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I heard a rumor that a poll was being taken by @Alan to see who was interested in going to Carlisle next May.  I know, its REALLY early for all of that, but the gist seems to be that maybe we're done with that?  Or we need a really different approach, one that features a lot more spirited driving.   Several stalwarts seem to think the time for Carlisle has passed. Lack of venders, the Tuners, the weather, the same old same ol'.  Anyway, I guess this is the place for folks to pipe in, and say what they think. FWIW, I'm so close that I think no matter how it shakes out, I'll probably go regardless.  Your mileage will likely vary.  @Ed

2007 JPS MotorSports Speedster

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I posed no poll, I had asked and Lane mention Carlisle around the fire pit to gauge interest and that's the extent of the inquiry. People change as well as interest and priorities and departures...that's the way the world turns.

Carlisle Productions chose to make a major change a few years ago in the name of business and profit and by doing so, Kit -Replica Vendors were given the boot out of the main building with Kit - Replica owners losing interest.  Personally, after attending Carlisle for around 30 years, that didn't sit so well with me either, but I am one of the remaining &  active old school attendees.                                                   

IMHO in past years when Gordon, Bruce, Cory had the entire SOC weekend structured and planned almost to the minute as we'll agree, it work.  I will say attending Carlisle as a complete group is no longer an interest to all that attend and by doing so, tends to break down the momentum...............So what's your thoughts?

Last edited by Alan Merklin

To me, since Carlisle was such a great welcoming experience as a newbie, who BTW did not even have his car yet, Carlisle weekend is kinda baked in.  And at the end of the day, as we have said so many times, its the cars that bring us together, but its the people who keep us together.  Ergo, if the people start not coming, then the thing, as Alan points out, evolves, or devolves accordingly.  I do miss the vendors as that was a big attraction. Slapping the tuners in with the plastic clown cars and European marques, was a bit of a blow, but they can be properly ignored for the most part.  If they bring money that the Enterprise needs to survive, well I can't argue too hard against that.  So as to the not-really-a-poll poll, yes or no for '23:  I'll vote yes.

'21 and '22 had such small turnouts that it's just not worth it to spend 2 (or more) days driving in each direction for me, particularly if it's raining.  I know COVID was some of  that, but I've done the showfield enough to kinda not need to do it anymore - particularly stuck off to the side like we were this year.  I won't say I'll never do a Carlisle again, but it's not a sure thing for me anymore.

Kinda sad, tho'.

I am likely to make 2023 my third Carlisle, and again to take photos that catch my eye e.g. . For me it is a concentrated annual dose of cars and coffee since I am located in an area (north Jersey) of sparse events and somewhat short season of speedster weather. Three other factors that will affect my participation will be the weather forecast, the pandemic forecast, and the possibility of finding an attraction (e.g. Gettyburg?) that would motivate my wife to come along for the weekend. (Carlisle itself isn't that.)

It's 200 miles from here so I doubt I will ever drive there in other than a daily driver. That's a long way in a self-maintained car and has the potential to turn into an adventure that adds unplanned days to the round trip.

I hope others will plan to attend in numbers that will continue the association between SOC and the Carlisle event. Has that association had slow periods in the past from which it has rebounded?

I am likely to make 2023 my third Carlisle, and again to take photos that catch my eye.

It's 200 miles from here so I doubt I will ever drive there in other than a daily driver. That's a long way in a self-maintained car and has the potential to turn into an adventure that adds unplanned days to the round trip.

Yes, that would be quite a hike in a Speedster....  :-)

Dave makes sure he drives the farthest by passing Carlisle on his way down from Canada to Florida and then driving back to Carlisle and calling that his first leg. To be fair, it's the only way to defeat Jack Crosby.

FWIW to you-all, it's helpful to me to know who thinks they're likely to make the trip in 2023. The more people who make it, the less it costs per-person.

