SAMOA autocrossing in the 60s

Undoubtedly the most decorated SAMOA Mini of all time was the Dick Penna Austin Cooper S.  At the time of this photo, probably sometime in 1967, Penna, alongwith his co-driver Jeorge Patience, had already racked up an impressive number of autocross victories as shown by the trophies surrounding the car. Dick saved the best for last in pennamini19671967 at the Autocross Olympics finishing first in the small sedan class, setting top time of day and leading the SAMOA team to first place overall.

Jeorge and the Penna Mini will both be at the 50th Reunion.  It was purchased a few years ago and restored by SAMOA member Steve Gay. We’re sure Jeorge will have plenty of good stories to tell about how all those trophies were collected.



Gathering participants for the 50th

There still is time to register for the SAMOA 50th.  You’ve got until August 1.  Fun in the sun with all your Mini friends – a tour of beautiful East King County – All the BBQ you can eat.  If you haven’t already, register now for a unique experience.

We’ve been working for months, gathering Mini enthusiasts from far and near.  Chuck_KoalaHere’s Chuck with a big Mini fan he met in 2001.  Not sure if Chuck’s been able to get the Koala to commit.


Register now!

Registration is now open to join the day-long celebration of SAMOA’s 50th Anniversary! All present, past and future SAMOA members, families and guests can register in minutes at:

Please let us know you’re coming by registering online.  If we don’t know you’re coming we might not have enough food for you.  You’ll love the fully catered BBQ by Jasper’s. Also on tap is a morning tour of scenic eastern King County, reunion of past members and a classic Mini show-and-shine with group drone photo.

 Deadline to register is August 1.

Early arrivers?


Could people already be lining up for SAMOA’s awesome August anniversary celebration? Could they already be grabbing the choicest parking spaces? Could they already be establishing their places in the food line?

No. Not really.

But recently, the planning committee met at Patti and Tim Boyd’s home to position a few members’ Minis and make sure they could find room for as many as 80 of the little cars on the big lawn.

Above, Jerry Cloft and Ed Sauer share the verdict: If you bring your Mini to the 50th, the planning committee will find a place to park it.

A look back

Almost as shocking as the fact that SAMOA is 50 years old, is the fact that these photos were taken at the SAMOA 20th reunion 30 years ago.

Jeorge McGladrey (Patience) is seen here with Chuck Heleker.
Members from the 1960s.
These two handsome gentlemen are founding members, Ray Honsberger (left) and Del Gould, who used to get together with their Minis pre-1967.  They were SAMOA before the club was formed!
Jeorge is surrounded by many admirers.  From left to right, Jim Hunter, Al Beebe and Dave Harris, all 1960s members.

50th birthday party, March 20

Can’t wait for the big 50th Anniversary all-day SAMOA celebration in August?  Let’s start celebrating now!  The usual 3rd-Tuesday-of-the-month meeting has been moved to Monday, March 20.  Why?  It will be exactly 50 years since the first ever SAMOA meeting was held on March 20, 1967.  Happy Birthday SAMOA!

Meeting starts at 7:30pm, doors open at 6:00.  We will have some sort of food, sodas, water and hopefully a cake. 

Walt’s Auto Renovating
(Don and Brian’s Garage)
8521 Roosevelt Way NE
Seattle, WA 98115
206-612-0626 Brian’s cell

The first batch of shirts have arrived and will be available in limited quantities.  $17 each, cash or check.

Adult beverages not disallowed, bring your own.
Bring a chair! It will probably be a little chilly so dress warm.

More details:


Birth of an Organization

On March 20, 1967 the first meeting of the “Mini Club” was called to order by Mr. Gerry Everett. The purpose of the meeting was to combine the individual subjected ideas into one formative joint move to result in an organization constituted of people who owned Minis or wished they did.

The first “Mini meeting” it was appropriately called. There were nine pioneers present on this date: Gerry Everett, Ray Honsberger, Dick Penna, Jeorge Patience, Dan Dinkfield, Steve Ginsberg, Steve Cross, Del Gould and Dev Garnier.

