Del and Ray’s Magnificent Mini Adventure

by Del Gould

Ray Honsberger and I had been autocrossing my 1962 Morris Mini Minor with the MG1100 engine for several years, but upon hearing that importation of the BMC Mini would end with the 1967 model, I decided to travel to Europe that fall to pick up a new 1967 Austin Cooper S through AutoEurope to drive around for a month before leaving it in Salisbury, England at the Downton Engineering Works for one of their well-known engine modifications to a 3/4 race specification. The car would then be shipped via a regular BMC shipment to the local Seattle British Motor Car Distributors (BMCD) dealership.  

Not being the bravest solo traveler, I invited Ray, the SAMOA president, to come along. We would camp most of the time, as this was in September, with the weather still clement in most places. We found a Canadian Pacific charter flight from Vancouver to Amsterdam, then on to Heathrow airport via a KLM flight. We had reserved a room for a couple of days in downtown London at a hotel in the Marble Arch area across from Hyde Park.  

We arrived on Saturday, to pick up the car at the local BMC service center in Holland Park, just west of Marble Arch. To our dismay, we found out that the office was closed, mainly because Monday was a holiday. Also, we discovered that since Monday was the holiday, only office workers would be in Tuesday, no shop people, so the earliest we could pick up the car was Wednesday. Screwed up our itinerary somewhat.  Had to find another hotel down the street to cover those days. 

I remember the first night we ate in the first hotel, pretty fancy it was.  We ordered filet steak, and a bottle of wine.  Seems as how the bottle was a full liter, if I recall correctly, of some french red.  I remember the waiter asking us, “Are you boys sure you can handle this much wine?”  “Oh sure,” we assured him.  Hah! We were feeling no pain by the end of the meal.  I guess we made it back to our room.  I don’t remember sleeping in the hallway.  

At Brands Hatch for the Bank Holiday races. Couldn’t believe how they could smoke those tires.

We did take the train and bus out to Brands Hatch Race Course to watch the Brands Hatch Bank Holiday Races, including the gaggle of Minis going very fast, smoking their front tires in the turns.  Couldn’t believe how they could smoke those tires.  There were several saloon races and a F2 race, as I recall. 

Finally, several days later, we picked up the car (1967 Austin Cooper S, NLX585F) at the local BMC service center in Holland Park, just west of Marble Arch.

After cooling our heels in London, spending money and time we really didn’t have an abundance of, we picked up the Mini.  It came with about one qt of gasoline.  After the fellow showed us how to drive the car, lol, as if we didn’t know already, we arranged for the shipping to Seattle, and drove off to the nearest petrol station to fill up and hit the road, finally!  

Here it starts getting a little fuzzy about where we first drove to, I think it was Penzance, where there were pirates yet, and Cornwall, Land’s End (no, not the clothing outlet).  From there we retreated back toward London, and then on to Dover, where we took a car ferry across to Calais, France.  We then drove down through France to Paris, going through Paris on city streets.  I remember stopping at one traffic light, watching a small boy hop out of a van, and take a pee right in the city street gutter.  Ok, that was interesting.  The drive through the city was a little hectic, as at that time there were no Autoroutes around to make it easier.  

Then, as we had not brought a tent with us, we decided to see if we could find a store to buy one.  To our surprise, we found a “boy scout” store right on the route out of town, pulled over, and bought a tent, The Super Teenager model.  I had also forgotten to bring my coat with me to Europe, would you believe, but the weather was very nice, so I didn’t buy one until later in the Alps.  

From Paris we drove over through into the Beaujolais area along the Rhone river, camped by the side of a farm lane in the vineyards up in the hills.  The view in the morning across the vineyards to the hills in the distance was gorgeous, a soft violet sunrise, changing to pink, then yellow into blue.  Spectacular.  Still have pictures of that.  Had read in the National Geographic magazine about St Tropez, a hot tourist destination on the French Riviera, so we decided to drive there to camp.  What a crowded little town, full of the jet set, and the local campground smelling of urine all the time.  

