History

Sometime in 1963 a small group of friends were looking for a solution to parking problems at college when they became aware of a tiny new car with 10” wheels, the Mini. Del Gould and Ray Honsberger purchased “demonstrator” Mini 850s from BMC Seattle for the ironic sum of $850 each and it wasn’t long before they started thinking about forming a club.

 

As Del recalls,

“Ray Honsberger and I had bought our Minis at the same time from British Motor Car Distributors down off of Airport Way under the Spokane Street Viaduct, his being a gray Austin 850 Mini.  Another friend, Hugh Criswell, bought a white Austin Mini a little later, and then my brother Greg bought a red Austin as well.” 

 “As I remember, and as we age you know how that goes, the idea of a Mini club started sometime in the spring of 1964.  After I had bought my original 1962 Morris Mini Minor I installed an MG1100 engine/tranny in it and decided to try autocrossing.”

“We were standing around in my folk’s basement that spring talking about Mini’s (while working on one of them I suspect) and someone wondered why we shouldn’t start a club for just us.  It was more or less a joke at that time.  I thought about it and dreamed up an emblem, cutting it out of cardboard, and spray painting it as a stencil on the inside of my parent’s garage door.

The very first SAMOA logo.

The paint I used was a metallic green paint I had bought for a Singer 1200 Roadster I had been intending to restore.  The Singer never got restored, alas, as I just didn’t know how to do that sort of thing at that time.  Anyway, the words  “Seattle Area Mini Owners Association” (we thought it sounded a little stuffy but what the heck, it was just sort of a joke at the time) just seemed to come together with the name Mini in a fun pattern on a convenient shield shape.”

“Ray and I autocrossed that car for the first time, under the flag of SAMOA for the first time as well, at an MG Car Club Gymkhana on July 26, 1964 at the Boeing Oxbow parking lot across the Duwamish River from the Boeing Developmental Center.  Driving my car, Ray actually had a faster time than I did in the prelim runs.   Unbeknownst to us, Jerry Everett was there with an MGA, at about 8 seconds slower, so I assume that was when he saw the light about winning with a Mini.  I ended up winning the class C runoff against two Sprite MK II’s and two VW’s with the Gymkhana all-class runoffs fastest time.  It turned out to be the very FIRST win for Samoa.” 
 

“A year or two later (don’t remember exactly when or how) we ended up meeting Dick Penna and Jerry Everett, who were autocrossing their own Mini’s by that time, and joined up with them in forming a real car club, using the name and emblem that we had come up with. 

The very first SAMOA jacket patch

The growth of the club and it’s successes through the years is now SAMOA history.  Little did we realize what the outcome of that first Gymkhana would produce.”

-Del Gould

 

It was on March 27, 1967 that this larger group of Mini enthusiasts gathered to formalize the organization of SAMOA. Minutes from the first meeting indicated that the nine people attending wished “to combine the individual subjected ideas into one formative joint move to result in an organization constituted of people who own Minis or wish they did.”

Well, it was the 60s after all and although the language may sound a bit strange, the idea itself isn’t and the concept of “a club for people who own Minis or wish they did” lives on, making SAMOA the longest continuously operating Mini club in North America.

1967 AUTOCROSS OLYMPICS Champions,

SAMOA Team One
(l to r) Dick Penna, Jerry Everett, Jeorge Patience and Ray Honsberger, all founding SAMOA members
- Samoa archives

 

In 2007 SAMOA celebrated its 40th anniversary.  Attending the day-long event were nearly 300 past and present members, including four of the original founding members and over 70 Minis. In 2011 club membership is bigger than ever. It’s proof that though the Mini and SAMOA are getting older, we’re getting better too!