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Events 2003
Events 2003

There were quite a few activities reported by MOT members for the year 2003.

The year started off with several Houston area MINIacs getting together for an evening at a local pub on January 11th.  Here's Mike Morgan's account:  "Thanks to some enthusiasm generated from the DFW group, we were able to get a group together today in Houston for an afternoon at the Black Lab, a British Pub near downtown Houston. The attendees were Henry Haynes and his son Justin, Craig Burchsted, Derek Salvage, Arturo Lee and friend Luis from Mexico and Cindy and Mike Morgan.  50 degrees and light rain - perfect British Car weather."  Here are a few pictures.


From Houston, it was off to Dallas and a gathering at the British Emporium on January 19th.  John Wright was among those attending:  "Thanks everyone for the GREAT Sunday afternoon in Grapevine. My count of cars is 20 total - 6 Classics, 1 Riley Elf, 1 Clubman Estate, 1 Woody and 11 Binis."

MOT members took a couple of months off before their next major gathering.  In the meantime, John Wright and Angel Ruiz took some time to do a little bit of off-roading on February 2nd.  John described it this way: 
"Angel and I decided to do a little scouting this fine Sunday to check out possible drives around Grapevine Lake for our next get together. Well things didn't get started too well because neither Angel nor I have been around the lake for a long time and things sure do not look the same. However, we finally made our way across the dam and found some great spots for a picnic and even ventured to places Urban SUV's were afraid to tread. The mighty Mini's were well adapted to this cross country off shoot which lead to a great Kodak picture spot and some curious stares from some 4X4 drivers, fishermen and hikers just wondering how these little cars (?) made it this far. Heck, every place we went, people stopped, pointed, laughed and even gave us the thumb's-up ... it was a great day. We also need to find some good routes around the back end of the lake.  Maybe we'll get together for another impromptu and go investigating.  Angel recorded our off road adventure ... did I hear banjos playing in the back ground ... must have been my imagination."


Several MOT members gathered at Texas World Speedway in College Station on February 22nd for the CVAR races.  Pictured here with Andrew Fawcett's Lotus 7 are:  Andrew, Peter Fawcett, Arturo Lee, Cindy Morgan, John Lee, and Grover Maurer.  Henry and Charlise Haynes were there, too, but didn't make the picture - as was Cindy's husband, Mike.  He took the picture.

When April rolled around, so did a string of Mini-related events.  John Lieberman went to Lake Athens on April 19th to meet up with members of the newly-formed Metroplex MINIs group for their first-ever MINI Cooper Family Rally.  By his count, there were 21 New MINIs and his one Classic.

April 27th was the All British Car Day at White Rock Lake Park in Dallas.  Angel Ruiz, Tom Davies, Grover Maurer, Tom Kiker, Glen Harrod, and Arturo Lee were among those attending.  Arturo gave this account:  " I am glad we made it...lots of nice Minis and other cars like the 1934 MGPA.  We got the first place of the Mini category :-)"

Skip and Elaine Laughlin joined forces with Wes and Starla Stewart on May 18th and headed north to the Oklahoma All British Car Day.  They came back with First- and Second-Place hardware.

The end of May marked the premier of The Italian Job remake and found Mini Owners from throughout the Lone Star State headed for theaters.  A big gathering was held at the Alamo Lake Creek Theater in Austin.  There was another in Waxahachie.  Still others gathered in Fort Worth.

John & Maureen Wright and Angel & Maddie Ruiz headed for the British Attic in the Fort Worth Rail Market on Sunday, August 31st.  Here is a shot of their Minis lined up out front.

That same weekend, August 30/31, Mot member Al Baethge put together the first annual "Hill Country Rendezvous."  John and Charlene Lee drove up from Comfort to see the goings on.  Here's his account:  "Al had a good turnout. By about 12:30 it looked like he had in neighborhood of 60 cars or so. But not one Classic. I asked if anyone was bringing one (that's why we went up) but he said no one had contacted him or returned emails. Too bad. It would have attracted a lot of attention I believe.  Al thought he was going to have quite a few more cars tomorrow from what he gathered talking to people who said they'd come up for one day...Sunday."

