The Carlisle Import and Performance Nationals can be one of the most enjoyable import car events in the United States, bringing together what is possibly the largest variety of cars from every foreign country you might expect.
That is, unless it rains.
The weather can be a bit iffy in Pennsylvania in May and usually it rains one of the days during the Import Nationals. But this year it rained for all three days]. Long-time attendees say that you should always be prepared for rain at Carlisle, and if you forgot your rain gear this year you were really unprepared.
The result of the inclement weather was that car counts were down quite a bit, with fewer MG, Triumph, Fiat and other sporting cars on the grounds. The only truly strong car fields were by the Saab, Opel, and Volvo clubs. These communities have made Carlisle a second home for themselves in May and come every year, rain or shine.
You would think that the British cars would not mind rainy weather as they come from a country where it rains all the time, but this year many stayed away. The most noted absence I saw was from the TVR club. The TVR guys have held their national event at Carlisle Import for years; you often saw more than 30 TVR cars on the field. This year they decided to move the Out of the Woodwork TVR national meet to a different location and I have to say that I missed these wonderful cars and their colorful and friendly owners.
Nonetheless, there were many great reasons to attend the Import Nationals this year. Carlisle hosted a Jaguar Cars design and history summit with a legendary panel of speakers. Those attending heard personal stories from William Lyons’ grandson and then took a tour of the classic Jaguar cars on display with the speakers going over the cars, which included a stunning Jaguar XK120 OTS originally owned by Clark Gable.
Other activities included a Citroen DS technical seminar that includes the disassembly of a DS21 with descriptions of how the various systems work an dhow they should best be repaired when needed.
The Saab club also had numerous seminars, as well as it usual breakfast lunch and dinner each day for club members, an outdoor movie night on site, and a concours.
So to wrap up, despite the weather, true imported classic car fans that attend Carlisle have the ability to take the lemons of bad weather and make a nice pitcher of lemonade.