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It's all about the MG's - The British Sports Car America Loved First

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  • July 12, 2020 1:18 PM | Mike Woodward (Administrator)

    Dear All,

    Below is the link for the recording of the monthly meeting, for which the passwors is : 8G?24%LP.

    Safety fast!

    Mike.

    https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/-uNSfrHa23lIbc_h1UbxV4IHBNT6eaa8gCZL-vMOz02XyayroaVSl0tIC08FO5j5

  • July 03, 2020 3:35 PM | Bob Chalker (Administrator)

    By Wayne Hardy

    My first MG is an MGB roadster that we still own and has been in use over the years since I got it back on the road in 1988. It took two years of work and it is now in semi-regular use. I bought this B in 1986 for $200 from a garage sale in Missouri City TX. Picked it up Thanksgiving weekend of 1986, and Isabel felt for sure that I had paid too much. It was in pretty sorry shape. Working on it became a Quest…not a hobby spare-time thing. I had it pretty much done by Easter 1988, but was putting in about 40 hours a week working on it. Yes I had a job; this was an additional 40 hours/wk. It's just not a show car class winner any more. I have driven it more than 75,000 miles since I finished the restoration project

    I discovered and joined the Texas MG Register (TMGR) in 1989 and then found the Houston MG Car Club (HMGCC) in 1990 after visiting the first Houston All British Motor Vehicle Expo (HABMVE) at Traders Village. This was the beginning of many years of MG ownership. In 1991, as members of HMGCC, we showed our B but only got a third place in chrome bumper class. We made a bunch of HABMVEs after that, showing the B, our first ZB Magnette sedan, our third MG, an MG Midget and finally our second Magnette. 

    The Midget was going to be a racer when I bought it, but was just too nice to cut up like was needed then for racing. Instead I turned it into lovely little hot rod by lowering it, building a really sporty motor of about 1340 ccs, and finally putting a 5-speed adaption from a Datsun sedan into it, which made it better for highway cruising. 

    The first ZB and the Midget both were shown at and participated in HMGCC events, and we won some trophies, too. I even ran the ZB Magnette sedan in a couple Jaguar Club autocross events and won a couple 1st in class trophies with it. It helped that they were never sure how to classify it. When we sold that Magnette, it first moved to Iowa, then all the way to the Seattle area. When we sold the Midget, it just moved down the road 15 miles away. We then started again with another ZB Magnette sedan. That one we kept for 14 years, showing it at a number of HMGCC car shows, some TMGR GOFs and the like. 

    In 1996, while at a Fall GOF in College Station, I discovered vintage sports car racing nearby via the Corinthian Vintage Auto Racing (CVAR) club. Over the next 22 years my wife and I got involved with this bunch in a pretty big way. Isabel worked in race control, while I worked on corners, as starter, on the grid, was flag chief two different times, ran fast pits and the penalty box for about five years and finally worked in Tech Inspection area for a couple years— which also involves the opportunity to be the pace car driver for a variety of different vehicles as well as my own. After fellow HMGCC member Ed Rosenquist yielded his duty at College Station as pace car, I had a couple goes there too in the pace car at CVAR races at New Orleans LA, Hallett OK, and at three or four other tracks in Texas including College Station's "Texas World Speedway." 

    The HMGCC big fall show kept moving farther and farther away from me. It seemed that we always had a big race weekend out of town on the same weekend as the show. I did make the show when I could and was even included in Gary Watson's Inside the Octagon video documentary representing the sedans side of the MG Car Company business.

    In 2000 I was offered an early out by my company (Temple-Inland Forest Products Corp. in Diboll TX) at the age of 62, so jumped at it. I started to attend other racing events around the country at tracks I hadn't visited in many years, or had never visited. I went to the PittsburgH vintage race conducted on park roads through a beautiful city park…what a hoot that is; went a number of times to Mid-Ohio in Mansfield OH, and Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. I took my son and sometimes his girlfriend with me to these functions, too, and we made some wonderful friends in Ohio that we keep in touch with all year. We also found a source for some really good blueberry Moonshine in Ohio as an extra. 