Some background:

It's no secret that Alan and Connie Merklin have been the mainspring of Carlisle planning for many years, handling the hotel reservations and some significant portion of the meal plans and excursions. Last year Alan announced he would not be volunteering this year. There was an attempt to palm Alan's role off on David Kumpf but David (being smarter than he looks) was non-committal.

That leaves me with the keys to the event—these being a series of lists and spreadsheets, contacts, notes on side-trips taken in years past and a small cache of, well, cash that Bruce Stumpp built up in his years as MC and passed to Jenni and Cory Drake, who bequeathed it to me three years ago. Money to buy name tags, awards, snax, party favors and suchlike, plus reserve tents, chairs, banquet rooms & etc. as needed, to be replenished by participants via our traditional raffle.

I'm pleased to say that, despite our species' recent experience with the Very Unpleasant Global Event That Shall Not Be Discussed, that cache abides. It is equal today to what it was when Cory forked it over.

I have enjoyed Carlisle every year since 2011 including the recent Tuner Years. I like walking the show field and watching the silly stuff people do with their cars, checking the swap meet venders and talking to the car guys—especially the ones who show up with something unique and home built. I've done the autocross and the "low car limbo." Probably not going to participate in any of the drifting events but they are a spectacle.

As for side trips...I am contemplating an excursion to the Hershey Chocolate Factory, for no other reason than that I have never been there. It's about 45 minutes from the fairgrounds, 25 from our usual hotel.

As you all know, nice roads can be found to the north and west. I'm eyeing some roads we've not traveled that could make a nice cruise.

FWIW I'd like for the group to have a spring meet and would hope for it to be within driving range to me.

If it's not Carlisle then another place could work as well. If not in May maybe in April or June or even July. I'd love to hit the Pittsburgh VGP again despite the swelter of its scheduled dates.

But I can't pretend to know what would turn all y'all's keys.

It has been suggested to me (by men of clear vision and long experience) that a poll, or any attempt to seek consensus, on the board or elsewhere, is doomed to failure for the usual and general group dynamics reasons.

Perhaps the time has come to prove the wise men wrong.

Whatever is decided, I can also be counted on to help, as time permits. My job is full-time, but not more than that.

If anyone wants to take on some of the organizational effort PM me and we'll divvy up the chores.

Last edited by edsnova

Umm, a lot more than that several times thanks, Bob. A number of times we'd leave Ottawa and head down to Key West, then catch Carlisle on the way home. The real long trip to Carlisle was in about 2011 or 12 when we shipped the Speedster to Dave Mitchell's place in Sacramento, Cali. ( and thanks for hosting that one Dave ) and then we drove to the wine district in Napa, down the PCH and found a landslide which put us up the Nacimento / Furgeson Highway up right past Fort Leggat Hunter. The GI's were jumping around and waving like crazy like they've never seen a Speedster before. Little did I know at that moment but they were actually celebrating the killing of Bin Laden that May,  2011 ?  We got down the PCH to LA, up thru Malibu, then across LA up to Vegas, the Dam, down to Kingman, AZ and backtracked into Oatman, AZ, saw the donkeys and back out again and did old Route 66 East for a while then around Gallup, NM headed North up to Cortez, East to Durango, over to Taos, NM to visit a friend then back down to 66 in Albuquerque. East then and spent the night at the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, then East to Amarillo, OK city , Memphis, Nashville, ( Francine saw Elvis somewhere in there ) and on East to 81 then up to Carlisle.

That ride did over 5,000 miles driven including sightseeing, back trips, beer runs etc.....just total miles driven on that trip. ( not as Mapquest would show as Sac direct to Carlisle as Rich Drewek said would be more proper ). Having said all that, I'd like to thank my excellent Wife, Francine who enjoyed the whole trip along with me, the excellent mechanical advice and encouragement I was given by some very capable SOC members daily as I reported our progress along the way. There were many minor, but hilarious side "events" along the way that I probably never mentioned. Lacking much spare time we couldn't find a quick stop for a traditional Mexican lunch in Santa Fe, NM and finally pulled over a Cop for advice. He quickly took us to his Mother's place nearby, a little takeout place....a couple of burritos later, maybe one or two cervezas and we were on the road.

