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2024 Drive Your Triumph Day

Drive Your Triumph…or other British motor…or another sports car…

February 10, 2024, Fresno, California. Weather: cool, crisp, with a respite from the recent “Atmospheric River,” (whatever happened to storms?).

A squadron of Valley British Auto Club (VBAC) explorers negotiated their way through early Saturday traffic to rendezvous at the Cars and Coffee event, which is supported by the local branch of the BMW Car Club of America.  The venue was a section of the car park in the Friant/Fort Washington shopping center, which was soon occupied by a broad cross-section of local auto enthusiasts’ favorite mounts.  Some of the brands on display included, of course, BMW, with Germany further represented by some grand Mercedes examples; the conglomeration extended to include domestic muscle such as Vipers, Mustangs, Camaros, even a (replica) Cobra big-block. Not to be outdone, the Japanese were represented by Toyota, Honda and Mazda; while the British brigade provided a tasty variety of the UK’s best, such as Jaguar, Mini, MG, Land Rover, and, yes, the honored marque, Triumph, was well represented.  The coffee and treats some procured at the conveniently positioned Starbucks paired well with the grease-monkey vibe, and soon VBACers were graciously explaining the intricacies of the SU carburetor with those more comfortable with tuning-by-laptop.  However, conversation was temporarily suspended when a new Tesla “Cyber Truck” silently glided through, assuming a position of honor in the wee cul-de-sac area of the car park.  The truck commanded the attention, seemingly, of all in attendance, suggesting that some of the petrol heads may be converted to elec-trons in our green energy future.  Curiosity sated, the group then resumed their discussions, with upcoming car-related events eagerly anticipated by many.

Ten-hundred hours tolled, and the VBAC contingent queued to exit the lot via Fort Washington Road, then veered North on Friant Road.  Russ Weber led in his venerable red TR-4, followed, in no particular order, by Bill V. in his black XK8, Ron G. in his maroon Jaguar XJR (Supercharged!), Bill in his TR-6, Jon B. in his yellow/orange Cooper S, Jon F. in his navy blue Midget, Richard S. in his white TR-3, and Terry S. in his French blue TR-6.  Yours truly played sweeper in the “Japanese MG” (Miata), just in case any of the Brits ran into trouble en route to our lunch at Ranchos Café in Madera.  Russ, thankfully, took the long way to lunch, a brief stop at the Friant Dam viewpoint to see the San Joaquin River rushing by, immediately followed by a spirited jaunt through the Madera County foothills.  The Sierra Mountains offered a glorious and majestic backdrop as we roller-coastered our way, up, down, right, left, past the lazy cows and under the vigilant hawks.  Top-down, heater on, I was certainly enjoying the sights, smells and sounds as the British beasties farted and burped their way through the voluptuous countryside.  All too soon, the entertaining portion of the trip terminated, and we turned left onto Highway 41, this part being straight South toward the flatlands of the San Joaquin Valley.  No sooner had we entered 41 than the all-too-familiar sight of steam and the sweet smell of coolant began emanating from one of the elderly runners.  Terry in the beautiful baby-blue TR-6 pulled into the nearest parking area, and I followed to offer assistance.  Bonnet raised, it was apparent that the heater valve was on permanent strike.  Terry graciously eschewed the offer of help, insisting that he and Joanie could make it home in the Triumph.  We bade each other farewell, and I employed all six gears in the Miata’s gearbox to catch the group at the appointed destination.  A hearty lunch alongside vibrant conversation ensued; then it was time for me to return the dreary city and complete a number of deferred chores…

Yours in motoring,

Martin Connolly

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