Portland. This Portland is in Oregon. Oregon is the 18th State of the
trip. It is also the 2nd biggest at 97,073 square miles (rank 10 in the US),
only surpassed by Montana. With a population of 3.2 million (ranking 11th out
of our 18) the population density is only 33 people per square mile. Oregon
is also the 4th State with a top elevation over 10,000 feet. Mount Hood
stands 11,239 feet tall. (The others are Washington at 14,411, Montana at
12,799 and Idaho at 12,662.)
That same English admiral, Drake, who was poking around the Washington
coast in 1579, hit the Oregon coast as well. Ignoring the people who already
lived there, he graciously presented the area to Queen Elizabeth. She was a
bit far away from it all so decided not to move. The first permanent (white)
settlement was set up by a group of Methodist missionaries in the Willamette
Valley in 1834. I'm sure they meant well.
By 1843 the trek along the Oregon Trail began. This little 2,000 mile
stroll from Missouri lasted for about 30 years during which 300,000 people
found out that walking across the country wasn't quite what they had in mind
for a good time.
The geography and climate of Oregon is similar to Washington and both
were part of the Oregon Territory; however, Oregon became the 33rd State 30
years before its neighbor to the north was admitted to the Union. (More
Washington trivia: it was supposed to be called Columbia, but, because some
felt it would get confused with the District of Columbia it was called
Washington, instead. Now, Washington, the State, is often confused with
Washington, D.C. Go figure.)
Oregon trivia. Oregon City (just south of Portland. I looked it up) was
the first incorporated city west of the Rockies. Crater Lake at 1,932 feet
deep is the deepest in the U.S., and a great sight if you get the chance.
Portland claims the smallest park in the world. Mills Ends Park is 24 square
inches. No. I wrote that correctly, square inches. For some reason in all my
trips to Portland, I've managed to overlook it. Oh. And even though Oregon is
very progressive in many ways, it is only one of two States, I believe, that
hasn't figured out that human beings are capable of pumping their own
Friday night the 1st, Dorothea and I went over to PIR to pick up our ABFM
preregistration packet for EG. Several other Minis were there and we stayed
and chatted with old friends. Rumors were that 80 Minis had preregistered
which meant that more than that should be on hand for the next day. That
would mean that the Mini turnout would be at least as great as 1988, if not
more, when the West Coast Mini Meet was held in conjunction with the ABFM.
That's a good turnout of Minis for this event and speaks well of the three
"local" clubs (Vancouver, B.C., Seattle, and the "host," Portland). It
helped, of course, that the sponsoring Jaguar club had chosen the Mini and
Morgan as the featured marques this year.
On the way back to the hotel we stopped to put gas in EG. The station had
just been attacked by about 4 or 5 of the Minis from Canada and I think the
attendant was still inside cowering, so I was able to pump my own gas before
he recovered. Mini tanks, with their short necks, don't lend themselves to
the normal pump jockey abilities - overfilled and a mess down the side of the
car every time.
The next morning I was up very early cleaning EG. Off came the remaining
dirt (the rain had taken care of much of it) and bugs. On went a good coat of
wax. The inside was vacuumed and she was made to look just like some of the
trailer queens. Did anyone buy that? Didn't think so. EG spent about 5,800
miles earning each mud and bug splatter and she was going to go to the meet
holding her grille high and looking like a real car, not a museum piece.
(Besides, it had rained that night and it was certainly going to rain again
during the day. Why bother?!)
The schedule for the day was for preregistered cars to be placed on the
field from 8 am until 10. Others allowed after 10. For all but Jaguars, there
would be only a Peoples' Choice type voting. (Jags also were there for
national points judging.) LandRover of Portland was sponsoring their annual
off-road "jungle" course. There were some sales booths open (Mini Mania was
there wondering where the parts were that UPS was supposed to deliver the day
before), and there was a photo contest going on. The awards were to be
presented at 3 pm and at 5 there was to be a BBQ and raffle.
Dorothea and I arrived shortly after 8 and found the usual good
organization in place. The Jag club has been doing this for years and it
shows. We were directed to the area for our group of Minis (Variant: Moke,
Riley, Wolseley, Radford). Actually, EG was a bit of a variant, variant and
really wasn't a "British" car at all. We snuck in anyway and no one
The start of the line up of "Variants"
at the ABFM. Nearest
to the camera is the Pegues' Radford. Next is Barry
then EG (still with roof rack, dirt and bugs!), and Jeff
Many more were to come. The Moke took first in the balloting
with EG third. Jeff Van Hurston's Rover Cabriolet was second,
if I remember
Cars trickled in over the next couple of hours and we wandered around
admiring the work put into them and the great variety of modifications. It
was hard to find "stock" examples! As a group, the Estates were probably the
best prepared with several of them showing that they had been the
beneficiaries of much time, money and devotion (and few road miles). I never
counted more than 74 Minis on the field, but with all the comings and goings
there could have been more - and there were quite a few out in the general
parking. I took a few photos, but it was hard to get good ones. Between rain
showers, people walking around, Minis coming and going, and time spent
talking with people about the unusual EG, I didn't spend lots of time behind
the camera. A few photos follow. Check out Mini Mania's Event's Section for
The best I could do with a photo of
the Minis at the ABFM, and I had to climb a wire fence to get this one!