Next morning at the hotel in Alberqurque Francine was packing up stuff in the hotel room and I was stuffing more of it into the Speedster. Down the walkway walking towards me was a mid 30's very well built and attractive woman in high heels and a skirt a bit shorter than normal. She stopped and said what  nice car I have. Want to spend some time, she asked ? Not thinking about much more than todays planned ride, I said " what are you talking about  ? "  She said $75, 20 minutes anything you which time Francine appeared with the last baggage and the "lady" said...."oops got to get off to work. " It was hilarious at the time, but sadly when we got on the road we passed her standing on the corner, just about  7 work. We had the pleasure of a trip like this and look what she's going thru.

All in all it was really a trip of a lifetime. Jack Crosby and Musbjim probably are the record holders of high time mileage but Francine and I probably hold multiple long distance records that will likely never be matched. I'm proud of that...memories that cannot be any better. My thanks to the many SOC friends for their support and encouragement. Without that support, we'd not likely taken on such an adventure.

Come to think of it, I'd give a personal shout out and thanks to Edsnova  for his help with us both going thru a steep learning curve of how to put a Soob engine onto a VW tranny....mine Speedster and his MG. Ericson and I put our heads together many times late at night right against the wall several times but came up with good solutions. We both learned and we both won. Thanks, Ed. 2010 we bought the Speedster in Boise, Idaho for $6,500. Drove that bugger across the USA in about 8 days driving with a bone stock 1600 cc motor. Spent a long weekend in Spanish Fork, Utah while waiting for four new tires at the Big O Tire shop. They gave us a loaner and we discovered Park City and Sundance.  Needed a break near Denver and stopped at Buffalo Bill's gravesite. The travel permit was supposed to be stuck on the inside of the windshield but it was blocking much of my vision so I stuffed it under the seat. Coming down a big hill over Denver a big Harley Biker type pulled up behind us for a looksee. No plates on my car front or back. He looked at the back, pulled up and looked at us, pulled ahead and looked back at the front and just shook his head. I looked at his BoB ( a nice one too ) and blew her a kiss and got one right back. You can't get that stuff sitting behind a computer and once again, I apologize to no person for the number of dead bugs on the front of my car.

Last edited by David Stroud IM Roadster D
@edsnova posted:

Dave makes sure he drives the farthest by passing Carlisle on his way down from Canada to Florida and then driving back to Carlisle and calling that his first leg. To be fair, it's the only way to defeat Jack Crosby.

Just so you know Ed, Nobody can defeat Jack Crosby and I'd never refer to my own fun as any attempt at trying to do so. Jack and I are great friends. He and Alice have my greatest respect. We're just doing the Speedster thing a little differently and not competing with anyone. We're just in it for the fun....travelling is what we do.

The Stroud-meister, and Ol' Ironpants Crosby, plus their indominable right seaters.  Setting Speedster distance standards that will stand forever.  Maybe I could do that when I was 20-something - but not today, for sure.  Actually, I spent about six weeks living out of my old 356 coupe while doing my Grand Coast to Coast and Back Tour of at least  6,000 miles, in my early 20s. At least the coupe was somewhat water proof.

I received my Speedster in the June 2020.  I missed Carlysle in 2020 because I spent a year having most every major system in the car replaced or rebuilt.  After getting everything sorted out, I did attend Carlysle in 2021.  I had planned to drive up and attend in 2022 but a family funeral intervened.

Here are some thoughts.

I thought the overall event needed a master of ceremonies - a gregarious, outgoing person to sweep up the newbies and regulars alike, make introductions, remind everyone of upcoming events, sort us, direct us, etc., etc. There did appear to be a lack of "planned" activities.  I heard several folks actually mention they missed someone who had planned everything well in the past.

Alan did a great job arranging the hotel but the overall event seemed on autopilot somehow with no one in charge.  As a newbie, I was frequently lost as to what was happening or who to ask.  As a result, I drove to the autoshow on Saturday.  I subsequently learned that Sunday was the day to have gone. 