    So we stayed busy, working six CVAR race events a season and attending two or three others as spectators. I was also the local paper correspondent for the NASCAR race in Ft. Worth for the first ten years of that event while hitting the World of Outlaw dirt track races in Baytown or Kilgore a couple of times each summer. 

    In 2005, a friend introduced us to the Antique Auto Clubs Texas Tour event in the springtime. These events feature 2-1/2 days of driving and visiting interesting places and things (like the nuclear power station at College Station run in part by A&M engineering), followed up with a shiny car show, only allowed for judging if you make the drives successfully. We've done these in both the ZB sedan and the MGB when it became old enough to be allowed...30 years is expected age of entrants. After doing six of those events, I decided last year that these end of May to early June events were becoming too much of an endurance contest for us (I was then approaching 81 years of age), due to the heat in south and central Texas. 

    We sold the Magnette to HMGCC member Ron Redding, as he had asked many years ago to be on the list when we decided to sell. We had enjoyed it for the best part of 15 years. For the purpose of doing more of these multi-day touring events we went looking for a replacement automobile, one old enough to be allowed in as an antique, but with air conditioning. We wanted to make it less of a survival contest; yet still interesting enough to be a possible trophy winner. 

    We purchased a 1988 Special Anniversary edition Corvette to drive in the autocross. It is one of only 2023 made by Chevrolet and is important because this was an anniversary issue model celebrating 35 years since introduction in 1953 of the first Corvette. This is the all-white version and at the time was a nice expensive option. The Triple White treatment car came with white paint, white powder coated wheels, and white leather interior. They were all intact in this car. It had only 50,000 miles on it at the time we bought it, having mostly lived in a warehouse up in Arlington TX. This one had all the bells and whistles including a good GM air conditioning unit.

    I had to start a little re-commissioning of this vehicle as it really hadn't been out and about very much in years. The run at the autocross admittedly was leisurely to say the least. My first time out was to drive to and from the event and make four runs on the course with no glitches…making headway. Then came this COVID mess and all driving tours were cancelled until further notice. Rats!!!!  

    What we've been thinking of doing is organizing our own little several hours driving rallye event up here in the cool piney woods for the Houston club members so inclined to actually use their shiny cars. We have lots of lovely hard surfaced roads up here, quiet with no traffic, scenic and not usually visited by casual travelers. We think we'll put together a little 5-10 minute video of what to expect and see if we get any takers. Half a dozen cars would be good, but more is better. There are lots of inexpensive motels between here and Lufkin for folks who want to do the overnight thing. And there are plenty of places to dine in Lufkin, including a really good Roadhouse near here with good food and adult beverages available, and lots of room for safe spacing of people.

    Anyhow, we haven't died and we do still do car stuff, still pay our dues, and do make an occasional event of the HMGCC...like the recent autocross event at the cops driving school a couple months ago. There ought to be a story in here somewhere.

    Picture credits: Here's a collage of pictures of my MGB in use over the years since it went back on the road. There are a couple of images from Jaguar club autocrosses we used to run at the HABMVE gatherings and one picture of the B leading the convoy over to downtown Montgomery, Texas at the fall Gathering of the Faithful (GOF) in 1997. Finally, there is a picture of it on display after completing a Texas Tour event. This event included a 2-1/2 day drive followed by a shiny car show with the Antique Automobile Club of America in Tomball. Funny thing is I don't remember seeing any other HMGCC folks at any of these driving events except maybe the Fall GOF at Lake Conroe. I've also got a picture doing pace car duty at Texas World Speedway in College Station, up on the High Banks at the "NASCAR" turn 1, that someone else took of me and the B, in 1996 or 1997, when I first went to the vintage car races out there.





