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The Roars

  • November 02, 2021 12:08 PM | Scott Hardy (Administrator)

    A crisp October morning greeted the participants in this year’s autocross event hosted by the Texas Triumph Register. Held annually at the Houston Police Academy training track, an autocross provides enthusiasts like us with the opportunity to drive their cars in the manner for which they were designed. That is to say, drive it like you stole it! But you can do so in the safety of a closed circuit with the only obstacles being plastic pylons marking the course.

    The host club had arrived early to litter the training track with orange traffic cones, marking the figure eight track into a maze of twists and turns. After the participants arrived and finished their coffee, the organizers went through the track procedures and led the group on a parage lap through the maze of cones. Which left everybody to wonder how they were ever going to remember the correct route through the piles of pylons. (Spoiler: many did not!)

    The hosts required that the cars be cleared of loose items in the cab and boot, and all cars had to pass a tech inspection. Surprisingly, all did. All drivers who did not bring their own helmets were given a colorful balaclava and a loaner helmet to complete their drives. And so the competition began, with the cars being divided into four heats and drivers being allotted four timed laps each.

    The cool morning air was soon shattered with the sound on snarling exhausts and squealing tires as the autocrossers attempted to better their times with each succeeding lap. And those who overestimated the abilities of their classic cars to negotiate the twisties soon provided spectators with some impressive drifts and smoky slides. A special shout out to Pete Sandy, who guided his big Healy through, by consensus, the most entertaining slide of the day. Special mention to Gord Bard for his numerous trips off the tarmac and to Ken Evesson for his brilliantly executed 180° drift to conclude his day on the track.

    The HMGCC was able represented by the aforementioned drivers as well as Rich Colwell, Glenn and Fran Carpenter, Renne and Clair Lanphier, Scott and Trish Hardy, Dwight Dawson, Larry Lovins and Steve Loden.

    The event was not limited to just Triumphs and MGs, as more modern machinery was also allowed to run. But there is no doubt that the older cars, while they may have been slower, were much more fun to follow as they skittered through the course squealing their tires, smoking their brakes, and listing through every turn.

    The Triumph club had a special surprise at the end of the day. They had a trophy made which would be presented to either the Triumph or the MG club, depending on which classic British marque’s devotees had the best average lap times. In a remarkably close decision, which may or may not have come down to some creative Hollywood bookkeeping, the MG club took home the inaugural presentation of the Lucas Memorial Cup. Said trophy will be proudly on display at the Christmas gala in December for all club members to ogle.

    The only blot on an otherwise perfect day was that the number of Triumphs greatly outnumbered the number of MGs. All HMGCC participants agreed that the autocross was a wonderful day to spend with your car and fellow club members. Nothing quite matches the adrenalin rush of pressing your car and your skills to the limit, trying to put together the perfect lap. And even if you will never be the reincarnation of Stirling Moss, the excitement of working the steering wheel through the pylons is worth the price of admission. You enjoy the same fun factor regardless of skill level.

    Enjoying an event like this is definitely something all club members should seriously consider, and the good news is that you will have another chance to do so in the spring!

    -       Story and photos by Dwight Dawson and Scott Hardy

  • October 28, 2021 1:00 PM | Scott Hardy (Administrator)

    (translated into English: You will get what you were meant to have!)

    This wee Scots expression perfectly sums up my MG experience! My MG story starts when I was growing up in Scotland and my uncle owned several MGBs. We kids would squeeze in behind the seats and enjoy the ride and the wind in our face! Scroll forward some 40+ years later and I now live in Houston and scan the Hemmings website every other month hoping to find my perfect car.

    This summer I took my family back to Scotland, and while in 10 days quarantine I once again turned to scrolling through the Hemmings website. To my surprise I spotted my perfect red 1960 MGA and proceeded to bid. To my amazement and joy I was the highest bidder. To my great disappointment I never made the reserve! I contacted the seller and said that I would get a friend to inspect the car when I returned to the US – although the car was in Toronto, Canada!

    I managed to contact an acquaintance who lived outside Toronto and asked if he would help inspect the vehicle. Fortunately, he had a good friend who bought and refurbished old classics, so it was back on again for my perfect car.

    They visited the owner the next Saturday morning, and I got a call at lunchtime with all the details. My friend’s classic car guy was a perfectionist and wasn’t sure what standard I was looking for, but he soon realized I was also a perfectionist, and it seemed the car needed a new paint job, re-chroming, and a new soft top. He could hear the disappointment in my voice but said he had been looking online for a few days for comparable cars and had seen a perfect car, to which he promptly sent me a link.