We were glad to get out of there, inching our way up the crowded coast road up to Monaco, where we had a great lunch in a little sidewalk cafe, picked up a parking warning and one of those parking time dials that you set when you arrived and put it on the dash for the parking police to see.  Drove around just a little of the F1 course (we think), couldn’t find the road to the Cousteau Marine Aquarium, so headed back down through Nice and took a right turn up into the hills through a smelly little town, one of the perfume making towns just north of Grasse, the capital of French perfume making.

We ended up taking what eventually became D64, one of the highest passes in France, through Marie, St Etienne-de-Tinee, Barcelonnette, Gap, and on to Grenoble.  The road up was very tricky, as the upper part of the road was covered with ice and no guard rails.  No trees, no nothing but steep snow covered slopes.You can view it on Google Earth.  I drove very carefully, just keeping the tires from spinning and moving forward. Very cold.  We crossed over the pass, and the air became very balmy.  The area being forested and warm, a complete change from the winter on the other side of the pass.  We found a nice quiet campground for the night not too far over the pass, where, in the middle of the night when I looked out of the tent.  The stars were like sugar crystals on black velvet.  Oh how I wished I had a telescope. So startling. 

A curvy pass road in France approaching The Alps.

In the warm morning as we awoke, we kept hearing what we thought were race car engines shifting up and down.  Here in the middle of nowhere.  There was a race going on?  We quickly got started on the road, and discovered that we were in the middle of what turned out to be the Coupe de Alps Rally.  It was Ray’s turn to drive that morning, so here he was, pretending he was in the middle of the race, shifting up and down with the best of them! We came upon a small mountain-side village, where there were crowds and Gendarmes along side the road, officials recording the automobile plate numbers of all the participants as they drove through.  Ray was beside himself, enjoying everything, and just hit the gas past the officials and crowds as they waved us through. 

Turns out the rally was finally won by a 1967 Blue and White Austin Cooper S, modified by Downton Engr, who created all the BMC rally cars.  I keep thinking that somehow we had something to do with that, lol.  Probably screwed up their timing all to heck.  We did look like a rally car, what with two guys in it, grinning/driving with determination, and a roof rack on top.  

Anyway, we finally made it to Chambery, where we stayed overnight in a fancy Charles de Gaulle-picked Hotel of France.  That was a real change from camping.  We decided to spend a little, so at dinner we entered the huge hotel dining room (very early it turned out, we were Americans, of course) complete with very ornate crystal chandeliers and, of course, uniformed waiters.  We ordered some smoked salmon as an appetizer, couldn’t believe just how thin that guy could slice that fish.  One thing that was funny to us, but embarrassing to the waiter, was that when he was serving something, maybe the salmon, he started to drop the fork, grabbed for it, and flipped it up into the air, and tried to grab it again.  I looked over at the maitre d’ standing off to one side, and he had the biggest frown I’d ever seen, on his face. Would have hated to be that waiter later.  We asked the maitre d’ for a “nice” bottle or french red wine, and he brought out a bottle which was indeed red.  He kept showing it to us, as in “see, this is a fine one, look, look.”  Uh huh, we said, not knowing the first thing about wine.  It was really tasty, as it should have, it costing at least $20 then, would be pretty expensive now.  I think the maitre d’ just shook his head at us later, thinking what American rubes we were.  Well, we did know that it tasted pretty darn good, anyway.  At least we thought so later, lol.  The next day, we drove up to Chamonix through Albertville, pausing in Chamonix to buy me a ski parka from the famous French skier Guy Perilatt’s ski shop.  

It had been our intention to take the Mt Blanc tunnel across into Italy, but decided to ride the scary but beautiful Aiguille du Midi (http://www.chamonix.com/aiguille-du-midi,80,en.html) cable car ride over the Alps at that point right near Mt Blanc into the top station on the Italian side of the Alps.  What a wild ride that was, sailing hundreds of feet over the glaciers and crevasses.  After that adventure, we then drove through that very long and claustrophobic tunnel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mont_Blanc_Tunnel) into the warm Italian countryside northwest of Turin onto fast highways, finally.  