  • June 29, 2020 2:29 PM | Mike Woodward (Administrator)

    Below is the link to the recording of the Tech session on detailingheld on Saturday June 27. Password is 1Y?cGE=+

    Safety fast!

    Mike.

    https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/5eVbIOzt1DNJR4nWtkznX60bTtu8X6a803BMrPcMyRMEGDB_XxwtuEvi9m9hJsg

  • June 20, 2020 7:44 AM | Bob Chalker (Administrator)

    Longtime Houston MG Car Club member Harvey Rutstein sent this very sad message to the club concerning the passing of his beloved wife MaryJo. Our deepest sympathies are with Harvey and the family.

    “For information for the club, my wife MaryJo passed away this weekend on June 14, 2020. She recently developed stage 4 cancer. MaryJo was determined to make it to our 50th anniversary on June 13th. All three of our children and our six grandchildren were at our home while MaryJo was in hospice at our house. I will see everyone at some time in the future.”

  • June 17, 2020 3:02 PM | Bob Chalker (Administrator)

    Derek and Hilary Scovell joined the HMGCC in November 1977 and remained active members from then on. Derek made many contributions to the club, serving as President in 1991. After bravely fighting difficult health circumstances for several years, Derek passed away on June 16, 2020 at the age of 89. He died peacefully at home after a short time in hospice care.

    In memory of longtime Houston MG Car Club member Derek Scovell, we are re-publishing an article from 2013 recalling Derek’s love of racing and cars of all sorts. His was the fourth article in the series, Racing Stories – Memories of Houston MG Car Club members. Derek died this week but his legacy and larger than life personality will live on.

    From MGs to a Power Scooter

    by Derek C. Scovell

    I have been a motor car racing Enthusiast for about sixty years, which includes our years ‘learning’ to drive a race car. When we returned to the States in 1976 after working in Singapore, I was hoping to get back into racing but SSCA required going to their school and buying a suitable car. Work and frequent overseas travel made it not possible so I purchased a MGC and joined the Houston MG Car Club and, as they say, the rest is history.

    Racing in the UK

    In the mid-fifties I was living about 30 miles from London and at this time there were about six racing teams within ten miles where one could poke your head in the door and see what was going on. This was a time when UK racing was top news with drivers like Moss, Hawthorne, Steward, Brooks and teams like Jaguar, Aston-Martin, Lister, Vanwall and Cooper. So the racing car bug bit me.

    After attending many race meetings in the UK and owning three MGs, a 1932 J2, a 1948 TC and a TD Mark II at one time or another, I decided to purchase a new 1957 A-H Sprite Bug-eye when this car was first announced with the intent to go club racing. I obtained a RAC Restricted License and joined the British Automobile Racing Club (BARC), which organized most of the racing in the UK. 

    This car was fitted with an 849cc engine, and for its size it was fairly quick in those days. My car was stripped of upholstery and other items and the engine was modified. Changes included machining the head, re-bored to 998cc, putting in a racing cam and exhaust system. Even with the suspension changed to Koni shocks, heavy roll bars and intermediate racing tires it was not really competitive.

    Biggest mistake

    However, my biggest mistake was trying to use the car for everyday use and then try to race it at weekends. In those days for club racing, drivers’ roll bars and Nomex suits were not required; you just had to wear an approved helmet. I raced the Sprite for only one season and entered five events with no success, three times at Goodwood, once at each of the club circuits at Brands Hatch and Silverstone. My best finish was 10th out of about 30 cars. I put the car on its side once by going too fast in a corner at Goodwood with no major damage and managed to drive the car home, slowly. I prefer longer races more than 10 lap sprints.

    At the end of the season I ran out of money to continue racing. However, I had three interesting contacts during the year.

