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MGVR Celebrates Silver Anniversary at Hallett
MGVR at Hallett

What a grand way to celebrate your 25th anniversary – throw a Race Party! And that’s just what the MG Vintage Racers did this June at the Hallett Raceway in Oklahoma – with 3 days of MG only races, making it the first ever “All MG” vintage race weekend in North America!

Founded with 38 MG vintage racers in 1981 as a newsletter, it now has about 250 members. Although not a race sanctioning organization, it encourages MG vintage racing, and has worked closely with race sanctioning bodies over the years to get MG races at a variety of events. Usually they choose one event each year as their “Focus Event”, encourage all their members to attend it, and then supplement it with their own dinner, paddock area & awards.

Three days of races at Hallett gave racers lots of track time with classes for all models of MGs. Besides generous amounts of practice, there were scratch races, handicap races, tag team races, and an enduro. Top that with a BBQ Friday evening, and MGVR’s anniversary dinner Saturday evening!

In addition to lots of racing awards sponsored by a number of different organizations and people, there were three special honors presented. As voted by his fellow racers, Reed Yates was selected for MGVR’s “Spirit Award” based on outstanding “Vintage Spirit”. He was the event chairman, while also racing his MGTF and ’34 MG N–Type. Plus he loaned his MGs to a couple of hard luck MG racers, so they could get some laps in. Next, MG Midget racer Grover Maurer was presented the "Bill Parish Award", in recognition of a racer focused on having lots of fun, while not concerned about winning. At 75 years young, he runs mid–pack and often helps his fellow racers with their cars. Then a special plaque was presented to Greg Prehodka, as the founder of MGVR, who has been racing the same MGTD since 1977. Now, 25 years later, MGVR still follows the basic philosophy he laid out in 1981.

MGVR has a motto taken from Shakespeare: “..we few, we happy few, we band of brothers”, and that very much appears to be the spirit they follow. Next year their “Focus Event” will be with VARAC at Mosport in June 2007.

Image copyright and courtesy of “BirdsEye Photo,– the Hallett track photographer.

From Tape Recordings of Hallett Weekend, June 2–4, 2006 - Recorded by Greg Prehodka

Awards and Presentations After Friday’s BBQ

Will Bowden about Bill Parish just before the awarding of the “Bill Parish” award – Bill Parish was a super guy, who I knew before I started racing, back in the early 60’s and he started racing in the late 70’s. Here’s a story that is an example of Bill’s philosophy. He came into tech one time with his TC with a water faucet on his tailpipe. They teched his car and everything, and the tech inspector knew Bill and said “I hate to ask, but what is that?” And Bill replied: “That’s an exhaust bleeder”!

And another time Beau Gable – who is also one of our founding members – snapped an axel or something on his MG and Bill Parish told him “You can race my TC, but it doesn’t have any brakes.” Beau replied “It don’t matter to me that it doesn’t have brakes.” So Beau drove the TC out. Then during the race, people told Bill Parish “Hey Bill, do you know your brakes lights on your TC aren’t working” to which he replied “Hell, I don’t have any brakes.” That’s the kind of guy he really was – a really super person, and I was really flattered to get his award (last year at Road Atlanta).

Dave Littlefield on the presentation of the “Bill Parish Award” – I’m happy to be on the committee for choosing the recipient of this year’s award. We went over the criteria that Bill was a person who always had fun and never won a race – he was always out there and plugging away and he was a help to everybody. There was one racer’s name who came to my mind immediately, and was my suggestion. This fellow I’ve known for a number of years. He always helps everybody. I don’t think he has ever won a race – as long as I’ve known. He’s always got a smile on his face. He’s been to a number of “Focus Events.” He’s out there every time and he’s a back marker, but I’ve never seen anyone who has more fun than he does Bill Maurer! (applause).

Bill Maurer: “I’m honored.” Thank you very much.

As the “Founding Members” of MGVR were presented with honorary plaques, they were asked to reflect on some vintage racing memories of theirs.

Founding Member Bob Satava (reflects on his MG racing at Bryar, New Hampshire in 1981 where he and George Pardee were racing their MGs) - George went out for his first race and he saw how well I was driving so he said “Can I follow you around so I can learn the track?” I said “Ya – that would be fine.” So we took off and I just lost control – I just put the pedal to the metal – and by the time I looked in my rear view mirror, I didn’t find beginner George at all following me around. I said “Oh my god, I’m suppose to be showing this guy the turns, etc. etc.” It turned out – in that race – my car was running like on ball bearings – super fast – to about 7,000 lets – just brag – until I put a valve through the piston, and in the pits I didn’t want to repair the engine. George courageously came up and volunteered his TF to me. After I just blew my engine up – that’s really nice. I didn’t accept the offer – but it was a great gesture.

I’ll tell you another story. At Bryar (the old track) we had the first and only “Australian Pursuit Race.” I started number twelve – the last car off. Cars went off every 30 seconds or so – it was a very short track. I was just sweating it out, in line waiting to get released, because the other cars were going to be coming around from the back side of the track. Once you’re passed in an Australian pursuit race, you’re out of the race. So I went out on the track and I was looking behind me thinking I was going to be eaten up by the early starters. It turned out that in about four laps of a ten lap race I did lap the whole field and they are waving the checkered flag and I could not believe it – which was quite a thrill.

