A group of Canadian and American sports car lovers who know each other only through the Internet will gather in Squamish Saturday (May 29) to drive the Coast Mountain Circle Tour in memory of a fallen friend.
Starting in Squamish at 8 a.m., the classic cars will head north to Whistler, Pemberton, Lillooet, Cache Creek, Lytton and Hell's Gate, ending in Chilliwack several hours later.
The event, called "Gary's Run," was originally conceived in February by Gary Lloyd of Brentwood Bay, B.C. Having survived a six-week stay in hospital for treatment of colon cancer, Lloyd decided to celebrate life by inviting his friends to join him on an all-day drive starting in Squamish.
"Gary set the date for May 29, and I think he planned the event to give himself a goal to focus on as he regained his strength following his hospitalization," said Kim de Bourbon, a friend of Lloyd's from Pennsylvania. "My husband and I booked a flight out for the run months ago, because we wanted to help Gary celebrate his recovery."
Unfortunately, Gary's friends and fellow MGB-lovers will have to celebrate without him. Lloyd passed away on Wednesday (May 12) after his courageous bout with cancer.
"Despite a strong will and the courageously positive outlook that were the trademarks of his personality, he lost his battle against cancer," de Bourbon said. "We are now calling the event 'Gary's Run,' and it will go on as planned in his memory."
Lloyd's idea was for a rally, or "run" from Squamish, through to Lillooet and back down the Fraser Canyon. "Of course, everybody is invited, but as we all know time and distance are a factor for anything," he said in an online posting in February 2004.
More than 20 people from across the northwest and elsewhere are expected in Squamish for the event. Some coming from long distances will have to drive rental cars, but about 10 classic MGBs are expected to be driven on the route that day. Among them will be Tony and Jerri Barnhill of Gurley, Alabama, who are taking a retirement trip up to Alaska in their motorhome, towing an orange 1979 MGB on a trailer behind them. Peter and Susan Akers from Queensland, Australia, also will meet up with the group in Squamish.
This group of friends all met through their fondness for the MGB, a classic British sports car that was popular in the 1960s and 70s.
Production of the cars stopped in 1980, but there are thousands of MG enthusiasts across the continent, still actively restoring and driving these cars.
"Some of the participants have gotten together at car shows, but most of the members of The MGB Experience have never met in person," said de Bourbon. "Gary Lloyd wanted to change that with a driving event in British Columbia."
"Although there is tragedy to be mourned, there is also a celebration to be had that so many friends will be meeting for the first time because of one man's enthusiasm for life."
The group will take off at 8 a.m. Saturday from the Mountain Retreat Hotel and Suites.