|GSL XX Trip Report|
|GSL XX: Memories That Will Last A Lifetime
By David Best
GSL. The big show. The Super Bowl of scale automotive modeling. The best builders from around the world. The cream of the crop. For years, we saw the magazine coverage, heard the stories, and wondered if we could participate. Our little band of brothers had been talking about it within the club for years, but as they say, life always kept getting in the way. Y'know, one of these days, we should just say "Screw it!", and just go.
Several TNMCC members had been there before: Greg Nichols, Jim Devine, Rick Hanmore, Doug Whyte, and others had participated and done well at the show. Sure, the contest is awesome and the competition is tough. But the one thing they all said was that the contest was just a small part of the overall experience. The real fun was in the camaraderie, in meeting all the guys whose work you've only seen in the magazines, or chatted with online. GSL is all about making and renewing friendships with people who share our love for the hobby. The contest is simply icing on the cake -- sweet, tasty, wonderful icing to be sure, but still, just icing.
A bunch of us all mulled this over in our heads for months. Should we go ? Can we fit it into the family budgets ? Is it too silly to want to go so far away just for a hobby ? Finally it dawned on us. Lots of guys have hobbies like golf, hunting, or fishing, and they take long weekend trips to pursue their passions. Well, model cars are our hobby, so why can't we do the same thing ? We'll have to run it past the wives. It won't be cheap, but it doesn't have to be outrageously expensive either. Oh boy, we can hear it now -- gee whiz, you're getting on a plane to fly nearly all the way across the country for a model car show ? How are we gonna answer that one ? Easy. We told them all about the show, the people, and the friendships. Then we spoke of model cars and the need for good physical, mental, and spiritual health in our advancing years. Simply put -- we NEED to do this. That's it -- we're going !!!!
Our traveling party was made up of several TNMCC members: Greg Nichols and Jim Devine, both former award winners at GSL; Mike Felix, a dangerously handsome guy, and self-proclaimed expert in pinball wizardry; Vince Lobosco, prolific builder of so many NNL East theme winners over the last 15 years; Mike Callan, our resident expert in all things Mopar, and yours truly, David Best, humble TNMCC scofflaw and webmaster.
So we made the long trek to Salt Lake City to attend the big dance. And what a dance it was. First off, here's a shot of the guys arriving at the former PRIME hotel, now known as TNMCC World Headquarters. As you can tell, they had it real tough, although your author had to shlep a car ride from the airport, since I got in a little later.
So I get to the hotel, and I'm supposed to share a room with Mike. I go to the front desk and the gal says "Ah yes, Mr. Best. Unfortunately, Mr. Felix had to cancel, and we have no reservation for you, so we set you up with a hotel down the street." I am so tired from the long flight and lack of sleep, that all I can muster is an "OK". To which she responds, "I'm sorry - they put me up to it. Actually, they wanted me to say you're a big loser, but I figured my boss would overhear it and fire me !" Ah yes, very funny indeed ! Note to self: tell guys they collectively suck eggs......
I headed upstairs, dumped the bags in the room, and went back down to register. Paul Anagnostopolous and Darryl Gassaway were friendly and efficient, and I immediately started to feel at ease. I got there in time to catch the last bit of Dave Cummins' seminar on scratchbuilding his Atlantique. There's the gang in the audience, sitting surprisingly still and listening attentively. Apparently, they've all remembered to take their meds. I snuck up behind them and whispered a friendly "You guys suck!" Handshakes and smiles all around - isn't this GREAT ?!?!?!?!?
After the seminar, we hit the contest room. Wow ! Check out all the gorgeous models. Every model, I mean EVERY model looks great - and each one looks even better than the next. This is SO AWESOME !!!! Boy, talk about eye candy. We all agreed we felt like kids on Christmas day !
In the contest room, the two Mikes and I meet up with a jolly Canadian who introduces himself as Pat Bibeau and wants to take our picture. Of course, he's out of film, so now we gotta wait -- c'mon Pat, everything's digital now; get with the program. So he finally takes our picture (hey Pat, can we get a copy of that for the club archives ?). Anyway, Pat's one of those unique characters who immediately makes you feel like you've been pals your whole life. I mean, I know the guy no more than 5 minutes and he's already giving me grief about my hairless skull -- let the good natured ribbing (also known as "abuse") begin ! So, here's a picture of Pat that we took, although there's a much better one of him in a less than flattering pose floating around on the Web right now. We'd share that one with you now, but this is supposed to be a family-friendly site, so this one will have to do.
