by Neville Wardle
The second British Reliability Run raised $11,700 for Paul Newman’s Hole In The Wall
Gang Camp. The sun shone on the teams and all cars made it safely back after covering
about 600 miles from Connecticut to the Finger Lakes region of New York and back.
There was a bit of a nip in the air as I drove from the Navigator’s house to GMT Racing in Newtown. This Reliability Run was a bit different from the others I’d done because the MGB was pinch hitting for the Spitfire, which was still in pieces in my garage. I had no
worries about the B doing the run, she’d already done it twice as the scouting vehicle when we were route-planning.
Embarking on a run you’ve already driven two or three times leads to somewhat mixed emotions. There’s no concerns about getting lost, although this time my route directions would be tested as Jay was to lead one group based on my instructions.
But it’s a bit like knowing what everybody’s getting for Christmas while still enjoying people’s reaction as the tour proceeds. Fortunately, with
Mother Nature on my side again the route was everything I’d hoped it would be.
When I pulled in to the yard at GMT most of the teams had already arrived. It was an almost even split between Triumphs and MGs. Coventry was represented by 3 TR6s (Jay and Linda Jablonski, Paul and Catherin Lamson, and Howie MacMahon), a TR4 (Dennis Sharon and Beau Dubuque) and a Spitfire (Sam and Kimberly Patterson. Abingdon’s finest included an MG TD (Dwight and Pam Ihling), an MGA (Jim and Chris Wiebe) and three MGBs (Ed and Jane Cooke, Rich and Lee Magna, and your Editor and his Navigator). Last but by no means least was an NG TD roadster (Ian and Penny Clark). For the uninitiated, an NG is a British kit car (in this case built by Ian’s father) that uses MGB running gear. We also had a Brand X vehicle because Gary and Kathy Dabrowski’s MGB suffered a serious overheating problem on a trip to Stowe, VT and Gary quite wisely decided not to risk a long drive in the car without really knowing why it had overheated or what damage had been done.
After admiring the vehicles in GMT’s shop and fueling our inner souls with coffee, pastries and healthier fare we lined up the cars in two groups. As our piper, Jonathan Henckel, played Will Ye No Come Back Again we set off on the run, with our hotel 235 miles away.
Any route that involves crossing the Hudson will be dictated by the choice of bridge, and of course this kind of event needs to avoid the major crossings. I decided to use the Kingston-Rhinecliff bridge to head west because once we were clear of Kingston there were no major towns on a more or less direct route to our hotel in Virgil, NY. We all made it to our lunch stop more or less on time and the food was served promptly.
We’d emailed our orders to Oakley’s and called them from about 30 miles away to give them a good idea of our arrival time. They did a great job and our food was ready for us.
Suitably fed we set off on the afternoon stage, with 110 miles to cover to the hotel. The TD a bit reluctant to proceed but a bit of coaxing brought it to life and we made it to our rest stop in Walton, the MG group running about 15 minutes behind the Triumph group.
It was in Walton that we had a little drama as two cars were a bit reluctant to continue. Jim Wiebe’s MGA was having electrical issues. Jim was quick to point out that all the British parts of the car were working perfectly, it was the modified electrics on his GM V6 powered car that were acting up. Ian Clark stayed with Jim, trying to work out why the car had developed an appetite for fuses.
The TD was again a bit reluctant to restart but
came to life, so four cars set off. NY route 206 climbs a respectable hill on its way out of town and as I picked up speed on the grade I checked my rear view mirror and could not see the TD, so we pulled over. Minutes went by and it became clear the little veteran car had run into trouble. The other 2 MGs carried on, suitably armed with the directions in the road book that all teams received, while I went back to see where the TD was.
As I got to the bottom of the hill I got my answer: the TD had needed a run at the hill rather than the dead start at the stop sign in town, and was coming up the hill like a bat out of hell. I once more turned around and four miles later managed to catch up with the older car. Hills might be slowing her down, but Pam Ihling was wasting no time on level ground.
At this point I decided to see how well I’d written out the directions and let Pam lead the way to the hotel. To my delight Pam and her navigator Dwight had no trouble following the route and we made it safely to the hotel, to be followed about 30 minutes later by the last two cars. All accounted for, and 235 miles covered.
The Reliability Run is not, of course, just about driving. It’s an opportunity to socialize with the other teams, to swap the usual stories that owners of old cars can tell and to relax in a convivial setting. The Hope Lake Lodge was an excellent place for all of this.
The weather forecast for Saturday included a threat of showers and possible thunderstorms in the afternoon but we set off under sunny skies for a tour around Cayuga Lake en route to Watkins Glen, a 114 mile trip. The route included a stop at the spectacular Taughannock Falls. I noted how much less water was falling compared to the previous visits we made during route planning, evidence of a dry summer.
From Taughannock Falls it’s a fairly short trip to Watkins Glen where we had a layover that gave people choices. There was the chance to drive the Watkins Glen racetrack, eagerly taken by Sam Patterson and Jay Jablonski, while the old race track is clearly marked out and all on public roads for those who wanted a spot of racing history. Wineries, breweries and the odd distillery were all close by on NY route 14 while downtown Watkins Glen offered a variety of watering holes. For those who hadn’t had enough driving there was also a 50 mile tour around Keuka Lake.
Your editor and his Navigator wandered around in search perhaps of a place to eat by the lake but eventually ended up at the pub that was our lunch stop on the exploratory runs, the Rooster Fish, where we sat at the open french windows and watched the world go by before regrouping and going back to Virgil.
