In many ways, 1971 was a year of transition from the turmoil of the sixties. The war in Vietnam was winding down. All in the Family debuted on television as Ed Sullivan exited. Men were walking and driving on the moon. Bangladesh and Elon Musk were born and, more importantly, so was the Houston MG Car Club. A small group of sports car devotees decided the time was right to share their passion for the most popular sports car in America and to appreciate the celebrated history of the sports car that America loved first. If a few pints could be downed to enhance the enthusiasm, well, so much the better!
2021 is the year we celebrate our 50th continuous year as an MG Club. That small group has now reached a record 189 members, showing that the dedication of the faithful has not flagged. As is appropriate to an occasion of such consequence, the year has been one of frequent celebration. The good times culminated with eight days of unique events beginning on Saturday, Sept. 4 with a regular monthly club meeting at Lyndon’s BBQ. All year, President Mike Woodward has proposed and encouraged participation in a wide variety of extended activities in recognition of the Club’s founding and half century of success honoring our impressive variety of classic MG sports cars.
The good times continued Sunday as club members congregated at the home of John Bowyer for a “FREE FOR ALL” to provide and acquire MG parts, memorabilia, and anything automotive. This super swap meet provided our inveterate hoarders with a way to “clear the garage” …and fill it up again with even more useful new old stuff!
On Monday, the faithful gathered at the venerable Red Lion on Shepard Ave., the location of many a shared pint or two over the years. Ray Holtzapple made the arrangements for the club to share in the excellent pub grub and fine British brews. The weather cooperated, leading members to enjoy their MGs for transportation to and from the pub.
Tuesday saw the activities move back to the Northwest as President Mike Woodward conducted a tech session demonstrating how to use the Club’s laser alignment tool. This device is an easy-to-use tool which, armed only with an adjustable wrench, enables even the least handy among us to enable our MGs to track and steer more effectively. The tool was loaned that very day to a member with dreams of spot-on alignment correcting his squirrely handling. Mike also provided useful information on all the Club tools that are always available to Members.
Wednesday was the day our cinephiles and history buffs gathered at the Alamo Draft House Cinema in Katy to view the MG documentary “Inside the Octagon II.” This film focused on the post-war MGs, whilst the first film of the series, viewed at an earlier August event, featured the pre-war cars. Seeing these 1996 movies projected on the big screen using the original master reels was a unique and rewarding experience. Credit and appreciation are due to club members Gary Watson, Producer and David Renner, Production Assistant and Interviewer. Having food and beverage in a comfy theatre chair made the evening beyond delightful.
By Thursday it was time to spread the joy. The size and geography of Houston presents a challenge for members who don’t live in the usual west Houston locus of club activities, so this year we have held several events in South Houston locations around NASA. Our special event this week was the opportunity to enjoy the excellent Brit-approved curry dishes and a symphony of flavors at Noon Mirch Restaurant in Webster, TX. Everyone who made the trip enjoyed this unique gustatory event arranged by Tony Galt.
The Richmond Arms Pub, a historic site in club lore, seemed like the ideal spot for Friday’s indoor and front deck celebration. Many a tale was told over several pints of the finest British ale. The good times extended well into the afternoon whilst the MGs on display in the car park attracted the attention of commuters and passers-by. A tip of the hat to Dwight Dawson, who made the arrangements for this gathering.
By Saturday, everybody was ready for the main event. The culmination of the week-long HMGCC 50th Anniversary Celebration was the highly anticipated celebratory banquet at the Falcon Point Country Club in Katy.
Planning and arrangements were expertly managed by Rich and Kathy Colwell and their ace team that included: Bob Chalker, Candy Dawson, Ken Evesson, Terry and Linda Myers, and Greg and Dottie Ulrich. The banquet took place from 11:00 to 4:00, and in addition to the opportunity to share with others such a significant milestone in club history, the agenda included:
· a scrumptious buffet luncheon and cash bar
· a Silent Auction of memorable MG and British auto relate items
· a live auction of MG director chairs created by the Myers
For everyone, the highlight of the entire week had to be the unannounced and outrageous entertainment provided by our very own club band, The Oil Spots. Inspired by the Blues Brothers, these club members pounded out the tunes like a well-oiled machine. Featured in a performance more shocking than a Lucas ignition system were: John Bowyer, electric guitar and vocals; Rich Colwell, saxophone/flute; Mike Woodward, keyboard; Ken Evesson, drums; and Walter Bernard, keyboard. We can only hope that this group stays together to highlight many club events well into the future! (see related article)
After the excitement of the banquet, a cooling-off period was in order, so many in the group caravanned to the Baker St. Pub to reflect on the events of the week and the camaraderie that made it possible for an eclectic group of British car aficionados to manage to hang together for half a century. Like many of our cars, we are 50 years young and still going strong!
Overall, this capstone celebration was proper recognition and support of the lofty dream that several aggressively fun people had in 1971 to create a club that promoted the appreciation and preservation of the sports car that America loved first... the MG. To provide a unique perspective of club history, copies of the very first Roars newsletter were made available for attendees. A member in active attendance on this day was also knee-deep in the nascent events half a century earlier that created the Houston MG Car Club. John Bowyer, an original club member, proudly wore the 50-year-old club jersey that he first wore in 1971. Amazingly enough – it still fits!
- Photos and story contributed by Dwight Dawson