Carlisle PA, 2012


MY OLD FRIEND MIKE CONNELLY asked me to drive one of his Saabs to Pennsylvania on Friday, to the import show at the Carlisle Fairgrounds. That’s a little southwest of my home state’s capital, Harrisburg, in the valley of the mighty Susquehanna. Five of the guys went but our gals all bailed. And this was despite them not having to sleep with us. On the ground, I mean, in Carlisle. We’d snooze out in the weeds with the cars, but the girls would have rooms in town, with swell amenities. Hair dryers, showers, toilets, you name it.

Kristin passed. Pam had gardening in mind.  Sherry did a u-ey, and gave me her official Saab Club of North America meal tickets. Dawn, George’s bride, was the last one set to go. She actually made it to the staging area. But as we were getting the cars lined up and all pointed in the same direction, Dawn looked like a doe in the headlights. Was she wondering: How bad will these guys smell by Sunday?

Or… Three days as the only adult in a party of six?

So Dawn slipped her suitcase out of the car, real stealthy-like. Then she called a girlfriend to pick her up. And that was the last we saw of her.

So we blasted on down to Pennsylvania, about 400 miles. Except we shaved a little distance off by taking a chance on Route 95 and the Tappan Zee Bridge. You can turn to bones sitting in the traffic jams they have down there on a Friday. But we lucked out, cool runnings all the way.

On the return trek, on Sunday, we didn’t dare stick a thumb in Fate’s eye and make a second attempt at the most direct route. We did a more northern loop instead, up through the mountains: Scranton PA, Port Jervis NY, Danbury CT, then down to New Haven for the start of the final 100 miles home.


Here are the guys in the chow line. From left, it’s Mike, George, Mike, and Mike. George and I answer to “Mike” as well, which keeps the operation organized, prevents confusion from setting in.


Mike’s ’84 SPG prototype, the only car we trailered to the show. Mike, Mike, Mike and Mike rigged it up on the trailer but Mike drew the short straw on driving the tow vehicle.


We met up with our friend Linnea, from New Hampshire. She had driven in at the wheel of fast Ruby Blixt, the Viggen. And with a rodent on board.


It hid under a blanket all weekend. Linnea said that was because I had referred to it publicly as “the rat.” It does look pissed, actually.


Oh, well, I guess everything depends on nomenclature. So I tried to get through the weekend without offending any “replica” owners. As any fool knows, a “kit car” becomes a replica when the buyer pays the kit car company to assemble the kit for him.


For $100,000 an outfit in Florida will deliver this Chevy-powered replica of a 1936 Auburn roadster. A beauty! It must be tons of fun to own and drive and show but…


… the R. E. S. P. E. C. T., Find Out What It Means To Me, goes to the no-money guys who build their own toys. Just my opinion, void where prohibited by law, I’ve been known to be wrong, your mileage may vary, etc. etc…


I snapped this pic to inspire my friend Larry Stanley, World’s Strongest English Professor, to get his TR3 on the road.


Some old guy, even older than Larry, was having fun bombing around the grounds on his V4-powered work in progress. (Correction: This crate had a 3-cylinder. Thank you, Jon Brush, former owner of one just like it.)


Here he is vaporizing some 2-stroke engine oil. I saw just one mosquito all weekend, this stuff really works.



Man, it was HOT this weekend. The Number 1 rule at Carlisle is no beer for poodles so this guy got his owner to hose him down instead.


Think of the billions wasted on laundering bath towels. Why haven’t humans evolved to dry off like this? Wait a second, I do dry off like this…


Here’s me sun-baking a fresh jarhead. Linnea, bless her heart, tried to put sunscreen on me. Ha! Sicilians don’t need no stinkin sunscreen, feed it to “the rat.”


Our grill man didn’t succumb to the heat. And dig it, he was working the grill. We chatted about T-shirt irony. He opined, without irony, that people are stupid. “I think they’re funny,” he said.


Here’s George taking off down the road in a 5-horse go-kart, a promotional prop that Mike had scooped up from a defunct Saab dealership. Tight quarters! And the little car really flies. Theoretically it’s a good way to get a face full of asphalt. After some squirrelly asphalt action, George went off to spin turf donuts for a while.


Mike climbed in and said a thing we’ve all said when making an announcement of imminent folly, of spectacle worthy of witness: “Here, hold my beer.” Then he sped out of sight and earshot and after a while we wondered… So where’s whatsizname?


He didn’t have the cigarette when he came back. Dunno if he pitched it or swallowed it.


This guy from Worcester, Massachusetts who camped next to us fell victim to the steering wheel hazard while climbing out of the kart. This was after he got his breath back and could laugh about it.


Sundown on Saturday. Before you know it the fun’s all over. Like Friday, Sunday would be a travel day. But a good one, as our little 5-vehicle caravan of friends sped along mountain highways, home to New England.

Tony DePaul, May 21, 2012, Cranston, Rhode Island












About Tony

The occasional scribblings of Tony DePaul, 62, father, grandfather, husband, freelance writer in many forms, ex-journalist, long-distance motorcycle rider, motorcycle wrecker, motorcycle rebuilder, collector of surgical hardware, blue routes wanderer, outdoorsman, topo map bushwhacker, handy with a wrench, hammer, chainsaw, rifle, former photographer, printer, logger, truck driver, truck mechanic, jet fueler… blah blah...
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7 Responses to Carlisle PA, 2012

  1. Jon says:

    What’s with all the Mikes? Where’s Moe?
    Also, that faded red SAAB is not a V4. It’s a 3 cylinder monster, like my ’64 93. To be sure, if it goes ‘ringdingding’ on the overrun, while puffing little smoke rings, it is a 2 stroke. If my ’64 had not met it’s demise in crash, I’d say that was it. The V4’s had different hoods and were the first SAABS with 4 stroke motors. All this was before your time, I’m sure.

  2. Tony says:

    Hey, David. This was only my second time there for the import show. I think when I get the ’49 truck back together I’ll take a spin down for the vintage Ford thing. Saw a couple this weekend who drove in from Hot Springs, Arkansas in a ’57 Porsche Speedster. It’s cool to see the classics on the road!

  3. Tony says:

    It can turn into a hawk pretty quick if I keep trying to get it even all the way around. The jar’s one of two haircuts I can give myself in the mirror. The other one’s a failed jarhead, known as a cue ball.

  4. Bob Flynn says:

    So the real question is: Is Larry Stanley an ENGLISH professor or an English PROFESSOR? Inquiring minds want to know.

    • Tony says:

      Hey, Bob! I can easily clear this up: Larry is American by birth, English in heart, mind and soul, teaches English by choice, so, naturally, I call him “the German.” As any Englishman knows, the Germans must be stopped. Nobody stopped them in the 5th century when they migrated from Germany to England and started calling themselves Englishmen, and now look. Clearly, the English, too, must be stopped. Maybe even before the Germans now that I think about it.

  5. Tony says:

    Haha! Reminds me of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, “Yo, homes, smell ya later!”

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