One of the features of the Reliability Run is the Road Book produced by Jay and Linda
Jablonski. It’s been referred to as the Bible for the Reliability Run. In it teams will find the route instructions that I draw up along with some trivia about the roads we’re using. Jay and Linda highlight the route on maps and include copious information about places to eat and attractions at the stopping places on the route. Contact details for all the teams are included just in case anybody gets lost.
A quick look at a map will show that it is easily possible to get from Watkins Glen to Virgil in well under an hour, but this being the CT Reliability Run I found a far more entertaining and lengthy route that avoided Ithaca by using some very minor country roads. The 54 mile run included a sporting hill climb on Blakeslee Hill Road, freshly strewn with two inches of chippings in anticipation of our run to make drifting round the hairpin more or less obligatory.
We arrived back at the hotel with no sign of the showers or thunderstorms, although it would rain during the night while we were all safely tucked up in bed and the cars
The front that had passed through during the night left behind cooler air and clouds that meant the first hour of Sunday’s drive was a bit chilly, but eventually
the sun burned through and normal weather was resumed.
Our destination was Lime Rock Park, which is 188 miles from Virgil. Most of those miles
would be on NY route 23 which took us from Cincinattus to within 30 miles of the finish line. We crossed the Hudson on the Rip van Winkle bridge, which opened in 1935. The toll on opening day was 80 cents, equivalent to nearly $15 today, so the present toll ($1.50) is a bargain.
All the cars made it safely back to Lime Rock for a farewell gathering and meal. Jason, our fund-raising partner from the Hole In the Wall Gang Camp (https://www.holeinthewallgang.org/) was there for us to hand over a cheque that, in reality, will be somewhere around $11,700 when corporate matching donations are completed.
And that, of course, is what the event was really all about. In the two years we’ve run the event we have raised over $20,000 for the camp, helping them in their important work with sick children and honouring Paul Newman’s vision. The fact
that we had a lot of fun and perhaps raised a little hell in doing so would, I am sure, have brought a smile to Paul’s face.
With another run successfully completed, we look ahead to next year. Perhaps you will join us and see what all the fun’s about?
LAST YEARS CT BRITISH RELIABILITY RUN —
The inaugural 2018 CT British Reliability Run raised around $10,000 for the Hole in
the Wall Gang camp and the participants enjoyed a tour of the Adirondacks. This year
our destination is the Finger Lakes. Those who took part in last year’s Reliability Run had such a good time and raised such an impressive amount for charity that it was clear we had to see if we could beat our results in 2019.
Planning started in January as we took note of lessons learned. One decision was very easy to reach: we would continue to support the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp as our charity. Their website is at https://www.holeinthewallgang.org/
The destination was a little more difficult to choose, because it isn’t just a question of throwing darts at a map. There is the matter of a decent hotel at a reasonable price, availability of places to eat and suitable roads to get us from Connecticut to our destination and back.
Our first thoughts were the Green Mountains of Vermont, and while an entertaining route to the region was fairly easy to establish, finding lodgings that matched our criteria was not so easy. We turned our eyes westwards, back to NY state and out to the Finger Lakes region. Some hours spent with Google Earth suggested a likely route, while internet searches and phone calls uncovered a possible hotel choice.
From there it was just along day’s drive to establish that the route was as scenic as Google Earth suggested and that the hotel lived up to the pictures on its website.
And so we can now present the CT British Reliability Run 2019!
When: It will take place on the last weekend in September, departing CT on the morning of Friday, September 27th on a 225 mile run to Cortland, NY. Saturday will be spent touring the Finger Lakes region and the return trip to Connecticut is the following day.
Where: Our base for the weekend for the two nights away from home is at the Hope Lake
Lodge, which is a few miles south of Cortland. You can inspect the hotel at https://hopelakelodge.com/ The hotel has reserved 14 rooms for us at a discounted rate of $154 a night, available through August 1st.
Why: we hope to raise more money this year for the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp
than we did last year. The camp was very grateful for our efforts and we want to continue our support of this amazing charity.
How: for details of the event send email to firstname.lastname@example.org The registration fee remains the same as last year at $125. Drivers and navigators are responsible for their
accommodation and meals. The route is on US, State and County roads with no interstate highways.
On behalf of the organizing group, I hope to see you on the 2019 CT British Reliability Run!
Below is a gallery of photographs from the
2018 CT British Reliability Run.
(CLICK ON A PHOTO TO SEE ALL ENLARGED)
What is a Reliability Run?
Reliability Runs were something of a tradition in England that has now been continued by British car clubs on both side of the Atlantic. The C.T.R. in conjunction with the CT MG club is proud to present the first Connecticut British Reliability Run?
This type of driving event has its roots in England. Owners of British cars whose marque had a reputation for poor mechanical reliability would gather and do long continuous drives around England to prove that their cars were indeed reliable.
British Reliability Runs continue to this day, benefiting children’s charities in England, then in 2002 Blake Discher of the Detroit Triumph Sportscar Club, founded America’s British Reliability Run (ABRR). He had help and guidance from former Triumph Standard executive and British Reliability run veteran John Macartney. The ABRR spirit is now spreading throughout the USA with multiple regional runs. The ABRR is a challenging and fun driving event that so far has raised more than $215,000 for worthy children’s charities here in the United States.
The only competition is how much each CT Reliability Run team can raise for the chosen charity: The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, founded by Paul Newman. This organization is dedicated to providing “a different kind of healing” to seriously ill children and their families throughout the northeast, free of charge. It’s a community that celebrates the fun, friendship and spirit of childhood, where every kid can “raise a little hell.” We visited the camp in Ashford and were very impressed with the work that they do to allow seriously ill children to have camping opportunities that we perhaps take for granted. – Janet Thomson
We have created a special website for the CT British Reliability run at https://www.ctbrr.org/ —— It has everything you need to know, and you can sign up for this great event!