Chrysler 300 Club International
Fall Meet in Monmouth Beach, NJ
September 15 - 17, 1995

Photos by Bill Elder

25th Annual Fall Meet, Monmouth Beach, New Jersey
by Pete Fitch


I’ve only attended three of the Club’s Meets; Trevose Pennsylvania, (Buck’s County) two years ago, one in Jonesville Michigan in the fall of 1994 and the most recent meet in Monmouth Beach, New Jersey for which you might be aware, I was the host.

When I first thought about hosting one of these events, I asked myself “How tough can it be to throw a four-day party?” After thinking it over for a while, I thought that it was probably within my capability and so I wrote to Don Cole (the Meet Chairman at the time) to volunteer. Some time went by without word and I found out that Don Cole was no longer the Meet Chairman but that Ray Jones now had that honor, however dubious it might be. In any event, I once again submitted my name and let it be known that I was willing to do this thing they call hosting a meet and lo and behold, my offer was accepted thus beginning what would prove to be a series of potential crises, all of which would be resolved favorably and without serious consequence.

In the first place, I am among the world’s greatest procrastinators. Why would anyone possibly do something today that he could do tomorrow or the next day, or the next? Consequently, I sat back and spent month after month “considering” what I should plan for the group which after all, wouldn’t be arriving for months and months. All of a sudden, it didn’t seem that far away and I realized that I actually had to try to plan what you would do for four days in New Jersey. Additionally, I realized, this was not only a meet, but the 25th Anniversary Fall Meet.

Fortunately, I am blessed with a number of friends who happen to work in places which were natural parts of such a meet. Thus, through my friend Donna Gironda, Director of Sales at the Hilton, I was able to arrange for the hotel at a rate that was reserved for their best corporate clientele. Similarly, the facilities at the Channel Club were arranged without too much of a fuss as a result of my long-time association with the management.

With the lodging and banquet pretty much settled, I began to look at other things for you to do. First, I imagined that some of you would enjoy taking an 86’ catamaran to New York City for the day. I spoke with the line and they agreed to give us a reduced rate for the trip. The beaches were always available and Sandy Hook is really a pretty fascinating place if one has time to check it out. I figured that would take up some time and yet not put anyone any real distance from the hotel, so into the schedule that went, complete with tour guide. The antique center in Red Bank is quite big and knowing the propensity of some of you to buy such things, I threw it into the schedule as well, following a lunch at the Cove in Sea Bright.

Notwithstanding the activities above, I still needed a main attraction. Having been to two previous meets, I had learned that anytime this group tries to travel from place to place, there will be at least two or three times when traffic will be reduced to a virtual standstill, while those in the front of the procession (usually the same group) wait for the traffic to clear. This temporary lull is inevitably followed by the roar of two or more four barrels opening up as some of our members exercise their inalienable rights to blow the carbon out of their systems, not to mention trying to settle the question of who gets where ahead of whom. While much of this is done on interstate highways, there are other times where less room is afforded. There are also never-ending discussions as to who was ahead of who when the traffic got in the way, etc. I figured that this time, we could make it legal: no traffic lights; no traffic; no cops; no liability and that all excuses could be avoided. As you all probably know by now, the answer lay with spending time on Friday afternoon at Raceway Park at Englishtown, New Jersey, which is known as the fastest quarter mile in the U.S.

I know a guy who worked at Raceway Park. I didn’t know him well, but I knew him well enough to ask if they rented the track out to groups like ours. He said that he thought they did, and advised that if we were going to try and rent the track, we should consider doing so on a Friday when their insurance was already in effect. He told me to call the track and someone would take care of me. I called and spoke with someone who told me that we could have the track for four hours on Friday September 15th, from 1 PM to 5 PM and the cost would be $500.00 payable that day by check. He wrote me a letter confirming the arrangements and I wrote back to him, confirming the contents of his letter. I sat back and figured that now all I had to do was feed a bunch of people on Thursday, Sept. 14th and give them breakfast on the 17th and that would be easy enough, since I do cook. O.K. – everything was done! When Eleanor called for the meet details for distribution, I figured that I was pretty much done.

Time rolled by and pretty soon it was August. Gadzooks – I had forgotten about maps and instructions, dash plaques and things like that. I spent a frantic two weeks throwing things together, along with help from a couple more friends, got the art work to the printer for the plaques and put together the inserts for the meet packets. O.K. – now everything was done WRONG!!!

