History of the American MGB Association

by Frank Ochal

The American MGB Association is a nonprofit organization founded in 1975 in New York.  From the club’s inception through today the club is dedicated to serving the interests of MGB, MGB-GT and Midget owners throughout North America.

The American MGB Association was started by John Giannasca and Rick Horan, the original chairmen.  They thought it would be nice to have a club for MGBs just as there were club for other cars that people were driving new out of the showroom.  They operated the club out of a spare room in the house where they live.  It was there that the 111 Roger Avenue in Inwood, New York address was used.  They advertised the club in Road & track and invited responses from prospective members for ideas in starting the club.  The first newsletter was published in 1976 and contained some of the features still used today such as the Technical Section and From the Editor’s Desk.

In those early days, as the club continued to grow, it provided a way for people to meet other members in the same area who wished to start Local Chapters.  It was this way that the Chicago Chapter of the American MGB Association was founded.  Two of the most prominent American MGB Association members were there at the start of the Chicago Chapter – Bruce Magers, the current Vice-President and Steve Glochowsky, the past president.

Steve Glochowsky became heavily involved with the National Club through the Chicago Chapter.  Each early AMGBA newsletter was filled with accounts on how well the Chicago Chapter was doing and the events that were being held.  Rick Horan and John Giannasca wished to have some of the same expertise in the national organization and Steve became the AMGBA Publicity Director.

I became involved in the club at the 1978 Chicago Auto Show when I met Chicago Chapter members at the MG Exhibit.  As a result, I became both a Chicago Chapter member and AMGBA member shortly thereafter.

The AMGBA held its first National Convention in the summer of 1978 in Chicago at the Hillside Holiday Inn.  It was moderately successful and was a result of much hard work by Steve Glochowsky, Rick Horan and John Giannasca.  I attended and met the founding chairmen for the first time. During that year I became more heavily involved with nation AMGBA activities and was named assistant publicity director.

During the spring of 1979, Steve and I visited New York to promote the AMGBA at the New York Auto Show.  It was at this time that I saw the original club headquarters and met with some of the other original officers including Marion Farrell, the first secretary.

During the summer of 1979, our first eastern convention was held in Ithaca, New York with Floyd Garren as convention organizer.  The enthusiasm was growing as evidenced by the turnout.  On another promotional trip later that year, Steve and I went to a GOF, a ‘Gathering of the Faithful’ held by the New England MGT Register, in Cooperstown, New York.  Rick Horan joined us in Cooperstown for this event.  It was at this time that Rick told us about his new business and how it would be consuming much of his time.  He and John were transferring the administration of the AMGBA to Steve and me.  Steve quickly formed an administration with himself as President, myself as Vice-President and Debbie Glochowsky as Secretary.

So the AMGBA headquarters was moved to Chicago where it still is today. The AMGBA now serves some 2500 enthusiastic MGB, MGB-GT, and MG Midget owners throughout the USA, Canada and throughout the world.

The conventions, now called Meets, continue to grow and to be moved around the country. The 1980 AMGBA National Convention was held in Glens Falls, New York. The organization’s growth and success led to renting the world famous Indianapolis 500 Motor Speedway in 1981 for that year’s AMGBA National Convention.

In 1982, the AMGBA held its first National Convention outside the USA in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.  1982 also saw a change in officers as Margie Johnson became the Secretary and the AMGBA opened an office for storage, work area and a telephone answering service, which is still the same setup that exists today.

In 1983, the AMGBA went west for the first time in Lake Tahoe, California-Nevada.  Toward the end of 1983, Steve Glochowsky started working at a new job that consumed much of his spare time.  I assumed most of the duties of running the club and became President in 1984.

In 1984 we went west again and held our national convention in Boulder, Colorado.  In 1985, the AMGBA held two conventions in Santa Barbara, California and Abingdon, Illinois. In 1986, we visited Texas during its 150-year anniversary in San Antonio, Texas and in 1987 we visited the Saratoga Springs area of beautiful upstate New York. In 1988, the convention site was Kansas City, Missouri. In 1989, we visited the Great Northwest part of our country in Springfield, Oregon. In 1990 the convention was held in Atlanta, Georgia, which was a first for the Southeast portion of the country. In 1991 we returned to the site of our first convention in Chicago and in 1992, we returned to the West Coast to the beautiful San Francisco Bay area in Palo Alto, California.

