By Wayne Hardy
My first MG is an MGB roadster that we still own and has been in use over the years since I got it back on the road in 1988. It took two years of work and it is now in semi-regular use. I bought this B in 1986 for $200 from a garage sale in Missouri City TX. Picked it up Thanksgiving weekend of 1986, and Isabel felt for sure that I had paid too much. It was in pretty sorry shape. Working on it became a Quest…not a hobby spare-time thing. I had it pretty much done by Easter 1988, but was putting in about 40 hours a week working on it. Yes I had a job; this was an additional 40 hours/wk. It's just not a show car class winner any more. I have driven it more than 75,000 miles since I finished the restoration project
I discovered and joined the Texas MG Register (TMGR) in 1989 and then found the Houston MG Car Club (HMGCC) in 1990 after visiting the first Houston All British Motor Vehicle Expo (HABMVE) at Traders Village. This was the beginning of many years of MG ownership. In 1991, as members of HMGCC, we showed our B but only got a third place in chrome bumper class. We made a bunch of HABMVEs after that, showing the B, our first ZB Magnette sedan, our third MG, an MG Midget and finally our second Magnette.
The Midget was going to be a racer when I bought it, but was just too nice to cut up like was needed then for racing. Instead I turned it into lovely little hot rod by lowering it, building a really sporty motor of about 1340 ccs, and finally putting a 5-speed adaption from a Datsun sedan into it, which made it better for highway cruising.
The first ZB and the Midget both were shown at and participated in HMGCC events, and we won some trophies, too. I even ran the ZB Magnette sedan in a couple Jaguar Club autocross events and won a couple 1st in class trophies with it. It helped that they were never sure how to classify it. When we sold that Magnette, it first moved to Iowa, then all the way to the Seattle area. When we sold the Midget, it just moved down the road 15 miles away. We then started again with another ZB Magnette sedan. That one we kept for 14 years, showing it at a number of HMGCC car shows, some TMGR GOFs and the like.
In 1996, while at a Fall GOF in College Station, I discovered vintage sports car racing nearby via the Corinthian Vintage Auto Racing (CVAR) club. Over the next 22 years my wife and I got involved with this bunch in a pretty big way. Isabel worked in race control, while I worked on corners, as starter, on the grid, was flag chief two different times, ran fast pits and the penalty box for about five years and finally worked in Tech Inspection area for a couple years— which also involves the opportunity to be the pace car driver for a variety of different vehicles as well as my own. After fellow HMGCC member Ed Rosenquist yielded his duty at College Station as pace car, I had a couple goes there too in the pace car at CVAR races at New Orleans LA, Hallett OK, and at three or four other tracks in Texas including College Station's "Texas World Speedway."
The HMGCC big fall show kept moving farther and farther away from me. It seemed that we always had a big race weekend out of town on the same weekend as the show. I did make the show when I could and was even included in Gary Watson's Inside the Octagon video documentary representing the sedans side of the MG Car Company business.
In 2000 I was offered an early out by my company (Temple-Inland Forest Products Corp. in Diboll TX) at the age of 62, so jumped at it. I started to attend other racing events around the country at tracks I hadn't visited in many years, or had never visited. I went to the PittsburgH vintage race conducted on park roads through a beautiful city park…what a hoot that is; went a number of times to Mid-Ohio in Mansfield OH, and Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. I took my son and sometimes his girlfriend with me to these functions, too, and we made some wonderful friends in Ohio that we keep in touch with all year. We also found a source for some really good blueberry Moonshine in Ohio as an extra.
So we stayed busy, working six CVAR race events a season and attending two or three others as spectators. I was also the local paper correspondent for the NASCAR race in Ft. Worth for the first ten years of that event while hitting the World of Outlaw dirt track races in Baytown or Kilgore a couple of times each summer.
In 2005, a friend introduced us to the Antique Auto Clubs Texas Tour event in the springtime. These events feature 2-1/2 days of driving and visiting interesting places and things (like the nuclear power station at College Station run in part by A&M engineering), followed up with a shiny car show, only allowed for judging if you make the drives successfully. We've done these in both the ZB sedan and the MGB when it became old enough to be allowed...30 years is expected age of entrants. After doing six of those events, I decided last year that these end of May to early June events were becoming too much of an endurance contest for us (I was then approaching 81 years of age), due to the heat in south and central Texas.
We sold the Magnette to HMGCC member Ron Redding, as he had asked many years ago to be on the list when we decided to sell. We had enjoyed it for the best part of 15 years. For the purpose of doing more of these multi-day touring events we went looking for a replacement automobile, one old enough to be allowed in as an antique, but with air conditioning. We wanted to make it less of a survival contest; yet still interesting enough to be a possible trophy winner.
We purchased a 1988 Special Anniversary edition Corvette to drive in the autocross. It is one of only 2023 made by Chevrolet and is important because this was an anniversary issue model celebrating 35 years since introduction in 1953 of the first Corvette. This is the all-white version and at the time was a nice expensive option. The Triple White treatment car came with white paint, white powder coated wheels, and white leather interior. They were all intact in this car. It had only 50,000 miles on it at the time we bought it, having mostly lived in a warehouse up in Arlington TX. This one had all the bells and whistles including a good GM air conditioning unit.
I had to start a little re-commissioning of this vehicle as it really hadn't been out and about very much in years. The run at the autocross admittedly was leisurely to say the least. My first time out was to drive to and from the event and make four runs on the course with no glitches…making headway. Then came this COVID mess and all driving tours were cancelled until further notice. Rats!!!!
What we've been thinking of doing is organizing our own little several hours driving rallye event up here in the cool piney woods for the Houston club members so inclined to actually use their shiny cars. We have lots of lovely hard surfaced roads up here, quiet with no traffic, scenic and not usually visited by casual travelers. We think we'll put together a little 5-10 minute video of what to expect and see if we get any takers. Half a dozen cars would be good, but more is better. There are lots of inexpensive motels between here and Lufkin for folks who want to do the overnight thing. And there are plenty of places to dine in Lufkin, including a really good Roadhouse near here with good food and adult beverages available, and lots of room for safe spacing of people.
Anyhow, we haven't died and we do still do car stuff, still pay our dues, and do make an occasional event of the HMGCC...like the recent autocross event at the cops driving school a couple months ago. There ought to be a story in here somewhere.
Picture credits: Here's a collage of pictures of my MGB in use over the years since it went back on the road. There are a couple of images from Jaguar club autocrosses we used to run at the HABMVE gatherings and one picture of the B leading the convoy over to downtown Montgomery, Texas at the fall Gathering of the Faithful (GOF) in 1997. Finally, there is a picture of it on display after completing a Texas Tour event. This event included a 2-1/2 day drive followed by a shiny car show with the Antique Automobile Club of America in Tomball. Funny thing is I don't remember seeing any other HMGCC folks at any of these driving events except maybe the Fall GOF at Lake Conroe. I've also got a picture doing pace car duty at Texas World Speedway in College Station, up on the High Banks at the "NASCAR" turn 1, that someone else took of me and the B, in 1996 or 1997, when I first went to the vintage car races out there.