    I looked up the link and to my amazement saw the perfect red 1960 MGA, for real this time. My family all looked at it and I immediately contacted the seller up in Idaho for a video of the car running. Ray Myers was the owner, and he duly shot and sent me a video. I called Ray the next day to find out more about the car and got its full history and all the care that he had given the car over the past twelve years. I said I would think about it and get back to him. But I couldn’t wait, so less than an hour later I called back to say I wanted to buy the car and would send a deposit on Monday morning! So in less than 24 hours, and never having seen the car, I let my heart do the talking instead of my brain and hopefully, probably foolishly, bought my perfect MGA.

    I sent the deposit and said I would arrange to pay the remainder within the week. Ray was gracious enough to suggest that I come and see the car before I bought it and sent me flight details. What I didn’t realize at the time was that Ray was interviewing my son and I to see if we were worthy of owning his pride and joy! So a few weeks later my son and I flew to Spokane and drove over to Idaho to meet Ray. But not before I had paid the full asking price! This, I explained to my 17 year old son, was something that he should never, ever do and gave him all the reasons why – but the first time in my life I went against my own better judgement. The only reason being my conversations with Ray and the trust I had developed in a man I had never met.

    When we arrived, Ray asked questions, but not to me – to my son: Would you work on the engine or put her into a garage? (James wants to learn all about the car and how to maintain a real engine). Would you show her or just keep her in the garage? (James would love to start going to shows and get involved). So while that passed, Ray really got to know us and decided he wouldn’t give me my money back; rather, he would allow us to buy his MGA.

    Ray then told me the complete story of his twelve years of tender loving care and refurbishment, including the day he got her, what happened in the local garage, and the time he and his grandson stripped down the engine and rebuilt it together. He also traced the car back to the day of manufacture and received the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust Certified copy of the factory record.

    A few weeks after visiting Ray and transporting the car home, I joined the Houston MG Car Club and entered the 31st Annual Houston All British Car Day on October 9th. We invited Ray and his best friend Frank to come down and see us in our first car show, which they both did. We had a terrific weekend with two new friends, spending Friday examining the car to see if it still met Ray’s exacting standards. The next day Ray and Frank were at the show before we arrived and stayed with us the entire day. We had a wonderful time with them, and James impressed them and the rest of the HMGCC with his ability on the pipes. I’m pretty certain Ray was even more proud than we were of us winning first place in our first show with “his” beauty.

    So not only have we found our perfect car after all these years, but also have two very dear new friends from Idaho. I’m sure it won’t be the last time we see then down here in Texas at the MG club events! Glasses up to a long-lasting friendship and a beautiful, perfect car for generations to come!

    - Story contributed by new member Jim McWhinnie. Photos by Dwight Dawson.

  • October 05, 2021 2:57 PM | Scott Hardy (Administrator)

    “The Oil Spots” debuted at the HMGCC 50th anniversary party and entertained our membership with a variety of pop and rock-n-roll songs.

    We would like to keep the good times going!

    The band needs an electric bass player and would like to know any if our HMGCC membership play and would be interested in joining the group.

    Our intention is to practice twice per month and play at club events and other extracurricular activities as we build our song list.

    If interested, please call or email Rich Colwell at 610-703-7313 or rlcolwell@gmail.com

  • October 05, 2021 2:35 PM | Scott Hardy (Administrator)

    I recently listed my ’61 Morris Minor for sale on our club website with an asking price of $14,100.00. After a couple of days, I was pleased to receive an e-mail from someone offering full asking price. He suggested he would overnight me a cashier’s check for $3,100.00 over the asking price to cover the cost of shipping the car to Florida. He suggested that his “agent” would come by our house and pick up the $3,100.00 in cash and arrange for the transportation.

    A tempting offer, right? It would be easy to accept this offer, especially when I received the cashier’s check shown below. I did not, as I realized it was a scam that works as follows:

    You deposit the check and then give the agent the $3,100.00. The buyer then puts a stop payment on the check and you are out the $3,100.00.

    I determined this to be a scam because there were too many red flags, namely:

    • 1.    It is rare to receive a full price offer with no negotiation.
    • 2.    It is rare to have an “agent” come by to pick up cash.
    • 3.    The cost to ship a car from Texas to Florida is less than $1,000.00.
    • 4.    The cashier’s check issuer was not the seller.
    • 5.    The check was not sent from the seller’s home address.
    • 6.    The seller refused to provide his telephone number.
    • 7.    The seller did not provide his address to allow me to send the title and bill of sale.

