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The Illinois Saint Andrew Society Highland Games British Car Show

The good hostess favours of rain ponchos the evening previous was an omen indeed.  Unprecedented 70 mph winds and heavy downpour rains swept through the area.  Upon checking email at 430 on Saturday morning, a note read “.. the Games will go on..”

Just a wee bit of the 7000 pounds of this 1953 Bentley R-Series
Just a wee bit of the 7000 pounds of this 1953 Bentley R-Series

The Illinois Saint Andrew Society is the oldest and longest continually operating charity in the State; it’s like a Scottish benevolent society.  For the past twenty-three years, it has staged the Highland Games – heavy athletics, rugby, soccer, dancing competitions, shortbread baking contests, dog shows, sheep herding… For the past few years, the program has been expanded to include a British Car Show.  I am honoured to Chair the committee that organizes the car show within the overall Highland Games Committee.  The British Car Show Committee led to the formation of the Scottish Motor Club, an organization that can continually promote the Highland Games, the Illinois Saint Andrew Society, and offer moral support to anyone relatively new to Lucas Electronics.

Looking down the Car Show Row, early in the morning
Looking down the Car Show Row, early in the morning

The Highland Games were held at the Oak Brook Polo Grounds. The grounds are being converted from polo accommodations to soccer; a seemingly insignificant though very major change is that soccer fields have longer cut grass that tends to retain water.  The thought that came to mind is that kilts are always preferable to trousers when marching through wetlands. The grounds were awfully soggy at 6AM. 

Lotus Europa (left) Lotus Super Seven (Right)
Lotus Europa (left) Lotus Super Seven (Right)

Nightmarish thoughts of low-slung Lotuses (Lotii ? ) and 7000 pound Bentleys came to mind.  The Village of Oak Brook was quick to disallow cars on the main field; the car show had to quickly relocate.  After an impromptu committee meeting, a well drained site along the main walkway to the admission gates was chosen.  Though a bit tight in area, it had exceptional visibility and even offered shade.  The Highland Games are highland games first and a car show second, so cars are never a major bill.  This year however, despite overnight flooding and fallen trees leaving neighbourhoods in disrepair, some seventeen cars appeared.  None sank in the mud, as our site had no mud to sink into.

Not a Sunbeam Imp, but rather a 1973 Land Rover Series III
Not a Sunbeam Imp, but rather a 1973 Land Rover Series III

The Arts & Culture Club of the Saint Andrew Society invited me to make a presentation describing Scottish cars.  There were Scottish Americans who formed automobile companies like Winton, Buick, then General Motors; and there was the Rootes Group who built a factory at Linwood, Renfrewshire, Scotland that manufactured Hillman Imps (mainly) with the occasional Sunbeam Alpine and Humber Scepter coming off the line.

1963 Sunbeam Imp, photo from the 2008 Highland games British Car Show
1963 Sunbeam Imp, photo from the 2008 Highland Games British Car Show

Midway through the afternoon, a friend’s Sunbeam Imp (as badged in the US) appeared, making the display complete.

Another friend contacted me earlier, I had asked if he could bring his 1929 Austin, as we didn’t have any pre-war British cars showing.  He returned the contact indicating that a friend of his was letting him use his racetrack to try out his McLaren F1.  This constitutes quite an acceptable reason for not attending the Highland Games British Car Show.

Lotus Elise
Lotus Elise

Early in morning however, my daughter won First Place for dancing the Flora, and Second Place for the Sword Dance!

A good time was had by all, with the Lotus Corps Chicago attempting to convince me that my next car should be a Lotus M100, while people from New Zealand approached me, actually recognizing my car as a Clubman Mini, and sharing stories.

Posted in Automobile Design, Community Organization, International Affairs, Speaking Engagements.