The next day's main event was a leisurely driving tour that incorporated the lovely San Juan Capistrano Mission before winding up onto less-well-traveled mountain roads. That night the cars gathered at Huntington State Beach for a beach party barbecue. Some were worried that it might be crowded with several hundred Alfisti all roasting their weenies over the same fire pit, but those fears were allayed when they discovered the meal would be catered by a beach-front eatery. The fire pits did come in handy later, though, when the coastal fog rolled in; it does get cold in SoCal when you're standing on the beach late into the evening!
Day three offered a Gimmick Rally that covered some of the same territory as the prior day's tour, but complicated matters by requiring correct answers to some 23 questions as well as incorporating a poker run. The cards served as tie-breakers when six crews answered all the questions correctly.
For spouses and kids and others not as thrilled about driving around in their Alfas, the organizers offered tours to the Getty Museum and the Petersen Automotive Museum. For those hanging around the hotel, a good selection of vendors offered Alfa wares-everything from hats and apparel to taillamp assemblies and complete exhaust systems-in one of the side conference rooms. Once everyone was back in the hotel, the Saturday night banquet pulled in 257 diners. Throughout the evening, a wide variety of awards was given, recognizing everything from 25 years of membership in AROC to the traditional prizes offered for farthest-traveled.
This year's conference attracted a significant number of long-distance visitors, with a whole pack of antipodal Alfisti from Australia and New Zealand, one fellow from Southampton, England, a visitor from Japan, and at least one brave soul who drove his Alfa all the way from Alberta, Canada. He didn't drive the farthest, however; that prize went to a fanatic from Long Island, N.Y., who didn't hesitate to add 3,000-plus miles to his 164S's 158,000!
Though club business prolonged the banquet almost into Sunday, hardcore Alfisti (caffeine addicts and iron-butt champions all) were rewarded for their perseverance with a slide show of David Gooley's photographs accompanied by my account of Alfa Romeo's history at the Mille Miglia.
The third and final day of the event offered a concours at Mile-Square Park, not too far from the convention hotel. Registered competitors numbered only about 70, but at least 30 more joined in the concours as exhibit-only. It was a fabulous display of Alfa machinery, with special appearances by a rare 8C 2300 Monza and a race-ready T33/3. Among competing cars, a gorgeous 1956 1900 Zagato "double bubble" won People's Choice, while a pristine 1961 Sprint Speciale earned Best of Show. As with the track competitions, miniature Oscars went to winners in the ten separate concours classes.
Alfa Romeo Owners Club(877) 399-AROC(973) 285-9338Fax: (973) 285-9343www.aroc-usa.org
Tweeks.com Funfest 2002The thermometer at the 1910-era gas station hovered around the century mark as an outbreak of Corvette fever afflicted the Porsche pushers attending last July's 4th annual Tweeks Funfest for Porsche. The crowd had forsaken the 400 or so German sports cars on hand to roam down the aisles of Mike Yager's museum that is a shrine to America's sports car. It's amazing how interesting those plastic cars become in an air-conditioned environment.