CTR Members had a Great Time at The VTR National Convention in Princeton, NJ
August 16, 2017
When you walked into the lobby at the Westin Hotel and looked at the fabulous 1935 Southern Cross, you knew something special was happening. Here was a rara avis, and one of especially fine plumage. While normally an opening act is just support for the main attraction, for me this opening act was the main attraction.
Our convention had really started several hours and many miles earlier when we met up at the diner in Newtown to make the run in caravan. The caravan consisted of Alex and Janet Thomson (GT6 and TR6), Jay and Linda Jablonski (TR6), Ann and Mickey Kutka (TR3), Rene Valentine (TR3) and your editor and Susan (Spitfire). Rene’s husband was driving a Brand X car which came in useful later on.
We made slow but steady progress following a route devised by Janet which neatly avoided the worst of the highway traffic by crossing the Hudson over the Bear Mountain bridge. The day was hot and we made a number of stops to cool off. With about 50 miles to go Ann started to feel the effects of the heat and rode the rest of the way in the air-conditioned car while I drove her TR3, Susan piloting the Spitfire.
The first order of business on arrival was registration both at the hotel and the convention followed by a quick check of the vendors (and a couple of additions to my book collection), a clean up and then the reception party. It was a purely random thing but we found ourselves sitting with some folks from the Minnesota club who are organizing next year’s convention (in La Crosse, WI). We had a good time hearing how they had made their way from Minnesota to Princeton via Montreal, Maine and Connecticut.
The next day the convention started in earnest for us. There was no shortage of things to do, in fact trying to choose an event from the schedule proved at times to be a challenge. In the end Susan and I opted for the Funkhana and the Gimmick Rally. This was a tough choice because I would have loved to listen to Mike Cook and Ted Schumacher talk about the way it was when selling Triumphs in the Sixties. But it was a beautiful day so a run around the leafy suburbs of Princeton won out.
The Tech Session I was most interested in concerned the American British Reliability Run, and I was back from the rally in good time to learn about that. The presentation was excellent and I came away inspired to join the New Hampshire run next month with a longer term goal to try to launch a Connecticut edition. You can learn all about the Reliability Run at http://www.britishreliability.org —
The bulk of Friday was taken up by the autocross sessions. This was a very popular event attracting not only a lot of drivers but a good number of onlookers. The degree of enthusiasm with which drivers tackled the course varied from the stately to the all-out attempt to record FTD or break the car in trying. As far as I know, nobody succeeded in that latter goal, Triumphs being rugged enough to take that sort of punishment. If driving around traffic cones and hay bales wasn’t your cup of tea there were many self-guided tours to choose from with directions and maps.
If you think New Jersey is all industries and housing developments you need to explore the state a bit more. A few miles out of Princeton are miles of roads that are ideal for our kind of car, and the organizers did a fine job of selecting the best of them for those who wanted to do some exploring. We’ll forgive them the odd typo in the instructions, such as spelling “right” in its alternative form of “left”.
The weather for the car show on Saturday could not have been better, and the cars really sparkled in the sunshine. The sight of so many Triumphs lined up on parade was truly inspiring, while the cars entered in the Concours d’Elegance were magnificent. It’s not easy to capture this with a few photographs, you really needed to be there to appreciate the cars.
And so to Saturday night and the banquet. The keynote speaker was Mike Cook, who was the Publicity Director for Standard-Triumph and its successor companies, and we were treated to some fascinating insights into the world of trying to make our cars the sales success that they became.
I don’t think any of the Connecticut contingent was quite prepared for the awards ceremony. Our cars went back to Connecticut a bit heavier than they came down. Club secretary Janet Thomson kept track of things and when the night was done CTR members had picked up a number of trophies:
- Club Participation Award- CTR was one of two chapters with the highest volume of members at VTR Convention (18) excluding the host clubs;
- First place in Craft Contest- Linda Jablonski (Triumph T-shirt Quilt);
- Third place in the Gimmick Rally- Linda and Jay Jablonski (in their 1974 TR6);
- Placed in Funkhana- Linda and Jay Jablonski;
- Moss Motor’s British Sports Car Favorite Award- Anne & Mickey Kutka’s 1959 TR3A;
- VTR Editorial Award- CTR’s newsletter, The Triumph Reporter (Neville Wardle, Editor) was one of six chapter newsletters recognized this year;
- LeMans Start Contest- Anne Kutka was recognized by the organizer as the most inspirational entrant in the contest;
- First place in Participant’s Choice Show TR2/ TR3 Class- Anne & Mickey Kutka’s 1959 TR3A; • Third place in Concours d’Elegance TR3 ClassRenee Valentine’s 1962 TR3B;
- Second Place in Concours d’Elegance TR6 Late Class- Rob Russo’s 1976 TR6;
- Second Place in Concours d’Elegance Modified Touring Class- Tony Rhode’s 1967 TR4A
And so a whirlwind four days drew to a close. More than awards we all took away many fond memories of the people that made this convention such a great time. The 2018 convention is being hosted by the Minnesota club. It is being held in La Crosse, WI a mere 1,100 miles away. A Triumph can manage that without too much trouble…
- Story Janet Thomson, Photos Jay Jablonski