HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN MGB ASSOCIATION
by Frank Ochal
The American MGB Association is a nonprofit organization founded in 1975 in New York. From the club’s inception through today the club is dedicated to serving the interests of MGB, MGB-GT and Midget owners throughout North America.
The American MGB Association was started by John Giannasca and Rick Horan, the original chairmen. They thought it would be nice to have a club for MGBs just as there were club for other cars that people were driving new out of the showroom. They operated the club out of a spare room in the house where they lived. It was there that the 111 Roger Avenue in Inwood, New York address was used. They advertised the club in Road & Track and invited responses from prospective members for ideas in starting the club. The first newsletter was published in 1976 using a copier and contained some of the features still used today such as the Technical Section and From the Editor’s Desk.
In those early days, as the club continued to grow, it provided a way for people to meet other members in the same area who wished to start Local Chapters. It was this way that the Chicago Chapter of the American MGB Association was founded. Two of the most prominent American MGB Association members were there at the start of the Chicago Chapter – Bruce Magers, the current Vice-President and Steve Glochowsky, the past president.
Steve Glochowsky became heavily involved with the National Club through the Chicago Chapter. Each early AMGBA newsletter which was was filled with accounts on how well the Chicago Chapter was doing and the events that were being held. Rick Horan and John Giannasca wished to have some of the same expertise in the national organization and Steve became the AMGBA Publicity Director. The member magazine, the Quarterly, was now being published using Liberty-Whitefield Printing in Glenview, Illinois which was the same printer that the Chicago Chapter of the AMGBA used.
Frank Ochal became involved in the club at the 1978 Chicago Auto Show when he met Chicago Chapter members at the MG Exhibit. As a result, he became both a Chicago Chapter member and AMGBA member shortly thereafter.
The AMGBA held its first National Convention in the summer of 1978 in Chicago at the Hillside Holiday Inn. It was moderately successful and was a result of much hard work by Steve Glochowsky, Rick Horan and John Giannasca. Frank Ochal attended and met the founding chairmen for the first time. During that year Frank Ochal became more heavily involved with national AMGBA activities and was named assistant publicity director.
During the spring of 1979, Steve and I visited New York to promote the AMGBA at the New York Auto Show. It was at this time that I saw the original club headquarters and met with some of the other original officers including Marion Farrell, the first secretary.
During the summer of 1979, our first eastern convention was held in Ithaca, New York with Floyd Garren as convention organizer. The enthusiasm was growing as evidenced by the turnout. On another promotional trip later that year, Steve and Frank Ochal went to a GOF, a ‘Gathering of the Faithful’ held by the New England MGT Register, in Cooperstown, New York. Rick Horan joined us in Cooperstown for this event. It was at this time that Rick told us about his new business and how it would be consuming much of his time. He and John were transferring the administration of the AMGBA to Steve Glochowsky and Frank Ochal. Steve quickly formed an administration with himself as President, Frank Ochal as Vice-President and Debbie Glochowsky as Secretary.
So the AMGBA headquarters was moved to Chicago area where it still is today serving MGB, MGB-GT, and MG Midget owners throughout the USA, Canada and the world.
The conventions, now called Meets, continued to grow and to be moved around the country. The 1980 AMGBA National Convention was held in Glens Falls, New York. The organization’s growth and success led to renting the world famous Indianapolis 500 Motor Speedway in 1981 for that year’s AMGBA National Convention.
In 1982, the AMGBA held its first National Convention outside the USA in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. 1982 also saw a change in officers as Margie Johnson (now Margie Springer) became the Secretary and the AMGBA opened an office in Schaumburg, Illinois for storage, work area and a telephone answering service.
In 1983, the AMGBA went west for the first time in Lake Tahoe, California-Nevada. Toward the end of 1983, Steve Glochowsky started working at a new job that consumed much of his spare time. Frank Ochal assumed most of the duties of running the club and became President in 1984 with Bruce Magers as Vice-President in a Milwaukee meeting of the club.
In 1984 we went west again and held our national convention in Boulder, Colorado. In 1985, the AMGBA held two conventions in Santa Barbara, California and Abingdon, Illinois. Also in 1985, the AMGBA office was moved to Margie Johnson’s (now Springer) apartment in Elk Grove Village, Illinois.
In 1986, we visited Texas during its 150-year anniversary in San Antonio, Texas and in 1987 we visited the Saratoga Springs area of beautiful upstate New York. In 1988, the convention site was Kansas City, Missouri. In 1989, we visited the Great Northwest part of our country in Springfield, Oregon. In 1990 the convention was held in Atlanta, Georgia, which was a first for the Southeast portion of the country.
