This '65 GTO and '70 GTO go heads-up in time trials at Lebanon Dragway as part of the GTOA
Once a year, Pontiac fans from across the country gather at the GTOAA International Meet to immerse themselves in all things GTO. Whether concours-judged, popular vote, autocross, or drag-racing GTOs are your thing, this year's event offered something for everybody.
The convention was held July 15-19 in Saratoga Springs, New York, at the Saratoga Hilton Hotel and the adjacent Saratoga Springs City Center. Hosted by the Electric City GTOs club, with assistance from the Pioneer Valley GTO club, the event featured more than 200 registered GTOs and approximately 1,000 attendees. The GTOAA meet began on Tuesday, July 15, with registration, tech, and car photography. The Saratoga Auto Museum opened its five-day GTO exhibit to coincide with the meet and two special events: a Saratoga Battlefield Tour and a Dinner Car Cruise to Olde Saratoga Brewery.
On Wednesday, Meguiar's and Scott Tiemann of Supercar Specialties offered informative seminars, letting club members brush up on their detailing and restoration knowledge, while the Ames Performance Reception Buffet that followed let GTO owners get reacquainted. Afterwards, author Paul Zazarine hosted a round-table Q&A, and club members were able to pick up some pointers to use on their projects.
Neal Sullivan of Mahopac, New York, carved the corners through the autocross in his '04 GT
Drag racing started the action on Thursday when a caravan of vintage and modern GTOs travelled to the historic Lebanon Valley Dragway for the Jim Wangers Invitational, presented by Electric City GTOs. Special guests included Milt Schornack and a Royal GTO, Arnie "The Farmer" Beswick, and Dave Anderson and the GeeTo Tiger. Four racing classes-GTO 11.00 or Slower, GTO 10.99 or Faster, Other Pontiacs 11.00 or Slower, Other Pontiacs 10.99 or Faster-allowed participants to compete for trophies as long as they ran traditional Pontiac or corporate engines as originally equipped in their models.
Meanwhile, owners of concours GTOs carefully began positioning their pristine Pontiacs in the climate-controlled Saratoga Springs City Center for public display and points-judging the next day. Approximately 65 concours GTOs participated at a combined value of more than $3 million. The inside venue was ideal for the judges, participants, and spectators, as it allowed everybody to enjoy the GTOs without the 90-plus-degree summer heat.
Friday featured the Pedders USA autocross, where all-year GTOs were invited to participate in the SCCA-sanctioned event. Those who returned from the autocross were surprised to see the parking lot of the Saratoga Hilton filled with 145 GTOs ready to compete for Saturday's popular-vote car show. Seminars for the day included speakers John Sawruk, Jim Wangers/Paul Zazarine, Dennis Kirban/Pete Serio on Hurst history, shifters, and ZDDP oil issues; and Pete Basica on the New-Gen GTO. As the sun went down, club members enjoyed a hotel parking-lot party.
Saturday was sizzling hot, but the crowds braved the heat to get great views of the popular-vote GTOs. The seminars included Merle Greene on the Knafel '66 GTO and Jim Mattison of PHS Automotive. "My presentation on 'The State of the Hobby' was well attended in spite of it being a last-minute addition to the convention schedule," Jim said. "Those who attended were hanging on every word. During the question and answer portion, there were plenty of well-thought-out questions from those who wanted to hear more on this important topic."