The first crisis arose when I received a call from Mark Raynor, informing me that the hotel only had 8 rooms set aide for us on Wednesday. It seems that there was a miscommunication between management and the reservations desk and after a day or two, we finally straightened that out.

The second crisis arose on Monday two days before the Meet when I went up to the boat to work out the last-minute arrangements for the trip to New York. I found the commuters milling around because one of the two boats had blown an engine and had to be sent to Boston for repairs. It would be gone for the remainder of the week, including the day we were supposed to go to New York. When they operate with one boat, commuters have first boarding privileges and the tourist only get on board if there is room. I had visions of several of you being left in New York with no way to get back to the Shore. I finally got a hold of the guy who runs the boat and after some discussion and explanation, he agreed to guarantee that our group would get on the boat in both directions.

Wednesday came and George Riehl arrived with the signs and all of the paraphernalia for the hospitality suite. I went over to meet him at the hotel and found crisis number three – not a single parking space was available in the hotel parking lot. I had been assured that we would have the hotel, pretty much to ourselves for the weekend and that we would have our own parking area, but it turned out that there was some sort of military communications and weapons convention in for Wednesday and Thursday. It worked out pretty well, however, as the full parking lot forced us to the second floor of the parking garage which proved to be an outstanding venue. It not only provided security for the cars but allowed us to park them all together, away from the rest of the world.

Thursday morning, I returned from delivering the New York day trippers to the boat and was planning to take the group to Sandy Hook. I found four cars under repair with maladies including a water pump, brakes, a leaking transmission, etc. Crisis number four (albeit a lesser one) – nobody showed up for the tour of Sandy Hook! Jim and Millie Flesher drove around out there by themselves and had a pretty good time but could not hook up with anyone else. I don’t think the guide who was waiting for us took it personally, but I might have trouble getting him if there is a next time. At least, he and Allan Moon had a discussion about fish and fishing. To make matters worse, nobody showed up at the Cove for the lunch that had been planned. By Thursday afternoon, I was convinced that everything was falling apart, but by then I was too busy cooking to worry about it.

Thursday night was the turning point as everyone gathered at my place for drinks and dinner. It turned out in fact, that some people had done Sandy Hook, although not as a group and that several had been to the antique stores in Red Bank, so I didn’t feel so bad. Moreover, it appeared that almost everyone liked my cooking and that they had a really good time during the evening. The meet was finally getting off the ground and I was actually beginning to relax and enjoy myself. Big Mistake!

Friday morning found me in my continuing state of euphoria. I had called my contact at Raceway Park, three days earlier and he told me that, while he would be away on Friday, he would leave someone else in charge of our event. I called to find out who that person might be and found crisis number five (A BIG ONE); I told the woman on the phone, who I was and identified the Club, to which she responded “Yes?” I told her that we would be there at 1 PM and she said “Tomorrow, for the Monster Truck Show?” I told her that we were supposed to have the track from 1 PM to 5 PM on Friday and her response was “That’s impossible. We are setting up for our Monster Truck Show and you can’t possibly use the track today.” The effect of this response was compounded when I asked to speak with the person in charge of track rentals and was informed that she was that person and knew nothing about our use of the track.

I felt like I had swallowed a shot put. I told her that I had confirmation of the date and event in writing and she said she would have someone else call me. This was at 10:45 AM and we were to leave for the track at noon. Twenty minutes later, I received a call from the Manager of the track who acknowledged the exchange of correspondence but repeated that they were trying to get ready for their truck show and that the track was a mess. It turned out that the guy that I had dealt with earlier in the year had absolutely no authority to rent us the track and worse yet, he had told no one at Raceway Park, that he had done so. The Manager told me that he would have to speak to the owner, who was due in 10 minutes, to see what could be done. He also told me not to panic. I told him that at this point his advice concerning the panic question was too late. It was also at this point that I told him that our meet was being covered by High Performance Mopar Magazine, a fact that I didn’t think improved his day. Fifteen minutes later, I received a call from one Vinnie Napp, the owner of the track and it appears the uncle of the Manager. After making sure that we were talking about “C” Body road cars, (“The old Chryslers with the big fins?”) he repeated the problems with the situation, but said “A deal is a deal. We told you to show up at 1:00 – you show up at 1:00 and we will accommodate you.”

