At the April meeting we had twenty-two members present. Mitch Byerley brought his son, Mitch Jr., but he can hardly be called a visitor.
The program was presented by Dave Valentine who showed us some interesting pictures of his safari adventures in Africa. He and Vaughn took the safari trip as part of their trip to Africa with the Rotary Club.
Al Bradley announced that he has a supply of club caps, sweaters and patches available.
The club drive to Sneedville and area was very successful with eight club cars participating. The highlight of the tour was a tour of the restored log house that was once owned by a most famous female bootlegger. They say she was so large she couldn't get out of the house. This feature made it so difficult for the local sheriff to arrest her that he gave up. When she died the end of the house had to be dismantled to remove her body. The house was originally in a remote area of the mountains but has now been moved for display near the high-way. Across the road from the house is one of the original Presbyterian churches in the area, now being transformed into a museum. Near the church is the Academy where many of the local people were educated.
(See related story below.)
April 7 Drive Herren Floyd
Dick Williams led us on our first drive of the new Spring season after an excellent breakfast at the Mountaineer restaurant on Satur-day, April 7. We had a very nice turnout. Dick led with his Jaguar XKE, Richard Williams and Gerald Mitchell drove their Jaguars, Ben Bailey, Clarence Goodson and Herren and Otti Floyd drove their MGB's, Allen and Margaret Calcote drove her Honda Prelude, and Bob Ritchie joined us with his familiar black and red Austin-Healey.
We drove through Goshen Valley and then on 347 West to our first restroom break at Hardees in Rogersville. From there we drove over Clinch Mountain and across Clinch River on 70 North and then followed 33 South into Sneedville. We stopped at the Hardees there for a last-chance restroom break.
We followed 63 that winds along creeks and between ridges heading westward along the northernmost part of Tennessee. Somewhere up there, we took a side trip down Vardy Road to visit an historic church and the relocated cabin of the late Mahala Mullins, the prosperous 500 pound Melungeon bootlegger whose absence from the courtroom was explained to the judge by a deputy's remark "She's ketchable but not fetchable". Removing her for burial required taking down part of a chimney and wall at one end of her cabin. Both structures are in the process of being restored. Members of the local historical society happened to be working there and stopped to unlock the church and give us a guided tour inside both buildings.
Route 63 finally brought us out to US 25E near Cumberland Gap where we stopped for lunch and the customary cobbler and ice cream. A reenactment of a Civil War clash between a Confeder-ate encampment and a Union calvary unit was in progress when we arrived.
Dick disbanded our group after lunch, and we departed in various directions from Cumberland Gap. Allen and Margaret and Otti and I visited the nearby state park's Visitor Center and then followed US 58 East between the Cumberland and the Powell moun-tains homeward. The weather was just about perfect for enjoying top-down driving without sunburn being a concern, and the scenery was delightful just about the entire drive.
Sebring or Bust Carl Floyd
I was thinking that this was not my ideal version of "Happy Motoring". I was tooling along in the fast lane of I-20 in a torrential downpour, periodically hydro planing across the puddles in the road. On new tires, I might add. Meanwhile, the corner of the windshield was allowing a river to run down and soak my left leg. Another leak from above was landing on the steering wheel, running across my hands and finally dripping into the seat. Yeah, my seat. The one I was sitting in. Of course, I was quite happy to be moving down the Interstate and not making roadside repairs in the rain! I was also very happy, at long last, to be driving a MG V8 to the annual MGV8 Convention after having attended the previous three events in four cylinder MGBs (the last one in Cleveland driving my Dad's '63 MGB).
I had spent the last four years researching the conversion to V8 power and actually started the process about eighteen months ago when I sold the original engine and transmission (Bud Shinall unknowingly sealed the fate when he passed around the MG Driver that contained an article about the MGB/GT V8). It naturally took longer than I had anticipated, especially with the preparation for and subsequent arrival of our daughter, Piper. I was determined to make the event this year in our MG V8. I wasn't going to go unless I had a V8 under the hood. It did not look good. Five days before I was to leave for Florida, the engine still had not been started. The engine that was rebuilt eighteen years ago and never fired! The to-do list was still quite long, plus I was getting no oil pressure using a priming tool. I sure wasn't going to attempt to start a fresh engine that couldn't build oil pressure. The next day I discovered that the oil pressure relief valve had been installed incorrectly. A spin of the priming tool with the drill and, YES, 60 PSI on the gauge. Sebring bound! I finished up the loose ends (it's amazing how many crop up) and Dad help me fire it up for the first time on Thursday. Friday was muffler shop day (Benny's). Saturday, I changed the break-in oil and tried with no luck to get the water temp. gauge to work. Forgetaboutit, the forecast was for rain and cool temperatures. Robin wanted me to tow it down to Florida, but I wasn't having any of that. I built it to drive and that was the way I planned to get it to Sebring, Florida. I finally pulled out of the driveway at 6 p.m. Saturday night with only 30 miles on this V8 conversion facing an 800-mile shakedown cruise! By Sunday morning, the rain had stopped and I had managed to meet up with three of my friends in Valdosta, Georgia. We spent the better part of the day trying to locate a '77 Honda alternator that Ted uses on his TR6/ 350 Chevy conversion. Ted finally gave up and bought a fresh battery to run with. We still a faced seven or eight hour drive to Sebring. It was top down driving the rest of the way in. On our last stop for gas, Ted punched his TR6/350 leaving the gas station. I naturally did the same, figuring I had put enough miles on the engine to have a little fun. Five grand showed up on the tachometer in a hurry. A bit later I noticed the engine was running rough and down on power. I limped on in to the Chateau Elan at Sebring and parked it.
