MG World

The President's Challenge Picnic
by Doug Pulver

Photo by Douglas S. Pulver

It seems one year at British Car Day, Dick Wright (then President of the Southern California MG Club and a UCLA graduate) and I (then President of the SDMGC and a Duke graduate) made a small wager on the outcome of the upcoming Duke/UCLA basketball game that was to be played at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles. The loser was to wax the winner’s car. The hand-shake was witnessed by my friend Bernard Ruhnke, a USC graduate. Although Dick and I both appreciated all the MGs and British cars in attendance that day, about the only school related thing we agreed on was that nobody likes USC!

Photo by Douglas S. PulverWhen game day arrived, Chris and I drove up to the National Sports Bar in Anaheim to watch the game with the Wrights. As you can imagine, we stood out wearing our Duke shirts in that hostile UCLA crowd. Fortunately, we were sitting with Dick and Mary who were fully decked out in UCLA stuff including pompoms! The lunch and company were great. The game was not. As basketball commentators frequently say, a team that lives by the three-point shot also dies by the three point shot, and that was Duke’s plight as it went down in defeat to UCLA 73-69. AAAAAAAARRRGH!

The day finally came for me to pay off on this apparently ill-advised bet. It was a cool and overcast Sunday morning in March when my oldest son Chris and I got in our 1955 MG TF and drove north to Deer Park Winery and Auto Museum. We would later be joined by the San Diego MG Club (SDMGC) and the Southern California MG Club (SCMGC) for a picnic.

Photo by Douglas S. PulverWe arrived at Deer Park around 10:00 A.M., parked the TF on the grass and set up the club banner. Around 10:30, the SDMGC showed up and parked next to us on the lawn. As 11:00 approached, we started watching for the SCMGC but they didn’t arrive until 12:30! It seems Dick Wright had provided them with a scenic tour and they were very busy sight-seeing. In all there were about 24 MGs in attendance including Jim Alcorn’s 1939 MG VA Tickford, a Magnette, an MGC and Dick Wright’s white, rubber-bumpered MGB named "Chug". I had been reading about Chug in the SCMGC newsletter for years and now he was here as the guest of honor.

Photo by Sharleene L. PulverBy 2:00 P.M. everyone had eaten lunch and toured the Deer Park Museums . The big event could be delayed no longer. As the crowd gathered around Chug, the humiliating experience began. Dick presented me with a can of wax and the "Los Angeles Times" Sports Section which had large headlines shouting "UCLA Plays Like the Devil".

I had actually prepared for this event by bringing some essential items. I held up a book entitled, Ultimate Auto Detailing (and explained to the UCLA graduates what a book looked like), donned my Duke freshman beanie (complete with horns), and proceeded to lay out the remaining auto detailing essentials on a Duke towel draped over the bonnet of my TF. These items were Meguire’s Wax, terry cloth towels, "Meguire’s" Swirl Remover (course sandpaper), "Meguire’s" Polishing Clay (a brick), and a "Meguire’s" Detailing Brush (a steel wire brush).

Photo by Sharleene L. PulverDick was a great sport and only required that I wax part of Chug’s bonnet as a token gesture (it seems he had such confidence in UCLA’s ability that he had already waxed both of his cars himself!). Everyone had a great time and there was a fair amount of good-natured kidding. As I finished waxing, I told Dick that my friend Bernard had suggested placing some fake vomit on Chug’s bonnet after waxing. Dick and I again agreed that no one likes USC!

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