As I drive
down A1A into Daytona Beach, two impressions stood out; the wind was
blowing and Daytona Beach looked empty. Whether the cause was the
off-season or Mr. Reagan’s reason, I still didn’t expect
it. I was used to Daytona during the races when it is never quiet.
I hoped the meet would be livelier than the town. It was reassuring
to reach my destination, the Treasure Island Inn. Long known as
friendly to things automotive, the Treasure Island had the welcome
mat out. The marquee read “Welcome Chrysler 300 Club”
and a banner inside the lobby trumpeted “The Good Old Florida
Boys Say Welcome!” The banner which featured every year letter
car’s medallion satisfied me that I was finally in the right
checked in, I found that Jack Streamo, the meet host, had booked the
penthouse suite for meet activities. The desk clerk pointed out
signs about the club’s business meeting, and told me that my
room was next door to the hospitality suite. With that as my
neighbor, I was sure to miss some sleep.
in, I hurried outside for a look at the assembled 300s, hoping to
meet their owners. What I found in the parking compound was a group
of 300s and Mopars being discussed by their devoted owners. People
milled around happily talking about everything from tail fins to Blue
Streak tires. Ray Beaumont, Bruce Williams and Jack Streamo were
gathered around Bruce’s red F coupe which had suffered brake
problems during the trip from Orlando. Bruce got plenty of ribbing
because he had problems on such a short trip. I could feel the
excitement building as 300s and specialty Mopars of all kinds
continued to pull into the parking lot. All around me, I could see
people renewing old friendships and making new ones. I had heard
about the camaraderie of previous meets and this Fall Meet proved to
be no exception.
cars themselves, a subject often being discussed was club
affiliation. People asked me “Which club are you a member of?”
Lots of people seemed to belong to both the “Michigan”
club and the “Texas” club, just as I do. I heard
positions both for and against the two-club situation defended
enthusiastically, with surprising little rancor on either side! Of
course, everyone at the meet knew the Texas club had scheduled
another meet at the Treasure Island after our
Wednesday-through-Friday affair. Some people who had come a long way
for our meet planned to stay for the other one and make a short
vacation of the trip.
meeting for the Chrysler 300 Club International got underway promptly
at 8:00 Wednesday evening. Curtis Thompson, assisted by Jeff Miklas
and John Sheets, chaired the meeting. The penthouse’s living
and dining rooms were packed with club members, families and friends
attending the meeting. A refrigerator, liberally stocked (and
restocked) with beer fueled business and good times and the
post-meeting party lasted late into the night. Needless to say, my
sleep suffered as I thought it might!
morning’s theme was “Clean them up boys!” as 300
owners and Mopar owners alike prepared for the parade to Daytona
International Speedway. After people had breakfast, activities moved
outside to the parking compound where owners prepped for the parade.
There was a garden hose for do-it-your-self car washes but I confess,
I took my 1966 New Yorker to the professionals down the street.
started to pick up at around a quarter till one when our motorcycle
escort arrived. It consisted of four officers astride Kawasaki KZ
1100s, led by sergeant Beck of the Daytona Beach Police department.
Arrangements had been made through Lt. Zalewski of the department.
As one o’clock drew near and the cars started to line up, I
heard a cry from the back of the group. Bruce William’s red F
coupe was down again, this time experiencing a failure of the oil
pressure sending unit. He couldn’t fix it in time, so Bruce
had to “passenger” to the track, knowing all the while
that he was the winner of the Hard Luck Award.
As the parade
got underway, our police escort treated us to a display of
motorcycling expertise. Our twenty-five-car caravan swept west
through Daytona Beach unimpeded. The police would rocket ahead and
stop traffic, allow the convoy to pass by and then use all of their
acceleration to over take us again. They looked like they were
having a wonderful time!
