Line of Morrises at British by the Sea, with the Karabec Mini Minor 850 on the left.
Photo by David Schwartz
Looking Back at 2017
by David Schwartz
While NEMO members participated in many events this past year, I’d like to give my impressions of three of them that I was able to attend, from British by the Sea to British Legends Weekend.
British by the Sea,
Waterford, Conn., June 4th
This was the 30th anniversary of BBTS and Morris was the featured marque. There were at least eight Morris Minors parked together, along with a 1960 Morris Mini Minor 850 owned by NEMO members Lorine and Derick Karabec. Cooper, their new puppy, accompanied the Karabecs.
The threat of afternoon rain kept many NEMO members away, as I counted only six classic Minis and six modern MINIs. New member Ken Kelly proudly displayed his pristine 2000 Rover Mini. My 1968 Morris Mini Minor Traveller stayed home in a nice dry garage, which was good as there were heavy downpours on the drive home.
The Morris Minors held a special interest for me. In early May I purchased a 1950 Morris Minor Tourer (convertible). It was great to see a wide variety of body styles and model years, and I took lots of photos for comparison with my car. I have never named a car or owned vanity plates, but was inspired to go with “Moyshe” after my great uncle Maurice whose Yiddish name was Moishe. My Morris Minor is in excellent cosmetic shape, inside and out, and I had hoped to drive it to BBTS. However, the brakes and carburetor needed “a little sorting.” In fact, the car needed so much sorting that it is still on jack stands in my garage. Hopefully, Moyshe will be ready in time for the 2018 show.
Weston Antique & Classic Car Show,
The Weston Car Show always has a great turnout of British cars. My 1968 Mini Traveller was joined by Wendy Birchmire’s 1977 Austin Mini, Alex Daly’s 1967 Mini Cooper S and Nan Okarma’s 1966 Austin Mini Moke. Other British cars included a 2017 Morgan 3-Wheeler (technically a motorcycle), a 1952 Jaguar XK120 Fixed Head Coupe, a 1962 Jaguar XKE, a 1968 Jaguar E-type, Michael Gaetano’s 1947 Bentley, a 1961 Austin-Healey 3000, a 1960 MGA, a 1964 MGB with a hardtop, a 1980 MGB, and a 1983 Lotus Espirit. The Lotus looked fast standing still and the hatchback was open, providing a good view of the engine.
Nan Okarma’s Moke at the Weston show.
Photo by David Schwartz
There was a pair of Datsun 240Zs, one of which looked like it had just rolled off the assembly line. The car sported a pair of SU carburetors and a bright yellow-green paint job.
The American cars included two with retractable hardtops. My personal favorite was a 1957 Ford Skyliner. This is a true “land yacht” with an incredibly long hood and trunk. The Ford was displayed with the roof partially retracted so you could view the Rube Goldberg mechanism and storage box in the middle of the trunk.
There was a good assortment of gratuitous tailfins, muscle cars, hot rods and antique cars dating back to the 1920s. A 1950 Nash Ambassador featured a passenger seat that folded into a bed, and a Stanley Steamer (which attends every year) blew its whistle.
Weston is one of my favorite multi-marque shows. The venue is beautiful with cars parked around the town green and plenty of shade. Keep an eye on the 2018 NEMO event calendar and try to join us next year.
British Legends Weekend Show,
North Falmouth, Mass., October 8th
After the horrendous weather in 2016, the Cape Cod British Car Club d a do-over and once again paired classic Minis and modern MINIs in a Concours d’Evolution. The weather forecast kept changing all week and I postponed my decision on attending until the last possible minute. Ultimately, Betty and I drove down Saturday afternoon in my 1968 Mini Traveller.
Thankfully, there was no monsoon this year. Greg Mazza has yet to reinstall the carpets in his Mini after last year’s storm, and the woodwork on my car is definitely the worse for wear.
The Mini that eventually won the Concours at British Legends Weekend being looked over by the judges.
Photo by David Schwartz
NEMO members and friends of NEMO volunteered their cars for the Concours. We paired five modern MINIs with classics owned by Faith Lamprey and Bruce Vild, Dave and Jean Icaza, Gail Gray and Chris Cole, and yours truly.
In addition, there were two Honda VTEC-powered classic Minis in the Modified class on the people’s-choice showfield outside the Concours. Both modified Minis were respectful to their classic roots, but the Concours prize was given to the Gray/Cole Rover Mini that was a limited edition, high-performance factory model.
Show cars included a large number of MGBs, MG TFs, Austin-Healeys, Jaguar E-types, Morgans and a wide variety of Triumph models. Several less common cars also participated: a 1950 Allard J2, a 1970 Rover P5B Coupe, a 1970 Lotus Europa, a 1947 Bentley, a 1986 TVR, and a 1960s Sunbeam Tiger.
