Richard Sargeant rows the gears in his restored ’69 GTO Judge Ram Air-IV vintage racecar,
The 32nd Annual GTOAA International Meet, held July 4-7, 2011, in Portland, Oregon, gave GTOAA members and non-members alike the opportunity to immerse themselves in the popular culture of the GTO, congregate with like-minded disciples of the breed, and make history, as it was the first time in the club’s 33 years that its annual pilgrimage was held on the West Coast.
The central location of the four-day soiree was the host hotel, Red Lion On the River, on the western bank of the Columbia River near the Oregon-Washington border.
The host hotel’s parking lot filled with GTOs and other Pontiacs for the four-day event.
Attendees who arrived early on July 4 were invited to take in a City of Portland walking tour. That evening, the bash kicked off with a bang thanks to a hamburger-and-hot-dog BBQ at the hotel, which over 400 people attended. After the chow-down, the congregation had the perfect vantage point to view Washington’s Fort Vancouver fireworks display on the Columbia River.
Tuesday, July 5, featured fierce quarter-mile action at the Jim Wangers Invitational Drag Race, held at Woodburn Dragstrip (36 miles south of the hotel). A total of 75-plus GTOs and other Pontiacs competed in four classes for over $2,500 in cash payouts. Two additional classes, Front Wheel Drive Street (trophies only) and Time Only, were included in the program. The ’66 GeeTO Tiger, the Ponte Carlo, and Jess Tyree’s ’63 Tempest also made exhibition passes.
Those who didn’t spend their day at the dragstrip could choose from other activities: an old-fashioned paddle-wheeler through the Gorge on the Columbia River, an Epicurean Excursion at downtown Portland’s most delectable culinary shops, and a talk by Goat Herder Kelly Lay on choosing the best paint for your classic car.
Top honors—Concours-Best of Show—went to this Starlight Black ’65 GTO convertible owned by
Regardless of how they filled their Tuesday itinerary with fun, from 5:30 p.m. until dusk more than half of the convention’s 800-plus attendees assembled at Blue Lake Park on the Columbia River to help ad-man Jim Wangers celebrate his 85th birthday (not to be confused with Wangers’ birthday party detailed in Happenings on page 8 of this issue). There was more than birthday cake, cards, and well wishes. The get-together dished out an Oregon-style salmon bake—180 pounds of it was devoured by the crowd.
On Wednesday, 233 Pontiacs participated in two separate car shows on the show field. The popular-vote car show was open to all-year GTOs, LeMans, and Tempests. A total 160-plus entries competed for 75 trophies in First through Third Place and honorable mention in 22 classes. In addition, 19 other Pontiacs were on display only.
In a special outdoor arena, 42 concours cars—GTOs, LeMans, and a GT37—shined in their own spotlight. The 35 GTOAA judges scrutinized them point by point, later awarding 13 Gold-, 17 Silver-, and 7 Bronze-Concours awards to them. In addition, seven original vintage GTO and LeMans owners received commemorative plaques for their steadfast loyalty.
When was the last time—if ever—you saw three ’74 GTOs in different factory colors side by
Inside the hotel, Pontiac-themed seminars filled out the day: Jim Wangers’ “The Anatomy of the Muscle Car,” Mike Henderson’s “Route 66 Trip” in a ’65 GTO, Art Fitzpatrick’s “Upward Mobility—It’s Not We Drive, It’s What Drives Us,” and NHRA legend Jess Tyree’s recollections of racing and winning with Pontiacs.
Other off-site activities included a bus trip to Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, which included a jet-boat cruise on the Willamette River to the waterfalls at Oregon City, and a bus trip to Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum.
At 4 p.m., 90-plus Pontiacs and their owners made their way to Portland International Raceway (PIR) to participate in Beaches Cruise-In, the biggest weekly cruise-in on the West Coast. Since the track’s test-and-tune was in full swing when the convention attendees arrived, some of them decided to burn rubber down the NHRA-sanctioned quarter-mile track, which was limited to 1⁄8-mile passes for the event.
Classic GTOs were known for having a tiger under the hood, but this modified ’69 looks lik
On Thursday, attendees had a chance to partake in the paddle-boat cruise or cruise to the Evergreen Museum—this time in their Pontiacs. Most made it back to the hotel to attend the banquet and awards ceremony.
In total, 833 people enjoyed the 2011 GTOAA International Meet. Great GTOs and other Pontiacs, the host club’s fantastic hospitality, and picture-perfect weather made it an event to cherish for years to come.
Jason Baird’s clean-as-a-whistle ’06 Brazen Orange GTO leads off this row of new-age Goats
This gorgeous Gulfstream Aqua ’64 GTO owned by Bruce Nelson took Concours-Best Restored.
Marty Arrigotti is the original owner of this ’64 Catalina, which took the win in Heavy St
Legend Jess Tyree prepares to make a pass.
Popular Choice-Best of Show strayed from the traditional—it was awarded to a Pro-Touring-t
Steve McGhehey won Concours-Best Original for his Candlelight Cream ’66 GTO.