Indian Summer Sortie

By Dave Pratt & Debby Slavitt
Photos by Fred Frey, Peter Walker, Meg Anderson, Mary Nelen, and Dave

Another strong showing of Alfa Romeos and their drivers & passengers was greeted by a picture-perfect Saturday morning for the start of the 11th running of the AONE Indian Summer Sortie on September 21st. A year ago, it was decided that the club fall tour that ran in the coolest climate (the Sortie in the Berkshires) should run first, the one in the warmest climate (the Cape Crusade) last, and the one in the middle (the Wachusett run) in between. The plan worked — we got terrific weather for all three!

The excellent turnout of 13 Alfas (and a lesser car) assembled at the Fillin' Station in Whately, MA, where we gassed up (at the pumps and in the diner) and wandered among the assembled cars before the Sortie shoved off. It's surprising what a wide assortment we always seem to get — this time we had several Spiders (of course), a GTV, a GTV6, a 164Q, a 2000 Spider, and a 1900 CSS!

This year, we were greeted at the start by Myr Leake, wife of the late, great Californian vintage Alfa race car driver and builder, Al Leake. You vintage race fans may remember seeing Al and his black #69 Giulietta Spider at Lime Rock and other venues, with the rubber chicken flapping from the trunk (the inspiration for certain current-day racing Alfa rubber chickens). Al would routinely decimate the competition with his 1290cc Giulietta, often lapping cars with three times the displacement and usually winning every race he entered — it was a sight to see. Myr now lives near the Sortie start — nice to meet you, Myr!

After a driver's meeting at which Sortie leader Peter Walker laid out the general plans and handed out route sheets, we fired up our macchine (und einer maschine) and hit the road, through South Deerfield and onto one of the great sports car roads, Route 116, where in a few miles we came up behind ... a hay truck! We crawled for a little bit, chuckling at our misfortune, but it didn't last long and we were soon winging along at the brisk clip we've grown to expect.

Our itinerary took us through nothing but farmland and forests, with the occasional small town to break things up. Even though the leaves were all still green in most of New England, in the Berkshires we experienced a lot of nice color. Halfway along the route, we stopped at Notchview, a property belonging to the Trustees of Reservations, to stretch our legs, shoot some photos, and take advantage of its always-open restroom facilities. Then it was back in our seats for more backroads fun and frolic.

We finally abandoned the Sortie at the home (and garage) of Italian/European car expert Jeff Greenfield, in Lenox, MA. Jeff and his wife had invited our club to end the drive at their abode for lunch. In addition to our Alfas filing in, Jeff had invited several other cars and car buffs to the gathering, including a ~100-year-old Bugatti and Amilcar, and a Cobra kit making ~750HP — talk about extremes! Jeff's garage is a pleasure to behold — nice building, nice tools, nice cars.

What Jeff didn't tell us was that it was also his 50th birthday! (Jeff's a modest kind of guy.) He and his family had arranged a great outdoors lunch for us; alas, it started to mist and drizzle a little as we were arriving. But it really didn't dampen anything, although a few of us did find trees, and we broke down and went inside at the end to cut Jeff's birthday cake.

A big "Thank You" goes to Jeff and his family for graciously inviting us to be their guests, and also to Peter Walker & Meg Anderson for organizing another great autumn drive in the Berkshires!Tiny Quadrifoglio

Notes from a first-time AONE tour-taker

My 1988 Alfa Romeo Spider arrived by truck from L.A. very late one night, just before the AONE western MA rally in 2012. My son, Henry, and I had joked for a long time about someday getting me an Alfa for my birthday, so when he asked me to come outside of his house in L.A. where I was visiting on my birthday in late August of 2012, I asked, "So is it the alfa?" And it was!

I hesitated to drive in the 2012 Sortie, only a few weeks after I'd gotten the car, since it wasn't working perfectly and I hadn't driven a stick shift for years. (I did get the 100 mile towing option with AAA and immediately became a member of the Alfa Romeo Owners Club.) I stopped by the Whately diner, though, to say hello, which is when I met a bunch of you nice people.

The following year, in 2013, after months in the shop and $$ of repairs, the car (and I) were ready for the western MA rally. It was a perfect day. It is lovely countryside. Yes, it was a little fast for me, but I stretched myself to "just do it!". I'm sure I won't turn into a car mechanic, and I won't feel like driving it every day, but it sure is fun and such a pretty girl.

Thanks to all of you who offered advice, support and friendship over the past year. I look forward to seeing you again.

     — Debby Slavitt

Sortie Participants
Peter Walker & Meg Anderson - 1977 Spider
Tom Ducibella & Angela Nannini - 1969 Spider
Dan & Deb Donovan - 1988 Spider
Roger & Karen Carlson - 1959 Touring 2000 Spider
Phil Bostwick - 1972 GTV
Debby Slavitt & Mary Nelen - 1988 Spider
Roger Cassin - 1954 1900 CSS
RJ Horwitz - 1984 GTV6
Michael & Kathy Davias - 1969 Spider
Fred Frey & Bev Fisher - 1972 Giulia Super
Doug Sondak - 1969 Spider
Greg & Andrea Stidsen - 1994 164Q
Tom & Liane Brooks - 1986 Spider
Dave & Vi Pratt - Lesser Car

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Indian Summer Sortie