This was my first time seeing an Allard in person and it is a truly unique car. The Rover is quite luxurious and the Lotus is cool and quirky.
By noon there was some intermittent light rain that followed us for most of the drive home. Fortunately the carpets stayed dry, but the driver’s side door pocket was damp. My car is overdue for new window channels and door seals.
[For more photos from these events, courtesy of David, please go to our website Gallery under Events.]
NEMO Annual Meeting April 8!
We are planning to hold the NEMO Annual Meeting on Sunday, April 8, 2018. Details will follow in the January/February issue and on-line. We are considering a go-kart track outing, so stay tuned!
In the Winners’ Circle at the Glen.
Photo by Barbara Newman
The MINI JCW Team’s 2017 Season
by Dave Newman
Barbara and I are big fans of the MINI John Cooper Works Racing Team, owned by LAP Motorsports (founded by Luis Perocarpi) and sponsored by MINI USA and others. The team has been competing the last two and a half seasons in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge in the ST class, which is short for “Street Tuner” and basically means that the race cars are MINI JCW cars like ones you can buy in the showroom, with limited modifications. They compete against Porsche Caymans, Mazda MX-5s, BMW 3 Series, Audi A3s and Nissans.
The races also have a larger and faster car class on the track at the same time called GS, for “Grand Sport.” It makes for some exciting and close racing.
In 2017 there were ten races. Barbara and I traveled to three together and I went to the Lime Rock race alone.
The MINI team runs three cars, numbers 37, 52 and 73. Most races are two hours long, with two of the series being four hours long. Two drivers are required and each must be in the car for at least 45 minutes. Races were held in 2017 at Daytona, Sebring, COTA (Texas), Watkins Glen, Mosport, Lime Rock, Road America, Virginia International Raceway (VIR), Mazda Raceway (Laguna Seca), and Road Atlanta.
At the end of the series, which was very close, the #73 car team, Mat Pombo and Derek Jones, came in 4th in the championship, the #37 team 11th and the #52 team 16th overall.
The Manufacturers’ Championship showed MINI in 4th place, an outcome not without controversy. The Road Atlanta race originally ended with the #73 MINI in 3rd place, but an IMSA caution ruling dropped them to 4th. This also changed the close Manufacturers’ series from 3rd to 4th for MINI, an unexpected disappointment.
But overall it was a good season for the JCW team, which is like a big, friendly family. And they have the most fans in their paddock compared to the other teams. At the races we attended, more MINI fans visited the JCW team than fans of other cars.
The season highlights started with the opening race at Daytona, with MINI #73 in 1st place. At Watkins Glen, the first race we attended, #73 car came in 1st, #52 2nd and #37 car 5th. With two cars on the podium, the MINI fans went wild and Barbara and I were in the Winners’ Circle to be sprayed with champagne by team owner Luis Perocarpi. What a great time!
The following week we traveled to Canada to watch the team compete at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, also known as Mosport. Number 37 car came in 3rd, for another podium and champagne. The MINI fans were the loudest and most numerous of any team supporters by far.
I went to the Lime Rock race by myself as Barbara was tied up. MINI had a “car corral” for MINI owners with prime seating trackside for lawn chairs. They teamed up with a local MINI dealer and provided a breakfast and lunch tent.
We skipped the next three races in Wisconsin, Virginia and California, but wanted to be at Road Atlanta for the final race, so we flew down for it.
Driver Jay Salinsky with a fan (Barbara Newman).
Photo by Dave Newman
At the IMSA races, the paddock areas, which house the team “garages” (prep areas), are open to fans. Cars line up in the pits right before the race, which are open for a “fan walk.” This gives fans an intimate peek behind the scenes, a chance to meet the teams and drivers, and an opportunity to watch the cars being worked on.
Tonine McGarvie, from MINI-USA, has a “meet and greet” in the paddock at each race. There are prizes, including a drawing for a “hot lap.” (The manufacturers each have a car on track to give rides.) I was lucky enough to win a hot lap at Road Atlanta, driven by Luis in a street-modified MINI JCW. MINIs are fast! Barbara and I have also won some of the raffle prizes.
The MINI team and sponsors are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet, and the drivers take the time to speak with you. Barb and I have been invited to have lunch at the paddock and were at the barbecue the night before the Road Atlanta race, put on by Katherine and Mike from a sponsor, Steady Returns. You might catch their green turtle logo on the door of the #52 car in pictures we have posted on-line. Nice people.