In 1993, we traveled to New England at Keene, New Hampshire / Westminster, Vermont, the site of the Westminster MG Museum. Also in late 1993, Bruce Magers became the Vice-President.  In 1994, we went for the first time to the San Diego, California area at the world famous Del Mar racetrack.  In 1995 we traveled for the first time to Memphis, Tennessee.  In 1996 we joined with all of the other major MG Clubs in North America for MG Indy ’96 in Indianapolis, Indiana at the Indy 500 racetrack.  In 1997 we were on the West Coast in the San Francisco area at Palo Alto, California.  In 1998 we were in Charlotte, North Carolina at the Lake Campus of Davidson College.  In 1999, we were in Los Angeles, California for the first time at Woodley Park near Van Nuys to join the British Car Meet.  In 2000, we went to Armagh, Pennsylvania and joined with the TRF Summer Party. In 2001, we went to Houston, Texas for the Houston MG Club’s All British Motor Vehicle Exposition and in 2002 we again went to the San Francisco, California area for the Palo Alto British Car Meet. In 2003 we were in Florida for the first time in Titusville, Florida and in 2004 we had a very successful Meet in Falmouth, Cape Cod, Massachusetts in conjunction with the Cape Cod British Car Club’s British Legends Weekend.

In 2005, we were in San Diego, California at Fairbrook Farms in Bonsall for San Diego British Car Day. We were in Maryland in 2006 at the MGs on the Rocks Show and in 2007 we went to Charlotte, North Carolina at the MGs on the Green Show. In 2008 we were in Armagh, Pennsylvania with The Roadster Factory Summer Party and for 2009 we planned for a show in the Central Valley of California. In 2010 we went to Sussex, Wisconsin for the British Car Field Day. For 2011 we were in Ohio for the first time at Dayton in conjunction with the 27th Annual British Car Day at Eastwood Metropark.

Future Meets will always be listed in our club member magazine, the Octagon, on our website (www.mgclub.org) as well as on our blog (http://blog.amgba.com), message board (http://board.amgba.com) and Facebook (American MGB Association) pages.

Remember that the American MGB Association, the AMGBA, offers what no one else can – a tradition of service to MGB, MGB-GT and Midget owners since 1975 with a proven track record as evidenced that many members that have been with us for more than 30 years.  Why? – because the AMGBA gives them what they want and need!!

For more information contact the American MGB Association, P.O. Box 11401, Chicago, IL 60611 USA, call 1-800-723-MGMG or 1-773-878-5055, email: info@mgclub.org , website: www.mgclub.org .

Chicago British Car Festival

Story by Bruce Magers, photos by Frank Ochal

The 25th annual British Car Festival was held on Sunday, September 11, 2011 at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines, Illinois just outside of Chicago.

The show is organized by a consortium of British Car Clubs in the Chicago area. It has become the premier event for those interested in British cars. Each year the show features hundreds of automobiles ranging from those in concours condition to just normal everyday drivers. This year was no exception as approximately 550 cars were gathered on the field representing virtually every marque produced in England. Door prizes and popular vote awards were presented to the lucky winners.

The weather was perfect—sunny and mild which obviously helped boost attendance. In addition to the vast array of stunning vehicles there was also a display of British motor cycles for those who “like their fun on two wheels”. A bag piper and traditional Irish dancers helped to put the crowd in a festive mood. Numerous vendors were also in attendance offering everything for the British car fan. The American MGB Association (AMGBA) was on the field welcoming old members and signing up several new participants.

If you have not had the opportunity to attend this popular event be sure to mark you calendar for the 26th annual to be held on September 9, 2012 at Harper Community College in Palatine, Illinois. For further information go to www.britishcarunion.com or www.mgclub.org .