As those of you who were there know, they did a lot more than just accommodate us at Raceway Park. After a drive through the horse country of Colt’s Neck and Freehold, we arrived at the drag strip not really knowing what to expect. They couldn’t have treated us better than they did. We were all taken out to the starting line and given a fifteen-minute instruction on how the drag strip worked, how to stage and pre-stage the cars, where to go and where to stop accelerating. Jimmy Napp, the Manager who gave us the instruction, put everyone at ease and explained that anyone who can pull away from a traffic light can run at the drag strip. As he put it: “The difference is that there is no traffic, no police and you just go until you reach the green markers.”

One of my fears in planning this part of the meet was that three or four of us would get out on the track while everyone else watched and got bored. This was compounded when it turned out that neither George Riehl nor Don Cole had their cars with them. Boy was I wrong!!! Whether it was the explanation by the track manager or whether it just got in everyone’s blood, virtually every car made at least one run. The one or two who didn’t run failed to do so because of mechanical problems the cars, which would have been made worse by racing. On the other end of the spectrum, however, was John Hertog, who brought his ’62 sport on a flatbed because he knew it was going to break while running at the track. As he said while loading the car onto the flatbed after throwing a rod: “At least, now I know where it is broken.” After the last run of the day, the starter came around and shook hands with everybody, thanked us for being there and asked us all to come back again. I don’t know if all of the management shared in his enthusiasm, but I really think that they enjoyed watching the cars run.

Some pretty good times were turned in, the fastest of which was Don Verity in his somewhat modified 300F. Despite this accomplishment and all the work that went into achieving it, we failed to give Don the recognition that he deserved at the banquet, an oversight for which I sincerely and truly apologize. Notwithstanding that failure, another racer was recognized, albeit from the distaff side of the group. Marlou Wiltse, who turned in a 16:06 second time slip, with a top speed of 86.21 MPH in her “D” was awarded the MOPAR MOMMA T-shirt in recognition of her accomplishment. As she said to me in the parking lot after the top run: “I haven’t had this much fun in years. I just kicked my husband’s butt!” Of all the attendees at this event, I truly believe that Marlou had the best time. It is rumored that she is trying to talk Jack into regular attendance at the drag strip a couple of miles from their place. We may have created a monster. More stories “from the strip” will appear elsewhere.

After Friday afternoon, I truly did relax. I figured that even if the rest of the weekend sort of fell apart, the meet would probably have been a success. It turned out that the usual rental fee for the track is $2,000.00, so I had even got a better deal than I thought. For my part, that deal got even better, when at the business meeting the membership voted to reimburse me for the $500.00, that I had paid for the day.

Saturday proved to be sort of breezy and then cloudy, but not unpleasant. The setting at the Marina was nice and there was plenty of room for the cars and a good restaurant and bar on the premises. All and all, it went pretty well. The banquet on Saturday night was at the Channel Club, the same place where the afternoon show had taken place. Despite some initial problems with the soda gun at the bar, everyone who wanted a drink got one or more. The dinner was actually better than the average banquet food, including the dessert (which had been specially prepared for us the previous April) and the companionship was outstanding. I don’t know about the rest of them, but I was seated with Ken and Linda Langdon, Randy Hines and Karen, Bob Merritt and Brian Wolfe and we had a damned good time. The parking lot bunch lasted long into the night, both at my place and then back at the hotel.

Sunday morning, I was brewing coffee, arranging danish pastries, cutting bagels and putting out juice, butter and cream cheese in the middle of what appeared to be a major monsoon. Around 9:15 AM, in strolled Jim and Millie (from Maryland) Flesher and the morning party was under way. I enjoyed feeding the group, which numbered 40 – 50 eventually. Somewhere around noon, the rain let up and the crowd thinned out, as people headed home. The coffee drinking turned into beer drinking and around 1:30 the keg ran out. I offered to get another keg, but clearer heads prevailed. All we needed was to put a bunch of drunks out onto the road. Instead, we drank what various people had available. Those in possession of various beers included the Cunninghams, Moons, Joneses and I found a few cans left in my fridge. In any event there was enough to keep us going without causing a potential problem. The rain stopped and we all sat around on my side porch, along with George and Chic and Nancy Kramer and rehashed the meet. One by one the late group got on the road. Fittingly enough, the last one to leave was George, who capped my weekend by telling me I had “Done good.” Which was enough for me.