Founding Member Al Moss on his memories:

First off, I’d like to say it is great to be here. I’ve met a lot of old acquaintances and a lot of new people, and I want to particularly thank Don Martine for allowing me to race his Von Newmann TD special. For those who didn’t see it, I went out in a blaze of glory this morning with it. Quite a few years ago at the Monterey Historic races on the very first lap of practice after the pace lap, I came out of the last turn and I smelled something funny and noisy. I came back in and I took the head off my TC. It had swallowed a valve! Don Martine said we could go out to the ranch and take the engine out of his racing TC. So we took the engine out of my TC in the pits, and loaded it into the semi that had brought my TC up. My group came back at a quarter to six with Don’s engine – I don’t know how they got it out. But it would never run again – never mind tomorrow – as it was a mass of rust! So I put the hood and the radiator back on my TC, and left it parked in line. Next day it’s time for my race. I don’t know what prompted me but I borrowed a driving suit and helmet. I get in my car and belt myself in. My group pushes me out to the pre–grid. And they LEAVE! I yell “Push – Push!” Everyone want to be a hero – right? They start pushing my TC and I say “Go faster if you can!” I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I wasn’t going to go out onto the racetrack. The last thing is a tent that says “Technical Inspection.” I pull in there. Tech inspector was there and I said ”Raise the hood and see what is wrong! They said this thing was running great! Raise the hood!” He raises the hood and there’s nothing in there! He called everybody over, and of course they don’t know whether I don’t know whether there’s an engine in there or not!

It was only hard to beat a few years later, when it cost me a $300 entry fee, just as a spoof to the guys who were coming out with the 40 foot semi’s and the mechanics and the suits and the green grass and everything. I was racing my 3 wheel Morgan at the time. I entered my TC also. I towed the Morgan all the way up from Santa Barbara – about 300 miles – with the TC. I had my tent, my camping gear, my tools and everything in it. Raced both of them for the weekend and drove them home again. That got me their “Die Hard” award!

Founding Member Mark Brandow on his memory:

I met Al Moss in 1982 when I was at Monterey. That year my wife and I went out to meet new people and try a new track, like I try to do every year. I met Al and Don Martine and amazingly enough they were still the same people they are, and they were trying to get their cars together and get them to work at the track! Mine ran all weekend – which is the good news – of course I beat Al Moss and I thought he should go faster, being the local at the track. But I’ve got a lot of good memories just coming here to the track and seeing Al again and Don Martine, and George and the rest of the guys who are part of the founding guild – always fun to come to the track.

Founding Member Will Bowden with his memories:

I restored my TF in 1978 after running around in primer for 10 or 15 years and I decided to go race with it down at Sebring. It was almost like run what ya brung. I had a whole crew come on out and help me re–assemble the TF because it wasn’t together – I was restoring it. I took off to Sebring to break my engine in. I made it about three miles and the clutch linkage fell apart and I had to go back! But anyway, I raced with Mark Brandow and a lot of people who came down for the preliminary race of Sebring’s 12 hour race. One year I was there going through the vintage pits and Stirling Moss was there. They were working on a Birdcage Maserati, which, by the way, would lap me every two laps with Stirling in it. Stirling would come up behind my TF and he would hesitate. I would wave at him to pass over here, but he was not sure – the he’d go around. Then the next lap I waived and he did not wait as long. By the third lap he would just go by. Next year Stirling had a Birdcage again, and was down at the hairpin on the side of the track with a broken Birdcage, and every time I passed him he waved! Back in the pits when they were working on the Maserati, I said to the crew “You’ve got a suspension problem there – you know.” Stirling said to me “You find the track kind of rough this year?” I said “Stirling, you’ve been on this track for 20 years, and this is the first time for me. And besides, I’m driving an MGTF.” Stirling replied “That has an abominable suspension.” Anyway, I’ve been more or less racing my TF since 1978, and I have a lot of fun and really enjoy it and enjoyed this weekend greatly.

Founding Member Greg Prehodka with his memories:

I started racing with my TD in 1977 with the New England MG T Register. I had never raced a day in my life up till then, and the first event I entered was the Register’s 6 hour endurance race. To race all you had to do was come up with 25 bucks, have a helmet of some kind, and a seat belt – simpler times. My brother and I shared the racing for 189 laps the first time we ever put a wheel on the track! The MGTD wasn’t even a vintage eligible car back in 1977, and they were still making new MGs. A few of us began bringing out MGs for vintage racing – where they were eligible – but we rarely met, at places like Road Atlanta, Lime Rock, Shannonville, etc. This was fun and in I started a little MG newsletter to stay in touch with all the MG racers.

Some of the vintage races back then were much different than what we have today. I remember one VSCCA race out at Pocono in the early 80’s. We were a support race for a IMSA race or something. Vintage was paddocked out behind the old condemned bleachers. Most of us were camping out. The bleachers made for wonderful fire wood. As it got dark, we all gathered around a camp fire made from the bleachers, rolling off one racing story after another late into the night. And a few campfires away, some young lady even shed her fabrics while dancing around their campfire! There have been so many vintage racing adventures over the years.