The MINI JCW Team has had some problems and setbacks, which they have overcome. Next season they will have a car in the TCR class, a new class IMSA is adding to the races, made to European Touring Car standards. It may be a MINI Clubman, and should be even faster than the ST class of cars. More information will be provided in the off-season.
Barbara and I highly recommend that MINI fans watch all the races on the IMSA app or on FS1 cable, and attend as many races as possible in person. They are huge fun and the team is great to meet.
We want to give a big thanks to Luis and Wendy Perocarpi, Rob Ridgely, Tonine McGarvie, drivers Derek Jones, Mat Pombo, Mark Pombo, Mike LaMarra, James Vance, Jay Salinsky and Nate Norenberg, along with Christine Salinsky, Mr. and Mrs. Pombo, and all the other team members and the many technicians from MINI dealers near each track who volunteered via the Service Tech Education Training Program (STEP). Come to a race, you will love it. Go, MINI, and as they always say, #LetsDoThis!
Ooh, look at that! (Scene from a typical NEMO Yankee Swap.)
Photo by Robert Izzo
NEMO Holiday Party Dec. 2!
by David Schwartz &
The NEMO Holiday Party will be held at La Cantina Italiana in Framingham, Mass., on Saturday, December 2nd, from 12 noon to 4 p.m.
La Cantina is a family-style Italian restaurant and has been in business since 1946. The member cost will be $15 with the club making up the difference. (If your membership has lapsed you can renew at the Party at the six-month rate of $10.)
We need a head count by November 17th. A reminder evite will be sent to the NEMO e-mail list. RSVP to the evite or by contacting me directly, email@example.com or (508) 561-3462. Let me know how many people will be attending, the ages of any children you are bringing, and whether you have any dietary restrictions.
We will be holding a Yankee Swap, so plan to bring a wrapped gift. A Yankee Swap means that someone else may take your gift when it is their turn to pick. Warn your kids so they don’t get upset if this happens!
Our Holiday Party is one of our more popular events every year. Hope to see you there!
Directions — It’s La Cantina Italiana, 911 Waverly St., Framingham, MA 01702, (508) 879-7874. Take I-90 (Mass. Turnpike) to Exit 12. Bear right on the ramp and follows signs toward Framingham. Merge onto Rt. 9 East (Worcester Road).
Follow Rt. 9 for about 1.8 miles. You will pass Dunkin’ Donuts followed by Samba Steak & Sushi. Immediately after Samba, take a sharp right onto Winter Street. Follow Winter Street about 1.8 miles.
Due to a construction detour your GPS probably doesn’t know about, turn left onto Fountain Street. After 0.5 miles, Fountain Street curves right and crosses railroad tracks. At the traffic light, take a sharp right onto Waverly Street (Rt. 135). After 0.7 miles La Cantina will be on the right. There is parking behind the restaurant and a large lot just past La Cantina on the left. —DS
Newman’s guide to the Yankee Swap
As most NEMO members know by now, the famous Holiday Party only happens once each year. As such, we need to make it a big one! And for anyone who has been there in the past, the high point is always the Yankee Swap. Our usual rules, not adjusted for inflation, recession, depreciation or global warming, ask that gifts subjected to the swap not exceed a value of $25. And for those attending from Canada, that means US dollars, not those depreciated ones with the Queen on them.
Anyway, I encourage all members attending to take the time to select a gift that will be wanted by all others. You know the one, the one that everyone wants and makes the rounds, passing from hand to hand, until the lucky person who picked first has the last choice of taking the popular gift away from the poor sod who was holding it — or feeling sorry and just taking the last surprise off of the table. Usually that’s something like a used horse blanket.
My daughter Christa used to try various things to hide “the gift” if she ever got her hands on it: hiding it under the table and looking out the window, walking off to the ladies room with it until the Swap was over, or, when she was really young, looking like a little kid who would be horrified if you took it away. All worked well for a while. But she found out fast that the “poor little kid” thing didn’t work with any member who lives within 1,000 miles of the venue. After that she adopted other methods.
So put some effort into picking your gift and let’s get some enjoyment out of the NEMO Holiday Party. In other words, no picking up a gift at Walgreen’s or the gas station on the way there because you forgot. —DN
Dave Oliveira, ready to race.
Photo by Steve Hewitt
A MINI at the SCCA Regionals
by Steve Hewett
LOUDON, N.H., Aug. 5-6 — Dave Oliveira drove his 2008 MINI Cooper to 3rd place in its debut outing this weekend in the SCCA New England Road Racing Championship at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Our team name, G.A.B.B. Racing, was inspired by Dave’s German and Brazilian heritage, American home and British car. As a MINI tech, Dave’s professional life is spent working on MINI Coopers. When a co-worker’s 2008 R56 was totaled, he saw an opportunity to build a racecar when everyone else saw a parts car.
