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SPECIAL REPORT BY: Frilford Heath
It was billed as a 'Drive through History', but history was actually made at the Venice Inn in Hagerstown, Maryland as over 300 of North America's finest MGs gathered for the premier event of the North American MGB Register's Convention MG '98!
From early the week before the attendees began arriving to partake of a full program of events. Most participants gathered in the main poolside car park by Wednesday, where an informal evening of socializing and chat took place. Many acquaintances were renewed and new friends and members greeted by the regulars!
The convention week was recognized by a proclamation by Maryland Governor Parris Glendening which declared the week of July 5 through 12 to be 'MG Motor Car Week' in recognition of the efforts of MGs of Baltimore. A copy of the proclamation was included in each participants program booklet.
Thursday saw the convention begin in earnest! The host club, MGs of Baltimore, certainly ensured that there was something for everyone after registration was completed. Many drivers took part in the Ralli Cymru while the MG Navigators went on an Antique Shopping Tour. Others took one of the self-guided historic road tours. The tours and directions to events throughout the convention were all bound together in a nicely assembled book of very thorough 'Tulip Rally' style directions. The detailed directions facilitated using great driving roads rather than the most easily described route. For example, the route to Harpers Ferry was a great twisty, roller coaster drive that was as exhilarating as enjoying the beautiful farmlands with barns and houses that are centuries old. The day culminated in many members attending a baseball game, where the Hagerstown Suns were playing just down the road from the main hotel.
Our guest of honor, Mr. Brian Moylan, who had flown in from Abingdon, England, was requested to throw out the first pitch and did so English-style with a cricket type delivery! Earlier Mr. Moylan had given a most interesting talk illustrated by slides of his days spent while working at the MG Factory for nearly 30 years, which encapsulated some of the history of the MG Marque.
Returning from the ballpark more socializing took place in the car park as some attendees prepared their cars for the exciting action due to take place on the following day.
Friday morning, and an early start, where a drive to Summit Point raceway, saw registrants undertake Raceway Training under the watchful eye of professional instructors on a track reserved entirely for the NAMGBR. After classroom instruction, there was time on the skidpad using Summit Points cars. Then it was off into the MGs with one group running in an auto cross in the car park and the other group taking their laps on the Jefferson Circuit Everyone agreed that this was one of the highlights of the convention. Just to let your MGB go 'all out' on the track, was a joy to be experienced! For those less energetic the Ralli Cymru continued, while a new event the John Brown's Raid Rally attracted drivers who traveled to Harpers Ferry, crossing Antietam Creek several times. Others again enjoyed the Historic Road Tours or the shopping tours to Hagerstown and the antique malls.
Throughout the day a series of Technical Session took place at the main hotel H.Q. Whether it was how to run a rally or fitting gas shocks to your MGB'this was the place to learn! Also throughout the meeting our technical coordinator, Bob Mason, was on hand to dispense advice and answer questions. However 5p.m. saw nearly everyone leave for a cookout at Greenbriar State Park located in the nearby mountains where salads, hotdogs and hamburgers filled the hungry masses who then returned to the Venice Inn for a hotel parking lot party. Music was provided by a local radio station DJ who kept the assembled throng boogying 'til late into the night!
The car show held at beautiful Fort Frederick State Park on the Saturday was something to behold! Row after row of superbly prepared MGBs and Midgets lined the rolling greensward'even the 'every day drivers' could not fail to look good in this setting. Also attracting attention were the 'other' types, including the Ts, MGAs and several other non-MG British marques. The concours line-up included some of the best MGs in the USA'if not in the world, and it seemed to this observer that the North American MGB Register's best cars, once again, would stand comparison with anything that could be offered elsewhere, in any country!
The team of concours judges under the direction of Rick Ingram stuck manfully to their task, throughout the long hot day, although the periodic discharge of a civil war cannon caused some people to wonder whether there was a disgruntled competitor trying to persuade the judges to change their minds about the placings! In the end everyone agreed that it worth the effort to 'B' at this massive gathering of the Register's finest-over three hundred cars in all!
In addition to the assembled MG owners, we also had some special guests roving the car show and indeed, at a number of the weekend's events. Dennis Gage of the television show 'My Classic Car' toured the field with his film crew and taped the event for one of his shows for the upcoming season. Also at the car show was Mark Crabtree who used his 1930's Cirkut panoramic camera to photograph the entire show field with proud owners standing beside their British mounts. The resulting 10 inch by 3 foot photograph will long be a treasured momento of MG '98.
Saturday evening saw the traditional awards presentation banquet take place during which Brian Moylan in his speech referred to the spirit of comradeship and enthusiasm prevalent during the meeting. He then presented a unique gift to NAMGBR Chairman Robin Weatherall, as a token of appreciation to mark his visit. This consisted of some of the cinders that made up the old Abingdon Factory test track which were recently excavated mounted in an acrylic block'unique indeed! The Register's John Thornley MG Spirit Award was presented to Don Bridger of Jonesboro, Arkansas for his undeniable MG enthusiasm while Mr. and Mrs. Randall Shuck received the long distance award. Twenty two states were represented at the convention with visitors from England and Germany also present. MG Car Club Overseas Coordinator, Nick Cox was present and presented the North American Nuffield Cup for this year to'MGs of Baltimore!
Following a presentation by representatives of the host club of next year's NAMGBR Convention, 'MG 1999' to be held in Vancouver, British Columbia, the evening concluded with attendees dancing the night away! The band was joined by Robin Weatherall who sat in for several numbers including, most appropriately, a nice cover of the Joe Cocker version of 'With a Little Help from My Friends'. Appropriate in view of Robin's tenure with Cockers band way back when.
Sunday morning saw farewells said with everyone
agreeing that the Seventh Annual Convention of the North American
MGB Register had been another resounding success. Finally, we
must offer a special Thank You! to our hosts, the MGs of Baltimore
and their tireless team, who worked so hard to make our stay in
Maryland unforgettable! Also mention must be made of our guest,
Brian Moylan, who dropped everything to fly over, from the UK,
and substitute for our original special guest, Mr. Syd Beer who
could not attend due to a medical condition. We send our best
wishes to Syd, and offer our grateful thanks to Brian!
Republished with permission from MGB Driver - The North American MGB Register Magazine
North American MGB Register