Like others, I missed vendors selling things of interest to a Speedster owner.  Maybe it improved on Sunday?

The highpoint of my weekend was the drive together through the spectacular PA countryside.  I would definitely recommend more of that.  In fact, a lot more of that with stops at a tavern or historical place of interest to give us a goal and destination.

I did like the suggestion to formally work on a car.  I understand building a whole kit was in jest but organizing some work projects of interest to the group to watch/participate in would be fun.  Replace a broken windshield, complete some body/trim work, fix some common electrical or lighting issues, bleed a brake system, rebuild a carburetor, inspect/adjust and replace brake shoes, balance a pair of carburetors, properly set timing.  Work items could be as simple or complex as guests want and we have members with the skills to demonstrate.   Could we lease an interior space for the repair workshops in Carlysle?  Would negate the impact of any bad weather.

Regarding questions whether to keep going to Carlyle or not is beyond my experience.  Many of you are perhaps comparing 2021/2022 with earlier more favorably remembered times.  I have nothing to compare to.  But Carlyle is well located, and the locale is spectacular for country drives.  I can't help think we need to make more of what the area has to offer?

I attended the 32nd Acton, ME VW Show this year in early August.  An amazing display of vintage VWs (over 200 or more).  I was the only Speedster and got LOTS of attention.  Very poor vendors, though.  A beautiful drive there and back to camp.  I would imagine such shows are common in the summer elsewhere.  Perhaps a move to something like that would be attractive? 

A banquet?  Lots of work to arrange apparently.  Nice to close with a group party though.  Roast someone, have a parts swap, a presentation or two on some interesting topics.  Lots of beer and pizza.  More informal.

Carlyle has a history.  I hate to see it disappear.  I understand that our membership is getting older and newer, younger members less in number.  Couldn't we make the gathering more like it was with some tweaking?


I will come if we have it. I have enjoyed the 2 times I have attended Carlise with SOC. It is a 10 plus hour drive each way for me but so far it was well worth the trip however the show field part was the least of the draw for me. Meeting and fellowshipping with the other members of this forum and driving our cars together is the biggest draw for me. If it is decided not to continue doing Carlisle, I hope someone organizes a get together someplace in the Midwest.

I am as close as Kelly but I am on the non-committal list.

The draw for Carlisle is, and will likely always be the people. If a good number of people I know go, I will go. If not.....

The drives, the drinks and the hanging out with people are the only parts I like.

The show field has zero interest to me, the unpredictable weather and some of the other activities are also not in the event's favor.

As someone who is also a recent-ish addition, the two factions of Carlisle attendees is notable. While I am not knocking those who want to go, centering the event around the show field just splits the group, literally and figuratively, and has every time I attended. The majority of the planning goes to the show field.

I understand this is a repeated conversation but the point I am making is, the show field just puts half the group out. Sure, people could go or not, it's a free country but this is why it comes up every year.

I have been when there was people dedicated to more events and such but for me, I have had fun over the past few years too so it's just not an issue for me. Al and Ed did great. It's my vacation time and I don't really want planning to the minute.

Overall, any gathering we do tied to any car show is probably a non-starter. If we all want to get together, drive a bit, make people jealous, have some drinks and laughs; we don't need Carlisle. If we don't attach it to Carlisle, we can choose a better time of year for weather and move locations for diversity and consideration for everyone coming (distance). It can just be a hang out event for the group each year.

Respectfully to Marshall's comments......

I've been the new person. I found everyone easy to meet and talk to but it took a few trips to get to know everyone. I don't see how an MC really changes that much and unless someone just enjoys doing that on their vacation, that's a huge ask of someone as is asking people to put on a workshop on their vacation. If this was a formal organization or car club, that may be feasible but the reason that there hasn't been formality over the past few years is exactly because it's a huge task just to plan and no one is jumping up to do it every year. Adding more huge tasks just seems to be a recipe for disaster.

