“Drive my car while I shoot some video.” So said my friend, Jim Pesta, at the 40th Anniversary Collier Brothers Memorial Trophy race weekend at Watkins Glen. What he had in mind was sneaking in front of the racecar caravan heading to the center of downtown Watkins Glen. Lined up behind us were all the machinery in attendance for the race weekend, downtown festival, and re-creation of the original public road based race course.
Jim’s car was a very well used MG TF, equipped with bald tires and a transmission which stayed in gear so long as one held the selector lever firmly in place. Directly behind us was the 1948 MG TC of Denver Cornett, and the man himself. He and his car were participants in the 1948 Watkins Glen Grand Prix. Ahead, with lights flashing, was a sheriff’s cruiser, all set to lead us into town.
The grand prix re-creation is a magnificent party. In those days, the Dean of American Motorsports, Chris Economaki, was the event emcee. A long time SCCA flagman came over to give me personal instruction on how he would flag off the parade drive. After all, Jim and I were first in line, so we controlled the entire line of racecars.
But before all that, upon arrival at the original start/finish line in front of the county seat, we were accosted by the media. Surely, being first in line, we must have been driving a historic car…we told some terrible lies. During the re-creation, in spite of an admonition for everyone to stay in line and not race, we, being “official videographers,” moved freely back and forth among the line of racecars. It was one of those days one can only look back on with fond memories. I hope the media types never quoted us in their coverage.
While the memories of that weekend will never fade, some of them may have dulled a little, until several months ago when an old friend called out of the blue. Yes, he remembered me sitting there in the pits consuming too much libation, and yes, I remembered helping a crew pull Bill Eberhardt’s MGB engine, using a rope and a tree limb. Don’t worry though, it was an official engine pulling tree.
The caller, Gary Harrsion, reminded me it has been twenty years since that auspicious weekend, which of course means 2014 will be the 60th Anniversary Collier Brothers Memorial Trophy all-MG race. Perhaps it is time for a reboot. As luck will have it, THE TC, Al Moss’ pride and joy, will be on the eastern seaboard this summer. Sounds as though the planets are aligned.
There are many ways to distract oneself these days, but let’s face it, telling your friends via social software that you have just exited the bathroom is only one of them. The old analog way is to actually go somewhere and do something. Speaking of doing things, we’ve had folks telling us for years we should recreate the old British Car Festival we used to hold at Monty Roberts’ Flag Is Up Farm. Well, while that venue is not available these days, another one is. You may have seen the announcement of our very first Moss Motorfest, scheduled for June 6, 2015 at Moss in Virginia.
Robert (speaking of myself in the third person) may be a little too old to run around with a lampshade over his head, but given the right opportunity, and sufficient encouragement, one never knows what could happen at Motorfest. And for the record, Jim wasn’t an official videographer, so much as a fast and convincing talker. For a little preview of what could go laughably wrong at the Motorfest, come say hi at Watkins Glen in September. Fun and British cars never go out of style.
By Robert Goldman
Eugene Myszkowski , Customer #149639 here.
I was at the 1994 40th Collier Cup Anniversary driving my 1959 Grey MGA Coupe #440. Remember well the Eberhardt engine change. Jan (my long suffering spouse) and I have many good memories of that Festival as well as the 1998 50th Anniversary of Watkins Glen and the 2004 50th Collier Cup. That 50th Collier Cup was special as well over one hundred and forty racing MGs took to the track in two separate groups. It was something to see the Collier Museum MG PA/PB Leonidis on display.
I started vintage racing in 1991 and hung up my shoes in 2011. Lime Rock Park was my home track but raced at WG, Mosport and Mt. Treblant. We moved to Palm Coast FL in 2012. I sold the grey racing MGA Coupe but still have our 1959 white MGA roadster with us here in Florida.
My best story of the Glen was at the 1998 50th Anniversary. We had completed the re-creation of the original race and were parked on the main street when I noticed that I had a flat tire. No spare or tools to change tires in the coupe but one of the stewards offered to run me back up to the track to pick what I needed. We came back and I set up up to change tires. I was racing on 72 spoke wire wheels. I heard a father behind me tell his son that this was a race car and tire changes were quick. The jack went under the car, a few pumps with one hand and it was up as my other hand swung the copper hammer on the knock off. I took the flat tire off with one hand while the other picked up the spare and slammed it on the axle. A quick spin of the knock off, several taps of the hammer and drop of the jack and I was done. NASCAR may be quicker but I did with a flair and no power tools. I also twisted my back as it was sore bouncing around in the A going back up to the track and racing the next day. But it was worth showing off.