Gorge Sports Car Group welcomes all for coffee, conversation, and drives
By Drew Myron
Leaning over the engine of a ’67 Austin- Healey 3000, Kent Lambert shares tales of his meticulous restoration to a group gathered under the hood. A few feet away is an ’89 Porsche 911, next to a 2020 Corvette, a ’78 Datsun, and dozens more cars.
Welcome to the Gorge Sports Car Group—a gathering of car enthusiasts featuring cars and drivers from throughout the Columbia Gorge, from Cascade Locks to The Dalles, Camas to Goldendale.
Other than here, the only place to find a Metropolitan parked next to a Ferrari is Pebble Beach, showcase for the nation’s most valuable cars.
This unusually inclusive group has 90 members with 250 cars, ranging from new to old, clunkers to classics, rarities to exotics of all makes, including American, British, German, Italian, Swedish, and Japanese. While most clubs are limited to specific makes and models—for example, hot rods or muscle cars—this group welcomes all sports cars.
The group meets Sunday mornings May through October, with a schedule that includes drives along scenic back roads, garage tours, and an annual show-and-shine competition. The newest event is Cars-n-Coffee at Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum.
Now in its 14th year, the group started with about 10 men, led by Perry Richards, a Hood River resident who remains the group’s affable organizer.
This is the only sports car group in the Gorge, says Perry, who owns a vintage Porsche 356 and a 911. He emphasizes that GSCG is a group, not a club, meaning there are no dues, no officers, and no pressure.
“We’re guys—and a few women—who like to drive and meet other drivers,” he says. “There’s no accountability or obligation. It’s just strictly fun. We won’t be offended if you can’t join us every time, but will always be excited to see you and your car anytime.”
From accountants to winemakers to construction workers, the group draws people with a range of backgrounds and personalities.
“You got guys who tear the cars apart and put them together again, and you got the technical guys who are all about the exact details,” Perry says. “Then there are the butterflies like me who go from car to car, flitting between groups and loving every bit of it. I would probably not know any one of these people if it were not for the cars.”
The group’s most popular event is the annual Show-n-Shine at Mount Hood Winery on Highway 35. Held on Father’s Day weekend, the event showcases about 50 member cars displayed on the winery’s wide and lush lawn. Members bring their families for a day full of mixing, mingling, wine, and prizes. The event happens thanks to winery co-owner Steve Bickford, who drives a red Maserati and is a longtime member of the group.
For many, the scenic drives on back roads—often at high speeds—are the real draw. Dubbed Arrive-n-Drive, each month members meet at a designated location, with one driver leading the pack through the drive of the day.
“Lots of groups park and chat,” says Dave Rieseck, who restores 1960s and ’70s era Datsuns and drives a Honda S2000.
“Most of us don’t want to yammer on. We want to drive. The Gorge is such a rare and unusual landscape. Here, there are hundreds of miles of secondary roads that loop back to where you started. This is a great place to drive.”
Kent, who lives in Pine Grove and is co-owner of Lage Orchards, is one of the group’s founding members and vice president of Oregon’s Austin-Healey Club. He owns eight Healeys he has built.
“I like the challenge of making everything work as original as possible,” he says, “and then getting them on the road. Cars need exercise. They deteriorate if they don’t run every once in a while. Just sitting is bad for them.”
And bad for people, too, Perry says.
“We get the cars out of the garage, get together and enjoy fellowship,” he says, “then go home and mow the lawn.”
- Held Sundays, June 2, July 18, August 1 and August 22 from 8:30 to 10 am at Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile lawn and gazebo, 1600 Air Museum Road, Hood River.
- There is no admission or registration. Coffee is free.
- Open to all cars of any make, model and age.
- For more information, email Perry Richards.