Hello 300'ly to all!
It was a great honor and pleasure for Marnie and I to host the 39th Annual Fall Concours Meet in Branson September 23rd-27th, 2009! The Area '57 complex of the Ramada Inn and Conference Center, Area '57 Car Show lot, Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theater which housed also the '57 Heaven Car Museum featuring the Glenn Patch Collection, the '57 Grill and Club '57 made for a fantastic venue for our club to assemble and HAVE FUN! It was MEANT TO BE since the weather forecast was revised and gave us just splendid autumn days and nights!
Arriving in the early evening of Tuesday, September 22nd, I was greeted at the hotel lobby by Fritz and Jeanie Crombie, their 2 dogs, and motor home with J in tow! I learned to navigate in close quarters pulling Mopsy behind my neighbor's borrowed diesel pick-up around the hotel parking gauntlet with Fritz behind me in his motorhome to get him positioned to park and roll off the J. Fritz and Jeanie are a most delightful couple and they instantly availed themselves to help me throughout the meet.
Tuesday night was spent setting up the hospitality suite and buffing up the registration folders for the wave of meet attendees to arrive on Wednesday. Four hours went by in a flash. It was a thrill to attend to the last details before the meet commenced. Every meet host must share the inner fulfillment when they are finally setting up the hospitality room knowing that all their friends, the cars, and new aquaintances will be coming through the doors within 24 hours! When I turned on Dave Coston's 300 Project DVD and heard the first 300 going around the test track....I knew that the meet was on!
The hospitality suite opened at 11 AM on Wednesday the 22nd and over the next 24 hours 60-70 members registered along with family members and friends to swell the meet attendance to over 140! Specially designed name tags featuring Rich Barber's C-300 rear quarter panel (courtesy of son RJ's KERN-PHOTO shots from the Lawton meet) were seen dangling around everyone's neck.
Thursday was spent totally at Dick Clark's American Bandstand Thearter complex at Area '57. The morning started at 9:30 AM by entering '57 Heaven. By the looks at the gaping faces and dropped jaws, the Glenn Patch Collection of 65 pristine North American 1957 vehicles was worth the journey to Branson by itself! Three hours flew by with OOHs! and AAHS! and fond memories of our youth walking back to 1957 with all the dioramas and memoribilia on display in this museum. To a person, the concept of this collection being auctioned off at NO RESERVE one month's hence was anathema. It was analogous to splitting up the art collection at the Louvre to fund a public transportation project for the city of Paris. We all gathered upstairs at the '57 Grill for a relaxing lunch and then spent the afternoon at The Legends in Concert Show. This was a tribute to Jerry Lee Lewis, Donna Summers, Bobby Darin, The Blues Brothers and Elvis Presley. Special recognition was made to the Chrysler 300 Club International, Inc. for their attendance as a group. There was a special treat for the parking lot crowd on Thursday evening. Area '57 set up their Drive-In movie theater and showed the movie CHRISTINE!
Friday morning found us wandering around Branson with time to kill. Many a meet attendee was identified at The Branson Auto Museum wearing their club name badges which earned them a 30% discount on the price of admission. Around noon we gathered at Andy William's Moon River Grill for a delightful lunch followed by the business meeting. After the luncheon/business meeting, those not attending a show in Branson were found at the second hospitality suite milling around George Riehl as he conducted a TorqueFlite transmission clinic. This entailed George tearing down a TorqueFlite he brought from Jonesville and going through the internals and explaining their function as he reassmbled it before our very eyes! Many thanks go to George for a most enlightening demonstration! (and it must be mentioned that George stood for 3 hours with a broken foot to share his expertise....what a 300 hombre!)
