Just across the bridge from San Francisco is Tiburon, California -- the site of GT-9.
This was Steven's first GT as NAMGAR Chairman and Diane's first as Events Coordinator. Both of us were busy with our respective NAMGAR jobs during the months preceding the meet. During the GT, it turned out not to be much different.
Once again, we were forced to fly out; vacation time was still at a premium for us. So we flew the jumbo jet and drove the ole rental car across the Golden Gate to lovely Tiberon. By the condition of the roads in town (construction), Steven was glad Virgin was tucked away in that nice garage in Michigan.
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This meet was also important to us because our restoration project, PRNCZ, had just taken a bad turn. The entire right rear quarter of an almost perfect 1956, California body, had been crushed in a shop (not ours) accident. We were unable to locate a suitable replacement in the midwest. So with a frantic call to Ken Palmer in California, he was able to scare up two or three rear clips for review at the GT. Brian Beery provided the transport back to Michigan for the rear clip in a pick-up truck he fell in love with while at the meet.
It had been five years since the last west coast GT, so there was a lot of chatter in MGA! about it and the proper way to refer to the city across the bay. NAMGAR's resident expert on this area, Mike Jacobsen, finally conceded the point and had a T-shirt made up to display his displeasure with those folks east of the Rockies: "go ahead - CALL IT FRISCO!"
Mike Jacobson with Friend Lena
We arrived in Tiburon on the Thursday prior to the GT to help the California folks any way that we could. Friday morning we were encouraged to go on the winery tour and visit the Beringer Winery. Napa Valley is just one lovely grape vine after another. Unlike the midwest, most of the bottles aren't screw-tops and don't come in brown bags! We ended up in a little local watering hole with Jack & Laura Kurkowski for lunch. Laura, do you still have that crazy T-shirt? Later that day, or was it Saturday, Laura and Diane escaped the MGA madness and walked across the construction zone for a relaxing manicure at a local salon.
Steven wanted to trot over to Valhalla, the site of a turn of the century bordello, for a quickie. Unfortunately, he discovered that it had been turned into a bar and restaurant and had to settle for a beer.
It started out being another small west coast get-together. About 35 cars had pre-registered, and Steven was concerned that GT expenses weren't going to be covered. But the Californians came through, and 35 walk-in registrations were processed just before the show of cars. In typical California fashion, the day was sunny, breezy, and warm. There was a good mix of MGAs and a few that just needed to be displayed, like a Crosley.
Steven, Phil Hill & Diane
The banquet was just something that stood between everyone and the featured speaker: Phil Hill. Even worse, this was Steven's first full year as Chairman, and he was the emcee for the festivities: a speaker never wants to be between the attendees and anything important. Dinner was in the hotel restaurant, and we had dinner with Phil Hill, et al. After dinner, we all retired to a large conference room where the rest of the evening's activitiess were conducted. In typical fashion, there were awards, prizes, announcements, congratulations, etc. Diane chipped in and helped with the distribution of awards and door prizes, shaking hands with the owners of all the beautiful car winners. There were several long distance drivers from the midwest: Jack & Laura Kurkowski, and Neil & Thelma Griffin are two that we can remember. It appeared like Neil took the four years to correct that overheating problem at GT-5, but apparently he broke something else in the process, because he won the "oil consumption" award that night.
Phil Hill's talk was basically a slide show of his personal experiences during his days on the racing circuit. Although it was only to last about an hour, Steven recalls that it went on closer to two. Since this was Northern California, there was no air conditioning in the conference room, and towards the last of the talk, the heat generated from all those bodies, over 100, and the slide projector, made the room quite uncomfortable. But we do not recall anyone leaving. For most of us it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. We have a photograph of us with Phil taken by his gracious wife, who turned out to be Lithuanian like Diane. Diane doesn't remember much about the slide show (anyway, not the technical stuff). It was more the thrill of meeting Phil and having him autograph our attendance trophy which has a prominent spot on the memorabilia shelf. Near it is the MGA print individually made and numbered by RB Hart, the editor of MGA! at the time. This was also a coveted door prize. T-shirts come and go, wear out, or are outgrown, but GT-specific tchotchkes are the true collectibles for us.
Lombard Street in an A
Sunday morning's brunch on the Wharf in San Francisco was preceded by a tour through Sausalito, across the Golden Gate Bridge and down Lombard Street, the crookedest street in the world. We stood at the bottom of the hill and took pictures of all the As, maneuvering the turns through beautiful flowers and brilliant sunshine. Our rental car had no problems negotiating the turns, but - it ain't quite the same without the A.
That afternoon, we were on the plane and home before midnight.
The Southern and Northern California Chapters did a great job with the GT, and we were glad that we could be part of their success. In Steven's capacity as Chairman and Diane's as Events Coordinator, we discovered just how important it really is for the planning committee to get everyone to register early.