Rebuilding the MINI and resolving its issues (it was a high-mileage car) were within the realm of Dave’s experience. The greater challenge was navigating a more than 700-rule rulebook to ensure the transformed car would be allowed on the track.
Much of the work Dave did was to bring the car up to par and restore some of the horses that had left the stable. He picked the SCCA B-Spec class to keep the cost of competing low (an understatement, considering that the car was ready for pick-and-pull!). Dave incorporated numerous modifications, including mandatory safety equipment, donated Megan Racing coil-overs, used Hoosier race tires, a K&N intake, and an individual throttle body (ITB). With ITB, each cylinder gets its own butterfly valve regulating air intake, rather than all cylinders sharing one valve. He also removed the muffler and the A/C compressor.
This was a labor of love and the end result was a race-ready car. Although the car is “just a MINI Cooper,” Dave says, “it is plenty fast and handles like it’s on rails!”
Thunderstorms and rainbows greeted us for the MINI’s initial outing at the SCCA “Track Night in America” event at Thompson Speedway in Connecticut. Team resources were deep on enthusiasm and camaraderie, but didn’t include rain tires. Wet track testing on slicks made keeping the car on the pavement a critical challenge. Despite seeing other cars spinning off the course, Dave (and the MINI) came through unscathed and ready for the next milestone, competing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Meeting the challenge of operating a race team on a shoestring includes borrowing important items from family, friends and friends of friends. We scrambled to arrange for a tow vehicle and trailer just days before leaving for New Hampshire. We ultimately squeezed the MINI into a small enclosed trailer meant for hauling motorcycles and ATVs. Padding was necessary to prevent the trailer from scratching the car. As the MINI marketing slogan says, “not normal”!
The race weekend started and team members quickly focused on the tasks at hand. The first day was damp and difficult (shades of Thompson), but car and driver managed to stay out of trouble, even without rain tires! After qualifying, minor drama ensued when the race steward reported that the car was under weight. Filling the gas tank wasn’t enough, so the team brainstormed ideas and dashed to the city for supplies. We finalized the solution in the aisles of Walmart and Home Depot. Once back in the pits, we quickly mounted 40 lbs. of Gold’s Gym weights in the car. This resulted in thumbs up from the stewards.
The second day was much better, with dry weather, improved lap times, and a lot more confidence in both the car and the driver. Swarms of factory-spec Mazda Miatas jostled for position in the morning and afternoon races. The MINI managed to stay close to the pack and finished 3rd in class, behind two VW Golfs piloted by far more experienced drivers. Our team goal for the first race was to build some experience, gain seat time for Dave, and load an intact MINI into the trailer Sunday night. We achieved these objectives, to the joy and relief of all.
In the post-race, lessons-learned discussion, we noticed that competing drivers and teams were generous with their advice and goodwill. This trait is also common among MINI owners who wave to each other and are eager to chat over social media or in person. Other teams reached out to G.A.B.B. Racing, made us feel like part of the racing family, and contributed to a successful weekend of racing.
When Dave started his career as a mechanic working on tractors at farms in the US and Canada, racing was just something he dreamed about. Now Dave is the driver, manager, and chief mechanic of his own team. He is quick to point out that none of this would have been possible without the support of his wife, Amanda Oliveira, his friends, fellow enthusiasts Dave Blake and me, and the whole MINI community. Their willingness to help Dave achieve his racing dream left him with an appreciation that will outlast his MINI Cooper.
As Dave said, “We are very much ‘not normal’ and it’s been a blast getting the car ready and seeing it on the track.” To view race pictures and videos, search for g.a.b.b.racing on Facebook and Instagram. Go, MINI!
Dave and Barbara Newman at British Invasion.
Photo courtesy NEMO
First Photo from Stowe!
STOWE, Vt., Sept. 15-17 — NEMO members Dave and Barbara Newman were awarded a 1st in class for their MINI Van and were recognized as the Best Attired British Couple. Derick and Lorine Karabec — that’s Derick behind the Newmans — were awarded Most Colorful attire-wise, and also grabbed a 1st in class for their Wolesley Hornet.
October 6-8 — British Legends Weekend, hosted by the Cape Cod British Car Club (CCBCC), North Falmouth, Mass., www.capecodbritishcarclub.org.
October 8 — Kringle Cars & Coffee 2017, Kringle Candle, Bernardston, Mass., 9 a.m. to 12 noon. Free to exhibit, people’s choice awards, inside.kringlecandle.com/events/calendar.
December 2 — NEMO Holiday Party, details and location TBD. Save the date.
The NEMO Facebook page, www.facebook.com/NewEnglandMiniOwners and website, www.nemomini.org, contain additional information.