Since the meet, I have received several very nice letters, thanking me for hosting the meet and letting me know what a good time was had. I am very glad to know that you all had fun, as that is the very purpose of these things. I would be remiss, however, If I closed without including the following: I owe a very big “Thank You” to Allan and Gloria Moon, to Don Warnaar, George and others who staffed the hospitality suite. As pointed out to me early in this thing, it serves as the center of activities and it is important that it functions throughout the meet. I would also like to thank Millie Flesher for slicing an innumerable number of green and red peppers for the Chicken Murphy, which was eaten on Thursday night, for making drinks and for being generally good natured and I would like to thank those of you who made various other contributions to the success of the meet, as well. Above all, however, I want to thank all of you who attended, from as far away as Pueblo, Colorado and as near as Neptune, New Jersey, for making this meet a success simply by being there, with or without your cars. It is primarily through these meets that we are more than a bunch of names on a mailing list. I truly appreciate the fact, that so many of you chose to attend this meet and I hope that you all had a good time and a safe trip home. See you all in Chicago in the Spring and North Carolina in the Fall.

Bits and Pieces

The following are bits and pieces of information, rumor, memory etc. gleaned from and/or remembered by those who were sitting around on my side porch, on the early afternoon of September 17th, as well as some information contributed by your host.

Bill Allen is actually interested in buying one of last year’s IROC cars and was disappointed in not getting a tour of their shop. I’ll let them know, Bill and see if they have any left. Bob Cornett had his car kayoed from Concours by a faulty electrical connection. In preparation for this “drag meet” several members seemed to somewhat alter their vehicles. In most cases. That effort resulted in doing more harm than good. Specifically, Don Cole had rear end problems (its tough to get those 4.56s down the road); your host wound up with a combination of crankshaft, rear end, and high stall converter, which guaranteed that the car would not break 16 seconds. John Hertog finally got the cast iron headers on his ’62, but blew it up on the track and so on. All of these preparations were made in an effort to beat George’s “STOCK” J which of course was not at the meet after all.

The Good Samaritan Award goes to Bob Merritt for his Garden State Parkway road service, not to mention the fun of hearing him tell about it. The “Some Nerve Award” goes to Al Mace who, owning a 300B and a 300K, showed up at Raceway Park with a ’38 ford, powered by a 327 Chevrolet. Nice thing to do at any Mopar Show, not to mention a 300 Meet.

Doug Mayer from upstate New York attended his first show with his 300B, which he put in Concours, claiming that he should get an extra 40 points for coming from New York. We hope to see him at more meets in the future. Bill Woodman kept getting lost wherever he went. How he found his way to my place from Colorado, I will never understand. Bill got the Long-distance Award, in the absence of Frank Driscoll, our perennial winner.

The Northeast was well represented, as it should have been, including regulars Jerry Kocur and Don “Speed King” Verity from New England, Don Warnaar, P.J. Ehmann, Jay Fisher, Dave Geise (with a Road Runner), Bea and Tom Gorse (with a K), Bruce Paul, Randy Hines and Bill Codner from New Jersey. It’s too bad that with a state the size of New Jersey, we couldn’t get at least 90% of the locals to turn out, but the rest of us had fun anyway. John Bertz, Bruce Brownell, Jack and Mary Buttino, Mike Laiserin, Doug Mayer, Bob Merritt and John Hertog made it from the great state of New York. Another New Yorker, Ken Anello, showed up hauling what Ray Jones described as a “metal free G convert on a trailer.” It was truly a sight to see.

The mid Atlantic and Southeast States of Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky and Florida sent a number of members, including Allan and Gloria Moon with Thirsty (and hungry – more about that below) Hursty, Jim and Millie Flesher, Ray and Jo Ann Jones who finally arrived late (better late than never at all) and ever good guy Brian Wolfe, who managed to keep me in good spirits on the way to the track on Friday. Lew Frazer, our own octogenarian, represented the Commonwealth of Virginia and was a pleasure to meet. Delaware’s Kevin Baker, absent for some time, made this one and promised to make the next fall Meet in North Carolina, maybe with an “H”. Bill Allen and Ted Dalack made it in from Georgia. It turns out that Ted is originally from Ashbury Park, New Jersey, right down the street. Jack Streamo, now of medallion fame and the aforementioned Al Mace, joined Gil and Carol Cunningham as representatives of the Sunshine State. While Jack flew and Al brought a Ford, at least Gil and Carol had the “H” convertible.

