Chrysler 300 Club International

White Sands 300 Classic
Hurricane in the Desert Car Event

    September, 2014

Marilyn and I thank 125 of you that braved the dire weather forecasts and attended our joint meet of Chrysler 300 Club, Inc. and Chrysler 300 Club International at White Sands, New Mexico. Only five cancelled at the last minute – understandable. All that were unable to attend missed a crazy time in the desert. Check out the pictures on the websites and kind comments of the attendees. As always, the Chrysler 300 letter cars, non-letter 300s and other MoPars draw us together, but friendship among club members keep us coming back together.

White Sands National Monument and Alamogordo, New Mexico are famous for great weather, especially the middle weekend of September. Historically this has always been the very best weather weekend of the entire year – the reason for the White Sands Balloon Invitational this particular weekend each year. For the first time in history remnants of two hurricanes in the Baja of Mexico slammed Arizona and New Mexico – a car event must have been scheduled or something.

Early arrivers were invited for dinner at the Allen’s on Wednesday evening. Even when the numbers grew to 110, we were able to make arrangements for enough food, rental tables and chairs for our back yard and RV garage. Approximately four hours before our event our cell phones melted down with Flash Flood Warnings. Having a major arroyo crossing on the access road to our home, we knew we were in trouble. We might have been able to feed 110, but we just could not sleep 110 at our place if a flash flood wiped out our arroyo crossing during the evening. Relocating our event at the last minute to the fellowship hall of Grace United Methodist Church seemed to work out well.

Self-guided driving tours were scheduled for Thursday and Friday – a taste of the old west. Attendees soon learned if they did everything available, it would take ten days to two weeks to complete all of the tour guide offerings. This was intentional. We wanted everyone to have an excuse to come back to see us some day.

Thursday evening Jim Krausmann set a record with a 30-minute Business Meeting of the Chrysler 300 Club International, efficiently covering a complete agenda in the allotted time. This enabled Gary Goers’s famous (infamous?) auction to begin on time. As always it was a most enjoyable and entertaining evening.

One of our highlights was to be a Fiesta Picnic at White Sands National Monument planned for Friday evening. There is nothing like the feeling of inspecting the group picnic area at White Sands on Thursday morning and finding it totally flooded with water – one big lake. It was literally a miracle that this lake drained, leaving just a few puddles in time for our event Friday evening. Again, check out the spectacular pictures of our 300s and other MoPars among the White Sands dunes at sunset.

Bruce Toelle, Ralph Rhees and other members of The 300 Club, Inc. did a magnificent job laying out and running the People’s Choice car show at Alameda Park Saturday morning – a setting of green grass and large cottonwood trees and sunshine in the middle of the desert. There was a class for every 300 and Mopar. Every letter car was represented except a 1962 300H. Congratulations again to John Begian for winning his class, winning Ladies Choice and winning Best of Show with his black 1961 300G Convertible that he drove from Detroit to New Mexico and back in rain storms with Noel Hastalis and his 300F. See Bill Adams’ issue of Brute Force for meticulous coverage of all car show awards. Thanks again to Mick and Martha Kreszock for all of their video / photographic work for this event.

Marilyn and I must apologize again for the awards banquet. Having attended many events at our “best restaurant in town” with 100 people or more in the middle of the summer, 100+ degrees outside, 72 degrees inside, we were confident everything would be perfect. Wrong! Who would have dreamed the air conditioning system would freeze up / fail due to extremely high humidity in the desert. The food was good as expected. However, three of the wait staff failed to show up for work. This left only three people to serve 125 people in unbearable heat and humidity. We were able to negotiate a sizable refund for The Chrysler 300 Club, Inc. I just wish it had been large enough for a partial refund for the attendees that suffered through our banquet.

Kermit Eskelsen and Bruce Toelle wisely relocated our awards presentations to the Fairfield Inn and Suites, the host hotel. Unfortunately, only about 80 of us were able to attend this enjoyable event. We lost a few attendees between the restaurant and the hotel. Again, see all the pictures of award winners in the Brute Force publication.

Although only a few hot air balloons launched on Saturday due to a flooded Balloon Park launch site, a record of 38 hot air balloons launched early Sunday morning at the White Sands Balloon Invitational. Congratulations to Mark, Pauline and Mathew Obermann as well as Tom and Bea Gorse who received free tethered rides in hot air balloons. We are unaware if others received balloon rides. If so, let us know.

Another special thank you to Tony Rinaldi for his artwork for our White Sands 300 Classic. Congratulations to Tony also having Vickie Wood as Grand Marshall for his upcoming meet in Pennsylvania. We spent time with Vickie at Daytona Speedweeks last year and everyone will enjoy meeting and spending time with Vickie.

Virtually everyone attending our meet helped in some way and credits go to everyone we failed to mention.

In closing, we had two unexpected, unplanned, unofficial Grand Marshalls at our White Sands 300 Classic. One was Dean Smith with his 1961 Mexican Pan-American Road Race Chrysler 300G from Las Vegas, Nevada. Another was Hershel McGriff and his 1970 Chrysler 300 Hurst from Green Valley, Arizona. When Hershel registered for the event I kept asking everybody if he was “The Hershel McGriff,” First Mexican Pan-American Road Race winner and many time NASCAR West Champion, driving mostly MoPars. No one seemed to know. When I looked up and recognized that it really was “The Hershel McGriff” that walked into registration I almost passed out. It was truly an honor and privilege for him to attend our event. A little known fact that Hershel shared at the awards ceremony was that he purchased his 1970 Chrysler 300 Hurst new and used it as a tow vehicle for his race cars for years.

What surprises await us at our next Chrysler 300 meet? Great meet opportunities are coming up in Arkansas in April, in Sparks, Nevada in June and in Pennsylvania in July.

Bill and Marilyn Allen, Meet Hosts