When I first joined the Austin-Healey Club (1976), I owned a 1967 BJ8. In 1978 I bought my 100/4 and then owned the two Healeys for several years. I used the BJ8 as my daily driver from 1974 until I sold it in 1980.
My first West Coast Meet, now Rendezvous, was in Bend Oregon in 1979. I had only owned the 100 for a short time when one Friday afternoon I thought, “What am I going to do this weekend?” I had heard there was a meet in Bend Oregon for the Austin Healey Car Clubs, so why not go? I drove home, packed a bag and headed south. I had never been south of Seattle before and certainly never on my own. I had no idea where Bend was and I didn't bother to look at a map. Actually I didn't even have a map. I just followed the I-5 hoping to see an exit sign to Bend….
Luckily there was, otherwise I would be visiting California.
Heading east off the I-5 for an hour an a half towards Bend, having not seen any signs for a long while and not knowing how far was left to go, I pulled into a gas station to ask “how far to Bend?” when from behind I heard a voice “You going to the Healey Meet?” I turned around to see Greg Lowe, a long time BC Healey Club member and a face I knew “just follow me” he continued. I thought great….. He knew the way and in fact he did, we actually got to there.
Once there, walking up to the hotel front desk, I mentioned I had not thought of getting a room, I had only decided to come down today. Greg simply said “no-problem” and asked the desk clerk for the Capone’s room (Norm & Russ). Greg knew there was always going to be a party going on there, so that is where we went. There, I met some new friends and they welcomed me openly without reservation, and so it was also where I spent that first night. I have been to many meets since, but it is always your first ones you remember the best. And the friends I met that first day; are still very very good friends.
I still own the very same 100 and because of the car, I have met many additional friends, been to many places and seen many sites. I even made it to Australia this past year (I had always wanted to go) but the Healey made it happen.
Thinking forward, I can only hope more members take the opportunity to step up and work with the club. It is the people you meet; the times you spend and enjoy together that are most rewarding. Chances are those new found friends can ultimately become life long friends as I have found. It can also result in those friends inviting you into their homes and lives whether it is Langley, Portland or Australia.
As I think about it, the Meets I have attended over the years, it is the end-of-day sitting in hotel rooms with friends. It is meeting for breakfast at 6 or 7 am and then going for the tours and drives.
I have had so much fun being a member of this club over the years, I cannot express. All the work I have done for and with the Club, I have found truly worth it.
Your friend and AHOABC Club Member Since 1976: Mike Long.
Footnote: The Caricature here was drawn by John Swann. I think he has made me look younger and even better looking, so there was no need for a photo of me or my car.
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