Next we hook up with Paul Anagnostopolous and head down to the hotel, er, I mean TNMCC HQ restaurant, where our very friendly waitress sets us up in one of the exclusive private dining rooms. The room's a little too classy and elegant for me - imagine that. I'm not sure if they're schmoozing us, or just trying to keep us out of sight from the more refined clientele. We suspect it was more the latter. Anyway, lively conversation ensued, and was focused entirely on the three basic topic groups: cars, model cars, and how to find more time to build model cars. [Sidebar: At this point in the story, my beautiful bride usually asks if we talked about our wives, kids, jobs, etc. After 17 years of marriage, you would think she would stop asking me such a ridiculous question, to which she must assuredly know the answer. But, I digress......]
We were having a blast at dinner, drinking and eating to moderate excess, sharing tall tales and generally directing all manners of verbal abuse at each other. In one moment of total hooey, Vince claims the plane out of Newburgh was so small, he had to duck his head to get into it. Those of us who know Vince, know this is the biggest load of nonsense we've heard in a long time ! Paul A. was having such a good time with the group, he announced his intention to join TNMCC as a member. Mike proceeded to tell Paul about the healthy dues for lifetime membership, and the unsavory hazing ritual, but Paul was not deterred. Paul, you're our kind of guy. Keep your eyes open for the membership bill in the mail.
After dinner, we headed back upstairs for the "State of the Hobby" round table discussion with many national scale modeling dignitaries in attendance. The session was being videotaped so a few of us waved to the camera, at which point I said to Mike that maybe it would be fun to actually "do the wave" to get this party started. Well, we did, and they caught it on tape too. It was good silly fun, and the Grand Poobah himself, Mark Gustavson, got a good chuckle out of our stupidity, making some wisecrack about "those Newburgh guys". So the discussion started -- even though we didn't actually have a "round" table. Many spoke about kids, video games, diecasts, building, our dwindling ranks, and the need to keep the hobby alive for generations to follow. Lots of food for thought ....
Feeling educated, we beat feet back to the contest room to ogle the models some more, and to see what new stuff had come in since our last visit. By now, it's 9:30 local time, 11:30 by my internal clock, and I've been running on adrenaline for too many hours already. Of course, I had stayed up way too late the night before, trying to finish the Coronet, then couldn't fall asleep for all the excitement. So now, dead on my feet, I headed back to the room to finish up a few last minute details on the car and turned in for the night. The rest of the gang ended up having dessert with Don Emmons. How cool is that ?
The next morning, we gathered in the lobby before heading out for breakfast at a hotel down the street. Pat B. was there, busting chops already, and wanted to tag along -- try as we did, we couldn't shake him. On the way, we all talked about what a great day we all had yesterday. I mean, it was only the start of day two and we were already making our declarations of modelbuilding independence ! What started out as an expectation for a once in a lifetime experience, had quickly evolved into plans to return to GSL EVERY 2 years from now until the end of time ! Yeah, baby ! On this day, breakfast tasted just that much sweeter than usual.
Back at TNMCC HQ, we sat in on Bruce Owen's seminar on building the Virtue RSX, the GSL XIX Best of Show winner. If you've never seen this model in person, you don't know what you're missing. Virtue RSX has to be seen to be believed, and we all learned a lot from Bruce's presentation. Thanks Bruce, for sharing your expertise with a bunch of knuckleheads from Newburgh.
Next, we walked over to the Crown Burger, an absolute gem among Salt Lake City eateries, just across the way from TNMCC HQ. The signature Crown Burger comes with pastrami, which I understand is pretty damn good if you like that sort of thing. Anyway, we had ourselves a full blown, cholesterol-laden lunch that couldn't be beat. A great time was had by all, since there were no spouses around to remind us about our expanding beltlines, or impending coronary failures.
After lunch, we all waddled back to HQ to board the bus that would take us to the International Model Car Builder's Museum, another staple in our hobby that most of us had only heard or read about, but now we were going to see it for ourselves. On the way, we soaked in the sights of Salt Lake City and the beautiful mountain ranges all around. The museum is located about a half hour away, in an unassuming building, but looks from the outside are deceiving. As we traversed the doorway, we were instantly thrown back in time, back to those carefree days of our childhood when all we had to do was go to school, play some baseball, and build model cars. Inside we found all of the stuff of our modeling youth, along with plaques and trophies from contests past, the Don Emmons exhibit, the Oakland Roadster Show diorama, and shelves full of models from some of the best builders in the world. Hey cool ! Look, there's Doug's Studebaker, and Rick's Custom Van ! I remember that one ! Check that out ! Holy cow, I haven't seen this stuff in decades ! Yessir, the museum was great fun. Mark - you and your dedicated team should be awfully proud of this fine institution. You can count on TNMCC for continued support in the years to come. Here's a shot of Mike and Vince in front of the Shuklis cars they restored, and Don Emmons in front of his display case.