    A girl and John Cooper

    The first occurred because of a girl I was dating at that time. Her parents were very friendly with Charlie and John Cooper and during one of their test period at Brands I was ‘invited’ to drive one of their Formula II cars. It was good experience but I somehow did not feel comfortable driving a single seat car, and with a double declutch gearbox, this may be the reason for my uncompetitive lap times. At least this is my excuse

    The second was meeting Bob Brown, who sponsored Mike Hawthorn at the start of his career. Bob wanted me to buy a Formula Ford race car, which they would maintain, service and prepare for racing. I didn’t have the money to do the deal.

    The third opportunity occurred during a speed trials event when I was given the chance to drive an Allard coupe with a Cadillac engine, magnesium body and a Wilson-Cortex electric gearbox. To change gears in this transmission, you selected the next gear by moving a small lever up or down, then when you wanted to change gear you pressed the clutch.

    In the winter months of 1958 I became involved in rallying as a navigator using an early Mini (849 cc). We did three all-night rallies, starting at 6pm on Saturday night and finishing at noon the following day with two breaks for food, etc. We finished each rally, though without any success. We did see a lot of country roads in England and Wales.

    Racing in Singapore & Malaysia

    In 1967 I was offered employment in the USA. Then in 1971 I was one of five staff assigned to build and open a new shipyard in Singapore. Although I had use of a company car, Hilary and I decided to purchase a used 1970 Australian built Mini-Cooper S and joined the Singapore Motor Club. It was supposed to be a run-around car, but soon I started to compete in local hill climbs, though without much success. 

    I found there was some interesting club racing in Singapore on closed streets and the same in Malaysia. At Kuala Lumpur there was a very interesting race track. This circuit was about 1¾ miles in length with a series of non-straight line corners, a ½-mile straight, a 180-degree tightening corner and a one-car chicane. The pits were very good. Unfortunately this circuit has now been closed to make way for a larger, new GP circuit. 

    Having been bitten by the racing bug again we decided to make the Mini more competitive. We started by modifying the cylinder head, adding stronger valve springs that allowed going up to about 8,000 rpm, adding a racing cam, an oil cooler, and a new, much larger exhaust manifold and system. We ran 6¾” width tires (Dunlop SP-4) and added a roll cage, which was a work of art made and installed by the shipyard pipe fitters. When racing, the fuel consumption dropped to about 14 to 16 miles per gallon, so a larger gas tank was required.

    We ran six races in Malaysia including a supporting race for the GP, and similarly for the Singapore GP. The drive to KL was about a four hour run and we would leave Singapore with three or four other competitive cars between 5 and 6 Friday evening. Our car included Hilary, two kids, luggage and racing items. It was a ‘hairy’ run with open exhaust through tropical forest. We raced Saturday and Sunday and then returned Sunday evening for work and school on Monday.

    I had limited success and finished on the plus side with racing expenses because of some class wins or good positions, and my two sponsors, Castrol and Dunlop, matched any money paid by the race organizers.

    Singapore Grand Prix

    The Singapore Grand Prix is held on public roads, which make for some exciting racing. The salon car race is a supporting race to the main event. There were about 40 cars entered, which included a number of factory entries such as Toyota, BMW, Alfa, Ford, Mazda and BMC. To reduce the field there were two heats with the fastest thirty cars for the main event, a one hour timed race.

    I was placed in the first heat in about 12th position. Unfortunately when the flag dropped, the car in front stalled and I hit the back of this car and damaged my front fender so that I could not start. I got back to the pits and made temporary repairs. I met with the race director and he let me enter the final, starting last in 30th place. After an interesting race I finished in 10th place, but first in my class for cars up to 1300cc.

    Malaysia Grand Prix

    For the Malaysia Grand Prix, the supporting salon car race was a similar one hour race but only the 30 fastest cars qualified for this race. I made the cut and finished 3rd in my class after driving through a tropical rain downpour. My thrill was to pass a 911 Porsche and several other faster cars in the rain. The Mini with intermediate tires is very good in the rain compared to those factory cars on slicks.

