Import Carlisle: Soggy, but Fun

By Kathleen M. Mangan

Thanks to this year’s British Invasion theme, the Carlisle Import/Kit-Replicar Nationals—held May 16-18 in Carlisle, Penn.—had a great turnout among all of the British marques. The sun’s rays on Saturday added sparkle to the chrome trim and smiles on the faces of foreign car enthusiasts. The cheerful, topdown day was unfortunately sandwiched between opening and closing days of storm-roiled skies, soaked fields and puddles of mud.

On the rainy Friday, attendees flocked to the technical seminars taught by the likes of John Twist of University Motors and Carl Heideman of Eclectic Motorworks. People also stood in line to get an autograph from Bruce Meyers, creator of the original dune buggy, the Meyers Manx.

Attendees were happy to spend time looking at the 1500 cars on the show field on sunny Saturday. Standard of Excellence top winners were John Rogowski of West Seneca, New York, for his 1980 MGB in the Original/Unrestored category and Steven Paules of Manheim, Pennsylvania, for his 1973 DeTomaso Pantera in the Restored category. People also enjoyed the new race car paddock with imported racers from various series, including a Toyota Supra drift car, an Audi-Escort endurance road racer and Porsche hillclimb car.

The Sprite Jubilee event offered Austin-Healey Sprite owners a long list of activities to celebrate the marque’s 50th anniversary, including a Sprite maze, rally, funkhana, English-style autotest and English High Tea.

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Dyno testing during the weekend was booked solid. Rand Torman of Dartmouth, Mass., realized immediate value in the testing when he saw gray smoke blowing out of the tailpipes of his 1980 Triumph TR8. The engine was running rich and losing horsepower—down to 230 horsepower at the rear wheels from a previous 255 horsepower dyno reading. Now his mechanic will do further testing to re-jet the carburetors, he says.

The Appalachian Sports Car Club and the Susquehanna Region of the SCCA organized the autocross on the fairground’s quarter-mile, six-turn mini road course. The top-finishing British car was Steve Brown’s Lotus Elise in ninth place. Joe Macinnes and his 1966 Austin-Healey Sprite made up the top-finishing classic British entry, as the duo came home in 23rd overall out of 35 starters.

The swap meet featured plenty of people walking around with chunks of metal under their arms. A movie at the Cumberland Drive-In movie theater, a scenic cruise through the countryside and marque dinners rounded out the event offerings.

Most famously known as a swap meet, Import Carlisle has become as much a true automotive event as a place to buy and sell old parts. Car shows, tech talks and drive-in movies all augment the pre-owned bargains.

Most famously known as a swap meet, Import Carlisle has become as much a true automotive event as a place to buy and sell old parts. Car shows, tech talks and drive-in movies all augment the pre-owned bargains.

Sunday brought a drenching downpour. The few cars scattered here and there on the field seemed to be sad and longing for the companionship of like models after the previous chummy day at the packed fairgrounds.

The sun came out at the end of the event in time for the drawing for the red 1992 Mazda Miata. Paul Tegler of Severn, Maryland, held the winning ticket. He’s been attending the Carlisle Import event for a decade with his tricked-out blue 1975 Triumph Spitfire with a custom fuel-injected mid-engine Split Six. He was delighted with this addition to his garage.



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