The Pennsylvania contingent ranked 3rd in attendance, with Don and Pat Cole, Jeff and Leslie Miklas, Mark Raynor, Tony Rinaldi, Les McCurdy, Gary Hitchens and a brief visit from Gary Hagy. Don had to leave his “K” home after his rear started acting up, but seemed to enjoy himself anyway. Jeff brought his stick “L” convert and left the monster Fury home. Ohio was represented by Terry McTaggart and Bill Spear, while the Michigan group included George Riehl (sans Eleanor, who was at home preparing to be a Grandmother), Mike and Linda Burke, Jim and Andrea Krausmann, Jack and Marlou (MOPAR MOMMA) Wiltse and Arnold and Johnneen Lueth who, it was reported left New Jersey with a car load of antiques and lampshades. The state of Illinois was represented by Ed and Angie Phillips, Roman Robaszewski and Andy Mikonis. Roman, who flew in, demonstrated a great and until now perhaps unappreciated, sense of humor in pitching for the Spring Meet in Chicago, which he and Andy are hosting. Andy and his guest Michelle were my house guests for the meet, although I really think this “poor student” routine maybe wearing a bit thin. Aside from shaking the plumbing loose in the shower, though, they were perfect guests and are welcome back anytime.

Fun on the strip at raceway Park: fastest time was Don Verity with 14.692 seconds at 91.56 MPH in his somewhat modified “F”, no doubt in part because of Bob Merritt’s advise to face the horns to the rear and to blow them when the light turned green. Slowest time was Allan Moon at 45.47 seconds at 8.5 MPH in his ’70 Hurst, which was eating the under-hood insulation pad during the run (if you take off your air cleaner, take off your hood pad too). Most fun on the strip: Marlou Wiltse, who “beat her husband’s butt!” Most varied performance on the strip: Andrea Krausmann, who first ran the entire ¼ mile in first gear, proving that top speed in 1st in a “C” is 55 MPH and then put a dent in the hood from the inside by torqueing the engine at the line. This is also the person who announced, after the first run, that drag racing was better than sex, because not only did it take longer (16 seconds), but there were colored lights and balloons and signs and applause and everything!!! Strangest Looking Mopar: Al Mace’s ’38 Ford. Perhaps, most frustrated at the strip: (1) Don Cole, who had to leave his ram “K” home. This frustration was somewhat abated by the fact, that I gave him my car for a few runs. (2) Your host, who took all day to dial his car in and couldn’t get it to run better than a 16.02. (3) All the men who were beaten by the woman (In addition to the aforementioned Andrea and Marlou, Bea Gorse was on the track and Linda Burke kicked some butt herself, including mine).

I am sure there are loads of other bits and pieces which will be contributed by others who were there, but this is about all that I can remember. You must keep in mind, as a comparative newcomer to this group, I did not know everyone who was there and can only be in so many places at once. If I omitted anyone or failed to include something I should have, please accept my apologies. I know that Don Verity will be supplying his version of this meet and I am sure that he will include more details on the track events. I imagine that others will be sending in their views as well. Hope it was enjoyed by all!

Pete Fitch

Concours D’Elegance

Class I: 3rd Place Doug Mayer 300B coupe 856 points

Class IV: 3rd Place Ken Langdon 300K coupe 722 points

Hurst: 1st Place Dudley Finneyfrock 300 Hurst 872 points

2nd Place Jay Fisher 300 Hurst 756 points

People’s Choice: Bill Woodman, 300C coupe

Long Distance: Bill Woodman, 300C coupe, 1,900 miles from Pueblo, Colorado

Hard Luck: Ken Langdon, 300K, water pump, had to be towed to the meet

300s Attending the Meet

300B: Doug Mayer

300C: Bruce Brownell, Bill Woodman, Jim Krausmann, Gary Hagy (cvt), Arnold Lueth, Bill Elder

300D: Jack Wiltse

300E: Rod Caravella, Robert Young (cvt)

300F: Mike Burke, Bill Codner (cvt), Don Verity, Don Warnaar

300G: Ken Anello (cvt), P.J. Ehmann, John Jenkin (3-speed), Gabe Knapp, Andy Mikonis, John Nowosacki, Bruce Paull

300H: Bob Crawford, Gil Cunningham (cvt), Ed Phillips (cvt)

300K: Pete Fitch, Tom Gorse, Jerry Kocur (cvt). Mike Laiserin (cvt), Ken Langdon

300L: Randy Hines, Jeff Miklas (4-speed cvt)

Hurst: Dudley Finneyfrock, Allan Moon, Jay Fisher

’62 300: John Hertog, Gary Hitchins (3-speed) ’63 300: Mark Raynor

Thanks to Bill Elder for typing this article for the web