My first intro to the club was at a Carlisle event and I went for many years after and met and still have good friends from those times. In the past few years I've been to the mountains, this event really makes more sense for me as I like to drive.

I like some others have limited time as I work for myself and myself and I doesn't pick up the slack while I'm away. I'll always make time for a driving event.

I do miss those I only see at Carlisle but in the event that anyone needs a on the way to a drive event the doors open.

The mountains event is getting bigger but I feel is manageable as the group goes with the flow and everything works.

I have stepped away as a partner in planning for Carlisle as I have a lot on my plate this spring including a month in Florida and building the Speedster Outlaw aka Emory clone that I have wanted to do for years.

Since the weather is cruddy in May,  graduations in May weddings etc also in June why not shoot for the 2nd week in July with almost guaranteed better weather. There are terrific roads in Virginia and West Virginia,  if you're willing there are many great venues to stop at and enjoy if you are willing to take the time away from the road.

Last edited by Alan Merklin

I think I sense a strong desire to keep meeting and enjoying each other, talking about our cars' wows!! and woes (of which there seems a never ending supply).  Do More driving (both touring and spirited.)   As to doing it tied to the Carlisle Showfield: meh . . As noted,  Vendors: MIA; Flea market: great if you own an MG, Triumph or Healy; Tuners:  say what? I can't hear you!! -- another meh.  I see this settling to a spring time meet not unlike the fall meet (e.g., Tour d'Smo), which could be in or around Carlisle or elsewhere, at the same date or, as stated, at another time when weather might be better.  July could be deathly hot and may interfere with the Pittsburgh Vintage GP, which I can tell you for certain is deathly hot.  Or maybe not, I dunno . . ., Might not be so hot in WV in July, eh?

I voted, as some others have, to attend Carlisle at the customary date if we decide to do it, mostly because I'm pretty handy to it -- it's not a big drive. If we decide to ditch the formal Imports and Performance weekend in favor of a drive, eat, drink and schmooze weekend of our own, either in Eastern PA, or elsewhere, I'd go with that too.

Chris pointed out the widening dichotomy of the group between Showfiled-centric and drive-it-like-you-stole-it-centric. Like he said, it's a free country, so do your own thing.  It might go down better if it was a little more organized, and arranged with the whole group in mind.  I'm pretty sure that the lack of support for the formal showfield gig is increasing.

I am up for a totally new adventure.  Carlisle has lost its buzz.  Many of the reasons have already been mentioned in this thread. I don't have a 356 anymore, but If we had 10-12 solid takers I would consider running a event in the Midwest.  I would not re-invent the wheel but would mostly copy the past events that I have been to with a local classic car group.  Some of  the past runs/events were in Galena, IL, New Glarus WI, Door County WI & cool places in Michigan.  We hit winery's & breweries, and even small batch bourbon tasting places, great small town shopping, excellent food and quaint B&B or other non chain lodging.  These were driving events but had enough in between that the right seaters always had a memorable time.  If I can enlist Joe Fortino to give me a hand we can run something really cool.  Maybe we can even get a one or two of the west coast goons to come out an play.   The roads are just decent but the rest of the stuff would be solid.  We would start in Chicago suburbs and head north into the more laid back territories.  Best times would be early June or end of mid Sept. Maybe even plan for 2024. My Alfa may be done in summer 2023 but That's just a guesstimate.

I used to be a regular at Carlisle and even ran the Speedster/Spyder/MGTD/Replica part of the event from 2006 - 2009 when the whole look and feel of the Carlisle event was quite a lot different.   I totally agree that it is a lot of work for those helping to organize it.  IIRC, I had Alan Merklin helping with hotel and restaurant suggestions, Bill Drayer coming up with driving routes and Mike Cochrane or Cory Drake doing Tee-Shirt artwork and most attendees were very happy with the weekend.  We've visited car museums, the Harley-Davidson factory (sorry, @MusbJim ), we've had seminars, we've built stuff, we've had speakers on car-related stuff (even Bruce Meyers!), and we've done the show field, too.  It was all great, but not everything was for everyone.

