By John F. Gallien
The roadster owners who flocked to the French Lick Springs Resort this past July shared a common thread with the drivers of Duesenbergs, Stutzes, and Auburns that rolled up to the hotel’s grand entrance during its heyday in the early 20th century—the owners of the MG series of autos who came to the Gathering of the Faithful (GOF) at this historic hotel were every bit as proud of their classics.
Nearly 100 MGs showed up at the 23rd Annual GOF Central meet sponsored by the Olde Octagons of Indiana, in the Hoosier township of French Lick, Indiana, better known of late as the hometown of former basketball star Larry Bird.
The meet was dedicated to Charles Joseph (Joe) Collins, who passed away in the fall of 2000. Collins enjoyed a 50-year love affair with a 1950 MG-TD. He and his wife Marilyn were active in MG clubs and events throughout the Midwest for many years.
If there had been a secondary theme to the meet, it would likely have been water. Thunderstorms boomed through the area Saturday, giving the cars, as well as some of the owners, an unexpected bath. The participants in the funkhana and other activities also got a bit damp, but not enough to wet their enthusiasm.
Historically, water played a major role in the development of the valley. The mineral springs and salt licks in the area attracted migrating buffalo and other animals to the area. The early trappers and traders who settled there were French, thus the village soon was tagged French Lick.
The colorful history and tradition of the hotel was burnished a bit by the Gathering of The Faithful. On Friday, many of the MG owners participated in the rally that wound about the surrounding hills, running along the Lost River, through Pumpkin Center, and the Hoosier National Forest before returning to French Lick 86 miles later. The rally traveled through Mitchell, the hometown of astronaut Virgil “Gus” Grissom, where many stopped for lunch and a cruise through the local antique shops. Lew and Darlene Palmer of St. Mary’s Point, Minnesota, won the Rainbow Rally in their TD, taking home the pot of gold at the end in the amount of $460.
The participants in Saturday’s car show received plenty of rain, but no rainbows. TCs and TFs lined the circular drive in front of the hotel while TDs and special cars flanked the hotel on the grass beneath the trees north and south of the entrance.