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A Brief History of the TCOC

The Triumph Club of the Carolinas was founded in Charlotte, NC in 1983. The club quickly became a VTR Chapter and a TRA Local Center.  Shortly after the founding of the club, the first South Central British Car Gathering was successfully hosted in Charlotte. Pretty soon, the club was also hosting a British Car Day as part of the Charlotte Motor Speedway AutoFair and many other local events. Presidents during this time included Jim Tillman, Pete Hubicki, and Walter Newman.  Our longest continuous membership was held by one of the founding members, Jim Tillman, who unfortunately passed in late 2013.

Eventually, the club started to attract members from other areas of North and South Carolina. Originally, a single region was formed in the Triad area, but this was so successful the Eastern Region followed, and soon the club was made up of four regions: Charlotte, Eastern, Southern, and Triad. This expansion took place under the leadership of Presidents Glenn Guyaux, Jamie Palmer, and Robert Yokley. Important continuity was provided by longtime newsletter editors Jan & Charlie Cook.

By this time, the club averaged around 100—110 yearly memberships, a figure that stayed relatively unchanged until 1998, when we started reaching more potential members through our web site and membership increased. By January 2000, the club had 124 memberships.  It should be noted that the TCOC has always had “family” memberships, with significant others and children always included, so this number really meant in excess of 200 people.

In 1991, while attending the VTR National Convention in Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky, a group of TCOC members decided to investigate the possibility of the TCOC hosting a VTR Convention. The end result was the VTR ‘94 in Asheville, the largest VTR convention to that date with 327 registrations.

As the Gathering wandered from hotel to hotel in Charlotte, neither gaining nor losing attendance, president Bill Wood decided to evaluate moving the Gathering to a more successful location and timeslot.   much work on his, Jennifer Brown’s, and other members’ parts, the event found a new site on the grounds of Reynolda House and the Shops of Reynolda Village. Although the Gathering blossomed in the new location, easily exceeding any previous attendance record from past years, there were still some limiting factors of the site.

Unfortunately, 1999 was a rough year with the loss of multi-term president Bill Wood to a fatal accident early in the year. We all miss this wonderful man who put so much into the TCOC, and will remember him always through the Bill Wood Award, given annually to a TCOC individual or family that exemplify the spirit he and Mary, his wife, always showed. 

During 1999, the TCOC became a chapter of 6-Pack, the national TR250/TR6 club and a group of TCOC 6-Pack members led by Kevin and Lori Andrews organized the successful 1999 6-Pack Trials in Little Switzerland, NC. Ralph Jannelli took over the presidency in a very difficult time for the club, followed by Jamie Palmer again and then Steve Ward. President Ward began searching again for a new Gathering venue, and found one in the beautiful Shelton Vineyards. Again the event exceeded any previous attendance records and we feel it has found a long term home.

eTCOC has also blossomed. This online forum for TCOC members was founded in 2001 and has become an irreplaceable part of the club. Recent years have also seen the Triumph Tribune becoming digital (a printed copy is available at additional cost) and new, fresh, enthusiastic officers stepping up to take the reins. Under president Paul Morro, the club expanded even further and had more members than ever.  Paul also led the club’s acquisition of and restoration of a TR6 that was successfully raffled off for charity.

Proving that you can’t keep a good man down, Steve Ward has again accepted the presidency of the club and has increased involvement yet again.  The TCOC’s three regions (Charlotte, Triad and Eastern) are currently preparing to host the 2014 VTR National Convention, 20 years after the last one we hosted.  The “Back to the Blue Ridge” theme has us all excited that this convention will even be better than the last time we hosted!

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