One of the cars in the Modified class,
Michael Sandham's autocrosser. Seeing this car was a bit of a flashback and
nightmare at the same time! I'm sure this was once owned by Dave Gray from
Canada. In the early 70s when I was still autocrossing, I usually had a good
chance of placing first in class; except, when Dave would show up. He was as
good as any I'd ever seen and his was a very well prepared car. When Dave
made one of his infrequent appearances (fortunately!) south of the border I
resigned myself to competing for 2nd that day.
A word here about the Oregon Mini Society. They put up a great display
about Minis to help with the honoring of our marque at this event (as well as
writing a good article for the participant's magazine). They had a kiosk with
lots of easy to read information and good photographs (I wish I'd copywrited
that photo of the Wildgoose, and I forgave them for leaving South Africa off
the map as one of the places where Minis were made). And around the kiosk
area they had very nice examples of many of the Mini types with nice signs
explaining the cars to the uninitiated. Great job. If this bit of
organization and participation is any indication of how they are going to
handle Mini Meet West 2001, it should be a great event.
The display 1961
Countryman of Kerri and Bruce Harding.
A racecar on display, Al Bebee's
Britax replica. British Car Magazine was at the event and interviewed Al.
Look for a future article on the event and about Al and his car.
Display '67 S of Glen
Display Morris Pickup of Ross
Display Moke of Ward Barbour. (I
saved my favorite Mini type to last!)
Hidden underneath this Moke is
The next one is of my favorite photo in the photo contest. Remember that
the event is sponsored by the Jaguar Club. I still laugh every time I see
Hope you enjoy this one as much as I
In spite of the rain it was a great day with lots of nice cars
(especially Minis) to look at. If I have any complaints it is the same one I
have at all British meets in the US. There are always many great examples of
British sports cars (and, as is traditional at this meet, many Land Rovers),
but other than Minis and Minors, where are the cars that one would really see
on the roads in England. Were are all the cars that "real" people purchased?
US meets are very different from those in England.
Dorothea had seen enough cars by mid-afternoon and took off with one of
her friends to do some shopping and head for the sights of Portland. By the
end of the day, I had dodged in and out of enough rain showers and talked
with enough people, that I skipped the BBQ (VERY unlikely to be the good BBQ
I'd chased all over the country!) and headed back to the hotel for an early
My favorite Mini of the Meet? There are too many good ones to chose from,
but one that sticks out in my mind was a standard, late 70s Canadian car,
complete with the ugly bumpers. It was in very good, stock condition, and
looked like it had been used once or twice. There were better cars there,
probably, but this one wasn't over-restored (yes, folks, even Minis have
fallen prey to that bug), and looked like it got used once in a while.
Another car stood out to me, but it wasn't until Sunday that I really took
notice of it.
Sunday morning September 3rd, we returned to the field and spent some
time wandering around the swap meet and looking at all the goodies for sale.
I didn't find any Mini parts I wanted (and felt I could afford!), but I did
come up with a couple of models and some literature to add to the collection.
There were good cars for sale and some at reasonable prices. A couple I would
have liked to take home, but they wouldn't fit on the roof rack, and EG might
Eventually, we headed over to the autocross to watch the runs (and dream
of the "good ol' days"). By this time the sun had come out enough that it was
almost shirtsleeve weather (a far cry from the oppressive heat and humidity
of the SE, however) and several of us sat in the bleachers overlooking Turn
Nine, the beginning of the straight and the drag strip. A course had been
laid out that looked to favor the bigger horsepower cars, but turned out to
be one that required a good balance of handling and driver skill as well.
The Minis performed fantastically and were faster than all but two cars.
It was here that I saw the other car that I remember so well. Some very hot
cars, including Minis had lowered the run time to about 53 seconds. Then a
very nice looking, Black over Red Cooper S took the line. No big wheels. No
flares. No fancy paint job. And, as I found out later, driven down from
Canada - didn't show up on a trailer. All it did was lower the time to about
51 seconds. A nice car driven very well. Wish I could give credit to the
owner, but I didn't get his name! Eventually, one well-prepared Jag E-Type
coupe and a Sunbeam Tiger lowered the time to about 50 seconds.
The last group to run contained the two cars of the Sandham's: Larry's
Vauxhall engined funny car, and the previously mentioned car of Michael. It
wasn't long before it was all over and the Jag and Tiger could go back on the
trailers trying to figure out how many more thousands of dollars they should
sink into their cars to get them to compete with the Minis. Eventually,
Michael took the top honors with a time in the low 47s, about 3 seconds
faster than the "foreign cars" (if I can steal a phrase from Karl of the
MADMEN), just edging the funny car Mini. Hey, Jag Boy (and Tiger Boy), it's
Shortly thereafter, it was all over for us, too. We headed back to the
hotel to contemplate the next day's drive. It wasn't straight back home. EG,
Dorothea and I were going to finish following Lewis and Clark and the Corp of
Discovery to the Pacific.