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British car enthusiasts raise $43,000 for Shriners Hospital


They came together from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Michigan on a picture-perfect weekend in September. More than 60 men, women and children ages 7 to 85.

Some were first-timers, others were old friends who had participated in the American British Reliability Run since its inception in Pennsylvania in 2008. As a group, they were united by two common passions: their love of British cars and a desire to help kids.

For three days, 33 teams spent 14 hours and covered just over 500 miles from Lahaska to Elkton, Md., and back again, driving their British classics – everything from a ‘57 Jaguar XK140 coupe driven by Peter Hutchinson and Alan Askinas to a ’13 Bentley driven by Art Becker and Pete Dow – through the scenic backroads of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland. Along the way, they took a few laps around a track in New Jersey and visited a small start-up restoration shop in Maryland for a peek at some works in progress.

But more importantly, they raised a record $43,160 for Shriners Hospital to help children in the burn unit. On Nov. 24, many of the ABBR participants gathered at Ragtops & Roadsters, a British car restoration shop in Perkasie, for the check presentation. The event also featured an open house at Ragtops to see projects under way and then a “Before We Put ‘Em Away” drive over to Pollock Auto Restoration, Ragtops’ sister shop in Pottstown.

“It’s all about the kids,” said Dave Hutchison, operations manager at Ragtops and president of the Delaware Valley Triumph Club, both of which sponsor the event. “Sure, we have fun but the most important thing is we raise money for a good cause.”

The concept of a British Reliability Run goes back to the “dawn of motoring” in the UK and continues today, according to Hutchison. Manufacturers eager to prove the reliability of their motorcars sent teams of drivers on treks over regular roads, he said. As an added benefit, the reliability runs benefited local charities, so the manufacturers got maximum exposure for their products, said Hutchison.

Modeled after those UK Reliability Runs, the ABBR began in 2002 in Detroit and spread to Colorado, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. The Delaware Valley Triumph Club began Pennsylvania’s event in 2008. Collectively, the ABBR’s have raised more than $300,000 for children’s charities.

The ABRR is not a race, said Hutchison, since it is conducted on public roads at posted speeds. It is not a road rally either, as there are no checkpoints or deliberately vague and misleading instructions, he said. Teams travel in groups, taking care to keep the cars together and making group stops as necessary.

Each participating team is challenged to raise at least $500 through sponsorships, said Hutchison. “The only competition is to see who raises the most money for the kids,” he said.

This year, that honor went to the Tasmanian Angels – the father-son team of Steve and Jason Olmsted – who raised $3,100 while driving a 1983 TVR Tasmin they hauled in via trailer from Michigan. The Woodfield Wolverines – Bob Canfield and Phil Licetti – were second with $2,324 raised while driving a 1961 Triumph Spitfire. Third place went to A Team of Two Sixes – Ted Campbell and Nancy Anderson –who drove a 1976 Triumph TR6 and raised $2,074.

Hutchison and his wife Charlene – who drove their rare 1961 Italian body Triumph Italia 2000 GT as Team CharDa Italiano, actually raised the most money with $4,500. But as event organizers, they do not participate in the fundraising competition.

The 2019 route covered about 500 miles and 14 hours of driving – a bit shorter than usual – but teams enjoyed some beautiful scenery and sites along the way. After morning registration at the Golden Plough Inn (Peddlers Village) on Friday, the teams headed for their first stop, a Lunch and Laps event on the Thunderbolt circuit at the NJ Motorsports Park in Millville. From there, they drove to Cape May and took the ferry as a group across the Delaware Bay to Lewes, where they had dinner and spent the night.

The next day, the teams departed for the Coventry Motorworks, a restoration shop in Easton, Maryland to check out works in progress before settling in for the night in Elkton. Sunday was a straight shot home for lunch and awards at the Cock & Bull Restaurant.

Campbell, a Jamison resident, and Anderson, who lives in Collegeville, said they had a blast on what was their fourth crack at the ABBR.

“It was a great ride and we raised money for a good cause,” said Campbell. “You can’t ask for more out of a weekend.”