Obin and the Gang at the 2012 National VTR Meet in Galveston, Texas
My parents, Obin and Marilynn Hamrick, are in their “young 80’s” and they aren’t taking as many long trips in their Triumphs as they had in the past. They are always talking about the fun trips that they had taken to VTR regional events,VTR national events, the Roadster Factory “summer party”, Shelton Vineyards, Jekyll Island, Hershey and Indiana ,Pennsylvania, and many more. My wife, Kim, and I decided to attend the 2012 VTR National in Galveston, Texas with my parents and share in the memories. We sat down with friends from the Temple of Triumph in Tallahassee, Evan and Jacquie Hume, and tossed around the idea of a grand trip so that everybody could get the three cars,the 1959 Yellow TR3A, the 1960 Red TR3A, and the 1973 Mimosa (yellow) Triumph Stag ready for a memorable trip. Since Evan and Jacquie's Triumph is titled as a 2009 Porsche 911, 4S Cabriolet, the plan was for them to drive the Red TR3; Mark and Kim, the yellow TR3; and Marilynn and Obin, the Stag. We were to try to hook up with Wyndell and Olivia Burden, Ozark, Alabama, in their 1959 White TR3A, and Bob and June Jones, Westville, Florida, in their 1974 Carmine TR6. Unfortunately, June was not able to make the trip.
Plans were discussed, reservations were made, a route was selected, cars were tuned, spare parts were packed, and the fun of trying to stuff all of the “essentials” into 2 TR3’s, and a Triumph Stag began. We had plans to leave on Friday, Oct 26th, so that we would have 3 leisurely days to make the trip. We arrived in Tallahassee on Thursday evening, only to find that the wire wheels on the Yellow TR3 couldn’t be trued in time to make the trip. So, we added Mom's 2001 Mazda Miata to the roster, installed the magnetic TR-9 badges on the rear fenders (ala TR-6), loaded up and got ready for our adventure.
The Adventure began on a beautiful and sunny Friday morning. We headed towards Pensacola with the sun at our back and stopped at the Navy Aviation Museum at NAS Pensacola. The museum was incredible to experience, and after several hours it was time to get back on the road. The TR3s are equipped with overdrive transmissions and were running well so we pushed up the speed as we headed towards our first evening stop in Mobile, Ala. We threw a fan belt on the “brand new” Red 1960 TR3A about 25 miles from our overnight stop. It’s dark outside, we are on the side of the interstate ramp, and the spare fan belt was in the Yellow 1959 TR3A that we left at home! I start working on the car and my parents took off down the road looking for a suitable fan belt. Fortunately, we were able to repair the car and get back on the road after 90 minutes. Unfortunately, we were almost 2 hours late for our dinner reservations to meet more friends outside of Mobile. The restaurant was very understanding and all was well. If you are looking for a great dining experience, you need to eat at Felix’s in Daphne (near the Battleship). We made it to our hotel around 11:00 pm and plans were made for breakfast at 7:00 and pull out at 8:00.
Saturday dawned bright and cool, almost a 20 degree temperature drop. We fire up the cars and the Red 1960 TR3A starts right up, all the gauges show that all is right with the world. Before we can pull out, a shrieking noise starts and follows the engine rpm’s. We quickly check it out and we agree that the generator has decided that it needed a rest. Fortune smiled on us because we had packed a spare generator in the car. We replace the generator and get on the road for what we hope is a short trip to Baton Rouge for the night. Wow, the trip is longer than I remember but we made it in with no issues. We arrived in Baton Rouge in time to make it to Mass before meeting up with Wyndell and Olivia. They had driven over from Ozark to spend some time with their daughter and her family before joining the caravan with their White 1959 TR3A. We enjoyed having dinner with Wyndell and Olivia's daughter, Jeannie Hansbrough, and her husband, Thomas, and their children Ashlyn and Little Thomas in Baton Rouge.
On Sunday we plan to cross Louisiana and push into Galveston. The trip is uneventful until 11:00 am……when there is a vibration in the Red TR3 and smoke starts coming out of right rear wheel. We stop at a Casino/Truck stop in Lake Charles and let everything cool down. It looks like an axle seal since we have some fluid on the rear drum. We take it apart and decide that we will fix it in Galveston. We quickly find that a tow into Galveston will be over $900, and they can’t get us until Monday. Dad and I make a few calls and find a U-Haul truck and trailer about 50 miles away so we head out to get it. We load up around 1:30 after we had backtracked several times. We head on towards Galveston and decide to take the southern route and make the last part of the journey on the Galveston Island Ferry. I was driving the truck and trailer along with the Gulf on my left about 50 yards away and I look to my right and see the flybridge of a 35' boat sitting almost on the ground. It was a little strange until I noticed that one of the Intercoastal waterway canals was within 20 yards of the highway!