    I offer this article to hopefully make people aware of the types of scams that are out there and suggest if you are not customarily selling cars, seek advice from club members that are so you are not left disappointed.

    Safety fast!

    - Contributed by Mike Woodward

  • October 05, 2021 12:50 PM | Scott Hardy (Administrator)

    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

  • October 03, 2021 4:34 PM | Mike Woodward (Administrator)

    Our thanks to Greg as always for keeping up with this :

    Safety fast!


  • September 20, 2021 11:36 AM | Bob Chalker (Administrator)

  • September 12, 2021 9:52 PM | Bob Chalker (Administrator)

    Our friends from the Texas MG Register have invited us to join them at the Texas State Fair on Friday, October 1st.  Although this is not an official Houston MG Car Club event this sounds like a great day for enjoying your car, good people and lot's of fair food!

    Come out and enjoy a day at the fair with other British cars on Friday, 1 October.  The Texas MG Register has been invited to participate in the Classic Car Corral at the State Fair of Texas.  This is a TMGR sponsored event, but we have also invited other British clubs to join us to get the required number of cars to participate.  North Texas Healey Club and the Red River Triumph Club.  You don’t even have to bring an MG just something British.

    So, pack the lawn chairs and ice chest and come out and spend the day at the fair.

    There is no cost. You will receive your ticket the day of the event.  There is also great trailer parking if wish to trailer.  

    Eric and Debbie Olson are hosting this even an they need to know as soon as possible if you plan to participating.  Please email enogto@yahoo.com ASAP.  Eric had to turn in a headcount by 20 September. Eric will send you more details, maps etc. via email.

    Her are a few details about the event:

    Instructions for 2021 Classic Corral

    All cars must use Gate 8 located on Fitzhugh Avenue

    See attached map for gate location


    ü Enter Gate 8 and line up along curb on First Ave. (Dos Equis Pavilion side)

    ü All vehicles need to be staged by 8:30AM at Pennsylvania and First Ave

    ü A police motorcycle or golf cart will escort you to the Corral

    ü NO vehicles outside the split rail perimeter during the show

    ü Tow Vehicles will be led out to the Dos Equis parking lot

    ü Absolutely NO political signs or flags.

    If a vehicle is late (after 9AM) it will not be allowed into the Corral. Ice chests will be allowed but no glass and no alcohol shall be brought in.


    ü Vehicles shall be ready to go at 5:30 PM

    ü A police motorcycle will escort all the vehicles out at 5:45 PM

    ü All vehicles must be gone from the Corral by 6PM. The parade stages at about 6:15 on First Avenue, if you are late you won’t be able to exit

    Each vehicle must have a Schedule "B" form signed and dated by its owner. (This will be handed out when you arrive) A staff member will collect them on the day of your display.

    Only show vehicles will be allowed in the corral. Any vehicle not in the display group will not be allowed in the gates without purchased parking.

  • September 04, 2021 6:26 AM | Mike Woodward (Administrator)

    Thanks as always to Greg for keeping up with the results.

  • August 21, 2021 8:57 AM | Scott Hardy (Administrator)

    Last week, many of our members chose to experience a special event for admirers of the MG marque with the showing of the first film of the two-part documentary “Inside the Octagon” at the Alamo Drafthouse cinema. The Houston MG Car Club was heavily, if peripherally, involved in the production. As those who attended are already aware, the films were produced by Gary Watson, a past president of the HMGCC, and the interviewer was Dave Renner, another past president. We contacted them to get some insights into the production and thought many of you would enjoy their memories of these unique films.

    …from Dave Renner, Interviewer:

    Now, about Inside the Octagon: the main thing that stuck in my mind about my involvement in making this documentary was how prepared and carefully researched Gary Watson was. Remember, this was in the 1990s before the internet was the source of so much information (and misinformation) as it is today. He told me that he spent months writing letters and making overseas calls, which of course were very early in the morning or late at night for him to accommodate the people he was interviewing. And almost all of them were extremely gracious to spend time with someone who was clearly genuinely interested in the MG story, but unknown to them at the time.

