The Beatles weren’t the only British band in the 60s to discover Mini mania. Perhaps it was their Moke they were pleading with when The Spencer Davis Group sang, “Keep on runnin'”.


Classic Mini road revisited

Long a favorite Mini road, Chuckanut Drive has been visited by SAMOA many times. In 2002 a half-dozen Minis took the scenic fall drive to Bellingham. Steve Gay, Peter Larsen, Joe Stone, Al Beebe and a couple of unidentified enthusiasts took a break from the twisty bits to enjoy the scenery. Fellow SAMOA member, Michael O’Leary, was the photographer.


Mystery Minis need id.

Long-time SAMOA member, Mike Howze says, “Don’t know where these came from. Looks like they need a place in SAMOA’s archives.” Probably from the late 60s-early 70s, it looks like the race Mini is at the Westwood circuit just outside Port Coquitlam, BC. The other two Minis must be club-member cars but does anyone remember whose they were? -thanks Mike!


SAMOA officers through the ages

Club officer nominations have opened for 2021. Perhaps now would be a good time to look back to those who served since the beginning.

SAMOA officers 1967-2020

– compiled by Chuck Heleker, July 2017


More messin’ with Minis in the ’60s

While still in the grasp of the pandemic our thoughts turn to the 60s when SAMOA was formed and we were free to rub elbows and fenders. A small collection of prints and slides was recently discovered by Jeorge McGladrey (Patience), SAMOA founding member and first club secretary, and she kindly dontated them to the club archives. The club museum is still in the planning stages so we thought now would be a good time to show a few of the choicer shots.

Ingall’s Creek runs along Hwy 97 (Blewett Pass) just south or Peshastin and this must have been a rest stop for three Minis and an MGB as they made their way over Snoqualmie Pass on their way to an autocross at Pangborn Field in Wenatchee. That’s Jerry Everett in his white overalls along with Dick and Carman Penna standing by Jerry’s Mini. Penna’s Mini, eventually owned by lifetime-member Mike Howze, is right behind Ray Honsberger’s black over white 998Mki Austin Cooper that sits next to what looks to be a new MGB, the owner of which, Jack Scher, is in a blue jacket right behind Penn’s Mini. This photo reminds us that SAMOA was partly formed because disgruntled MG Car Club members were told that their recently purchased Minis wouldn’t be allowed in the MG club so they left and formed their own club, SAMOA. SAMOA, of course, had no problem with MG owners and gladly allowed Jack to join the Mini club.

Autocross in the desert. On a closed runway at Pangborn Field, it’s Dick Penna’s Mini but with two numbers on the side it might be him or perhaps Jeorge Patience (a frequent co-driver) behind the wheel. Note the tires sunk in the asphalt to line the course. Not the sort of thing a Mini would want to run into.

Autocrossing was a huge past time in the 60s and the Western Washington Sports Car Council held a season-ending Autocross Olympics where member clubs would compete in teams against other clubs. The upstart SAMOA fielded two teams with the A team taking first place and the B team finishing third. We can’t tell but it looks like this might be Glenda Larson (Williams) driving Al Beebe’s Morris Cooper S, the first time she ever drove a Mini. The Autocross Olympics took place at a Ford dealership next to I-90 at Eastgate in Bellevue, at the edge of civilization at the time, now in the middle of it.

Downton Engineering was making a name for itself modifying and racing Minis in the UK. Founding SAMOA member and the guy who tagged his parents garage door with the first SAMOA emblem, Del Gould, cooked up the idea of buying a new Cooper S. Local dealerships never seemed to have any in stock so the perfectly logical thing to do was grab Ray Honsberger, the first club president, and head for jolly-old England where Del bought an Island Blue Austin direct from the factory. Del and Ray toured a bit in the new Mini then tropped it off at Downton for them to work their magic on prior to shipment to Seattle. It was a screamer right off the boat and it wasn’t long before the “Downton Mini” was le-gen-dary. It is now owned by longtime member, Jim Dawson, and many a SAMOA member quietly hopes that one day it will return to Northwest roads and parking lots.