Headed east toward Milano, as we were trying to get to Monza, hoping to see the F1 race scheduled just for us, har har.  Was really looking forward to seeing my F1 heroes Graham Hill, Dan Gurney, Jimmy Clark, Jackie Stewart, etc.  We had made an arrangement with a fellow Boeing worker, who was going to tour Germany and Switzerland at the same time, and also wanting to see the race, to meet us at the south city limits of the town of Bellano, north of Monza along the east side of Lake Como, at noon on a certain day.  As we drove up to what the map said was the town limits, there the fellow was standing next to his car, indeed waiting for us.  By the way, interesting note here about what we had discovered about the Mini, was that a bottle of white wine fit just right in one door pocket, while remarkably, a bottle of red fit in the other door pocket.  I suppose that sort of thing wasn’t legal, but, hey, we were having fun.  

We drove south into the countryside north of Monza and lucked out in finding a newly completed hotel out in the fields which was hosting a wedding reception, picked in part because it had a bright red authentic Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA parked out in the parking lot (you know how I love those cars).  We asked at the desk whether they had any rooms to let, and they said no, they are not open yet.  We must have looked pretty disappointed, not having much luck locating a hotel or inn nearby, so they huddled, talked and then decided that we would be their very first guests.  They led us up to the tenth floor, to barely finished rooms, wall board dust everywhere, no sheets or pillows yet set out.  These were provided out of their new supplies, and we settled in for the night.  I don’t remember what or where we ate dinner, but what the heck, at least we could rest our heads for the night, only to discover that the local Italians liked to have their church bells rung every quarter hour during the night.  Not much sleep, alas.  Did watch some people play Bocce ball in the evening, and washerwomen rinsing clothes in the stream behind the hotel in the morning.  Needless to say, we thought that was pretty quaint, shall we say.  

In the morning, we drove down to Monza, following signs put up to help tourists, I guess, since we had little idea where the race track was.  Just followed the crowds into the parking lot and entered into the infield, paying $20 per person entry.  Try that now, F1 fans.  Of course, it was 1967, so I suppose it would be much pricier now anyway just due to inflation.  We ended up at that section of the course called the “seconda variente” just as the drivers would be downshifting as they made that high speed left hand turn into the large right hand section, the “curva di lesmo.”  It was amazing to see the cars jump/quiver as they were downshifting and on the brakes, acting as they were just wound tight as a drum, which of course, they were.  All we had between us and the cars were two 8 foot chain link fences, the cars just feet away as they flashed by.  Great time,  although it took us days to find out who won the race, as we couldn’t understand or read Italian.  It was won by British driver John Surtees driving a Honda RA300.  Although Jim Clark led the race until a little after the half way point when he picked up a puncture and lost an entire lap, the lead car on the first lap was Dan Gurney’s American Eagle, although that was the last time we saw it that day.  Jim Clark then recovered through the field to take the lead with only a couple of laps to go.  Clark then led until the final lap when a faulty fuel pump restricted him to third place.  Surtees and Jack Brabham passed the Scotsman finishing first and second, with Surtees ahead by less than a car length at the line.  It was Honda’s second GP win. 

Another highlight of the journey was seeing John Surtees win the Italian Grand Prix.

Of course we missed most of this action as we couldn’t understand what the heck the announcer was saying.  One thing which amazed us was after the race, as we wandered back across the infield, was seeing who was evidently the race queen walking through the crowd.  It was totally mind boggling to see the young Italian bucks taking off their suit coats to throw them on the ground in front of the very pretty gal for her to walk on. They were totally in heat you might say, yelling and jumping up and down begging her to walk on their coats.  She walked on serenely, nose in the air.  I still remember that very vividly.  Woof.  

Mini camping in Switzerland with our previously mentioned tent.