Inside the hotel, the open lobby housed a racecar and bar. Everyone was hanging out at the bar and greeting their friends. It's a V8 fraternity and this is our annual reunion. Lots of what is called bench racing: car talk, gearheadspeake, this-is-how-I-did-it, and, naturally, a beer to keep the whistle wet. There is no better place to have car problems than in the company of car nuts.
Monday morning was quite cool and breezy for March in Florida. I quickly set about diagnosing my engine problem. I fully expected to find that the points were burnt or had moved. Before I had finished confirming that it wasn't a timing problem, a small crowd of volunteers had gathered to offer suggestions. I started pulling plug wires to find the bad cylinder. Once found, the plug was pulled. It looked fouled. The compression was checked on that cylinder and found to be low. Off with the valve cover. Ouch! Broken exhaust valve spring. It could have been worse; the valve did not appear to be bent. The remainder of the day was spent tracking down a small block Chevy valve spring (our Buick 215 guru said it was interchangeable) and doing the parking lot repair. Tuesday was still cool and breezy. No one cared, today was Track Day! I was glad to be firing on eight, once again. We were allowed four fast laps around the famous Sebring track as a group. We were given two rules. No passing the pace car and no passing in the turns. We had a blast to say the least. There were twenty cars ahead of me, but I found myself three cars behind the pace car by the end of the first lap. I hit over 100 MPH down the back straightaway. Are we having fun, yet? You betcha! Half way through the second lap I decided that being right behind the pace car was not the place to be. No fun just following the pace car. I started going backwards, as they say in racing. I slowed down and let everyone go by me. Finally on the last lap I had empty track ahead. I was able to attack the corners without breaking rule number two. The highlight was going around the hairpin curve sideways with the tires squealing. Later, I was told that the officials thought that someone had spun out.
That afternoon we cruised over to the Group 44 shop back behind the track. It serves as a museum and maintenance shop housing a number of vintage airplanes and Group 44 racecars. Group 44 was a well-known and highly successful racing team that was founded in 1965 by racing driver Bob Tullius and Brian Fuerstenau. They won an incredible number of races and many championships with MGs, Triumphs, and Jaguars. I wish I had the numbers because they were highly successful.
Wednesday we were honored with a parade. We had a police escort into the Historic Town of Sebring. One of the streets feeding into the downtown circle was blocked off and we were parked four wide in the street for a two-hour car show. It was very interesting and amusing to walk around and listen to the comments being made about our cars. Later that night at the farewell dinner, Bob Tullius was our guest of honor. He no longer follows racing, but keeps busy flying and maintaining his ten airplanes, including a P51 Mustang. Although everyone else was leaving Thursday morning, I said my good-byes and pointed the V8 northbound around 10 p.m. Wednesday night. I planned to help celebrate my Grandmother's 86th Birthday in Atlanta the next day. I made it without incident. In fact, the entire return driving trip was uneventful. Okay, except for the race up to Sam's gap. I have this thing about not letting another car (or truck, or anything) beat me up the hill to Sam's Gap. What can I say? I just can't help it.
Although this year's event was more loosely structured than previous events (more free time and less tech. sessions), once again the camaraderie made it worth the trip. Participation was the highest, yet. I counted 39 cars, including three TR8s, two TR6/V8s (one Chevy 350, one Ford 351W) and one each stock TR6 and MGB/GT. Once again, it was great fun hanging with the MGV8 Fraternity Brothers.
(Carl and his car will be featured pictorially in the next issue)
ABCS Officers & Committee Chairs
President: Carl Floyd, 423-477-7757, firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice-President: Mitchell Byerley, 423-247-4730
Secretary: Margaret Calcote, 423-288-2297, email@example.com
Treasurer: Al Bradley, 540-628-4763, firstname.lastname@example.org
Newsletter: Jane Ogle, 423-282-5687, email@example.com
Driving Events: Dick Williams, 865-993-2710
Programs: Richard Williams, 423-990-6994, firstname.lastname@example.org
Webpage: Herren Floyd, 423-239-5455, email@example.com