Texas All British Car Day returned to Round Rock on Sunday, September 28th and so did a huge contingent of MOT members.  Several of the group also headed for Baby Acapulco's in Austin Saturday afternoon before the Sunday car show to chow down on shrimp nachos and tortilla soup -- as well as downing a few purple margaritas.  Among those making the trek were Mike & Cindy Morgan, Arturo Lee & his son, Arturo,  John & Maureen Wright, Angel & Maddie Ruiz, Wes & Starla Stewart, Henry Haynes, Craig & Thomas Burchsted, Jason Angros, Andrew Fawcett, Grover Maurer, John Benoist, Skip & Elaine Laughlin, and Tom Kiker.  (Did I leave anybody out?)  Oh, and I mustn't forget Bob Skewis who's one of the primary organizers of the event.  Tom provided this little tidbit:  " Also, for those of you who missed the show, the display card giving your car's marque, model, name, number, etc. listed a line for "special features".  Angel's read, "Original Rust".  At the end of the show on Sunday, the MOT members all got together and pooled their resources to out-bid the host Triumph Club in an auction for the framed original artwork of the logo for an event that the Triumph Club held in Fredericksburg back in April.  They bought it as a gift for your friendly neighborhood John Lieberman, who was unable to attend the event because of a scheduling conflict.


A handful of MOT members headed for Hallett Raceway just outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma, for a vintage race weekend October 3-5.  Several Minis were competing.

Skip and Elaine Laughlin took a week long camping trip in mid-October and trailered the Woody for transportation.  Here's his account: 
"At the first park, Seminole Canyon on the Rio Grande, we talked to 3 of the 4 other campers who were there at the time.  1 was from Ireland (her 1st car was a Mini) and the other two were Brits, who of course knew what the car was.  At the last park, Palmetto, near Gonazles (close to San Antonio), a fellow came striding over after we got setup and said "Is it a 1971?"  I couldn't believe he could come that close.  (The Woody is a 1970.)   He went on to tell us that he is a US Citizen, but has practiced as a veterinarian in London since 1970.  He said that of course he knew what the car was, because the Countryman was the vehicle of choice in that era for most vets to use.  For Tuesday and Wednesday nights, we were at Lost Maples, which is 17 miles east of Leakey (never heard of it, eh?) and maybe 40 miles west of Comfort.  FM 337 runs east from Leaky over towards the park.  This sign below is at the beginning of the road.  We went over it both ways.  (!)  Found some other Mini roads, as well.  Elaine said at one point "This is scary."  She couldn't hold on to steady herself, as she was holding the camera.  The road is scary for a passenger who is able to hold on!  They could charge a toll for Mini's and you would gladly pay it."

MOT's Tom Davies and his crew once again loaded up the Carrera Mini and headed south to Mexico in October (24-30) for the annual La Carrera Panamericana rally.  Here's Tom's account:  "The Mini did great.  We had the perennial winner of the Historic A class (a $100k Volvo P1800 with 165 BHP) worried and for good reason.  We took a first at the famous stages at La Bufa.  We also got a second on Mil Cumbres (330 turns in 35 kilometers) in the rain and thick fog and backed it all up with two third place finishes behind the super Volvo and a friend from the UK in his Ginetta G4 with a Formula Ford engine.  We should have been on the podium every day but our alternator, an expensive racing one, died and our racing drive shafts broke again.  I am getting some made by a fellow Carrera driver (Currie Ent.).  The win on La Bufa was a real surprise as this is a very fast high speed stage with several long flat out straights up to 1.5 km long.  Video from some fans on the stage showed us carrying a lot more speed into the turns, especially the ones with sheer cliffs next to them!  Our Yoko A032R tires were great and the post race tear down showed the Redline Oil is the best we have ever seen with no wear on the bearings after 2000 flat miles in an A-series."

A number of Miniacs gathered at Texas World Speedway the weekend of November 1,2 for the CVAR vintage races.  Here's Skip Laughlin's account:
"Elaine and I took the MH and camped out at the track.  Weather was gorgeous, although they had some rain Friday afternoon, which made the track slick for the first few sessions Saturday.  There were 18 Allards present.  I believe only 3 of them competed in the historic group, while all of them were on the track a couple of times for a fast parade exhibition.  They also used a different Allard for the pace car for each group racing session.  They are really awesome cars.  The body styles were mostly roadster, although there was one red coupe that was very fast.  He was running 3rd behind a Porsche and a Corvette (I think they were the leaders).  Anyway, he was very fast and it was hard to believe the car was 50 years old.  That awesome V8 sound coming from a car with that appearance is startling.  The restored "Purple People Eater" was the only Mini present. Tom Kiker and I were wearing our MOT t-shirts and went over to look at it.  The driver/owner totally ignored us, so we didn't push a conversation.  I understand this fellow bought the Mini after it was restored (by someone else).  Our own Grover Maurer won 3rd place in F Production in the CVAR awards for 2003 performance.  This is a tribute to Grover's skill as a mechanic and attention to detail, as he runs as a Spec Sprite and gives away 20 HP to the others in his class. But he ALWAYS finishes and accumulates points accordingly.  Congratulations Grover!  Andrew Fawcett, his wife, and his Dad Peter were in attendance Sunday, as was Mike Morgan.  I didn't see Tom again after Saturday, so I don't know about him.  I heard that John Lee was there Sunday, but I never saw him."