I don’t remember where we ended up after the race, but had driven north again past Bellano eventually over the next several days north into Switzerland and into Liechtenstein, and on to Austria, hoping to see some of the scenery from “The Sound of Music” movie. Oh, I loved Julie Andrews in that movie, and of course, the mountain scenery.  Alas, it was raining the entire time until we ended up in Salzburg.  We found a place to stay kind on the main street, I guess, and that evening tried to find a place to eat.  Found a second story restaurant serving food family style, with several groups of people at each table.  We ordered something Italian I think, but the interesting part of the meal was talking to the couple at our table during dinner.  They implored us to not think badly of many of the Germans because of WW II, because there were so many Germans who opposed the war completely.  Turns out her husband was drafted into the army and sent to battle the Russians.  Before they parted, the couple agreed that if he survived the war, they would meet in Salzburg at certain times depending on if and when the war ended.  They were able to finally meet, and always returned to Salzburg to celebrate their reunion.  In the war, he had deserted the army, was captured by the Russians, who somehow gave him to the US army.  He escaped prison camp and then was again captured by the Russians and given to the US.  Finally the war ended, and the couple was able to meet up.  Lovely story.  He spoke no English, just French and German, she spoke German of course, French, and English, so was able to convey the story to us.  They were also nice enough to buy our dinners and drinks for us.  Wish I had gotten their names. Oh well.  

Needless to say, we felt no pain that night as we wandered down the rainy streets of Salzburg.  The next day, we hit the road again, in a fog, sort of, and headed to Munich, where we decided against any Oktoberfest celebrations I guess, and drove through north and then west into the Black Forest area, since I had promised my mother that I would buy her a “cuckoo” clock.  Found a small clock shop in a town named Freudenstadt, at the east side of the northern Black Forest in Bavaria (my German friend says that Bavaria is NOT Germany, it is different, sniff).  When I mentioned to the shop keeper I wanted to buy a “cuckoo” clock, he just laughed, “cuckoo clock, how quaint”, even though he had many hanging on the wall.  Never the less, I bought a nice one for about $20 or so and had him ship it to the US. 

That accomplished, we then headed back down into Switzerland, visiting Zermatt and seeing the Matterhorn.  Pretty impressive countryside.  At that time you had to park your car down below at St. Niklaus and ride the cog-rail train up into Zermatt, never mind there was a road going straight into town, but I guess it was for the locals only. We hiked up the road a little ways in order to get better views of the Matterhorn before leaving town on the train again.  Impressive mountain, but not Mt Rainier for sure.  We then headed to Geneva to stay overnight, eating dinner at a nice hillside restaurant overlooking the lake, where evidently next to us was an older American couple also there for dinner.  She had ordered poached trout, and when the trout dinner came,  I heard her exclaim to her husband, “I can’t eat these fish, they are staring at me”.  They had served them sitting upright, and the eyes staring right at the diner.  What a scream that was.  

From there we finally headed back into France, driving northwest toward Paris and Calais.  We drove through a really pretty walled city some time after leaving Geneva, in the northeast of France, but I cannot remember the name of the town.  Might have been Toul, although from looking at Google Earth, it seems to me that the city was larger and more open as well as being on a very large hilltop, but still surrounded by a high wall like a Tuscan hill town but larger.  Very impressive.  We entered through the fortified walls surrounding the city and up the hill into the town, and I remember that Ray was again driving this day, so we entered the town with it raining, and there had been an accident on one of the city streets ahead of us, with Gendarmes standing around.  As we approached, one of them saw that we were hustling right along, and began to wave his arm to tell us to slow down.  I had to laugh, as Ray decided that this was a sign to hit the gas, and we sped through quickly, luckily unhindered by the police, thank God.  

