News From Around the Region
Rolls-Royce Owner’s Club 2017 National Meet at French Lick Resort
Spirit Region's Wendell Smith Earns 1st in Division and Best Personal Restoration Awards
Myrna and I had visited the fabulous French Lick Resort in Indiana only twice before. The first was at the RROC National Meet in 1996 where we displayed our 1948 Rolls-Royce Westmoreland Speedster (nc). The second was in 2014 at the Model a Restorer’s Club National Meet where I hauled my almost finished 1931 Ford AA truck (nc) to drive for the first time. We stayed at the French Lick Resort Hotel in 2014 and enjoyed it very much. This past June 24th, we attended the RROC 2017 National Meet for one day only and again took our unusual Westmoreland Speedster to display for the crowd.
This time, the standard rooms at French Lick were booked and we had to stay at the beautiful, but more expensive, West Baden Resort about a mile away. It was worth the extra cost and the two hotels actually work together on everything. This place is more than 100 years old, recently remodeled and was once called “The Eighth Wonder of the World” due to its fabulous five-story domed atrium and luxurious architecture and furnishings. The people, the service and facilities were the best in every way.
Myrna and I and the car were out before 0700 Saturday morning but we had to wait to move onto the field, which was the huge driving range of the resort’s famous golf course, home of many PGA and LGPA tournaments through the years. The rain had been relentless the past week and we almost did not get to use the course but soon, we were allowed on anyway and day’s activities went ahead. The first person we saw was SSR member Ralph Curzon, who with his son Simon, were charged with placing the cars on the field. Simon was not familiar with our strange Silver Wraith so looked at it a little questioning when we drove onto the field.
Many of the old time national members present actually knew about the car and were very pleased to see it. It was first shown by builder and owner Norris Allen, Classic Car Club member and collector and friend of many in St. Louis, in 1972. We had a very nice visit with SSR member Bill Davis who was a great friend of Norris and visited him many times while the speedster was being built in 1966-1971.
One of the first cars we saw as we drove in was the red 1927 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Windovers all-Weather Phaeton owned by SSR member Wendell Smith. Wendell was there along with Robbie Keene and SSR member John Gibson and his wife, Rose, who came along to help Wendell with the car and enjoy the show. The cars were arranged in a hub spoke arrangement according to class and spread around the field with lots of space for everyone to walk casually throughout the day and visit all of them.
At the end of the day, Wendell and his car won first place in the Phantom I Division and Best Personal Restoration so he deserves our sincere congratulations. We won an unexpected beautiful ribbon for Special Recognition for the speedster because many liked its originality and unusual coachwork among all of the mostly newer cars on the field. Everyone has a great time except for those who were there all week for the endless rain. Our speedster was featured on the French Lick Facebook page soon after.
Story by Jim Schild
Photos courtesy Jim Schild and Wendell Smith