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   Pacific Northwest WPC Regional Meet, 

Hosted by the WPC Club, Puget Sound Region

June 24-27- 2010, Ellensburg, Washington . 


Article: Jon Carson,  President,  Puget Sound Region of the WPC Club . 

Photos following article.

I must admit, about three weeks ago it all seemed so futile, and perhaps a bit ill advised.  In my garage sat a car ( 1961 Chrysler Newport Wagon )  with no engine, and an engine compartment that looked every bit of its 49 years of existence. Well, as the British have been known to say, I decided to “press on” and see where it got me.  With two weeks until the Regional meet in Ellensburg Washington, I had a painted engine compartment, and then an engine sitting on its mounts.  With one week to go there was a drive shaft and some accessories. With 3 days and counting we had a radiator and wiring.  I think everyone knows the drill well, one step forward, then maybe three steps back.  By the time this part is cleaned, and the next painted the hours really mount up.

My old advice line of “it’ll be fine” now came back to haunt me.  Let’s see, two days to go and I was adding fluids and checking for leaks. So far so good. Tuesday night finally brought the moment of truth, battery connected, distributor dropped in, new plugs, and a squirt of gas in the carb and the wagon fired on the first turn (could this really be me?).  The car sounded great as it ran through cam break-in.  No leaks, no drama.  The car was put away and the garage clean by just after mid-night.

Wednesday morning was the moment of truth, would it drive, would the new tranny work as it should, would I trust my wrenching skills enough to hit the road without test miles?  Would all the spinny things keep spinning, and all the bolted things stay attached?  I drove an extensive 4 miles and decided that “it would be fine”.  Patty and I loaded up 8 flats of water bottles, 4 cases of pop, 2 coolers, 2 suit cases, tools, timing light, engine analyzer, banners, signs, chairs and a few things even I didn’t recognize.  The entire 4 by 8 rear cargo was full (all the better to test my work!). 

As I pulled out of the drive I muttered “there’s no place like home” over and over to myself. Each small noise and bump had me on edge, it was much like those old Submarine movies when I was a kid, as the crew held on and listened during a depth charge attack, waiting for the next bit of damage control.  As the miles went by however, it became apparent that it really was going to be okay , the destroyer was moving away, and the depth charges weren’t a threat anymore.

We rolled over the summit of Snoqualmie pass at 75 M.P.H., oil pressure high, temp gauge low, amps retaining a positive attitude (yet not too positive), life was good.  I had forgotten how much I loved this old wagon.  You just can’t beat an old car on a road trip.  People passed by honking, waving and with thumbs up.  So this is why we spend all those crazy hours in the garage. It was better than just okay, it really was FINE.  The best part was that as we headed East, the clouds lifted, and for the first time in what seemed months the sun shone brightly.  Doris Day sang Que Sera, Que Sera on the radio and for a moment I was a little boy, riding in my Mom and Dad’s car without a care in the world, who says these old cars aren’t magic.

After 120 uneventful miles, we arrived at the Hampton Inn and began unloading and preparing for Thursday, and all our arriving guest and friends. Thursday morning was clear and the temperature was  just right.  By 9:00 A.M. the Mopars began to arrive.  Some were just a bit later than they said, and for those we watched the parking lot like an air crew watched the runway for returning B-17s, would they make it, or would they limp in?  By 10:30 we had over a dozen cars accounted for, and more were arriving by the hour.  Old acquaintances greeted, and dear friends welcomed, it was a party atmosphere.

At 12:30 we lined up for our first tour, a 45 mile drive through the scenic Yakima river canyon to Yakima.  We visited the CubCrafter factory where a modern version of the old Super-Cub light plane is built. Our tour was great and took us through welding up the fuselage, laying out the wings, stamping the aluminum ribs and covering the wings with fabric.  We toured the painting facilities and even got to look over several completed aircraft.  We also met up with a large contingent of our Oregon and southern Washington members who had come straight to Yakima.

            After the factory tour we headed over to the Macalister Aviation museum and had a great presentation by a fellow who had been a B-17 bombardier .  He described the Nordan Bomb sight and how it worked from personal experience.  All too soon it was time to gather everyone up and head out for Ellensburg.  The return trip up the canyon had tops and windows down as our string of sparkling old iron weaved through the scenic turns and hills.  By the time we got back to the hotel there were over 25 cars in the back lot.