We also did take-away stuff like mugs, tee-shirts, grill badges, tool bags and a bunch of other stuff, along with the ever-popular Saturday night raffle.  Typically, we would fund the event with the proceeds from Raffle registration the prior year, which covered about 75+% of the next year's event costs and I absorbed the rest out of my pocket, especially if I did award plaques or shirts, but it was a great event and worth it.  I think I turned over around $100 bucks to Bruce Stump when he took it back as organizer after me.

People who had a beef (and there were only four in my four years of running it) made it absolutely clear to me what their beef was and I tried hard to accommodate them the next year, when they still grumped about something, so I then just took it in stride.  You certainly can't please everyone.  None of those people seem to be on here anymore.

Keeping everyone together for the evening dinners gives everyone a sense of being part of the same event.  However, finding a venue to feed and/or entertain a group larger than 50 in the Carlisle area is really hard and these days it's tough to keep everyone together.  I found a bunch of banquet rooms but those can get expensive, too and take days of calls to get it all orgainzed.  The dinner venue can also be the awards venue and the organizer, like me, could serve as the MC of the event - Not something that everyone wishes to do, I know, but someone will always step up.

I've been pushing for regional events for a long time and seen some limited success; Lane's "Tour de Smo" is a shining example, the annual and popular West Coast gathering and now I've established a Vermont Foliage Tour (although for a limited number of people).   We need more of these regional events.  My foliage tour will involve about 4 hours of driving per day with plenty of stops along the way but in a casual mode so we can all enjoy the scenery.  Anyone can plan one of these local events because you will know the area best.  Get the word out enough in advance and people may sign up.

My trips to Carlisle were around 500 - 700 miles each way and I would make it in a day (trailering, with a comfy tow vehicle).  That's a good bit of driving and would have been a lot harder in the Speedster.  For regional events I would like to see the drive to/from the event to be 3 hours or less, but that's just me - I'm getting a little too old, now, to relish driving more than 4 - 5 hours in a day.

So the bottom line:

  1. I think more people could become involved in more regional events - Regional events are a bit easier to organize and plan, too.  Carlisle could be the "Mid-Atlantic" event, among others.
  2. Everyone should be together for the dinners and awards (if given).
  3. Planning a dinner place for 50 is one helluva lot harder than planning a place for 20 or under.
  4. The organizer can make awards at his/her discretion - If you do awards, mix them up from year-to-year and don't pre-announce what they are so people don't "game the system".
  5. Have a theme for the event and make activities fit the theme.
  6. Be aware that some hotels and/or restaurants want an up-front deposit to hold the place, especially for larger groups, and the organizer must front that money.
  7. IMHO, 3 - 4 days is the limit but you can certainly plan a single day event if you're doing something fun and attractive to others.

"You can please some of the people all of the time".....   You know the rest.

Last edited by Gordon Nichols

Glenn & I were recently discussing Carlisle. We are going. He is bringing his almost finished Covid project.......over 2 years of creation and construction. We would like to associate with SOC members, experience drives and other activities and break bread with same.. But, if the group isn't happening this year I guess we can join up with the Datsun people. His car is like Lane's and Marty's...AC, H2O proof windows and roof, heat, and wipers that work.😁

However, to reiterate, we would prefer the SOC group's company. But, we ARE going to Carlisle. Perhaps the warm memories of friends and our shared experiences are having an influence. We shall leave the discussion of what 6 of us shared last year for another time.



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Paul/Glenn FWIW I will plan to attend Carlisle '23 and am hoping there will be some die-hard SOCers there too. It may dwindle to a residual of folks who do not live quite so far away, like thee and me.  What @Alan and/or @edsnova might decide to do formally (or any other willing leader) is yet to be determined, as I hear it.

PS I  hope to visit with Glenn long before Carlisle for some mechanical work (he and I have discussed this) , and I may have a chance to get a preview of aforementioned "Covid Project"

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