SAABs@Carlisle has grown to become the largest weekend SAAB event in North America, typically hosting 250-260 SAAB cars spanning over 50 years of production. We see well over 400 guests and serve 1,000 meals. Below is the story of how it all started.
From The Humblest of Beginnings
It started, as so many things do. In 1999, while at the Carlisle Import, Kit and Replicar Nationals, Frank Bailey offered a beer to Marc Fails and George Basehore from the Central Penn SAAB Club. Frank, George and Marc were parked on the show field with their SAABs and they alone represented 100% of the SAABs that would be in attendance that day. Having only just met, there was the usual conversation about cars; all kinds of cars. Then, the conversation turned to SAABs, and how to bring more SAABs to Carlisle.
The Plan Develops
In 2000, Marc and George returned to Carlisle with more friends from the Central Penn Saab Club. The weather chose to not be cooperative, but the club forged ahead for the first SAAB Only People's Choice and Long Distance Awards. Another first was that lunch was provided by Lehman Motors SAAB in Harrisburg, PA. CPSC member, Dr. Bill Jenkins, from Carlisle did not win the Long Distance Award, but appropriately did receive the most votes in the People's Choice balloting, with his orange '74 99 that he and his bride picked up in Sweden, while on their honeymoon. The Long Distance Award went to Norm Crowe, from Mayfield Heights, Ohio, driving his new 9-5 Aero Wagon. Norm was accompanied by Stephen Goldberger.
Having endured rain and high winds most of the morning and afternoon, our intrepid group set out on a countryside drive, heading toward Little Buffalo state park, approximately 40 miles north of Carlisle. The group of 14 SAABs, lead by Dr. Jenkins, set a brisk pace, climbing Wagoner's Gap through a thick fog, before cresting the top and heading down the back side of the mountain. Arriving at the state park, in what could have been record time (as we have not set such a fast pace since), the group assembled for some photos, and Dr. Jenkins was called upon to tell a few stories from his earlier SAAB days. With darkness setting in, the group retraced their path to Carlisle and headed to dinner. The modern formula for bringing SAABs to Carlisle had been tested, but it would be several more months back in the laboratory perfecting the ingredients for 2001.