    As for my impressions when we got to England, I was excited to be part of something that interested me so much. I had been a journalist in the Coast Guard, so I had some training to do interviews and research stories. Meeting such significant MG people as John Thornley, Don Hayter, Wilkie Wilkinson (my personal favorite character), Jean Kimber Cook, Sid Beer, Jim Simpson, David Bishop and others was a thrill for me. All of them were gracious and seemed genuinely pleased that we cared enough to come to England to make a movie about what had been their lives. And seeing Oxford and Abingdon-On-Thames where MGs originated really impressed a history buff like me.

    What a wonderful time it was. Gary did almost all the driving, wrestling a van loaded with three Americans – Gary Watson, Tim Himes and myself. It was crammed full of camera gear and lighting and sound equipment. And driving on the wrong side of the street to boot. Gary did ask me to give it a go once, whereupon I promptly nearly ran up on the sidewalk and terrified a lady pushing a pram. I can assure you I was easily as frightened as she was. He never suggested I take the wheel again.

    Later in Oxford, Gary showed his great skill as he drove the van through an increasingly narrowing series of lanes until we finally came to a dead stop at an ancient stone wall. Our map indicated that our destination was just over the wall, but Gary had to reverse that cumbersome van back through the maze of lanes to go around to our destination. All the time he was sitting on the wrong side of the beast. Well done, Gary!

    Not much more to add. It was a wonderful time and made me feel just a tiny part of keeping the MG legacy alive.

    … from Gary Watson, Producer:

    The first bit of trivia is that I was inspired to do the films after producing a special edition of the ROARS in 1990 that commemorated the 10th anniversary of the closing of the MG factory. I read all the MG history books that I could put my hands on and put together a 36-page history for the club.

    I was working as a cinematographer for other producers at the time. I was looking for a project to produce on my own and the MG story resonated with me. I knew making a film about the MG story would be expensive and complicated, so I spent a great deal of time thinking about it. Finally I wrote letters to John Thornley and Jean Kimber Cook in care of the MG Car Club in England to see if they would participate in such a production. If either of them said no, I would drop the idea. If they both said yes, it would be a go. In very short order I received letters in the affirmative from both of them.

    Using personal seed money, I booked flights for Dave Renner, sound man Tim Himes, and myself to England in January 1992. I was able to get the flights cheap because 1.) it was January, and 2.) it was just after the first Gulf War and overseas flights were in low demand. I don’t think Dave and I slept at all on the trip over and we talked MGs and MG people for the whole flight.

    Everyone we met in England was delightful and hospitable. While we were filming John Thornley’s interview (which took all day) his wife was preparing a delicious rack of lamb which we all shared that evening. Mr. Thornley read a short story to us after dinner. I have forgotten the title, but it was a humorous story about (as I remember it) an English film crew trying to film an African scene in the English countryside. Of course everything went wrong during the filming.

    Wilkie Wilkinson was the first person we interviewed. He lived in a small village in Lincolnshire and after filming his part we walked in the freezing cold to the nearby pub where we dined and drank in front of a roaring fire. At that moment I thought that this is what a retirement life should be like.

    Jean Cook prepared dinner for us and when we sat at the table there was a plate of cheese. We all three began snacking on the cheese thinking it was hors d’oeuvres. When Jean came back with the main course she was distressed. “Oh, boys, the cheese was for afters!” Ugly Americans one and all.

    Throughout the trip I had fed Dave and Tim with pub food to save money. On the last night before we flew back to Houston, we took the Gatwick express from our B&B near the airport to London for a quick tour and dinner. I couldn’t find the restaurant I was looking for, but Tim and Dave found a Mexican restaurant. After a week of pub food the guys were dying for Tex-Mex. But I was skeptical. Mexican food in London? Sounds dangerous. But the boys insisted and we went in. Turns out the place was owned by a guy from Bellaire, Texas and the food was a pretty good version of Tex-Mex.

    My original intent was to make just one film. As I began editing the interview footage it became clear that I either was going to make a three-hour movie or I was going to have to split the story into two films. I chose to do the latter with the split at WWII.

    Tim Himes was so taken by his visit to England that, when he married shortly thereafter, he took his new wife there on their honeymoon.

    I just want to say that making In The Octagon was the experience of a lifetime. I was so glad to have Dave Renner along with me to share the experience. The Houston MG Car Club was always supportive and helpful throughout the process, and I am so grateful to all who helped make these films become reality.

Contact Us:  HoustonMGCarClub@gmail.com

Houston MG Car Club

PO Box 40711

Houston, TX   77240. 

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