Decades of White Elephant Auction Action

Forty White Elephant Auctions have been held over the past forty one years.  The first was held in 1978 at the house of somebody named Ed from Ballard and only one event in the 41 years through 2018 has been missed – 1988.  It was decided late in 1988 to have the WEA early in the coming year so the 1988 WEA was held over until Jan 14, 1989 meaning there was no WEA in 1988.

Of the 39 WEAs through Jan. 27, 2018, sixteen have been held at George Thompson’s house. All the work George did for the WEAs and the Greenwood Car Show was the reason why George was chosen in 2003 as winner of the Dick and Carmen Penna Memorial Trophy, SAMOA’s annual inspiration award.

Early events were generally held at member’s homes then, starting in 1990, the event location W-elephantchanged to larger sites. George Thompson’s very large garage became the preferred site from 1997 through 2011 but the event has also occurred at a ‘sportsmans’ club on Vashon Island, an auto-electric shop in Graham, an unholstery shop near the Ballard Bridge, a church in Crown Hill and a slot-car racing facility in Tacoma.

A “silent” auction was added to the event in 1998.  New, Mini-related items donated by retail establishments were featured.  It ran concurrently with the “live” white elephant auction.  This dual-action auction continued through 2017.


The largest attendance for the event came in 2018 at Pingrey’s Garage with “over 50” members and guests on hand and in 2015 the largest amount of money donated – $3,425.50 – happened at Alan Smith’s Scale Racing Center in Tacoma.  -facts and figures researched by Chuck Heleker, club historian


The Mini, according to Readers Digest, 1970

Submitted by Don Dixon.  Thanks, Don!






SAMOA hosts Mini Meet West 1985

Text and photos by Shelly Staatz Thiessen:

Earlier this week I was going through some of my slides and came across these photos from the 1985 Mini Meet West in Olympia. TP (Tony Pearson) and I drove around Olympia so I could take pictures our Minis. He had a very nice, red woody and I was driving my blue sedan.  What a fun meet.

Located at the west end of Capitol Lake, The Westwater was the site for Mini Meet West ’85.

More details:  From 1982 to ’84 I was going to school at BIOLA in Los Angeles and became active in MOA-Los Angeles and got to know Tony Pearson.

Shelly Staatz’ Mini and the State Capitol Building in Olympia.

He  was the club president most of the time that I was there.  (I think that his car later ended up in Oregon).   I used to write SAMOA about what the LA club was doing.  Tony was good friends with Tony Swisler and Bill Gilcrease.  He was on the pit crew for Bill’s Mincomp Mini.

Tony lived in Huntington Beach when I was in LA.  Nice, single guy.  He was very much into motorcycles and had too many for his garage.  When I was there, he drove a newer (for back then) white Mini and was working on restoring the Woodie.  He was club president for a number of years.  As long as I have known him, he has worked in some area of the auto industry.  George Thomas (a long-time Mini owner from Portland who  was at this years MMW) still talks with TP on a regular basis.  -Shelly Staatz Thiessen

Tony Pearson and his Countryman.  Tony and several other SoCal Mini owners mad the trip to Olympia.
Minis gather for the group photo.  Back in ’85 a circuit camera was the way to go.  After fixing the camera to a huge step ladder (right center in photo) it rotated over 180 degrees to get all the Minis in the one shot.
Sinbad the parrot and his owner Patrick (hand blocking his face) from Vancouver BC were in attendance.  With a perch for Sinbad afixed between the front seats, they also had made the trip in Patrick’s blue Mini a year earlier to Denver for the first East-Meets-West Mini Meet.
A super-rare Heinz Hornet was in attendance.  Owned by Chuck Heleker, it had been given as a prize, along with 56 others, in a contest held by the Heinz company of catsup and pickle fame.


At the steps of the State Capitol Building, Tony and Shelly’s Minis look quite stately.


When is the last time you saw five Mokes in one place?
A mirror-image autocross allowed two Minis to run simultaneously.


Race Minis of Al Beebe and Steve Ludwig on display in the Concours.
Thoughts of The Italian Job came to mind…..

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