As he mentioned, John Lee was there, too.  Here's his account of the weekend:
"Well, I went to races on Sunday, arriving in plenty of time to see the Group two race with the Minis in it. I was very surprised and happy to see a "new" Mini on the grid.
Yes, indeed, the original "Purple People Eater" was there, fresh from the east coast. I had heard it was coming back here but was holding my breath as to whether or not it would race again.  I introduced myself to the driver/owner, Robert Hoemke of Abeline. He's a "former" open wheel car driver.  In fact, maybe he still has one (I am not clear on that).  He was parked between a couple of formula cars in the garage.  Car looks really good. I didn't realize the color it was. I am not sure I even ever saw it run but would have thought I had, having been racing in the years it was big. Anyways, I wouldn't call it purple but rather "Dusty Rose". I guess for the time period it was "wild" for some people.  I have seen Innocenti's from the 70s a color very similar to this.  I mentioned the car was there at track and someone said he'd seen the Mini but didn't realize it was the Purple People Eater because, like me, he didn't think that the color was really purple.  Hoemke was talking to me and mentioned that the car was pulling 9,500 rpm at the end of the front straight. I made a comment that this was an awful lot of rpm and what final drive was he running. He didn't know. But he said he was used to his formula car running 10,000.   I wanted to ask if he noticed there were fenders on the new car he was driving...but didn't.  However, his mechanic (did not catch his name) the guy who apparently figured in getting the car back here in Texas, said he thought it might be a 3.9 or even a 4.11. Don't think he was happy the driver was pulling that many revs and he said that they defin1tely needed to put a different final drive in but I don't really know.  Sometimes these guys fib about what rpms they run. I can't believe some of the figures that I keep hearing from the Mini guys. They sound way to low for as fast as they are running. If this car is to keep running that fast, he's going to have to run pretty high rpm.  He was exceedingly fast in the short morning race, staying up with the fast Bs. Not sure but believe he finished in top 3-5.  There was also an extremely fast MG Midget that was right up there too. He must have been pulling some really high rpms, also. The rest of the Midgets were way behind him.  In the afternoon enduro, Hoemke came in on the first lap with something wrong. At first I thought the engine had something gone wrong but it turned out to be a flat right rear tire. Guess the engine is just a rough idling one.  Anyway, he went to garage and put on new tire and got out and within one lap was undoing a lap he'd lost on a back marker Fiat and proceeded to unlap himself from many cars.  The enduro had everything from Mustangs and Panteras to Fiat 850s and Spec Sprites. The Mini was pulling some darn impressive cars down the straight, including a 912 Porsche.  There was an incident towards the end of the hour with the only Alard running. Apparently lost a wheel in the first turn. They had problems moving it so they red flagged the race and took 20 minutes to get it in.  Then they restarted the enduro...from the pit lane!  The Alard was not hurt too badly from what I could see.  The Mini went out, I believe, and did one or two laps and then I never saw it again. I went to the garage and it wasn't there. So, I'm guessing it was out on the track somewhere, although I can't swear to that. I do think it was on pit lane and restarted. I don't believe they could have loaded up and left in the 20 minutes the cars were on the grid.  The enduro was great to watch.  Boy, are some of those Mustangs fast and they sound terrific. Really awesome.  And there are now a couple of Camaros out there to make it a bit more interesting.  I saw several of the MOT fellows and had a great visit with Andrew Fawcett's father."

But it wasn't just road racing in November.  A number of MOT members gathered in Grapevine, TX, on November 9th for the annual British Car Show at the British Emporium.

December brought the holidays and more MOT gatherings.  On the 6th, a number of DFW area Miniacs got together at Lefty's Lobster and Chowder House.  Among those on hand were Jake & Dana, Wes & Star, John & Maureen, and Angel and Maddie.

And, to round out the month, Craig Burchsted and some of the other Houston area Miniacs got together for the annual Friendswood Christmas Parade on the 13th.

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