pose pictures for their newsletter. Cool! Star quality!
The races were so exciting-it was my first time to a race track (unless you
count when I lived in the northern French countryside, across a swan filled
stream from the local horse track outside Amiens...) As a teen ager, my
stepfather was an automotive engineer who worked at the race tracks on the
weekends as a technical advisor-he'd always invite me along, but at that point
in time, I was bored with sitting around garages and listening to these men
talk about cars and engines and whatever. I never went and I could kick myself
So, it was a very, very exciting day for me! We went around looking at all the
race cars-at last! Spitfires! Gt6s! But my favourites were the little Lotuses
(Loti?) Especially the open-wheeled, cigar shaped ones-decked out in BRG and
yellow livery. THere was a Formula Ford done up in John Player Special paint
scheme. And a plethora of...Alfa Romeos! I hadn't seen so many little
Guiliettas since I left Italy!
The lunch time track tour was wonderful! The highlight of my day! I've had some
U-joint concerns and Nigel's 'Daddy Dave' (my mechanic) will be in Hawaii on a
much earned vacation for the next week and I've used up my AAA until August, so
I was a little concerned. But, Bob Muzio and the man who gave the drivers
meeting said to just relax and take it easy-and enjoy! So, I went out in a long
snake following the pace car-and it was great! I think we must have only been
going 40 mph (seldom got out of 3rd the first lap!) but it was, for me a not to
be missed experience! It's a twisty, tight circuit and surprisingly narrow.
After a few minutes of listening to Nigel and feeling him out on the track, I
relaxed a bit and turned on my stereo-Al Stewart "Time Passages" album-I have
acheived Nirvana-or as close as I'll get to it in this life!
After the pace car went off, people started doing just what we were told not to
do-get a little crazy and trying to prove stuff. Especially the MGs! After an
MG spun out in front of me, I decided that 4 laps were enough and I needed a
nice cold Diet Coke. The car sounded fine, but I'd done what I came to do and
well-it was more than 200 miles home and I wanted to get there!
So, a great afternoon of relaxing, watching the races, being with friends (I
vote Herman the host with the most!), having a good BBQ we hit the road. Even
though Nigel hasn't yet left me stranded further than 4 or 5 miles from home,
I'd had some premonitions all day. So, I was really glad to be caravaning back
to the L.A. area with Bob and Heide. Turned out that my premonitions weren't
for Nigel but for Bob's immaculate TR4! It was 'sprinkling' on my
windscreen-and not a cloud in the sky. And though I smellt coolant, my temp
gauge showed only 1/4. Hmmm...then Bob pulled off-his car was really
over-heating. We had a little road-side tech-but couldn't figure it out. We
started out again-made it to the little town of Grapevine-before the pass-for
water before taking a stab at the 4100 foot pass. But, by Hasley Lake exit, Bob
knew he wasn't going to make it to the Valley. The goal bacame Valencia. Made
Valencia-barely and the tow truck was called. We should have been home by
then-I was still 100 miles from home. But, AAA came and collected the little
red TR. And I headed home-without any mishap. Ironic-Bob was watching out for
me cause I was a bit worried all day-and all needed by the time I got home was
a valve adjustment!
Well, it was exciting, and wonderful and just a wonderful experience for Nigel!
Oh, and for me too! I can't wait for next year!
Laura G. and 'Nigel'