We were in a hurry to get to Calais, as we had reservations on a certain car ferry to cross the channel to Dover, and we were running late.  We eventually ended up in Meaux for the night, just east of Paris.  Thought it might be easier than trying to find a place in Paris.  We drove down the main street along the river, looking to see if there might be a small hotel for the night.  We spotted one, and when we entered, the proprietor looked at us, saying in effect, well, “We kinda rent the rooms by the hour.  You guys might want try next door, as they might have a room for the night.”  Yes, they did, a cold water flat sort of room under the tile roofs, looking out over the town.  Well, it was ok, don’t know where we ate.  The next day we raced across northern France bypassing Paris to make a beeline to Calais heading north along what is now the A1 Autoroute.  Don’t remember if it was an Autoroute then, probably not.  

So, we cruised across the Channel, and headed across Sussex, England to make it for Salisbury.  I remember that about that time, I wasn’t keen on driving on some of those older English roads, where there were five lanes of traffic, ie, the shoulders, where the old people drove their old wired together Rileys and Wolseleys, the two main lanes where most tried to drive, and the unofficial center lane where the big guys, Jaguars, Rovers, Rolls, etc, drove.  This was on narrow two lane roads.  The main trouble for me was that we were driving a left hand drive car in a right hand drive country, and it was very hard to see to pass with all that traffic on the road. I had found that driving that way was pretty nerve wracking for me (I’ve since driven about 25,000 miles on right hand drive roads there and other countries with little problem).  I had to have Ray drive, while I poked my head out the right hand side window in the spray to tell him what the oncoming traffic was like, so that we could pass.  Except for just about having my head taken off by oncoming cars and lorrys, it was easier for me that way.  

We did finally make it across southern England to Salisbury where we took time out to see Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral, a really pretty Gothic cathedral, with all the flying buttresses, and all.  That is a very interesting Gothic cathedral, as it has a large open lawn in front of it so that you can see the whole structure, rather than having your view blocked by buildings all around, say, as on the continent in Reims, for instance.  Finally we made it to Downton Engineering in Salisbury, where we made all the arrangements for the modifications, the delivery of the finished car to the docks for loading, Portsmouth or Southampton, I believe, for the scheduled BMC shipment to the States, and finally to BMCD in downtown Seattle.  We took the train back to London, where we flew back to Amsterdam, staying in a large hotel near the train station across a canal.  Interesting evening, as down in the hotel bar, The American Bar, the head bartender was teaching the trainee how to make really good Irish Coffees.  We got to drink the trial runs, boy were they good.  I finally gave up and went up to the room to sleep, and Ray hit up with another fellow in the bar, and proceeded to do a little bar hopping, in the red light district I think, lol.  He came into the room much much later.  I seem to remember some giggling going on as he tried to get into his bed.  Needless to say, someone was very tired the next day.  Finally got to the airport and then flew back to Vancouver, thus concluding Del and Ray’s Great Adventure, a great month-long trip.  

Yes, the car did finally show up the next Spring, and you know the history thereafter.


Perhaps now would be a good time to look back to those who served since the beginning. -March 2, 2022


Continuing story of a founding member’s Mini

(est. 1967) Here’s a brief history of my mini (sometimes still referred to as Jerry’s Mini). I got the MkI Cooper S from Jerry Everett as a swap for my 1965 Austin Healey Sprite. 

This Cooper S spent a lot of time at high speed on a parking lot. First, in the hands of Jerry Everett and later Mike Howze. – SAMOA archives

My car came equipped with the following accessories: Corbeau black seat covers (front and back),  Rokey wooden dash (not installed), racing gas caps on both tanks, Dunlop alloy wheels, Peco exhaust (twin outlet, additional straight exhaust for autocrossing) made by Exhaust Specialist in Ballard, Grant 12 1/2”  3-spoke steering wheel (Jerry must not have liked the stock wheel), Lucas PL headlights, quick disconnect grill mounts), and metallic brake pads (had to heat up before applying). 

