Portland All-British Field Meet (Portland International Raceway)

August 31st September 2nd, 2001

Octagon Newsletter October 2001

By Rachel & Andy Nelson

This year Triumph was the featured marque. Andy and I decided to drive down both of the Minis, and as luck would have it, our collector application was approved in the nick of time for the Cooper "S"!

We opted to caravan with the Victoria MG Club, who start their journey via the Coho ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles. This involved rising at the very dark hour of 3:45 a.m., so that we could rendezvous at the Quilcene ranger station on Highway 101. The hour seemed all the more arduous since coffee is off-limits in the cars! The border was a breeze. The customs official asked if the cars came with a "key", by which I think he meant that they must be "toys".

We pulled up to the ferry dock at 7:05 a.m., and waited a mere 5 minutes before we boarded. The ferry ride from Edmonds to Kingston was beautiful. Lots of people admired the cars and we had plenty of raised eyebrows when we told them we were headed all the way to Portland. Highway 104 takes you all the way to Highway 101, and over the Hood Canal Bridge. The bridge is very long, and has impressive views of the Hood Canal and Puget Sound to the north.

At the ranger station we met up with Cam Russell & Karen Trickett in their 1952 TD, Len & Bonnie Smith in their 1958 MGA, Chris Grant in his 1969 MGC GT with Graham Underwood navigating and Doug and Been Ingram in their 1958 Bugeye Sprite. We were six cars strong down the "101", which is a perfect road for British cars. It has lots of curves, newly paved in most places and beautiful views of the Canal. The sun started to come out as we neared Olympia, and those with convertibles were happy to see the end of the clouds.

In Olympia, we met up with Zoe and Walt Harrison and their 1958 Austin Healey Sprite. We had a brief stop and tour of their lovely home and had enough room for all six cars in their driveway! They now led the group through the back roads. Some of these towns had changed little over the years. Rail still appears to play a role in these communities, with the train station being the centre of the town.

We found a picnic site to stop for lunch outside of Kelso. All of us were glad for the chance to eat and stretch our legs.

We crossed into Portland via the St. John's Bridge off Highway 30. The bridge is very old and as we waited in traffic on the bridge deck you could really feel it bouncing! The roads were quite thick with the long weekend traffic and we pulled into Portland International Raceway late in the afternoon. Those who were camping at the field set up their tents and unpacked the cars.

Andy and I went over to the host hotel to bath the Minis. We had run into some rain outside of Seattle and they were filthy. Regrettably, we could not make the Meet N' Greet, since this would be our only chance to clean the Minis before the show. Passing up free food - what a shame! The Portland International Raceway was hosting pro-street drags and some of these vehicles were very impressive. Absolute raw horsepower, with some of them doing the quarter-mile around 150 m.p.h.! Definitely a different crowd than British car owners, which made for some interesting people watching! The drags went on past 10:00 p.m., but all of us had been up since the wee hours and had sleep on our minds.

The day of the show promised some sunshine, a great relief to those of us who had dared Mother Nature and erected tents (double dare if you brought a convertible!). One of the bonuses of camping is that you get to set up your car in the premium spots! The Minis were set up across from the food tent, right along the main access road. The wheels had hardly stopped before interested folks started asking questions. As usual, Andy and I spent the better part of the day talking to people. We were able to spell each other off and vote on all the beautiful cars at the show. This year there were around twenty-eight Minis, with some interesting cars like the wonderful Catalina Mini (complete with wicker interior and no doors - Fantasy Island style). Boats, anyone? John Hunt from Portland entered his Healey Sport Boat! Christened "Healey Passions", it was one of the more unusual entrants. Best Car in the Show went to Ted Reich and his 1927 Bentley (#582). This car was absolutely stunning - Ted mentioned that the car won at Pebble Beach.

For a full report on all the class winners, go to www.abfmpdx.com/peoples choice2001.

Congratulations to everyone who made the trip and took home a trophy!!

On Sunday, the swap meet and cars for sale field was busy. Not much in the way of Mini parts, but lots of bits from other vehicles. Andy and I were feeling bold and decided to enter the "S" in the Giant Slalom. The car had no seatbelts, so we had to rob one seatbelt from the Wagon. This resulted in a search of the swap meet for a 7/16 bolt, which was found at a vendor's table. With the skinny tires and rusty slalom drivers (my last time was 1989!), we were anything but fast! Andy was 7th and I was 8th in the "large bore" Mini class. It was great fun, although some said the Cooper "S" was so quiet that it sounded like an electric car!

Those who had camped at the field packed up and stayed in a hotel for Sunday night. Boy, a hot shower sure does feel good! The rest of the group we had caravanned down with returned on Monday, making the afternoon Coho ferry back to Victoria. Cam Russell said that they stopped for lunch in Hoodsport, which turned into quite a dining adventure. The restaurant was a family run affair and it took them around forty-five minutes to get their food, in spite of being the only customers! Well, with the great sense of humour that prevails with British car owners, it was just another "story" that will be remembered with a laugh.

Andy and I planned to stay for the week after the show in Portland so that Andy could do some flight training and finish his US airline transport rating. Jeremy and Rochelle Thorpe from the Oregon Mini Society were kind enough to host us (Jeremy is the guy with all the "toys" at car events). We even got to park the Minis in his garage, which was large enough to hold his two Minis and ours with ease.

We had a lovely drive back, taking Highway 26 from Portland to Seaside and then back up the coast via the "101". The sights are truly beautiful between Seaside and Astoria and the road is twisty and well paved. Traffic was very light, as most people were back to work after the long weekend. We took the ferry from Port Townsend to Whidbey Island, and back up Highway 15 from there. Altogether, we logged 1000 miles on the trip and the Minis ran like Hondas the whole way!

If you do have a chance to attend the Portland All British Field Meet, please give it a try. It is a great drive, the atmosphere at the show is family oriented and the event is very well organized. It is a great way to get out in your car and enjoy the camaraderie of other enthusiasts! See you there next year!

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