Being your Club Historian can be a pretty depressing job. I have access to a large number of photographs of club events conducted over the years. My invariable reaction to photos taken in the 1970s and 1980s is “Dang, we were sure young back then!” My next invariable reaction is “Dang, we’re certainly a bunch of old farts now!” So, why is that? Yes, it is true we’re all much older than we were back in the 1970s and 1980s, but where are our children and grandchildren? Why haven’t they followed in our footsteps?
I got into this hobby as a result of my dad’s interest in foreign cars back when I was a wee lad of five or six. The old man belonged to the Four Cylinder Club of America (www.fourcylinderclubhistory.com) and some of my fondest memories of youth are of me rolling around in the back seat of dad’s 1948 Austin A40 Devon as he piloted the little puddle jumper through all manner of tortuous rallies. His later purchase of a new 1960 MGA added fuel to the fire of my passion for British cars and since then I’ve owned eight Austin A40s, three Morgan Plus Fours, an MGB, an Austin Healey 3000, a Bug eye Sprite, and I count myself lucky to still have my dad’s MGA among my current collection of six British cars. How come our kids and grandkids aren’t doing this sort of thing?
As I strained my ossified brain pondering this imponderable, three theories came to mind:
- Maybe it’s because younger folks don’t want to hang around with a bunch of gray heads.
- Or, maybe it’s because rich old farts have driven the cost of our cars to such ridiculous highs that younger folks can’t afford them.
- Or, maybe it’s because our activities are seen as just plain boring.
Who knows? Maybe it’s one of them, or maybe it’s a combination of them, or maybe it’s none of them. But, for reasons I can’t fathom, number 3 keeps rolling around in my head.
This obsession first gripped me at Yosemite Healey Week. In attendance at the event were some young boys. Observing them at the event’s meals, tech session, and car show, I noticed they looked like they’d just woken up from a nap. But, not at the rocker cover racing event. There they were fully engaged, and having as much fun, or even more fun than the adults. So, my brain said to me, what if we had more of these types of events? Maybe have family days where kids and grandkids would be invited and where the events would be tailored to the ultra-short attention spans of the younger set. By now, my brain was cooking…what else could we do that would be of interest to the younger generations? Well, God was looking out for me at that event and suddenly I was the beneficiary of that biblical wisdom: “Ask and ye shall receive. Seek and it shall be given unto you.” …or something like that. This epiphany came to me via a photo album Shauna Nock had on display at the car show. There in the crusty old pages of that album were several photos of California Healey Week 1982, held at Big Bear Lake. Looking at the photos I had two reactions: “Dang we were sure young back then!”
The 1982 CHW had an event dubbed the “Healey Olympics.” In this event participants pitted their athletic and hand-eye coordination skills against each other in a range of really whacky activities. To learn more about this event, I tapped into the still youthful brain of Sandy Davies who recalled several of the CHW ’82 activities, some of which are illustrated in the photos accompanying this article.
- Inner Tube Roll: Here the objective was to roll an inner tube down a defined path, with the tire rolling the greatest distance without wandering outside the path determining the winner.
- Pitch ‘N Parts: This event involved a sheet of fabric into which were cut holes corresponding to the shapes of different Austin Healey parts. Tied to a rope and swung across the face of the sheet was a tire. Points were earned for the various sized holes, with extra points earned for getting the beanbag to go through both the tire and one of the openings.
- Fan Belt Toss: Contestants tossed fan belts with the objective of lassoing an axle extending from a wire wheel.
- Piston Knock Down: This was a version of the county fair game of trying to knock down a stack of lead milk bottles with a baseball. The Healey Olympics event had the contestants attempting to knock down a stack of pistons with a baseball.
- Bearing Toss: Here contestants were challenged to toss wheel bearings into buckets, drip pans, the centers of inflated inner tubes, etc.
- Piston Rod Horseshoes: This event had contestants tossing a piston rod toward an upright pipe, in an effort to make a “ringer” with the big end of the piston rod.
- Tire Discus (or Tyre Discus, if you insist on the Queen’s English): In this event Healey Olympians were challenged with tossing a tire in discus like fashion in an attempt to make the longest throw.
- Blindfolded Driver: Aided by a sighted navigator (or navigator as my wife would say) a blindfolded driver would follow a course from bucket to bucket, with the objective of dropping an object into each bucket.
Sandy told me this wasn’t the only Healey Olympics to be held by the club. There were others conducted at various times and other venues.
Seems to me that these kinds of light hearted, participatory activities would be fun for all of us and they might just be the sorts of activities we could stage at events specifically designed to engage the younger members of our families. Food for thought?