Tom Bennett was the Organizer of the Event, and he's written up our little adventure! -- Eli
Oregon 97, September 6, 1997 Gabriel Park, Portland Oregon, 10:30 AM The day was clearing up, from some early grayness. I prepared my '77 spider for the long 4 block journey down to the park. All packed. I had the cooler filled with beer strapped to the luggage rack, and meat disks and barbecue for 40 in the back seat. I had signs, posters, and awards, and my favorite little radio, in order to catch the last half hour of Cartalk on NPR. I figured I'd set up the signs, and wait for the 3 or so Fiats to show up. I knew Mike Richmond was bringing his family, and Eli had made the trip with his wife Kelly, and Courtney Waters. At the very least, we had plenty of beer...

I had no idea...

10:32 AM I arrive at the park. The one thing I hadn't counted on: Legions of soccer moms, thousands of Range Rovers and Minivans blocking the 3 spaces I needed for our big Fiat meeting. I had to act fast. I parked, and started lugging equipment, and pounding signs into the ground. Just before Tom and Ray had finished the puzzler answer, I looked around and caught a glimpse of some silver Italian bodywork, that stood out against all the Land Cruisers. Wandering over, I met with Roger Pachera, who with his wife and dog, had travelled over 700 miles in his Spider to come to our little event. They had been waiting for hours for someone to show up. This was a sign of things to come...

Within half an hour, we had 3 or 4 spiders and an X1/9 crowding in the illegal parking spaces around the dumpster. Cars started arriving on trailers, some crept into the lot on their last legs, others fresh from the showroom. By noon, there were 30 Fiats or Lancias in attendance. By the end of the day, we collected data on almost 40 cars, and from other owners who just saw the concentration of Italian and stopped by. I realized that I had set off fireworks in avalanche season. By 6:00 PM, there were still folks milling about trading stories and parts.

There were three main events of the day. First was the Auto-Biography. Owners were encouraged to tell stories, show high-points, or ask questions about their cars. Common threads to the stories were the incredible endurance of Fiats, (with normal maintenance), and a real love of them by their owners. John Hurlock brought his beautiful '79 X 1/9 from Monroe WA with 280K miles. Mike Richmond brought the car he and his wife had shared, sold, and bought back after several years, having lovingly restored it recently Steve Soar, Mike Mittelstead, and John Banton each brought race modified X1/9's Classics were there as well. Gene Roberti brought his '70 Abarth 1600, in impeccable condition, and Ed Godshalk managed to get his '60 600 to make the trip from Newberg, OR. The Ashcrafts made the trip from Medford with a Yugo, and matching trailer. John Milletich brought his family in a choice 81 Zagato Dan and Sue Rian made the trip from Seattle, representing the Fiat Enthusiasts Northwest. There were lots of spiders in various conditions, and 124 Sedans, 128's Coupes, and Bravas.

The second event was the judging and awards ceremony. A distinguished panel of judges (Eli, Courtney, and myself) put each car through a grueling 100 point inspection, searching for the slightest imperfecion, fingerprint on a valve cover, french fry trapped under a seat... After what seemed like minutes of reflection, the awards were given for the following:


Most Incredible Journey:

Roger Pachera,
Rohnert Park, CA - '79 Spider

Finest Car:

Mike Richmond,
Beaverton, OR - '78 Spider

Best Modifications:

Mike Mittelstead,
Damascus, OR - Powdercoated Aluminum skinned racing X 1/9

Classic Car:

Ed Godshalk,
Newburg, OR - '60 600


Jack Ashcraft,
Medford, OR, Modified Yugo with Trailer

The third event was an impromptu parade through Portland's most scenic and traffic clogged streets. The route wound its way over the hill, and down Vista Drive, with a photo op at the Vista Bridge with 16 Fiats in attendance. The route went down the tony NW 23rd street, giving pause to all the cappucino sippers, as the sweet smell of burning oil from my '77 spider set the tone for the parade. Finishing up with a drive up Broadway, we lost half the cars on the way back to the park.

I ended the day with a sunburn, and a new enthusiasm for the dedication of the Italian car enthusiast of the Northwest. Our turnout for a non-club event was so large that Fiat-Lancia Unlimited has asked us to join them as a new western chapter! Discussions of an organization will happen soon.

Thomas and Sasha Bennett

The next round of Events are being Planned, and the Oregon97 list will be left up to facilitate them.
We've found a Group of Motivated, fun folks that love their Cars, and more events are inevitable! Club Affiliations (we hope to multihome our Group) are being worked on, and I'm personally hoping that the next event finds us with these affilations well under way.

There has been a lot of post-event excitement, including an Announcement that Mike Mittlestead placed in the September '97 "Alfa-Bits" Newsletter (Alfa Romeo Owners of Oregon)!
In any case, stay tuned to this Page, and also the Oregon97 Mailing list so you can keep abreast of what should be an awesome upcoming event Schedule!

In the words of Tom Bennett, Semper Fiatus!

-- Eli Caul

Page last Updated: Sat Sep 27 09:36:53 PDT 1997

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