Thursday, September 9th… 9 am… We gather at the Ripperts. Five cars heading to the Glen from the starting point. Pat Cawthorne, in his white MGA; Dick and Sandy Suffredini in their 1962 Red MGA MkII; Dave and Erin Alderfer in their 1973 MGB; Robin and Jeff Rose in their 1974 MGBGT V8; and Jaimee and Tom Rippert in their 1959 MGA.
Not too far along our way, we heard from Ben and Cyndi Nolan. They were close by, so we took a potty stop to let them catch up. A pizza shop kindly opened their doors early, and let us refresh. Into the lot zoomed Ben and Cyndi Nolan in their 1960 Pacific Blue MGA.
Off we go again, and the Ripperts lead with driving directions provided by Dickman, and reviewed with a pre-event run by the Ripperts. The weather was British… overcast, cool, with a spritz or two along the way. We drove into Dushore and stopped at an old favorite spot, The Jolly Trolley Restaurant and Gift Shop. We enjoyed a delicious lunch of great homemade food (Nolans had to share a chocolate milkshake!). Jaimee got her boys each a balsa wood airplane, Jeff got a hat commemorating an annual fall festival we can’t talk about, and most of us took pictures with the giant lifelike Grizzly Bear. The fun never ends. We gassed up and were back on the road. Only about an hour or two more until the Glen.
We drove straight thru town to the Inn. The Golden Knights Inn, with a view of Seneca Lake, swings, benches, and firepits. Our Innkeeper Carol got us all checked in. The group joined with Jim and Diane Sanders, who had driven up straightaway in their X3 BMW. They had just driven back and forth from PA to St Augustine FL and wanted a break. They welcomed us with open arms… and beer!!
Tommy’s car needed the 1st Tech Session. Diagnosis: bad generator: brushes bad. We jury-rigged it the best that we could.
Soon we were off to the Seneca Lodge to continue the happy hour and revisit old memories. Jim put our name in for dinner. We were well cared for and enjoyed the great atmosphere, food, and camaraderie. Time to go and hang together back at the GK around a fire for bedtime stories… and more beer.
Friday, we are up and out for breakfast at The Classic Chef diner. On the way back thru town, the transformation for the festival had begun. At 9 am people were already lining up their chairs, getting their best seats for the parade and festivities.
Back to the inn to regroup and we realize Tom’s “FIX” was not enough. 2nd Tech Session and the three MGA-teers (Tommy, Dick, and Pat) went off to Smalley’s garage in search of new brushes for the generator. The rest of the group were off to Bully Hill for a wine tasting. The view from Bully Hill was stunning, and we enjoyed all the beauty of the vineyard and gardens of the estate. We moved the time of the tasting return to try to give the men enough time to join us.
Smalley’s could not offer anything, other than recommendations as to where they might look for the brushes they needed. The MGA-teers found what they hoped would work after a couple of stops and a search at a hardware store. Bingo, the 3 had rebuilt the generator and had it back in the car in time to meet up with us at Bully Hill.
The tasting did not disappoint. Not only did we enjoy the great tasting of the wines, but we were also entertained, as usual, with stories of Walt, the founder of Bully Hill, and his shenanigans. Cindi of course was the delight, and the sommeliers were charmed by her famous socks. We think they might have also been a bit jealous.
After some photo ops with Cindi and Ben showing how photo ops should be staged, we were off around the lake to Hammondsport. Parked and stopped at the town square for some window shopping, antiquing, and ……ICE CREAM.
This was still Friday, and we went back to our village of Watkins Glen, to Bleachers, home of the famous wings that Jeff Rose loves. We arranged the tables to accommodate us all, and in true DVC style, had the pitchers of beer on the tables, glasses filled and all before we had a chance to look at the menus. The same plague was in the Glen, shortage of labor, so we ordered and steadied ourselves for the wait. One waitress for the place, and it was packed. Our meals came rather quickly nonetheless, and all were quiet. Except for Pat…. he had to call the waitress for some assistance. He had placed the simplest order, straight from the menu, a grilled ham and cheese. It seems to have added carbon on one side, no ham with the cheese, and the other side barely grilled. The waitress was perplexed, what – you wanted ham with your grilled ham and cheese? Ok then, I will be right back, and off she went, leaving the ham-less sandwich still with Pat. Alrighty then, here is some warmed-up ham for you, sir.
