MG2011 and Rallye to Reno – Sunburned Arms, Camaraderie and Adventure

The plan: Frame the rallye plate and hang it on the wall, splattered bugs and all.

An advantage of driving clear across the country in June with the top down—assuming you’ve managed to avoid debilitating heat exhaustion from humid, 95-plus degree afternoons—is the symmetry you get with having not one but two dry, cracked, sun-fried arms. For my comparatively brief, 11-hour ride from Moss headquarters to Reno, Nevada, in a 1958 MG Magnette, I was awarded one bright red right arm. And I wore it with pride in a city bubbling over with MGs.

The MG faithful had waited five long years since the previous national meet in Gatlinburg, Tenn. For some, that time may have been spent recovering. You see, depending on the location from your home, a national event can be well over 2,000 miles away. And that’s not counting the return trip.

Instead of making excuses for the distance involved for the east-coasters, a “Rallye to Reno” was proposed and quickly organized. Now, before visions of smoky roadside meltdowns enter your mind, talk with the women and men who made the entire trek across Route 50 from Atlantic to Pacific and back again. Their road trip stories are worthy of envy.

Prior to MG2011, members from MG Registers gathered in towns along Route 50 to travel together, joining the group en route. By Nevada, 150 caravanning MGs snaked through the hills. They joined another 450 classic cars in Reno, transforming the city streets.

There’s a moral, too: While it’s true that most classic British sports cars don’t do much more than local and weekend trips, do not dismiss them from your epic adventures. Motoring mishaps were very few and most were quickly remedied en route thanks to a support truck from Moss Motors carrying basic parts.

Arriving to An Epic Scene
With a bug-splattered windshield and exhaustion tempered by the sight of row after row of every MG imaginable, my co-worker, Kelvin Dodd, and I circled the parking garage of the casino complex on our arrival into town. Without exception, the folks we passed waved to us and grinned. We were about to share something wonderful.

John Twist makes it look so easy and enjoyable.

To say the assembly of MGs was outstanding is to speak a basic fact. But the experience of an event like this goes so much deeper, and that has everything to do with the people you meet. The cars simply provide the catalyst for making a connection.

On the first day during registration, my eyes wandered the crowded vendor room from the Moss table. As eyes are prone to seek out oddities, I spotted a middle-aged father and his adolescent daughter, the youngest person in the room. I assumed she had to be bored, so when she made eye contact I asked, “Hey, what did you guys drive up in?” That was all it took. Her eyes brightened as she described in surprising detail her dad’s pale yellow MGA, clearly her pride and joy too.

Why stop at one wrong assumption? I then asked, “So, do you think your dad will let you drive it when you’re older?” Her expression changed ever so slightly. “What I really hope is that he’ll let me work on it more with him,” she said in earnest. My mind freshly humbled, I thought, how cool.

Kathryn Hansen powers through the corner with her mom.

At Fernley Raceway the next day I wished that young girl could have watched Kathryn Hansen pilot her MGB GT through the coned course. Kathryn’s gentle appearance out of the driver’s seat was misleading—she had her eyes focused on the stopwatch and her position in the rankings. Not everyone took the course rules as seriously as she did. One hopelessly happy driver, knowing full well that going outside the outlined course meant disqualification of that lap time, blatantly ignored the cones and pointed his car to exit the corners at maximum speed. Let it be on the record that I fully condone such behavior.

Thanks for the Lift
Attending MG2011 wearing a shirt with a Moss logo raises a lot of eyebrows and, thankfully—since I didn’t have my own vehicle—opens doors. Cameraman, Ky Schultz, and I hitched rides whenever we could to experience as much of the event as possible. I’m certain we hindered the lap times of several MGT Funkhana competitors, but we got laughter and stories in repayment for our bungling.

We were graciously invited for an MGA group drive up to Lake Tahoe, but had to decline last minute. Within days strangers were calling us by name, not always the right name, but always with a friendly smile. It helped that we knew where to find Kelvin, a Moss technical guru. Wearing a Moss shirt doesn’t require that you can answer every car question, but you better know someone who does.

The amount of information available at an event of this magnitude is outstanding. I’m not only talking about the fine educational lectures, or the unique experience of watching car after car get sorted by John Twist’s MG-tattooed hands and encyclopedic mind. I’m talking about a beautiful day at the car show where people from all over the country had experiences with every type of MG, and enjoyed nothing more than to shake your hand and chat about it for a while.

The author (right of the tiger) was no Funkhana prodigy.

After checking and topping off the oil in Kelvin’s supercharged Magnette, we sped west toward home after the event ended, passing a handful of diehards. Our trip was nearing its conclusion. This was not the case for an adventurous few determined to see both coasts. Some planned to be on the road for two more magnificent weeks. I wished them well with a thumbs-up and one sunburned arm hanging out the window.

By David Stuursma

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