AMERICAN LANCIA CLUB EAST COAST REUNION 2017 – STONEWALL RESORT, WEST VIRGINIA
Rain, rain, rain! It rained every day the week before our 2017 East Coast Reunion in Weston, West Virginia. The forecast was just as bleak and we kept mulling over alternative activities all day Thursday. Fortunately, the sun shone brightly on us Friday as we met at Jim Bandy’s Garage to celebrate the Welcoming Wine Party and to admire his marvelous collection of French, German, English and Italian automobiles. Better still, the sun kept shining for the rest of the weekend.
Weston is the County Seat of Lewis County in the middle of West Virginia, seemingly an unlikely place for a Lancia meet, but it proved to be an ideal venue for this event both for driving and for attractive, interesting destinations.
After travelling the world with US Army Intelligence, Jim Bandy, our host and guide, retired in his hometown and purchased a large brick building in the town center that was formerly a car dealership from the 30’s. He lives on the upper floor and houses his collection of cars in what used to be the showroom.
Jim has a long history with Lancia cars going back to a time when he did some work with Tom Sheehan and Bob Williams in Pittsburgh. During that period, he also became friends with Walt Spak, our ALC East Coast Vice President for many years.
Having lived in Europe for quite a while after leaving the Military, he broadened his interests to incorporate all European cars, especially French ones. Jim owns two Fulvias, an HF Coupe and a Sport Zagato. Other cars that we inspected while enjoying our wine and canapes included Citroen, Salmson, Saab, Porsche, a very rare 1960 Deutsch-Bonnet, Mercedes-Benz, Rolls-Royce, Jensen, Volvo and Panhard. With the street and parking lot filled with Lancias from Aurelias to Betas it made a fitting background to renew old friendships and meet new members.
The Thyme Bistro was our destination for dinner. It was only a few blocks away so most of us walked in the summerlike evening. Two excellent cooks were our hosts and the food was exquisite. Fine Piemontese wines provided by our member Greg Moore were gratefully consumed during the meal.
Our lodgings for the Reunion were at The Stonewall Resort about 10 miles south of Weston. This Resort, completed in the late nineties, was a joint venture between the State of West Virginia, the Army Corps of Engineers and some private investors as a part of a flood prevention Project that is now a State Park with a large man made lake. It was the first arrangement of its kind in the United States and has become very successful. Stonewall refers to the nickname of the Confederate General, Thomas Jonathon “Stonewall” Jackson, who grew up in Lewis County near Weston. Besides very comfortable rooms the complex included boating in the lake, nature and bicycle trails, two swimming pools, a golf course and three restaurants.
It was an early start on Saturday for the Rally. Jim Bandy had mapped out two routes with different attractions. One went east to the town of Phillippi where the first land battle of the Civil War was fought (Western Virginia did not secede from the Union and was made the 35th State in 1863). This route passed through one of the few covered bridges built for two-way traffic. This “double-barreled” covered bridge is still in daily use as part of US Route 250.
The other route went west through some pretty rolling countryside and rural scenery – farms, livestock, an artfully painted barn and dense wooded areas. Our cars taking this route enjoyed rougher, muddy patches that recalled the Lancia Rally successes in Europe of some 50 years ago. It was much fun (with a few interesting adventures). Everyone and all our cars survived, and the mud washed off quickly.
Both routes ended up at Lambert’s Fine Winery located in the town of Jane Lew (the hometown of the Union General, Joseph Andrew Jackson Lightburn), north of Weston, for a picnic lunch and a taste of West Virginia wines. While there we planned the various activities for the afternoon.
For a small town, Weston has a wide variety of choices. The Jackson Mill, where Stonewall Jackson spent his youth, was quite close. The site has been restored and maintained by West Virginia University and this Saturday they were conducting a demonstration of the preserved waterwheel driven mill with wooden gearing. This ancient technology of grinding corn and grains proved quite interesting.
In Weston, the huge antebellum Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, now a museum, attracted many to take the history tours and to view the special Halloween exhibits. A few blocks away is a very comprehensive American Glass Museum. Glassware manufacture of all types was a main industry in the area employing immigrants from Czechoslovakia, Switzerland and Germany in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Locally made glassware as well as that from other regions of the United States are displayed in the museum while glassblowing demonstrations are available at other sites in town. The largest Antique Store in West Virginia attracted some as did the myriad of small specialty shops. Some paused to take a final close look at Jim Bandy’s garage.
Returning to the Stonewall Resort, it was time to prepare for the Reunion Dinner but, naturally, we first spent some time in the parking lot with our cars going over the adventures of the day. The Octoberfest Themed Dinner, served in a private room, was excellently prepared and very welcome after our long day. We dined to a background of music from the 50s, 60s and 70s. After dinner and a few remarks, it was time to pick the raffle winners and continue our table-hopping conversations.
Sunday morning was the time for all to choose their favorite cars in the Concours. The results were as follows:
Category 1st place 2nd Place
V4 Lancias Stan Feigenbaum’s Fulvia Coupe Mark Wolff’s Fulvia Sport
V6 Lancias Jim Harn’s Aurelia B24S Spider Greg Moore’s Flaminia PF Coupe
TwinCam inline 4 Lancias Bert Straus’s Scorpion Dick Lancia’s Beta Zagato
It was no surprise to anyone that Jim Harn’s 1956 Aurelia B24S Spider won both the Ladies’ Choice and Gentlemen’s Choice awards – what a beautiful car!
Despite it being mid-October, the day was still sunny and warm as we said our farewells and started our cars for the trip home. We somewhat regretted not seeing the colorful Autumn leaves that we expected since they were still green in an unusual Summer extension, but we all enjoyed the fellowship and the wonderful weekend of dry, warm weather.
Written by East Coast VP Richard Lynn