    During our three years in Singapore I was invited to be a team member for the local Mini distributer in a six hour endurance race. Unfortunately because of the lack of support it was cancelled. In the two years of racing in Singapore and Malaysia, I did not have a DNF with the Mini. Hilary drove the car around Singapore during the week days, with waves and thumbs up from the taxi drivers to go faster.

    On one occasion my friend and I were approached by Subaru to purchase two team racing cars and the company would prepare and maintain these cars for racing. Since we did not intend to stay in Singapore, we declined.

    Return to the USA

    I thought about getting involved in racing when we came back to the States, but it was impractical. The requirements for the race car were too involved. And going to a driving school and testing for a SCCA license was too difficult with a new job that included frequent overseas business trips. All of this left too little time to have fun.

    These days my main means of transportation is by a power scooter or wheelchair and I accept with thanks being helped around by Hilary and friends.    


  • June 17, 2020 2:59 PM | Bob Chalker (Administrator)

    We regret to advise that our long-time Club Member, Derek Scovell, passed away on June 16 at the age of 89.  Derek bravely fought difficult health circumstances for several years.  He died peacefully at home after a short time with Hospice care.

    Derek and his wife Hilary have been with the HMGCC since the 1977 and he was President of the Club in 1991.  They cared for a 1967 MGC Automatic and an early MGB, both of which were right- hand drive.  The MGB previously returned to the UK to stay in the family.  Derek and Hilary are natives of the UK.

    Derek will be cremated and there will be a Family-only gathering in Houston.   

  • June 13, 2020 11:28 AM | Bob Chalker (Administrator)

    By Dave Renner

    I met my friend Chuck when we were in US Coast Guard enlisted basic training in Alameda, CA in the summer of 1969. We had no idea that we would stay in touch once we finished those intense 10 weeks of our lives.

    After graduation, Chuck left the base to train as a marine science technician while I stayed there working in the Public Information Office, waiting for an opening in the Defense Information School to become a photojournalist. Neither of us expected to be stationed anywhere near each other again during the remainder of our tours of duty. But, one thing you learn in the military is, never say never.

    About five months later, Chuck got in touch with me to let me know he had finished his training and was being assigned to duty in the Bay Area. He was renting a place in Oakland, just a few miles from the base. He asked if I wanted to be his roommate. Seemed like a good idea to me, so I did.

    Soon after I moved in, Chuck decided he needed a fun car to mess around with on weekends. Somewhere he found a decent and inexpensive Austin Healey Bugeye (aka Frogeye) Sprite to play with. For several weekends just bombing around in it was plenty of fun. But one Friday afternoon, Chuck announced his next great idea. He was going to turn that little car into a mini command car. And I was going to help.

    Chuck bought an assortment of cans of brown, tan and green paint, a few brushes and a couple of six packs of Olympia beer (Chuck was from Oregon, next door to Washington State, home of Olympia beer) and creativity broke out almost immediately. As the resident artist, I had the important job of designing a camouflage pattern. We sat down on the curb in front of the house and slathered on the paints. After a few beers the Sprite command car began to look really good to us. Watching paint dry, we finished off the afternoon and the remaining cans of Oly.

    Not satisfied that the newly painted Bug looked enough like a desert rat mobile, Chuck decided the next day that the poor thing needed a machine gun to complete the effect. So he fashioned a simulated weapon out of an old wooden box and a piece of broom handle properly painted to look sinister. We duct taped the gun to the trunk rack and called it good. All that remained was for us to go on a strafing run through the neighborhood. Two big boys with a little toy went out to play.

    What a great idea that was, considering those were the days of the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapping and robbing banks in the Bay Area, native American protesters invading Alcatraz, angry students occupying the administration building at Berkley, and Charles Manson and his crowd of crazies running amok who-knows-where in the rest of California. Maybe not the smartest thing to do, but an Oly haze made it seem like a good idea at the time. We completed our daring mission without being grounded and called it a job well done.

