Kelly Stevenson Carves Up "The Tail of the Dragon" (Deal's Gap, Tennessee)
British V8 Meet 2006 - Overviewas published in British V8 Newsletter, Volume XIV Issue 2, August 2006
by: Greg Myer
The British V8 Meet in Townsend TN was held June 18-21 2006. It was my first experience
with this kind of fun. I learned a lot about these cars, engines, and combinations. I learned
even more about the people. The Meet is about the cars, but the people give it life. And boy,
was it lively!
To review everything would be difficult. Dan Masters planned more than enough activity for everyone: from scenic drives through the countryside to majestic mountain tops, down winding byways beside bubbling brooks. We enjoyed exploring caverns, and surveying vast valleys. And of course there was the coordinated attack on the 'Dragon'. It was quite a battle, and left a few among the walking wounded; slipping clutch etc. In the end the 'Dragon' returned to it's lair and munched happily on a couple of unfortunate bikers. Tech sessions were informative and well attended, with open discussions on a wide variety of automotive topics. Each day's activities ended with plenty of great food: a cook-out, BBQ, or a riverboat cruise.
Speaking of the walking wounded, these cars are not "trailer queens". Only two cars were trailered to the meet. I know one was due to fuel mileage and lack of space, rather than concern for stone chips in the clear coat. Les Shockeys' outrageous Ford powered TR6 gets about 8 or 9 MPG whereas his truck towing the TR6 gets double that. Makes sense to me. Besides, he drove it everywhere...sometimes sideways. (There's no such crime as too much horsepower - but if there were Les would be the first suspect.) (Editor's note: Steve DeGroat's V6-powered MGB-GT actually pulled a trailer of its own to the meet!) Anyhow, some of the cars came limping in. Robert and Susan Milner drove their '67 MGBGT 293 inch Buick/Rover from California to find a complaining U-joint upon arrival. Dan helped them locate another one and it was back in service before most of the cars checked in.
|Just Enough Room To Reach The U-Joint||Could It Be The Ignition Switch?|
Bill Guzman, who also drove in from California, flew his MGB somewhere around Memphis. Seems there wasn't much warning about the road construction and Bill got airborne, knocking the front end alignment out a bit upon touching down. He stopped in Nashville for realignment, and all was right with the world again.
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There were other mechanical problems too. But they never put a dent in the fun. In fact, they turned into a good time in and of themselves. Take Denny Doyle's situation for example. He had just returned from a hike in the Tuckaleechee Caverns and was backing into a parking space when the motor went sour on him: coughing and backfiring. He got plenty of help immediately. The problem turned out to be a broken valve spring and bent push rod in his 215 Buick. Now what? Even if he could find a shop pull the head, where's he going to find parts for a forty year old engine? Answer: In the parking lot! Denny learned a lesson in old-time repair techniques. His new friends showed him how to feed a thin length of rope into the cylinder while the piston was down. Rotating the engine brought the piston back up, and the rope held the valve up tight so the valve couldn't fall and a replacement valvespring could be installed simply. He was driving shortly thereafter with a big grin on his face. Everybody jumps in to do whatever they can. Nice!
|Denny Had a Little Problem, And a Lot of Help||The Broken Spring On Display|
Leaky water pump at the parking lot of the Riverboat Cruise? No problem, fix it right there.
Ignition switch fails in front of the Motel Office? Someone has one for you and you're on
your way again. (The color coding was different, but it didn't take long to figure that one
out.) All of these things happened! No one got bent out of shape either. That's the way it
is with these cars and the more thoughtful or more experienced come well equipped.
Emily Turner had what most would think was an unhappy experience. Max Fulton was driving her MGB up to Newfound Gap when it started to rain, making things very slippery. The MGB hydroplaned and kissed the guardrail. Emily walked around and took one look and promptly sat down on the rail. She wasn't upset, but rather thankful for the guardrail as it was a long way down. Once again, Dan knew where to get the needed headlight.
How about Kurt Schley, who started this whole thing years ago with his "MG V8 Newsletter"? Of course he was going to be here. Preparing to leave his garage, he fired up his aluminum V8 and found out the hard way that there was a stray bolt laying where the fan could push it into the radiator. Coolant leak! Did that keep him from the meet? Not on your life! Not only was he there, but smiling and enjoying the whole thing.
|The Harveys||The Olivers|
Several Father's brought their sons to the meet. I like to see that! It's just a good thing to do. Martyn Harvey had his son Graeme with him. In fact, Graeme was behind the wheel of Martyn's B almost everytime I saw it. Apparently a similar situation is unfolding in the Oliver and Blackwood households. Bill and Jim's sons won't be old enough to get their driver's license for a couple of years, but I think the time could be well spent gathering parts and planning the build. Just ask Roger Williams. I did. He thinks building an MGB V8 is even more fun than driving it.
|Roger Williams, Author of How to Give Your MGB V8 Power||Ken Costello, Father of the MGB V8|
I think a lot of people believe that too, and that's why his books sell so well. What a nice,
down-to-earth man, for being world famous (at least in MG circles). He was with us at the
picnic at Metcalf Meadows, taking pictures of several of the cars there. Maybe they're for a
new book he's going to write: "How the Yanks Give Their MGB's V8 Power". There sure are worse
topics on the book shelves. It was nice to meet him.
Another famous British gentleman inspected the MGBV8s with great interest. We were very fortunate and honored to have Ken Costello, "the father of the MGB V8", join us once again at this year's show. For many of the meet's participants it was very exciting to be able to discuss their cars with Ken. He still has a great love for the MGB V8 and both driving and riding in them. Ken co-piloted Evan Amaya's silver Rover-powered roadster on The Dragon!
|The Top of The World||That High and Lonesome Sound|
Another thing that impressed me at the meet was the honesty. No, I'm not saying I believed
all the horsepower ratings I heard. What I mean is that several cars were left open overnight
with tools, oil, etc. sitting on the seat within easy reach. It was all still there in the
morning. These people are trusting too. Need to run get a part for your car because it's
broke. "Here, take mine, it's the (fill in the blank) one over there. This from someone you
just met or haven't even met yet. Nice!
Problems with old cars? Sure, but they're still running and being kept that way, because they were meant to be driven! The cars are the reason for the meet, but the people give it life and that's why I'll be back. The one person who did the most was Dan Masters. Thanks Dan, from all of us!
Disclaimer: This page was researched and written by Greg Myer. Views expressed are those of the author, and are provided without warrantee or guarantee. Apply at your own risk.
Photos by Curtis Jacobson, Greg Myer, and Tom Newton for the British V8 Newsletter. All rights reserved.