Spring Fling reunites “Buttercup” and owner


By Phyllis Tilden

For me, Spring Fling this year wasn’t just the usual wonderful weekend of Alfa overload, it was the grand, long-awaited reuniting with my first-ever Alfa flame.

Long story short: my 1981 Spider Veloce lived in a warehouse belonging to dear friends and St. Louis Alfisti while Bruce and I sold our Kansas City house and moved to limbo in summer of 2012. In summer of 2013, when we traded limbo for a permanent home in Tennessee, we went to pick up the car, but decided instead to leave it there for a massive engine overhaul. So we paid $400 for another dear friend’s Milano and drove that home instead. This is all very logical to the readers, so back to Fling.

For more than 20 years, St. Louis Alfa folks have hosted Spring Fling in Washington, Mo. It’s like a mini-convention; rally, autocross, concours, art show, tale-telling, tire-kicking, and Alfa-fixing. And in that part of Missouri, there’s almost always wine involved. My faithful Spider, and I have missed only a couple of them together until she got warehoused.

This spring would mark the return of the Spider.

Needless to say, Bruce and I headed for Fling this year with extra anticipation, mixed with a bit of trepidation, in our always-reliable SAG vehicle, Alfred the CR-V. Buttercup was waiting on us (no, her name isn’t very Italian, but think “Princess Bride”). The minute I cranked the starter on the Alfa, I felt that old lust flush creeping up my arms from the steering wheel to the corners of my mouth. She wasn’t just back, she was better than ever!

Driving from the city to Fling headquarters, about an hour on twisty country roads, Buttercup and I had more fun than we’d had in years. I hadn’t realized just how tired she had been. With a healthier heart and full of beans and attitude, she spent the weekend purring and preening.

The event, always slated for the first weekend of May, started with Friday night chats, drinks and catered-in dinner at the headquarter motel. This year that meant quite good lasagna and even better camaraderie as more than 50 people converged from as far away as Wisconsin, Texas Hill Country and southeast Tennessee. Joining us and our Alfa arachnid from Tennessee were John and Laura Greason from the Memphis area and their beautiful, red 1992 Spider.

Saturday kicked off with a poker rally along country roads even more twisty than usual, ending up at a local beer deck overlooking the Missouri River. (More often than not over the years, the rally has ended at one of the area’s many fabulous wineries.) The afternoon showcased the annual art show, hosted in an antebellum home with a marvelous side veranda looking toward the river. (It’s probably my very favorite part of the weekend; sitting on that veranda with a glass of good wine, encircled by Alfas and watching the river flow by. It’s always hard to leave, but we have to in order to rush back to the motel, change socks and make the banquet.) This year, as always, the banquet ended with lots of great door prizes, and everyone headed back to the motel to look under a few more hoods. With the help of an amateur astronomer from Kansas City, we got to look at the moon and stars as well.

Autocrossers hit the asphalt, preferably not the cones, about 9 am on Sunday morning, followed by a People’s Choice concours just around the corner in the same large parking lot. The organizers boasted one of the largest concours lineups ever this year. Finally, and always somewhat anticlimactically, we left the events’ site to gather for the awards brunch. And suddenly, a very fun weekend comes to an end.

Bruce and I turned Ms. B and Alfred toward home, swapping drives every two or three hours (we both got sunburned anyway – the Spider’s top goes up only if we can’t drive fast enough to outrun a torrent or the sleet is too thick), opting to spend a night on the road. The little girl never missed a beat.

Finally, she’s back where she belongs. At Spring Fling and with me.


Photos posted in Gallery under National events courtesy of Bruce and Phyliss Tilden