Once at the
speedway we drove through the tunnel under the high banking and came
out in the in-field. Our use of the facility was somewhat limited
because Chrysler was testing some of their small cars and trucks on
the track. It was OK since it was Chrysler. Owners positioned their
letter cars in a proud row in front of the high banking and Mopars
were lined up opposite them. A lively picture taking session ensued,
with photographers trying to capture the test cars flying by on the
track, with their letter cars in the forefront. Later on, many
letter car owners got to photograph their beautiful Brutes near the
start finish line, in the paddock area.
in the parade to the speedway slowly drifted away to other pursuits
during the rest of the afternoon because the parade and the time at
the speedway was the only scheduled activity. The high winds that
greeted us on Wednesday returned on Thursday to force cancellation of
the planned picnic. Trying to cook hotdogs during a sandstorm on the
beach at night was too much, even for our resourceful host!
Individual plans for dinner and entertainment were made and groups
met throughout the evening to pan for Friday’s concours.
entrants greeted the dawn on Friday morning as they began final
preparations for the all-important judging. By 8 o’clock the
parking lot was busy and full. Washing and polishing of the concours
cars continued right up to the twelve-noon deadline. Concours
judging was detailed and precise and it continued for four hours as
each concours car got a thorough going over. Ray Beaumont and Bill
Codner judged engines and Jeff Miklas judged undercarriages. Jack
Streamo judged body and paint and the B engine, Mark Hoffacker
handled exterior ornamentation and Mark Raynor evaluated interiors.
Each concours car represented the mystique that surrounds the
legendary Letter Car Series and each was the centre of rapped
attention Friday afternoon. As the judging ended, people went off to
prepare for the banquet, Friday night’s finale.
featured a true “hospitality hour” from 7 to 8 o’clock
when the banquet began. Treasure Island’s catering staff had
prepared a buffet table with enough variety for any appetite. The
all-you-could-eat entrees included roast beef, roast pork, fried
chicken and sea food gumbo and no one was observed going away hungry,
especially not me. Following dinner, Master of Ceremonies Curtis
Thompson stepped to the podium to open the program. He introduced
Jeff Miklas, who as chief of the concours presented the awards. For
the fifty-two people present at the banquet the presentation of the
awards was the high point of the 12th Annual Fall Meet.
Jim Faber’s bright red 300B took first place in class I. Jim
had driven his B from his home in South Carolina. Jack Streamo’s
wire wheeled 300C coupe captured enough points for a second place in
Class II. No first was awarded in this class. In the most hotly
contested class, the G convertibles of Jim Thigpin and Bruce Williams
went head-to-head in Class III. Judges awarded first place to
Bruce’s car and Jim’s red beauty finished a very
competitive second. In Class IV, Ted Dalack’s daffodil yellow
300 L (original owner) won first place and Jack Williams’ 300
ram K finished second.
Atlantic Beach, Fl.
People’s Choice, Long Distance and Hard Luck awards were
presented by meet host, Jack Streamo. Hans and Brigette Larsson took
the Long Distance award back to Sweden. They won it by driving their
300K to Florida from its purchase point in Michigan. Bruce Williams
won the Hard Luck award with his red F coupe. His glittering black
300G convert took home the People’s Choice award and Best in
Show and was named a “Senior” car for scoring 900 or more
points in two different meets. Bruce had quite a night!
banquet drew to a close, conversation around the room was uniform in
its opinion: This was a great meet! Although it was not blessed
with heavy attendance, the people made up in spirit what they lacked
in shear numbers. The friendship and mutual interest shared by
everyone are what meets are all about. To all of you who didn’t
make it: YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE!
Thanks to the following
individuals for their assistance: Jack Streamo (Meet Host), Curtis
Thompson (Master of Ceremonies), John Sheets (Club Protocol), Jeff
Miklas (Concours Chief), Lt. Zalewski and Sgt. Beck (Dayton Beach
Police), April Huntsman (Treasure Island Inn), Jim Bokoven (Daytona
Beach International Speedway), David Hammer, (story and photos), and
Judy Jacobsen (photos).