The second running of LETTER CAR JEOPARDY! was hosted by Alex Trebeck in a tuxedo (aka Rob Kern) and Vanna White in an evening gown (aka Marnie Kern...OK Vanna White was in Wheel of Fortune.....but really folks...wouldn't you want Vanna at your game?). This year the presentation was much more streamlined being put together in a PowerPoint presentation. Each contestant had his own scorekeeper. Many thanks go to Phyllis Bennett, Linda Burke, and Elizabeth Wieland for filling these roles. The first game contestants were: Andy Mikonis who came in last after betting over 1000 points on his FINAL JEOPARDY! response and getting it wrong receiving a 1/18 scale Chrysler 300 HemiC model; Bob Cornett finishing in second place and receiving a 1/18 scale Chrysler 300F; and Bob Blohm winning the game and earning the grand prize of a 1/24 Danbury Mint 1957 Cloud White Chrysler 300C convertible! (and this was with Bob being in the negative category at the end of the single-barrel round!) Game two went to: Mick Kreszock coming in third after also blowing a substantial lead on an incorrect FINAL JEOPARDY! response and getting a 1/18 HemiC; Dave Werner (veteran contestant from the first LETTER CAR JEOPARDY! event in Lawton) finishing second and receiving a 1/18 300B in black, and Dave Schwandt coming in first and being awarded a 1/24 Danbury Mint 1957 Gaugin Red 50th Anniversary 300C convertible! The final game was the Stump The Professors round which found our three club directors competitively banging the bells at each other at the speed of the valves opening in a cross-ram engine! John Lazenby came in third getting a 1/18 300 HemiC, Mike Burke finished second earning a 1/18 ERTL Collector's Series Parade Green 300C and Gil Cunningham out paced them all and came across the line first winning a 1/24 Danbury Mint Matador Red 300D hardtop! The evening was a HOOT!
Saturday brought us a picture perfect day for the Car Show at Area '57. Many a Brute and non-letter 300 and other MOPARS were seen being washed before the morning dew had evaporated. With over 25 cars in attendance there was plenty of MOPAR eye candy present. Fritz Crombie was the only brave soul to enter Concours judging with his black J. Other Letter Cars in attendance included Phil Irish's B, Arnold Lueth's C, Bill Woodman's C, Rob Kern's C, George Glavis' D, Jim Golden's D, Daryll Miller's D, Mike Burke's F, Dave Schwandt's F, Lindsy Fuller's F, Tom Askounis' F, Andy Mikonis' G, Ed Phillips H, Spanky Cox's H,and Fritz Crombie's J. Non- Letter Cars included Ed Phillip's '62 300 Sport, 300 Pacesetter convertibles of Bob Blohm and Ron Knoll, a '79 300 of unknown owner, Jamie Hyde's '74 Imperial, Leonard Zimmerer's '57 Plymouth convertible with a 392 Hemi, Dan Haffner's '57 Chrysler Saratoga, Mike Meier's '68 300 convertible, Charles Holmberg's 300HemiC SRT-8, and George Riehl's 300 HemiC Black Tie Edition. We enjoyed sounds of the 50s and 60s along with a concession stand for food and soft drinks courtesy of the Area '57 staff.
During the meet various club members had parts for sale in the second hospitality suite which was a real treasure trove for members looking for those missing pieces to complete their restoration projects! New club member RJ Kern was shutter bugging around everywhere during the meet at Area '57 and off-site doing car/member portrait sessions.
Saturday evening found over 120 members and guests attending the awards banquet conducted by Club President George Riehl. After an invocation offered by yours truly, we all dined on a superb buffet with great desserts! The hardluck award went to Daryll Miller for a balky generator on his D, the long distance award went to Lindsey Fuller for driving his F from Winnepeg, Canada a distance of over 1000 miles (even subtracting out a few side excursions to salvage yards along the way). People's Choice Awards were as follows: Class 1 ('55-'58) second place to Phil Irish for his Regimental Red B and First Place to Daryll Miller for his Tahitian Coral D, Class 2 ('59-'62) second place to Mike Burke for his Sunburst F, and First Place to Ed Phillips for his Red H convertible. Class 3 ('63-'65 and Hurst) went to Fritz Crombie for First Place (only entry in this Class) for his Black J with honorable mention of over 700 points for Concours judging. George also recognized the presence of Jim Bartuska, Gil Cunningham, Arnold Lueth, Terry McTaggart, Dave Werner and himself as being founding members.
George Riehl presented Marnie and I with our host appreciation award and I thanked everyone who helped us host this meet particularly Gloria Moon, Ray Jones, Jim Krausmann, George Riehl, Mick Kreszock, Gil Cunningham and Concours judges, Elizabeth Wieland for People's Choice ballotting, the staff of Area '57 and for YOU for ALLOWING US TO BRING YOU TO BRANSON!