    Once the novelty wore off after a few weeks, Chuck tired of his painted lady and sold it on to some other demented young fool (not me). I have no idea what became of it. After all, it was nothing but a cheap used car at the time. I sometimes wonder if it might still be stashed away somewhere in a dusty garage, patiently waiting to be restored or maybe just taken out for one more strafing run on a sunny Spring day by a couple of lads with a belly full of Olympia. I would certainly rather remember it that way.


  • June 10, 2020 1:00 PM | Bob Chalker (Administrator)

    Dear Houston MG Car Club,

    My name is Lori Seto; I am Russ Seto's oldest daughter. I wanted to share this announcement (below) and thank you all very much from the Seto family for being one of the initial contributors to help fund this scholarship in my dad's memory. The first recipient, Cristobal Aguilar - a self-described "devoted automotive enthusiast" - received his award this past winter and just graduated. In his three-page thank you letter, he wrote: 

    "It is people like yourself that make the world a better place by contributing to the education of students in need such as myself. My future plans are to finish my Lone Star program, get promoted at my current job from a quick service technician to an all-system technician, and work at a better dealership or even open my very own shop, a dream I've had all of my life."

    I think that my dad and Cristobal would have had a lot to talk about!

    Thank you for helping future Russ Seto's hone their skills and earn a living from their love of cars. My dad's spirit and generosity lives on through this scholarship, thanks to the contributions of his many friends. Thank you!

    Sincerely,

    Lori Seto


  • June 07, 2020 3:28 PM | Mike Woodward (Administrator)

    Dear Members and Friends,

    Click on the link below to watch a recording of our June 6 meeting.

    Safety fast!

    Mike.

    https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/4c9oDYv69E5LT4nWznvPHbZ7FIrVT6a82iJN_fsJxUp0PFpfWNmdQogB-a7csL-h

  • June 06, 2020 10:31 AM | Bob Chalker (Administrator)

    by David Terry

    The Problem

    Driving my MGB at night using either the auxiliary lights, overdrive, or fan would cause the ignition light to glow, indicating that the battery was augmenting the alternator to power these items. Resolving this issue would require an alternator that generated sufficient power in excess of what the original Lucas 18ACR could provide.

    The Remedy

    First, I needed to charge the battery. Since the previous owner (PO) had reworked much of the engine bay with nonstandard wiring colors, I had to trace the wiring against a wiring diagram.

    I ordered a CS 130 alternator from 123ignitionusa.com and removed the Lucas alternator. On installation, I cut the plug off of the existing alternator (I cut it about two inches below the plug), then connected the brown and yellow wire from the loom to the brown wire on the new alternator plug. The next steps were:

    ·       connect the medium brown wire from loom to battery post on alternator

    ·       connect the red wire from new plug to battery post on alternator

    ·       connect thin brown wire from loom to battery post on alternator.

    Finally, I installed the fan belt and tensioned it appropriately and started the car. The PO had connected the wires from the ignition relay to the Lucas alternator rather than the battery post on the starter. Once I was able to address this anomaly, connecting the wiring was easy. The new alternator now generates sufficient electricity to power the headlights, overdrive, wipers, and aux lights at night without causing the ignition light to glow. My headlights have never been brighter.

    Conclusion

    Upgrading from the Lucas alternator to the CS 130 was an easy project that took about thirty minutes to complete but resolved the power issues I was experiencing. If you are interested, order from Ed Madak at 123ignitionusa, LLC. The unit comes complete with pulley and ready to install. You may have to adjust the spacer provided to align the belts but, again, this is straightforward and easy to accomplish.

    A big THANK YOU to David Terry for submitting this article. It will be a benefit to many of our members and followers.  If you would like to submit an article to the ROARS, either technical or social, please do, we are always looking for content.  Don't worry about your writing capabilities our editors, Dave and Linda Renner, will work with you to make it stellar.  You can submit articles by sending them to HoustonMGCarClub@gmail.com

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Houston MG Car Club

PO Box 40711

Houston, TX   77240. 


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