By Rob and Tommie Camblin
The 2017 Moss Motoring Challenge would be our third endeavor to visit as many locations as possible while enjoying our MGs. My wife, Tommie and I are fortunate enough to take care of three of Britain’s finest examples of English motoring design; a 1951 MGTD, 1962 MGA Mk II, and a 1968 MGB GT. Our previous attempts at the Challenge resulted in respectable finishes of 5th (2015) and 3rd in 2016. And speaking of being fortunate we really enjoy traveling together in the cars over various distances to explore new locations, visit friends near and far, and partake in various National and Regional events.
When we saw the 2017 list of Challenge categories, we looked at where we had already planned to visit, such as the national MGA and MGB events in Solvang CA and San Diego CA, respectively. Also, we have for the past 16 years partaken in the Conch Republic Festival hosted by the Key West Car Club in Key West, Florida. Oh, I should also mention that the MGB GT is my daily driver and I use it to travel to various locations for fly fishing, or in towing our teardrop trailer for camping trips out west. So, as you may be able to tell, we spend a lot of time enjoying the open road.
We started the Challenge close to home finding new locations that fit the various categories. Tommie is a whiz at reading a Thompson street guide and finding street names that could be used. For example, she found near our city hall a street named Higashimurayama, which we thought would be a great one for scrabble, but in the end, we used it for the Around the World category. Higashimurayama is the sister city of our home town, Independence, MO. In addition, we were able to find quite a few signs that fit various categories in our little downtown square. It is something unique about living in the heart of America, every town we visit, whether in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Arkansas, or Louisiana, they all have a downtown that has something for everyone, not found in the big city. An example of this is our search for a Haberdashery, I thought I had found one in Colorado, so on a fishing trip I made a special effort to visit it. Well it was no longer there. We thought we had a sure bet on another haberdashery while attending the NAMGBR event in San Diego, but again we could not find the actual sign. Finally, out of the blue in a small Oklahoma town, we found a true Haberdashery in the downtown business district, and we weren’t even looking for it. Go figure.
We also found that no matter how many times you drive the same route you don’t always see what is right in front of you. For example, in the category of roadside oddities, we have driven down a local road for the past 10 years and never noticed one of the buildings had an actual sized head of a Rhinoceros projecting out of the front of the building. When we did notice it, not only did we take the picture, but we also had a discussion on how long it had been there. Come to find out about 7 years.
Sometimes the Challenge afforded opportunities to challenge oneself. For those of you who know my wife, Tommie, she has a very innate fear of the water and will make the greatest effort to stay on dry land. Well, seeing her on a ferry in the middle of the Mississippi showed me just what a trouper she can be in pursuing a goal. This is also true in making decisions of how to get the shot or where to park the car to get the best angle of car, placard, and object. Many times, we would forgo stopping because we just didn’t think it was a wise or safe location. Of course, I can’t count how many times I would make a U-turn to go back to something we missed until we had passed it.
In preparing this story we looked back over our photos of the Challenge and of those we took but did not enter for one reason or another. I must say we became nostalgic and would have conversations about a place or person in the photo. Some of the places, we photographed have since been torn down, like the huge wind generator in Guymon, Ok. On the way out, we stopped and got the photo. Less than three weeks later it was gone. Same story with the Bat Tower on Sugarloaf Key. It had been available for visiting for the last 16 years, having been built in 1929, survived numerous storms until Hurricane IRMA in 2017 when it was blown down. I’m so glad we were able to get a photo. And how can I not mention the photo of the Marine Corps Logistic Base, Barstow, CA? It was there that I wooed Tommie into becoming my wife, and it is also there that we obtained our first British car, a 1962 Triumph Spitfire. Ah the days of trying to get parts and such before the internet. The memories of driving on base with this car, which had no top, rusty frame, two seats held together with duct tape, and an engine that drank as much oil as it did gas. Boy we enjoyed that car.
Tommie and I spent a lot of years in Barstow, CA before moving back to Missouri, so when we saw the teaser post by David Stuursma introducing the 2017 challenge, you remember it said: “How many points would the sign for ZZYZX Rd be worth in 2017?” Well, having driven past that sign more times than I care to remember, it became a mission for us to get that sign. I didn’t think it would be 110 Degrees in mid-summer, but we got it; and the MGA had no problems dealing with the heat. Speaking of the Scrabble category, Tommie comes from a long line of Scrabble players and this category was one of her favorites. Every time we would head out she would prepare by searching maps, internet, the stars, and an Ouija board to find a street with the highest point value possible. We must have taken over twenty pictures of street signs only to find a better one on the next trip. We never could find a street named Razzmatazz. Congratulations Mike & Lori Russell for the find and your win in the Miata group!
I must tell you that our adventure doing the Challenge really was enjoyable when shared with friends. I’d like to say thanks to Charles and Anita Hill for their help and sharing locations. Also Cecil and Mia Wise, who are known for driving all over the country in their various Triumphs. Our two Clubs, the Kansas City MG Car Club and the Key West British Car Club whose members have become dear friends and travel companions. And a big shout out to Moss Motors for sponsoring this event, it has truly inspired us to share our love of the cars with others.
I would like to pass on just a few closing thoughts to you who may be thinking of taking up the Challenge. Tommie and I did not in our wildest dreams imagine we would be the top British Car team for 2017. Our cars do not have all the modern conveniences found in today’s motor vehicles, nor do we have the ability to cool or warm the air much in our interiors, truth be told they are usually just the opposite of what we would like them to be: cool in the winter and hot in the summer, must be why we don’t have roll down windows in the “TD” or “A”. Of course, having a MGB GT does help to keep most the rain out, so that is a plus.
Many times, we are asked what we carry for emergencies on the side of the road, to be honest, other than a good spare tire, throttle cable, and fan belt, not much else except for my Moss Catalog, VISA Card, and Cell Phone. With those I’m only a day away from being back on the road.
As I have been told many times it may be the cars that help you make the journey, but it is the friends you make along the way that make coming back so enjoyable. Safety Fast my friends.