After we loaded the Red TR3A on the trailer, we shifted driving arrangements. Mark and Kim drove the truck and trailer for the rest of the trip, Obin and Marilynn drove the Stag, and Evan and Jacquie drove the Miata. Now everybody has air conditioning! And Evan was right at home in the Miata, since a Miata is what his Flying Tiger Chump Car Racing Team uses. (Google Flying Tiger Racing).
We finally make it to the host hotel (San Luis Resort) and check in around 6:00 pm. The San Luis Resort was amazing to see. They had a Macaw in the front atrium, several clubs, restaurants, poolside cabanas and breathtaking views of the Gulf only 50 yards away. Some of VTR members were on the 16th floor (Penthouse level). They even had continental breakfast set up in the central atriums for those people! The back parking lot looks like a Triumph dealership. There were over 100 cars of every size and color. We look through the Convention schedule and decide what to do for the next 4 days.
Monday, we go on one of the breakfast runs to Moody Gardens Hotel. This is followed by a TSD rallye for some. About 35 cars decide to go over to the Lone Star Flight Museum for a visit and photo opportunity with a British Supermarine Spitfire that was scheduled to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Spitfire automobile! What a photo op for the Triumph Spitfire drivers to get pictures with their namesake! The museum was under 9' of water during Hurrican Ike, but now the planes were amazing. We attend the welcome reception at the pool for a few hours and catch up with participants from all over the country. Great time, great food, great people…a perfect venue and we are starting to relax.
Tuesday, we go on another breakfast run and visit some historic areas on the strand. Several tech sessions, a spooky island gimmick rallye follow. Autocross tech inspections are conducted in the back parking lot and many of us go on a self guided road tour of the historic Strand and look at the historic homes, businesses, and landmarks. A visit to the Pleasure Pier and Seawall is a must do. The Seawall is 10 miles long and 17 feet high and 16 feet wide. It is the world’s longest continuous sidewalk in the world at 10.3 miles. We put four people in the Stag and two in the TR9 for a dinner run down the Seawall to the Pier at the Strand.
Wednesday, is a very full schedule. We go to the Schlitterbahn Water park parking lot for a panoramic photo. We unload the wounded Red 1960 TR3 from the trailer, put it in the photo, and then drive it to the other end of the island to Pier 21 for the Concours and Participants Choice Car Show. The Intercoastal waterway runs right past the Pier and to see floating offshore platforms being towed towards the gulf was really cool. We all head back after the show to freshen up and get ready for the biggest dinner run of them all. We load up four people in the Stag, two in the TR9, and 28 additional vehicles take a 25 mile off island trip to the Kemah Boardwalk. This was a fishing village that has been transformed into a resort area. It had a shopping district, multiple world class restaurants, a lighthouse and entertainment district. We had a 110” yacht docked out back of our restaurant that had a stern garage for the crew to put a 20” launch inside. After a great dinner and a walk by the spooky fun houses we headed back for the “Guess Who party in Spooky Dress costume party at the hotel.
Thursday found most guests out at the Autocross. We walked the course, and my Mom drove the Stag in the Autocross! It was a hot day at the track and the tents, beverages, and sandwiches made it enjoyable. There were many VERY competitive drivers who had a great time. Some of us took a short drive around the island before we headed back to get ready for the VTR Banquet. Mr. Richard Lentinello, Editor, Hemming Classic Car,(also owns several Triumphs) who was to be the guest speaker, could not make it because of the Superstorm Sandy. The banquet was fun, and my parents won several awards. They won the Sweat Equity Award sponsored by TS Imports (one person who has consistently shown dedication to both their own Triumph as well as the Marque in general). They also won 1st in class Participants Choice with the Stag. The Red TR3A which Evan and Jacquie entered and drove, also won 2nd in class in the Concours d'Elegance Class. We visited briefly with Tony Cascio from the North Florida Club and arranged to bring the club banner back to Jacksonville. The rest of the Temple members did not do too badly, either! Wyndell and Olivia won First in Class in Participants Choice for their White 1959 TR3A and Bob and June Jones won First in Class in Participants Choice for their Carmine TR6.