Back in the day, when not autocrossing, our Minis were our daily drivers. -Mike Howze photo

I was on my way back from attending a reserve weekend when I heard a thump while on I-5. I pulled over and the engine would run but the car would not move.  The Mini was towed to my folks place in Seattle, then down to Puyallup. It wasn’t until I decided to restore the car that I found out I had sheared the bolts off a Hardy Spicer joint. Wish I had picked this up years ago. Total time owning car was about 25+ years.  – Mike Howze

First-generation SAMOA jacket belonging to Mike. -Mike Howze photos


Before the beginning

Sometime in 1963 a small group of friends were looking for a solution to parking problems at college when they became aware of a tiny new car with 10” wheels, the Mini. Del Gould and Ray Honsberger purchased “demonstrator” Mini 850s from the BMC dealership in Seattle for the ironic sum of $850 each and it wasn’t long before they started thinking about forming a club.

As Del recalls,

“Ray Honsberger and I had bought our Minis at the same time from British Motor Car Distributors down off of Airport Way under the Spokane Street Viaduct, his being a gray Austin 850 Mini.  Another friend, Hugh Criswell, bought a white Austin Mini a little later, and then my brother Greg bought a red Austin as well.” 

 “As I remember, and as we age you know how that goes, the idea of a Mini club started sometime in the spring of 1964.  After I had bought my original 1962 Morris Mini Minor I installed an MG1100 engine/tranny in it and decided to try autocrossing.”

“We were standing around in my folk’s basement that spring talking about Mini’s (while working on one of them I suspect) and someone wondered why we shouldn’t start a club for just us.  It was more or less a joke at that time.  I thought about it and dreamed up an emblem, cutting it out of cardboard, and spray painting it as a stencil on the inside of my parent’s garage door.

One wonders what Del’s parents thought about his art work on their garage door.

The paint I used was a metallic green paint I had bought for a Singer 1200 Roadster I had been intending to restore.  The Singer never got restored, alas, as I just didn’t know how to do that sort of thing at that time.  Anyway, the words  “Seattle Area Mini Owners Association” (we thought it sounded a little stuffy but what the heck, it was just sort of a joke at the time) just seemed to come together with the name Mini in a fun pattern on a convenient shield shape.”

“Ray and I autocrossed that car for the first time, under the flag of SAMOA for the first time as well, at an MG Car Club Gymkhana on July 26, 1964 at the Boeing Oxbow parking lot across the Duwamish River from the Boeing Developmental Center.  Driving my car, Ray actually had a faster time than I did in the prelim runs.   Unbeknownst to us, Jerry Everett was there with an MGA, at about 8 seconds slower, so I assume that was when he saw the light about winning with a Mini.  I ended up winning the class C runoff against two Sprite MK II’s and two VW’s with the Gymkhana all-class runoffs fastest time.  It turned out to be the very FIRST win for Samoa.”  

“A year or two later (don’t remember exactly when or how) we ended up meeting Dick Penna and Jerry Everett, who were autocrossing their own Mini’s by that time, and joined up with them in forming a real car club, using the name and emblem that we had come up with. 

The growth of the club and it’s successes through the years is now SAMOA history.  Little did we realize what the outcome of that first Gymkhana would produce.”

-Del Gould

A jacket patch was the first bit of SAMOA regalia.

It was on March 27, 1967 that this larger group of Mini enthusiasts gathered to formalize the organization of SAMOA. Minutes from the first meeting indicated that the nine people attending wished “to combine the individual subjected ideas into one formative joint move to result in an organization constituted of people who own Minis or wish they did.”

Well, it was the 60s after all and although the language may sound a bit strange, the idea itself isn’t and the concept of “a club for people who own Minis or wish they did” lives on, making SAMOA the longest continuously operating Mini club in North America.


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!


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 trademark white overalls along with Dick and Carman Penna standing by Jerry’s Mini (eventually owned by lifetime-member Mike Howze). The middle Mini is Penna’s which is right behind Ray Honsberger’s black over white 998Mki Austin Cooper that sits next to a new MGB, the owner of which, Jack Scher, is in a blue jacket right behind Penna’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, unmodified except the grille and 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 president (2021-), 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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