Historic spring meet comes home again

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After 40 years at the same location, the Spring Meet hosted by the New Jersey Region, AACA, is moving. New Jersey’s premiere judged event is coming home again. There is a consensus of opinion in old car circles that the New Jersey Region’s only yearly old car competition remains unique in modern day car shows. It is rare nowadays to see brass era vehicles, nickel era vehicles and classes and classes of pre-war cars on the same field as post war cars, muscle cars, sports cars, modified cars, and even trucks, large and small.

In 1968, on the hottest day of the year, the New Jersey Region held a National Meet. Adjacent to The Mennen Company, Morristown’s leading cosmetics manufacturer, a tract of land called Mennen Field was chosen for a national car show. The host hotel was the posh Governor Morris Hotel. The result was a cornucopia of independent makes from the dawn of the motoring age up to World War II. Remember, cars had to be 25 years old or older, and no cars were manufactured after 1942 for the duration of the war. It was said that the President of the Mennen Co William G. Mennen enjoyed some time riding around in an American Underslung. However, no documentation exists to support that fact.

One of the more influential club members in attendance was Franklin Tucker. In addition to being exceedingly active in the NJ Region and the National AACA, he was working his way up the corporate ladder at the nearby Automatic Switch Co (ASCO) in Florham Park. In 1975, when the New Jersey outgrew The Morristown Armory where they had been holding their local Spring Meet, Franklin Tucker made arrangements to have the Region use the large parking lot behind ASCO’s plant on Hanover Avenue in Florham Park. No shortage of room there: plenty of room for show cars (some years more than 200!), a good sized flea market, unlimited spectator and trailer parking were easily accommodated in this paved garden of Eden.

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We all know that nothing lasts forever, especially in New Jersey. Sadly Franklin Tucker is no longer with us. ASCO also suffers from modernization. The enormous parking lot will soon be history. The New Jersey Region is thankful for the many years of Spring Meets at that location as well as being kept abreast of changes experienced at ASCO.

It isn’t easy to move 200 show cars, a flea market and all the baggage that goes with it, but that’s exactly what has happened. Mennen Field is now a distant memory. George Mennen and his company donated that tract of land to Morris County in 1972.   By 1974 the County had built an ice skating rink named Mennen Arena. When the New Jersey Region asked, Morris County was glad to lease this edifice and environs for a pittance. Now, in addition to a big paved parking lot, we have a brick & mortar building containing a functional shack bar as well as porcelain sanitation facilities.

After all these years, we have returned to our old stomping grounds. New Jersey Region’s Spring Meet in 2016 will be held May 1. Mark your calendars The location will be The Mennen Arena, 161 E Hanover Ave, Morristown, NJ 07960. Set your GPS.  For more information on all of The New Jersey Region’s activities go to http://www.njaaca.org/   Email njaaca@outlook.com. Or call 908-755-4266.

Thanks to Greg Roser, Club President, and a whole list of workers for making this move possible. Thanks also to Lillian Anderson and Bob Smith for their historical recollections and revelations.

 


 

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