Back in the contest room, we met up with more of the luminaries of our hobby, and soaked in some of the latest additions to the contest tables. At this stage of the game, Craig Cochran's wife Linda, has branded us "The Gang of Six", a label we embraced wholeheartedly -- heck, we've been called a lot worse, right ?! We're still not sure what we did to deserve a collective nickname, although I suspect it was simply because you could never find just one of us without the other 5 lurking somewhere close by. Later, we headed down to the Red Rock Brew Pub for some dinner, and to sample their signature homemade brews. I don't know about the alcoholic variety, but I can say the root beer was out of this world, and the food was great too.
Saturday - another big day. We all met for breakfast wearing our special GSL-XX TNMCC shirts. Hey, just because we're a bunch of model building bozos doesn't mean we can't look good doing it, right ? Of course, the waitress chose this day to have a case of the clumsies and dumped water on Jim and his new shirt. We all got a charge out of pointing out to no one in particular that Jim had soiled himself. Back at HQ, we hit the vendor room hard. Although there wasn't a lot of vendors there, we still managed to spend money at a disproportionate rate to the size of the packages involved. Mike and Vince lent a hand to Bob Korunow from Model Car Garage by manning the table and making sure TNMCC received a healthy discount in keeping with our esteemed position in the hobby. In other words, we paid retail like everyone else. Next door, in the contest room, we chatted with more modeling dignitaries, soaked in a few more entries on the tables, and we even got to meet a scratchbuilder !
Later that afternoon, it was time for the TNMCC seminar. Being the organized group that we are, the subject was appropriately vague, with our seminar titled "Instant Tips from the Town of Newburgh Model Car Club". Each of us spoke for a few minutes with detailing tips, pointers on machining, working with vinyl graphics, installing real working lights, documenting your project, and the wonders of all things Mopar. The buzz we heard afterwards was that "those Newburgh guys" had presented what was arguably the greatest seminar ever in the history of organized meetings. OK, so maybe we're overstating things a smidge, but we hope everyone enjoyed sitting in the session as much as we enjoyed giving it.
We finished up our seminar and had just a few minutes left to scan the contest hall one more time before they closed it for judging. Then we sat in on the auction that was held to raise money for the museum. We all picked up a few items and shared a major haul of micro machined nuts, bolts, and screws by pooling our cash. The auction was cool, but ran WAY too long, so we didn't get out of there until VERY late. Luckily, we were able to grab some dinner in the TNMCC HQ restaurant -- even though they were closed, they still served us. While we waited for food, we divvied up our booty from the auction, and then had another feast that couldn't be beat.
Heading back upstairs, we realized we never got a photo with all of us in the commemorative club shirts, plus we never got one with MSG. Of course, by now he was knee deep in judging and the signs on the doors promised a horrible and violent death if the judges were disturbed. So Mike wrote a note and slipped it under the door. The big guy himself came out after a few minutes, and we capitalized on our Kodak moment. It was the capper on a great day.
Sunday - the last day. Oh crap, is it really almost over ? Say it ain't so ! But alas, all good things must come to an end, and we headed into the banquet hall for the awards ceremony breakfast. All in all, breakfast was pretty good, and then the awards ceremony started off on a somber note, as the names of many modelers who are no longer with us was read aloud. Respects appropriately paid, the mood shifted as the awards were announced, with photos of the winning models displayed prominently on a large projection screen. We cheered loudly for all the winners, and cheered even louder when one of our own names came up. Yes, we were fortunate enough to claim some hardware this day, but afterwards, we all agreed it was super just being a part of the GSL experience. Well, didn't that sound sappy ? OK, the real thing of it is ...... it was AWESOME to win something here ! Yessir, this was definitely the icing on the cake !
So by now, we all had to high tail it outta there to catch our flights. We said our hurried goodbyes, and promised our hosts we would be back for GSL-XXI in 2007. And, we vowed to make it our mission to bring as many club members as possible next time.
Can you sum up the GSL experience in one word ? I think so. How about this one ? WOW !!!!!!
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