Marelli Classic Car Driving Tour in Austin 2011-Hill Country Triumph Club

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          1973 Stag front grill badges


Last year at this time, we had great fun and made some great new friends at the Bastrop Veterans Day Car Show.  A truly huge event with 400+ cars, a military fly-over and other activities saluting our Vets, and much more.  We pre-registered for this year’s event since we had such a great time last year.  Soon we discovered a conflict in our calendar.  The Bastrop Veterans Day Car Show happened at the same time the Austin Lucas/Marelli Driving Tour was happening.  Hmmm, another car show, or DRIVING??  We chose the tour, and boy are we glad we did! 

From our count, 17 cars started the Lucas/Marelli Tour, and we picked up another in Cedar Park, and another near Dripping Springs.  This years’ tour started at Hudson Bend, went around Lake Travis to Marble Falls, by Enchanted rock, through Dripping Springs, and ended at Tratorria Lisina in Driftwood.  (I guess since Dean and Elizabeth were in the Alfa it had to be Italian for lunch?  Next year perhaps fish & chips or bangers & mash)  Anyway, the tour was about 130 (great) miles.  Alphas, Triumphs, Healy’s, BMWs (they DO, after all own the Triumph brand), a Morgan,and even a late model Miata participated.  What fun!

 Morelli tour startingline up 2011

If it had have been only one club, it would not be nearly the same.  The camaraderie was genuine, regardless of Marque.  The anticipation before the drivers meeting leading up to starting the engines was wonderful.  Off we went!  Such a spectacle, there were even folks on the opposite side of traffic pulling over to view the parade of cool euro-sportsters passing by, and for many, likely the only time they will ever experience such a sight.  Even more fun was driving one in that parade!  And though officially the Lucas/Marelli Tour, celebrating all Marques Brit and Italiano, perhaps we expand next years invites to any enthusiasts of imported classic sports cars?  The more the merrier!

From a great breakfast hosted by the L/M Tour organizers, Dean & Elizabeth Mericas, (members of both the Alpha and Triumph Clubs in CenTex), through the terrific back roads they planned for us all through the tour--ideal for which these cars were absolutely made, this is a great, fun event that brings folks passionate about fun classic cars together.  A little cool in the AM, even with all the Roadsters, we were the only ones with the top-down at the start.  As it warmed up, more tops came down, in spite of the 20+ mile-an-hour winds.

In the beginning, we found ourselves in the back group from the first major light, but soon the entire group was together again.  Twists, turns, downs and rises, whoosh! Again, at the next major light (which seemed to last forever), we were in the back group.  Determined to reunite the groups, we did what any self respecting sports car driver should do in a group, we got on the gas to the front of the rear group and finally caught up to the lead group, as did all of the rear group, eventually.    

 Pit Stop at halfway mark

You know, when there are so many cool cars, if there IS a cop in waiting, he can’t get us all!  Fortunately, today, I only saw one that could have, and he clearly appreciated what we were doing and continued on his way (probably has a little sports car in his garage at home!).  The other plus of being in one big group is that the navigator can snap pictures and post them to Facebook in real time on the drive since we can just follow the cars ahead!  

 Morelli Tour finish line   Trattoria Lisina fountian

The route Dean selected was excellent, twists and turns, short and long rises (on a few--I swear we got some four wheel air on--YEE-haw!!) one lane bridges, great vistas, low water crossings (well, in our drought we did pass one bridge with water in it…).  Then we topped it all off with a great Italian lunch and wonderful wine.  Wow, what a great day!

Added bonus was the side tour of Phil Auldridge’s shop.  We all dream of having this kind of place, and we thank him for the invite and the tour, a nice diversion, we’d have never gotten without the Lucas/Marelli!   

These are the kind of days that make life worth living, and you know it while and after you do it.  So, when next faced with the choice of a show or a drive, we say: Drive!  Enjoy!  Could do this every weekend!  If you have favorite drive, share it with us all—it could be the next Tour or Rallye! Oh yeah, roadster teams, don’t forget the sunscreen!

 After driving in the L/M Tour, we should bring more like minded enthusiasts together, regardless of Marque for these type events.  Perhaps the formation of a club of clubs of sorts, the “Classic Imports Touring Assn” (CITA)?  Whatever, we should encourage the leaders and key members of all classic imports clubs to get together and see how we can encourage more participation around our hobby, especially participatory events such as Lucas/Marelli, that welcome all with open arms that result in such a fun event that delivers smiles and memories that will last a lifetime!

  God Save The Queen, and may BMW revive the Triumph Brand!

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