The first act of business the small determined mini group acted upon was to appoint a temporary governing cabinet to guide the club until a larger group could vote on permanent officers. The acting officers were Ray Honsberger – President, Dick Penna – Vice-President and Jeorge Patience – Secretary/Treasurer. Thus was the formation of the working skeleton for an organization which in years to come would prove itself an elite union of funny little cars and the unique people who are drawn together by the “Mini.” A club which would be auto-cross oriented but so versatile as to partake in rallies, tours and car shows.

So with such a vast combination of people and a common interest in an amazing little car, S.A.M.O.A. stepped out into the world of sports-car-unique. Such was the birth of The Seattle Area Mini Owners Association.

I stand respectfully yours,  -Jeorge Patience, Secretary, 1967

How I discovered SAMOA (or how they discovered me)

I bought my first Mini, a 1966 Morris Cooper S, from the BMC dealership in the fall of ʼ66.  I went there to buy a sports car, maybe an Austin Healey Sprite or an MG Midget, but then I saw all the brand new 1967 Austin Cooper S’s on the showroom floor.  The price for a new one was $2400.  You could buy a real car for that so I asked if they had any used ones and they showed me one in the basement.  It had 35,000 miles on it plus a set of worn-out Dunlop SP41’s.  The car was brought over from Europe by a serviceman when he was released from duty.  He had traded it for a new Austin Healey 3000.

Later that same year while returning to Seattle with my wife, Sandy, after visiting relatives in Salem, Ore., for Christmas vacation…  We left at about 5pm on Sunday, Christmas Day (dumb idea), having to be back at work the following day.  Nice trip, until about 17 miles south of Olympia (read: boondocks), my good old SU fuel pump packed it up.

After pulling off the freeway and jacking up the left side of car with the factory jack (which lifts the whole side of the car), I realized I didn’t even know where the bloody pump was, let alone not having a flashlight to see it.  It was about 8:30 in the evening (read: dark).  I waited for a cop to come along (usually it’s the other way around!) and after about an hour I gave up on the cop and started flagging down any car.  A Rambler finally stopped and backed up to about 3 feet in front of the Mini.  He said I could borrow his flashlight to find the pump.  Well, it didn’t take long to clean the points off and jury rig it to work.  I really wanted to be sure it was beebe-illoalright so I started the car. It worked great!  But as I let it down off the jack, I forgot that I had left it in gear (first, no less), so as soon as the left side front tire touched ground, the car lunged off the jack towards the Rambler’s bumper.  I jumped into the car and jabbed at the brake.  Too late!  My poor Mini hit the Rambler.  The damage didn’t look too bad – a broken headlight and a bashed in grill, but (here it comes) it sure was running funny.  After investigating, it turned out to be a broken distributor cap.  The rubber rain boot kept it together enough to barely run.

Just then a cop drove up, so the Rambler and I exchanged the customary information for a wreck and he drove off, leaving me and the cop.  So while I sat in the warm cop car, my wife Sandy sat wrapped in a comforter trying to stay warm in the Mini – and rather pissed off.   The cop said, “Gee, now what are you going do?”  And I said, “How the hell do I know?”  He told me he could take us to the next exit or make a call for me.

Just then I remembered a card I had found in the door pocket the first time I cleaned the car.  It was a SAMOA club card with Jerry Everett’s name and phone number on it.  So I told the cop to call Jerry and ask if he could find someone with a distributor cap to rescue me.  It turns out the Mini club was having a Christmas party at Jerry’s house in Renton.  After awhile, Olympia radioed back that help was on the way.  The cop said, “Well, there you are,” and left.

After about 45 minutes, a red Mini with lights-a-flashing and arms-a-waving came past us heading southbound at about 80 mph to the next exit.  Soon Jerry and a bunch of club members pulled up behind me and said, “Get out of the way, kid,” then proceeded to fix my Mini right before my eyes.  Jerry said, “Why didn’t you say you needed a headlight?   We could have brought one of those too.”  After all this, they also followed us all the way back to Renton.  Needless to say, my first encounter with the Mini club was an endearing one. It feels really good to belong to a club with that kind of devotion to a car. Yay, Minis!  -Al Beebe