On the weekend of July 4th, I had the pleasure of attending the national convention in Orange County, CA.  Officially, I was there on AONE club business – to present a bid for hosting the convention in New England in 2004.  However I figured if I was going to go all that way, I might as well try to squeeze in some fun while I was there.  To properly acclimate to the southern California climate I chose the Miata upgrade, and set off for a weekend of revelry and mayhem.  And one convention bid, of course!


When you are planning on hosting a convention, just attending one takes on a completely different light.  I found myself making mental notes all the time.  At the registration desk the following morning, part of me was mentally apologizing to the folks working the desk for not pre-registering, the other part of me was cursing the folks at the desk for not being there!  It’s a California thing, 8:00 in California really means some time between 8:00 and, say, 8:20 or so..


I pretty much signed up for everything I could sign up for – lunchtime laps at the time trials (and later the autocross, when I found out that roll bars were not required), the rally, barbeques, banquets, the awards luncheon after the concours, …


After registration, it was off to the Time Trials.  This is where I made my second mental note, and remembered an important California driving lesson – road signs in California tend to tell you which exit you just went by.  Mental note to self – when we host the convention, make sure the directions are all in order, and clear to someone other than locals.  The directions to the track were pretty basic, however I made one little mistake – I assumed there would be a sign or something on the major highway where I should get off.  Instead, the speedway sign was at the BOTTOM of the off ramp!


Anyhow, I finally made it there, and found out that I could, in fact, enter the autocross in the Miata, if I had a helmet.  I tracked down friend Ian Lomax and his friend Kim, and traded them Miata autocross rides in exchange for the use of their helmet.  We were kind of rushed (as we didn’t actually sign up until well after lunch), so we didn’t do any real car preparation, like putting air in the tires.  In spite of all that we did pretty well, Ian actually turned in a better time than John Hoard – although to be fair John was driving an automatic Spider, having blown the head gasket in his GTA earlier in the day (first time a failure prevented John from finishing a track event in 31 years of ownership).



Above is a picture of the garage at the Time Trials.  I had intended to get some close ups of the cars in this shot, but got caught up in running the autocross instead.  That’s a Giulia wagon on the left, and a TZ1 inside the garage on the right.  If you look closely, there’s a Giulia Sedan in full police regalia inside the garage, it was running quite well in the time trials and using the light on the roof when it was passing other cars.  Most cool..



Above – Alan Ward, of Ward and Dean racing fame.



Spectacular Jr Z of Tom Sahines.


On Friday, I woke up early to find out the schedule for the BOD meeting, and what time I should show up to present our bid.  At this point I was feeling pretty good, all day during the Time Trials people were coming up to me and wishing us luck, and offering help.


My original plan was to show up early in the afternoon to present the bid, but I decided to sit in on the entire BOD meeting to see how things were run, and to try to get a feeling as to the general mood of the directors.


One side comment I’d like to offer – with the recent dues increase, these are not easy times for the club.  Sit in on one BOD meeting, however, and you get an idea of what they’re dealing with – things are not as straightforward as they might seem.  After watching our BOD in action, I feel pretty good about the members on it, and what they’re trying to do for the club.


Anyhow, on to the bid.  After my obligatory opening joke, I went right into the bid.  Hopefully Dave will put a copy of it on the AONE web site, it has some real nice touches.  The BOD loved the idea of the drag races, they wanted to jump into a discussion of how it should be run right then and there.  They also got a kick out of the amazing stretch Giulia Sedan limo that Dave somehow photographed in front of the convention center.


There were no other bidders (which helped our odds), but there was one possible thing that could have gotten in our way.  The club likes to move the convention location around from year to year, and with 2003 in Florida (east coast) a second consecutive east coast bid may have been rejected.


It was not to be, however – after some discussion around our dates (we had two potential weekends to choose from), the bid was accepted with a lot of enthusiasm!


I’d like to thank all of the volunteers who put so much effort into putting this bid together.  Right now we’ve got over 25 people on our convention list, and many worked long and hard to identify venues and hammer out details.  At this convention, people kept telling me how crazy I was and how much work ours is going to be, but with the group of people we’ve got working on it already and the level of enthusiasm they’ve shown so far, I’m not worried in the least.  Way to go team!


The southern Cal team had a lot of evening activities planned, and the directions to each and every one of them were, well, just wrong.  Given that I was having trouble following even the most basic directions, and coupled with my history of having never actually completed a rally, things weren’t looking good for the following day.


I decided to place a personal ad on the bulletin board.  It kind of read like this:


“Wanted – one rally co driver.  No experience required.  Must have a sense of humor..”


I heard back from a couple of people, the first was a guy named Keith Kelly, from Oklahoma.  Once Russ Neely assured me that I wouldn’t find myself lying face down in a ditch at the side of the road, I decided to go with Keith.  I found out afterwards that Keith is actually pretty good at these things, having won two or three of the last few national rallies.



Here I am with Keith, at one of the rest spots, in some kind of special Alfa pose that Keith dreamed up.  The Miata was on the other side of the parking lot.


Keith and I had a blast running the rally.  Half of the time we ran it in stealth mode, we’d see an Alfa approach from behind and take a wrong turn, or deliberately miss a turn, or just stop at a sign, jump out, and start taking notes.


In the end, there were a few teams that got a perfect score (in spite of our antics), and we ended up winning based on the best card hand (we drew a card at each checkpoint).



Keith continues the Miata abuse.  In a series of moves that must have been frightening to the check point personnel, Keith would get up a good head of steam approaching each check point, cock the wheel, then grab the emergency brake and slide into the check point in a nice little drift.  In the hot spot above, we really tore up the soft pavement!


Saturday evening was the grand banquet.  Mental note to self, start ours a little earlier and get the guest speaker on before 10:45 PM.  In spite of the late hour it was a lot of fun.  I sat next to an AONE member who lives in Calgary (hello Brian and Diana!).  They had driven 2400 miles from Calgary, and were fretting over how scoring was done at the concours, then went on to win first in class the next day in their Spider – nice job!


We wrapped up the day Sunday at the concours.  There were a couple of wild cars there, most notably an 8c2600, but otherwise I was expecting a lot more from a concours in this area of the country.  I spent the morning strolling around, meeting up with old friends (and putting some faces to old Alfa Digest friends), and snapping pictures.  Some of those pictures follow.



GTV of John Norman – overall FTD at the Time Trials.



8c2600 – Drool…



Tipo 33 – More drool..



The very first Callaway GTV6 Twin Turbo - #1 of 35.



Double bubble Zagato.


After the concours, I was supposed to caravan with a couple of 164’s up to the bay area, but after futzing around for over an hour waiting for one of them to pack his luggage, then failing to prod them into exceeding speeds of 65 mph on the highway, I took off in the trusty Miata, eventually checking into my hotel in Milpitas approximately 3 hours before they arrived in town.  Traffic was brutal..


Alfiesta was a great time.  I came back with a lot of ideas for Il Ritorno in 2004.  I’m planning on driving down to Florida for 2003, might drive one of the Alfas, might do the lazy thing and tow one down.  The official reason will be to present an update to the national BOD for our effort, but I’m hoping I can squeeze in a little bit of fun while I’m down there.  Anybody game?