Air and Auto Classic–Virginia Beach

We were 25 miles out of Virginia Beach when The Fear took hold. I remember screaming something like, “We can’t go through the tunnel!” at Schubie, over the din of Friday rush hour and our clattering Type 1 engines.

“Why?” he yelled back, and the engines swallowed my explanation about phobias. . . .

The third annual Air and Auto Classic at the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach was a hoot, to say the least. Many thanks to Roy Hendrix for pushing us to make this trip, Dale Schumacher for joining the caravan and Bill and Patti Ascheman for making my 270-mile drive look miniature. Those two drove about two and a half hours before meeting me.

Bill and Patty meet me at Bob Evans in Glen Burnie, MD, 10:15 a.m.

It’s not every day I drive 270 miles in Bridget. Never, actually. And making those miles in 40-degree November bluster was not my fantasy when I bought this car three years ago.

But: glad I did!

With two TDs and a sweet Mini in our convoy, we cut quite a figure through the D.C. beltway on our way to meet Dale Schumacher. He was right on time at the Stafford Target.

We grabbed lunch at Five Guys and sallied forth.

We were making good time on the way down, and at Dale’s suggestion decided to take RT 17 instead of 95 to I-65. It was an excellent choice: 60 mph and very few lights. We went through some federal park land and a few nice little towns. With three TDs and the Mini, we were now a show of our own. At one stop light a guy pulled up next to me and nodded at Bill’s car, just ahead: “He drive that thing all the way from Pennsylvania?”


“He’s got bigger ones than me.”

Though snugly ensconced in a brand-new, fully-enclosed, climate-controlled Mini S, Patti gets the trooper award. After about 10 hours on the road, she stoically drove through the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, about a mile and a quarter underground, despite an adamant natural aversion to being underground and underwater at the same time. Turns out there’s next to no way at all to get to VA Beach from points north without traversing at least one tunnel, something we navigational knuckleheads might have learned had we consulted a map.

Oh, we tried to avoid it!

After I screamed at Dale, the four of us took the “Last Exit Before Tunnel” to reconnoiter. Led by Bill, we then got right back on the crawling Interstate 64 before taking the very next “Last Exit Before Tunnel,” and getting right back on yet again.

I was third in our little train & had a fair view of Patti’s face through my tiny Desmo rear-view. She looked like a movie heroine strapped to the conveyer belt, resigned to a gory death by spinning lumber saws, crushing cannery equipment and sharks with laser beams attached to their frickin heads, but unwilling to give the Evil Doctor Evil the satisfaction of hearing her beg for mercy.

The Oceanfront Inn was a fine establishment. Their restaurant handled breakfast well and the Irish pub across the way seems to have an ambitious chef. There’s a fireplace in there too, if you ever find yourself, like us, on the beach during the off season. We also got free garage parking.

The Air Museum is something to see. As promised–and at a cost of $50, some large portion of which was supposedly sent to the local SPCA–we parked next to the runway, on the concrete apron that stretches for a hundred yards in front of the massive hangars.

Dale with the guy with a hot VW parked next to us. Also present: Two Ferraris, a Lambo, a Maserati and about 50 Porsches.

pretend that your face is a Maserati

This T-Bird’s owner says he has several Fords and Chevies from the era. All meticulously original “except this one.” And this one has the correct inspection sticker on the inside of the wheel well.

Porsches. Yawn. There was an original 356 Cab out in the proletariat field.

Oh yeah. Also: airplanes.

P-51 at take-off

They said this is the owner’s XK120.

Owner’s daughter’s Midget stayed in the hangar. This might explain why our motley crew was allowed to purchase rock star parking . . .

Best overheard: Officious-looking dude to obviously pissed-off car show entrant: “We did not know they were replicas when they registered but, trust me, the judges will recognize your car.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, some of the finest cars were not on the judging field. My fave was this 1930 Austin:

Lights work!

pretend that your case is a mess ‘o rotty . . .

There was a monster turbo’d VW Bug, a couple of really nice Vettes, the afore-mentioned Porsche D-vert (visible to the right of the Austin, above–and what’s that there in the background to its left?). Then there was this pukka T-rod banger, which was almost certainly a kit of some sort (had an auto trans) but did sport the legit quick-change rear.