George Pardee on presenting Greg Prehodka with a plaque honoring him as the founder of MGVR.

After following Greg Prehodka to race tracks for 25 years, Greg congratulations! The honest idea that you so lovelingly pursued has given tremendous joy to this band of brothers. It’s far more than the newsletter that’s eagerly awaited, and thorough read. Its been a passport making us welcome, and a top echelon in vintage racing in this country, at the best venues, and its been an introduction to friends hitherto not met. Your vision has been validated by the two men who have stepped into your shoes as editor. And your dedication and enthusiasm continues unabated. Congratulations on 25 years. Its been great. It is now my honor, and my son Will’s and my family’s, to present to you this plaque which Chris Meyers, Mark Palmer, Reed Yates and others have created on behalf of us – the MG Vintage Racers. Greg, I’m honored – thank you!

Chris Meyers (still presenting plaque to Greg)

Let me describe what this is over here (photo on plaque presented to Greg) Greg described ol’53 back in 1977 – football helmet, T–Shirt. This (photo of him) is how it was back then. And this (badge) is the symbol of our 25th Anniversary Celebration. And these are copies of page one and page two of the very first MGVR newsletter. It has a silver background to commemorate the 25th anniversary. Greg, this is yours – it is a testament to your vision and 15 years hard work (as editor 1981–1995).

Greg accepting the plaque:

Thank you so much. The newsletter really wasn’t a great vision. Its something I started with my friends, and its grown over the years – its been a wonderful experience. But we – and the newsletter – are only here today because of two other people. Mark Palmer picked up the newsletter from me in 1995, and he said he would do it for “No more than five years.” Ten years later – it’s time to turn it over – we’re saying “My god – who are we going to find?” And Chris Meyers steps forward and says “I Will!” And he’s done an outstanding job. Let it be know that this newsletter is not any one person – its everybody – the camaraderie, and the help from everyone. Reed Yates and all the other Focus Event chairmen, regalia that we have, Tech Editor Stan Edwards, Ed Cronin our Treasurer – so many people are involved. It is just a great group of people and I love all of you. This honor really belongs to the three of us who carried on the newsletter to get it to 25 years. Mark I’d like you to say a few words.

Mark Palmer:

I think this event kind of personifies the whole thing. For us to have an only MG race weekend and get 75 or 76 people to come to the middle of Oklahoma, kind of says what it’s all about.

Chris Meyers:

I don’t have much to say either. I’ll tell you one thing – it will be 125 years before we give away all those gifts over there (donated for this event). I want to thank you very much, and it has been a pleasure serving one year (as editor of MGVR).

Reed Yates (giving out some certificates of appreciation);

I know Jack Kahler is here. Jack brought his (1930) “Double 12” M–Type MG all the way from Colorado (to be a pace car).

Jack Kahler

I just appreciate you people with real MGs allowing me to bring something like that out to get a few hot laps. Thanks a lot, cause it is really hard to get that car out on a track. Appreciate it! You guys are great!

Presentation of MGVR Spirit Award

Chris Meyers – It was awarded at the first Focus Event in 1996 and Mark Palmer was editor then and maybe I’ll ask Mark to shed some light on the history of the MGVR “Spirit Award.”

Mark Palmer – It’s kind of like what Chris said. When we started to have Focus Events, actually one of our members who wanted to remain anonymous said “You know, we ought to have something to hand out at a Focus Event for some kind of spirit award.” So this bucket was donated to MG Vintage Racers and first awarded at Waterford Hills (Michigan) in 1996 at the Meadowbrook Historics, and then has been awarded every year since then at our Focus Events. So it has a lot of great names on it and when you get the award, you get to keep it for a year and you get to engrave your name on a tag on it. And the criteria for the award – you guys all know cause you voted – is basically for whomever you feel best embodies the MG Vintage Racers Spirit – there’s no more then that. Whatever you feel is the right spirit – that’s the right spirit to vote for. (Question from someone at the ceremony) “Where did the Bucket come from?” I don’t know exactly. Like I say, it was an anonymous donation. The guy called me up and said “You know, we ought to have an award. But you know, we drive MGs, so we don’t want anything real frilly and fancy. We don’t want any of that silver stuff. We want to have something that’s kinda big – and sturdy” (spectator comments: “To cook pasta in – Holds lots of beer – make chili in it – rumor has it that it will leak oil, but it will not leak water” {lots of laughter}.

Chris Meyers – When Lou (Marchant – last years winner) and her daughter Julia were kind enough to spread the ballots out – spread the cheer – Lou was also kind enough to tally up the ballots for me, and when I found out who the winner was this year, I could not think of anyone more deserving. Lets go ahead right now – and when he finishes his sandwich – Reed Yates {applause – photos}. Congratulations.

Reed Yates – Thank you everybody!

Greg Prehodka
MG Vintage Racers
Publicity Coordinator
MGVR on the Web: MGVR.org