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Mendenhall Museum highlights Memorial Run to Solvang

SCMM’s annual Memorial Run rolled through Solvang in November for a two-night excursion that included a visit to the Mendenhall Museum of Gasoline Pumps & Petroliana, in nearby Buellton.

Thirty-nine members took part in the event, in memory of the 19 MINI Maniacs who have passed since the club’s founding. It began with a scenic drive out to a very windy Jalama Beach. So windy in fact, it was quickly decided to skip the famous Jalama Beach Burger and drive into Solvang for lunch.

The Royal Copenhagen Inn was the club’s base of operations for the weekend. The quaint motel with its Danish themed architecture has been the MINI Maniacs’ favorite since first staying there in 2010.

Our group at the Royal Copenhagen Inn before the Saturday run.

On Saturday morning, member Ted Lighthizer led the MINIs on a 45-minute twisty run through the rolling hills and vineyards surrounding Solvang, on their way to Buellton and the Mendenhall Museum. The hoard of gasoline pumps, vintage signs, racing memorabilia, antiques, and a little of everything else, was the result of the late Jack Mendenhall’s years of collecting. Now entrusted to son Mark and daughter-in-law Vickie, the museum is a popular destination for car clubs and automotive enthusiasts. It is also the home of the Dry Lakes Racing Hall of Fame, a pastime that Jack and son Mark participated in. Both Jack and Mark are members of the elusive (and exclusive) 200 MPH Club.

After the visit to the Mendenhall Museum, the remainder of the day was open for members to wander through the shops in Solvang, go wine tasting, etc.

In this year of COVID, the restaurant and hospitality industry has had to modify their operations to stay open and keep customers as safe as possible. For example, the Royal Copenhagen Inn now delivers a continental breakfast directly to individual rooms rather than have guests gather in a central dining hall. And maids no longer enter a guest room until after guests have checked out. Restaurants have also moved most of the dining outdoors, and only limited seating, if any, is indoors.

A group dinner Saturday night was cobbled together with multiple reservations at Cecco Ristorante, allowing us to be together on the outdoor patio, at socially distanced tables.

“This the first overnight trip the club has taken since the pandemic hit earlier this year” said SCMM President Scott McIntyre. “It was great seeing everyone, even if it was from behind a mask.”

Photo of Mendenhall Museum by Memo Santoyo