In 1991 we returned to the site of our first convention in Chicago. That same year, Margie Johnson (now Springer) moved to Cape Cod, MA and the AMGBA Office was moved to 5875 N. Lincoln, Chicago, Illinois.
In 1992, we returned to the West Coast to the beautiful San Francisco Bay area in Palo Alto, California. In 1993, we traveled to New England at Keene, New Hampshire / Westminster, Vermont, the site of the Westminster MG Museum. Also in late 1993, Bruce Magers became the Vice-President. In 1994, we went for the first time to the San Diego, California area at the world famous Del Mar racetrack. In 1995 we traveled for the first time to Memphis, Tennessee.
In 1996 we joined with all of the other major MG Clubs in North America for MG Indy ’96 in Indianapolis, Indiana at the Indy 500 racetrack. Also in 1996, we changed printers to Newsweb in Chicago and began publishing the member magazine, the Octagon with color on 8 pages.
In 1997 we were on the West Coast in the San Francisco area at Palo Alto, California. In 1998 we were in Charlotte, North Carolina at the Lake Campus of Davidson College.
In 1999, we were in Los Angeles, California for the first time at Woodley Park near Van Nuys to join the British Car Meet. Also in 1999, we began publishing the member magazine 6 times per year and the name of the name of the magazine was changed to the Octagon (formerly the Quarterly).
In 2000, we went to Armagh, Pennsylvania and joined with the TRF Summer Party. In 2001, we went to Houston, Texas for the Houston MG Club’s All British Motor Vehicle Exposition and in 2002 we again went to the San Francisco, California area for the Palo Alto British Car Meet.
In 2003 we were in Florida for the first time in Titusville, Florida. The Octagon began being published 5 times per year.
In 2004 we had a very successful Meet in Falmouth, Cape Cod, Massachusetts in conjunction with the Cape Cod British Car Club’s British Legends Weekend.
In 2005, we were in San Diego, California at Fairbrook Farms in Bonsall for San Diego British Car Day. We were in Maryland in 2006 at the MGs on the Rocks Show and in 2007 we went to Charlotte, North Carolina at the MGs on the Green Show. In 2008 we were in Armagh, Pennsylvania with The Roadster Factory Summer Party.
For 2009 we planned for a show in the Central Valley of California. Also in 2009, we changed printers to Leesburg Printing in Florida with the printer doing the member magazine mailing and the Octagon was now published 4 times per year.
In 2010 we went to Sussex, Wisconsin for the British Car Field Day. For 2011 we were in Ohio for the first time at Dayton in conjunction with the 27th Annual British Car Day at Eastwood Metropark.
For 2012 we went to the Jersey Shore to Ocean Grove, New Jersey to join in with Brits on the Beach 2012. Also in 2012, we changed printers to Johnson Press in Pontiac, Illinois with 16 pages of color and the magazine being mailed in poly wrap to better protect it during mailing.
In 2013 we visited Mississippi for the first time to the oldest city on the Mississippi River in conjunction with the English Motoring Club of Mississippi’s Brits on the Bluff Show in Natchez, Mississippi. In 2014, we were at New England’s largest British car show at the British Invasion in Stowe, Vermont.
Meet 2015 was in South Carolina at the Grand Strand British Car Club’s Britfest in Myrtle Beach. Also in 2015, the AMGBA Office closed on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago with the items moved to Frank Ochal’s and Bruce Magers’ homes.
In 2016 we were in Virginia for the first time in Waynesboro at the Shenandoah Valley British Car Festival. Also in 2016, we changed to full color printing with the September 2016 issue and cancelled the long time post office box address that was used since the beginning of the club.
In 2017 we made our initial trip to Alabama in Fairhope which is near Mobile and the Gulf Coast at the South Alabama British Car Festival. In 2018, we went to the Philadelphia area for the first time at the Brits in the Village Show in Lahaska, Pennsylvania. For 2019 we were at the Grand Strand British Car Club’s Britfest at Market Common in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Meet 2020 was not held because of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Meet 2021 is currently on hold pending the outcome of the Coronavirus situation.
Future Meets will always be listed in our club member magazine, the Octagon, on our website (www.mgclub.org) as well as on our blog (https://mgclub.org/wordpress/), message board (https://mgclub.org/smf/) and Facebook (American MGB Association) pages.
Remember that the American MGB Association, the AMGBA, offers what no one else can – a tradition of service to MGB, MGB-GT and Midget owners since 1975 with a proven track record as evidenced that many members that have been with us for more than 30 years. Why? – because the AMGBA gives them what they want and need!!