Them’s the original “bumper nuts,” pardner!

And of course: The driver of this one came by later. After telling us he hadn’t parked out with us “because I didn’t want to make you look bad,” he got pretty friendly. Turns out he’s caretaker to an Australian bloke’s collection. Usually drives the Lotus but the TD needed exercise. “It’ll only go 40 mph,” the man allowed. “Need’s carb work,” he supposes. I suppose he was properly impressed by the fact that Bill drove his HomeGrown TD 400 miles to the show on the nation’s busiest highway.

A lot of people gave our cars respectful looks and asked respectful questions. Despite my overheard, I sensed zero disrespect from any participants, judges or spectators. In fact, when the judging was done, Roy took Third Place for ancient imports.

Through some sort of chicanery, he also purloined the 3rd Place award for “Vintage Domestics.” Congratulations, Roy! (And thanks, Julie, for the pics). (The pics with dates were taken with Roy and Julie’s camera–the in-focus ones by them).

At some point in the early going Dale came back to our little group and announced that he was going to win the Bi-plane ride in the raffle. I stuffed a couple tickets in there too but, sure enough, when they drew out the number it was his.

Minutes after that he was told he’d have to wait until another “single” signed up for a ride so they could fly together. So I shelled out for that. They called us both just as we were lining up our cars under the Hawker Hurricane for a group shot. Seconds later Dale and I were trying to squeeze into the training cockpit of this sweet old bi-plane.Amazingly, the sum-bitch flew with us both in there.

Back at the ranch: dolphins playing in the surf:

You’ll have to take my word for it that these were dolphins.

Sunday dawned warmer than the previous two, which was good cause we were supposed to be on the road at 7:30. Coffee-deprived (and generally idiotic) me held us up for 20 minutes getting gas. Having forgotten the $60 Dale had just given me for the hotel room, I actually wanted to leave the station because they had a sign up that said “pay inside.” Turns out the pump on the other side of the island–literally attached to the one with the sign–accepted my card.

And away we went, yes, back through the tunnel. Here’s Bill on the bridge part:
And Dale, under power on Rt 17: ‘Twas a bit chill, but everyone made it home without any mechanical or other difficulties. Tons of lookie-Lou’s giving the two-thumb salute on the highways again. As they say, you really don’t see these cars out in the wild too often.


About stuntmidget

I'm a poor mechanic and general wisenheimer. I love old cars and the stories behind them, true or not.
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7 Responses to Air and Auto Classic–Virginia Beach

  1. Lane Anderson says:

    Love your blogs, Ed. Wish we had more events like this around here. Then again, I COULD HAVE gone to Hilton Head last week, but I was too lazy. Guess it’s my fault, huh?

  2. stuntmidget says:

    Can’t get to all of ’em, Lane. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Really enjoyed the travelogue. We got to VA Beach a lot, but have gone to neither the museum nor the show you attended. After reading your report, I hope to do both next year.
    Thanks for sharing

  4. stuntmidget says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Paul. Hope to see you there.

  5. Paul M says:

    Great blog Ed!

    And it was nice to see this report from the show organizers, “We’d like to thank you for attending this year’s car show. Due to your generosity and that of our sponsors, together we raised $8000 for the Virginia Beach SPCA and the Foodbank of Southeastern VA! The first $4000 check was presented to the Foodbank on 17 November at their Mayflower Marathon food drive at Pembroke Mall. The second check was presented to the Virginia beach SPCA the following Monday.”

    I’d never presume to play editor to a professional writer, but you might want to add this info to your report in lieu of “…supposedly sent to the local SPCA….”

    I hope to save time for this event next year! It’s “only” a 400 mile drive for me. Each way!

  6. stuntmidget says:

    Thanks for the update, Paul. Tongue was firmly in cheek on that “supposedly,” but it’s good to hear their final numbers. Look forward to driving down with you in the caravan next fall.

  7. Pingback: Virginia Beach Air and Auto Classic 4 | bridgetmgtd

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