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Champagne British Car Festival draws car enthusiasts from near, far

(MCT) BLOOMINGTON — For Bloomington resident Dick Hanson, the annual Champagne British Car Festival is much more than just a car show.

As a member of the festival committee, it was Hanson’s 1975 Triumph TR6 that was featured in publicity shots for the 22nd annual festival held at the David Davis Mansion in Bloomington on a cloudy and sometimes rainy Sunday.

“I had it totally repainted and cleaned up,” he said. “We needed to have some kind of a poster child I guess. There are about a dozen of us that take our own little niche and work on making this festival as good as it can be.”

People from all over the country attended the event, including Hanson’s fishing buddy and former Illinois State University professor, Harry Huizinga, who now lives in Tucson, Arizona.

“I didn’t really plan my trip around this show, but I’m just glad the timing worked out,” he said. “It’s a tremendous event.”

Bill Kolton, of Elgin, a member of the Illinois Sports Owner’s Association, travels throughout the country to attend car shows and conventions featuring rare British automobiles.

“I am a car enthusiast and I love these shows,” he said. “I appreciate the fact people take the time to rebuild lost cars. Some of these cars were other people’s trash at one point and when it is done right, it can be a beautiful thing.”

Moline resident Ed Young made sure he was back from a 2,700-mile trip in time for the festival, as well.

Last week, he filled up his 1988 Lotus Espirit Turbo, drove to a Thursday night concert in Chicago, and then headed south where he spent the night in Indianapolis.

“I spent the next night in Perry, Georgia and Saturday at noon, I was in Orlando, Florida, went to the birthday party of a Facebook friend I had never met and then hung out at his place,” he said. “On Sunday, I got up, hopped in my car at 5 a.m. and pulled into Beloit, Wisconsin at 12:15 a.m. Monday, which was more than 1,200 miles. I only stopped twice for gas which really slowed me down. But I love driving this. I bought the car in 1988 with a few hundred miles on it. Now, it has 130,000 on it.”

The festival is in its fourth year at the David Davis Mansion, and for the most part, the rain held off. The chairman of the festival, Dave Hauman, said, more than $1 million worth of rare British automobiles were on display.

“We try and add a few new things every time to keep it different,” he said. “This year, we have an Artists’ Colony inside the mansion featuring local artists and an artist by the name of Steve Petrosky from Cincinnati who is known for his automotive artwork. I think it adds a new perspective to the show.”

The cars on display included Triumphs, MGs, Aston-Martins, Austin-HEaleys, Jaguars, Lotuses, Minis and cars from other English manufacturers.


©2013 The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Ill.)

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