This Alki beach scene contains all sorts of SAMOA detail, some of which has been picked out and some that has yet to be remembered. What we have so far: That’s club president Ray Honsberger standing on the far left, head turned away from the camera, beer and hand. Not sure who he’s talking to. Right in front of them is Chester Duncan lounging on the sand, his girl friend and barely visible behind her in a red SAMOA jacket and sunglasses is Dick Penna. Mike Howze, in a plain white t-shirt, is starring right at the camera and Del Gould, also lounging on the sand in his first-generation club shirt. Jerri Everett is looking down, wearing a red SAMOA jacket and “little Jerry jr.” is on his way over to see what the photographer is doing. Many yet to be identified people in the photo. Any ideas who they are we’d love to know. Familiar Minis are parked on the street with a fast autocross VW Beetle. Right behind is the apartment where Jeorge lived with her pet anteater at the time.

The charming black over white early MkI Austin Cooper of Ray and Sharon Honsberger, unmocified except for the MkI Cosmic alloy wheels, has trophies that could have been from an autocross or a car show. Ray’s 998 Cooper was purchased from friend Ken Munnell who had upgraded to an Alfa GTV. This Mini is also seen in the lead photo shot a Ingall’s Creek Lodge and possibly the Alki Beach scene. -Jeorge McGladrey (Patience) photos – Sharon and Ray Honsberger, research – Sept 23, 2020


60s Vintage SAMOA

SAMOA vice president, Toby May (left) and sister Gyda and the May family estate. Their parents and long-time club members, Larry and Karen May, bought the Mini when the kids “Outgrew the jump seats behind the bucket seats of the family car” also shown in the is photo, a 1957 Triumph TR3. – Larry May photo, July, 2020
Two SAMOA club founders, Del Gould and the famous “Downton Mini” in the foreground with the fastest Mini-driver combination on the autocross circuit, Dick Penna and his Austin Cooper S, now owned by SAMOA member, Steve Gay.
We wonder if David still has his membership card?

Dave Harris was the membership chairman July ’68 to June ’69 the last time SAMOA used a June-July year. The next time period started in July ’69 and ran all the way to Dec ’70 for a more standard January yearly starting date.

Dave was club president July ’69 to Jan ’70. I don’t recall why he dropped out early – he should have stayed until Dec ’70. In Feb ’70 to the end of that year VP Mike Howze was acting president with Del Gould acting VP.

I was membership chairman from July ’69 to Oct ’69. And when Jim Hunter dropped out as treasurer (don’t know why) I became treasurer and membership chairman through Dec ’70 and was president for 1971.

-Chuck Heleker, August, 2020


A light in the dark room

On their way to the SAMOA archives are shots taken in 1986 by Ted Atkins while taking a photography course at the University of Washington. If you think we have some of the details you’re wrong. Or if these photos rekindle memories of your own please let us know by email and we will add to the archive.

Al and Barb Beebe at their WEBEE Racing Garage and also their home in Lynnwood. The brown Morris Cooper was owned by Bill Wecker, sold to Al, sold to a few others then sold back to Al and is now owned by Hunter Stone.
Bert Lobberegt Jr. and the famous Austin Cooper S “PEEKUP.” Photo taken at Bert’s home on 5th Ave NE in Shoreline.
Chuck Heleker and, from left to right, the black over yellow Austin Cooper S that gained fame by hitting an oil slick and then the wall of the Batter Street Tunnel, the orange late-model Mini owned by seemingly dozens of SAMOA members but currently by Barbara Praefke and the dark green pickup sold to Gunnar Gordon.
Ed Sauer working on a new engine for the race Mini still wearing the license plate from when it was a Morris Cooper S daily driver belonging to Jerry Miller.
A puzzling photo. Who is wearing this iconic International News brand shirt? And whose hand is resting on their knee? Best guess is shirt – Gregg Temkin and knee – wife Shuko.
John and Margaret Elmgren in their Ballard backyard. We hear John now lives on Camano Island.
Keil Hillman and his Morris Cooper S. Does Keil still live around Seattle?



SAMOA’s Mini Meet West

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 of our Minis. He had a very nice red woody and I was driving my blue sedan. What a fun meet.

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. He was the club president most of the time that I was there. I think his car later ended up in Oregon. I used to write SAMOA about what the LA club was doing. TP was good friends with Tony Swisler and Bill Gilcrease and was on the pit crew for Bill’s Mincomp Mini. George Thomas, a long-time Mini owner from Portland who was at the ’85 MMW still talks with TP on a regular basis.

Tony Pearson and his Countryman. He and several other MOA-LA members made the trip to Olympia.
Minis gather for the group photo. Back in ’85 a circuit camera was the was 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) were in attendance along with many other Vancouver Mini Club members. With a perch for Sinbad afixed between the front seats of Patrick’s Mini they had also made the trip 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 (get it – Heinz 57 Varieties?) in a contest held in the UK.
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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