Following dinner on our own,  we gathered downstairs for the welcoming ice cream social, with locally made Weinegers ice cream.  As everyone visited,  preparations were made for a totally new event for our regional meets.  That new event was a Slow Roll competition.  It involved two old fire hoses laid across town lanes, one as a starting line, and one downstream about 500 feet as a finish line.  The object of the “race”      was to be the last one to cross the finish, and more importantly to be the closest to the finish hose, but actually cross the finish.  It was much harder than it looks, at many a brave man went down to defeat.  Our grand prize winner was Jane Zappone, in husband Larry’s 56 (DeSoto) Pace Car convert.  Without any practice, she calmly lined up, and cruised to within 4 inches of perfection.  It was a stunning display of car control and humbled all present.  We had some great match-ups, hotrods racing a vintage CHP police Polara, A 41 Command Car racing a 56 Fury and even a 50 Plymouth going backwards!  We all learned that vintage PowerWagons don’t coast worth a hoot either.  After all the intense racing action it was time to rest up and prepare for Friday’s tours.

            Friday morning we were off at 9:30 A.M. for a 90 mile tour to the Columbia river, the Wild Horse Wind Farm and the Faltus car collection.  Our group numbered 31 cars, and the rural roads allowed us to all be together in a marvelous mile long string of flash and color.  We stopped at the Ginko Petrified forest visitor center, and we took advantage of several photo ops there.  Then it was of to the Wind farm, a 15 mile drive climbing over 2500 feet.  It was quite a scene as the cars wound their way up the mountain, with incredible open vistas of the Washington Cascades, and the Columbia basin.  Along with a tasty box lunch, the staff of the Windfarm gave a very informative tour of the wind turbines, which are actually over 250 feet high.  On the ridge we visited, there are over 200 individual turbines in service!

After out lunch we turned our trusty steeds toward Ellensburg and the colorful collection of Allen and Jeff Faltus.  There were 30 some cars in the collection, with wonderful colors and some very rare models on display.  His latest car being assembled is a 56 Desoto Adventurer.  Many thanks again to the Faltus family, for their tour, and the use of their dealership property for our Slow-Roll event.  After a few hours of rest we all drove over to the Red Horse diner for dinner.  The diner is decorated like a vintage Flying A gas station, and many photos were taken in front of their gas pumps.

Early Saturday we were all off to Reed Park in town for our car show.  We had 45 cars on the field, with a gorgeous backdrop of the Kittitas valley and the mountains in the distance.  The weather was wonderful, if just a bit windy.  We all struggled through the day trying to decide on winners in each of our judging categories.  Our board decided to change our trophy categories to make people really look at the cars differently, and I think it really worked, with items like favorite steering wheel, tallest antenna, most perceived horsepower etc..

With a few hours to regroup, we were all off for the ten mile drive to dinner.  Our venue was at a working cattle ranch in a lush green hollow west of Ellensburg.  As our train of Mopars crept down the gravel country road we crested the last rise to the view the dinner “barn”, and a lush green pasture lined with fins, chrome and color, it was quite a view.  Our dinner was tasty sirloin and wild salmon, served with old friends and new memories.  The final treat (at least I hope it was well received), was a serenade by the ever famous, newly named MoparPentaSTARS, doing their renditions of "I’ll Drive Away" (In My Mopar) by Ian Smale, "Chrysler Road" by Jeff Carter and yours truly, and the old favorite "Hemis and Fins".  The crowd even joined in for a chorus of “Ghost Mopars in the sky”.  Awards were given, laughs exchanged and many good memories etched for future years. We all marveled at the Mouse House trophy, and how a mouse could set up house in Jack Perry’s Command Car in just one night. As the temperature dropped, and the light waned, the crowd moved back to their cars and headed back to the hotel.

As Sunday’s good byes were said, hugs exchanged and final under hood checks made, it was time for reflection.  We had two 60 Saratogas, two 59 Plymouth converts, two 60 Dodges and three 61 Chryslers at the meet.  We had nearly more convertibles than anything else. We hosted 95 people at the banquet, and 45 cars on the show field.  Jack Perry was amazing driving his 41 WC Command Car all the way from Kenmore (over 120 miles each way).  Our cars spanned from 1927 (Stan Wicks model 70), to the Bartholomews 300M. The very cars that brought us all together scattered us into the wind by Sunday noon.  Why do we do this?  We do this for weekends just like last week, for the friendships, the memories and for the smiles on peoples face as they remember a simpler time, or an old memory they had put aside. Every time a hood went up, there were five to ten helpers offering advice or support.  I for one am glad I busted those knuckles, stained that shirt and cluttered that garage.  It’ll be fine, and it was FINE!

  - Jon Carson,  president WPC Puget Sound Region


Above - Jon Carson works on getting the engine back in the wagon days before the Meet. 

         Above:  ( from the Smale's photos)

               On the way to Ellensburg, on  I-90 through the Snoqualmie Pass, June 24.  




    View from the Hotel room at the Hampton Inn,  in Ellensburg June 24th


     Below:  Tour on the way to the Wild Horse Wind Farm.


  Above and below photos:

Friday Tour to the Wild Horse Wind Farm and Ginko State Park  above and below photos

































Saturday Car Show at  Reed Park in Ellensburg  directly above,  and below photos










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