Needless to say Pat was not impressed, but being the good-natured fellow that he is, he just went along with the circus.
Draining every last ounce of beer from all those happy pitchers, we were off again in our MG’s, back to the Golden Knight for a fire, more stories, and fun.
Up Saturday morning, off to the breakfast spot, and then up to the track for the car show, and all the fun of the track. We were able to have the attendant park the club together in the show, and we hung our 50th anniversary banner above our cars. After parking the cars, the gang started to shop the vendors, get our free gifts – wow – and already it is time to return and line up for the parade laps on the track. Off we go… and around the track, it is so exciting, the infamous v-8 is sputtering, choking, stalling, and coasting. We pull off to the side and start banging on the fuel pump. Nothing. Soon a rescue truck arrives, and soon after a tow truck. Our adventure on the track is over with the towing of the V8 back to the show field. They drop us down, as close as they can get us, and we are greeted with a barrage of photographers… the DVC never lets a catastrophe go to waste.
After pushing the car to its original spot, the hats come off and Tech Session #3 begins. The men are searching for clues, the women are nowhere in sight, and soon the men are tracing the problem. It is hot and sticky, but no one stops…. the electrical diagram is out, and they attempt a solution. Hotwire the damn thing! Just like the old days. The fix held, and cold water, chips, and salsa were enjoyed. Barely. Can’t let a track day go to waste, off to watch more races, vendor stands, and excitement.
We regroup at the GK, then back to the Seneca Lodge Bar to get the 50th Anniversary badge behind the sacred bar with all other forms of famous memorabilia. It is done. We have our spot in history!
Dinner reservations call, and we clean up and descend on the town for a dinner on the lakefront at the Seneca Harbor Station. A fine dinner, plenty of conversation, and laughs. Typical MG fun times. A toast before dinner to our Founder, friend, and partner in all things MG…To Hank, we can never forget you!
After dinner, we cruise back to the GK, for more stories, more drinks, more fun, and chocolate chip cookies and brownies… homemade by Diane Sanders. Of course, we are around the fire once again.
Sunday morning we are awake and up, but not before the Nolans, who had left bright and early to return home. The Sanders have to head home today as well, as do the Alderfers and their son who came up for the weekend, (or down, as he is from Maine).
Breakfast at a new spot today, Curley’s Family Diner which turned out to be pretty good. After breakfast, we said goodbye and the remaining group went speeding back to the track. It was the Suffredinis, the Ripperts, Pat Cawthorne, and the Roses. We enjoyed a day at the track watching the Governors Cup Race. Everyone races Alfas in this event. There were 47 on the track… quite an impressive turnout. A beautiful day, great weather the entire weekend, the sound of the engines revving on the track, the smell of the high-octane fuel all coming together to make the perfect day.
After the day at the track, we head to the Grist Iron Brewing Company up high on a hill overlooking the lake for a light dinner... and Beer. We have tickets for the Festival of Lights held behind the Brewery, so we wait until dark to see this attraction. We drive up behind the brewery following the signs. Further and further into the woods, and even further still, until we finally see some lights, and are guided to a parking lot. Out of the cars and into the woods. We are surrounded by Japanese silk light sculptures, along a path in the woods, accompanied by surreal music. What a delight for the eyes and imagination. We totally enjoyed this amazing show, but it is time to return to reality. Back to the hotel. We are tired, satiated, and thinking of the drive home… early to bed. Up on Monday morning, cars are packed, and we check out. We are off, but first another new breakfast spot, Tobey’s Doughnuts. Breakfast is awesome at this tiny gem and I have to get a couple of doughnuts, freshly made, for the ride home.
Off we go, Tommy in the lead, Roses next, Pat Cawthorne, and Dick bringing up the rear. We have one stop to refresh, we attempted a second stop at Leiby’s ice cream factory, almost grateful it was closed…and the ride home is stunning. It was a really fun weekend, something for everyone. Watkins Glen, always a great time.
-- Jeff & Robin Rose