Celebrating 60 Years of the Western NY Centre MG Car Club
By Dick Powers
In the Fall of 1957, seven hardcore MG enthusiasts from Rochester, NY, were having a fun weekend in Tupper Lake, NY. Over a few brews, they decided that the good times they were having should not end, and when they got back to Rochester they would form a car club. Much work had to be done, but by February 1958, the Western NY Centre MG Car Club was born.
That first year was very busy with organizational matters, but the club grew and had many social and sporting events including a gymkhana, rallye, and even racing on local dirt tracks. Also during 1958, David Ash, renowned MGA racer and BMC representative, drove one of the first MGA Twin Cams in the US all the way from New York City to be a guest speaker at a meeting. But possibly the biggest event was when John Thornley, founder of the MG Car Club, visited the Western NY Centre in July. The club was only six months old at that time, but he was very impressed with what he saw and the plans for the future.
The Western NY Centre MG Car Club is hosting its “Sports Car Festival” Sunday July 15th from 9am to 5pm. Information and registration forms
can be found at www.mgcarclub.com. Their 60th Anniversary Celebration will be on Sunday August 12 at the Lake Shore Country Club in Rochester, NY
Cost is $40 per person for WNY MGCC members and $50 per person for non-club members.
The first year was very productive, but in 1959 the club decided to take on something even mature clubs wouldn’t likely consider: organizing the first “All MG Races” in the United States. On what amounted to a handshake with the folks at Watkins Glen and $1000, the planning began. MG racers from all over the North Eastern US and Canada came to the Glen for this historic event. The races were so successful, they were held again in 1960. Cameron Argetsinger, father of modern road racing in the US and an MG TC owner, was so impressed by how well the club ran the All MG Races, that he asked that we run the Concours d’Elegance during the Glen Grand Prix weekends. This tradition continues to this day during the Vintage Grand Prix Festival.
The Western NY Centre continued to grow and at one time had 300 members. Given the monthly rallyes, along with gymkhanas and events at the races, a membership of that size was needed to run and support the many events. One event of note, the Sports Car and Vintage Auto Festival started simply as a gathering at a member’s Wagonjack Farm and grew, during its 40 year tenure, into the largest car show in the area with 800 to as many as 1,250 cars on display.
The MG Car Club took note of all the activities of the Western NY Centre and in 1961 awarded it the Nuffield Cup for North America. This honor was again awarded in 1962, 1987 and 2014. Actually from 62-85, the cup was in the possession of the Western NY Centre as we waited to hear who was the next winner. For reasons still unknown, the MGCC didn’t award it again till 1986. In our 60 years, we are proud to have won the Nuffield Cup 4 times.
Today the Western NY Center has over 200 members and events every month. All types of MGs are in the club, including T Series, MGAs and MGBs along with other sports cars, including Austin Healey, Jaguar, Lotus, Alfa Romeo and Triumph. Racing, now Vintage, is still part of club activities. At one time seven MGs were raced with five still in competition. In that group, three racers have been awarded the Collier Cup, two have won the NAMGAR Bucher/Decker Cup and one, the Bill Glanville Memorial Cup.
Now celebrating 60 years, the Western NY Centre MG Car Club is still going strong!