Luxury on wheels

Rolls-Royce Owners Cub Glides Into San Antonio For Grand Event

By Jennifer Pucci Starr
Photography by Greg Harrison

It had to happen sometime.

A century of automotive excellence recently converged on Texas when the Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club (RROC)
held its National Meet this year in San Antonio. The club, as you may know, is an international organization
for Rolls-Royce and Bentley owners and enthusiasts founded in 1951 and serving 9,000 members in over 50
countries. This was the first time the RROC national meet had been held in the Lone Star State and was welcomed by its over-400 active members in Texas.

Hosted at the Hyatt Hill Country Resort & Spa, the Texas regional chapter organized festivities for
the week, which included several tours of the Hill Country and a Neiman Marcus fashion show, as well
as technical seminars and daily driving excursions. A trip to San Antonio would not be complete without a visit to the Alamo, so mid-week guests paraded their cars into downtown San Antonio where they toured the distinguished landmark before dining at the historic Menger Hotel. “We are thrilled to welcome our fellow club members to San Antonio,” said Phillip Reese, Texas regional member and co-chair of the event. “These annual meetings are an excellent opportunity for groups across the U.S. to gather while we share our passion for these incredible works of art.” And works of art the cars are.

Rolls-Royce and Bentley are two of the world’s best known luxury vehicles. The famous ad headline from
David Ogilvy, the Madison Avenue advertising guru,said it best, “At 60 miles an hour, the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.”

The companies, each headquartered outside London, are known to have a strong presence with British
royalty. Bringing in a little taste of that origin to Texas, a luncheon was held for the club members with former chef to Princess Diana and H.R.H. Queen Elizabeth II, Darren McGrady. Also known as The Royal Chef, McGrady presented the typical fare for a royal meal, shared stories of his days serving as the royal chef and treated guests to a signed copy of his new book, Eating Royally.

Philanthropy has long been a passion for the club that also created the Rolls-Royce Foundation, a non-profit
organization positioned to support the continued preservation and promotion of these vehicles, in 1978. A fundraising raffle was held throughout the week in support of this organization as well as for local
non-profit, the San Antonio Food Bank, in an effort to share that philanthropic spirit with its host city.

Tickets were sold for a chance to win an excursion for two to London, which included tours of the Rolls-
Royce and Bentley headquarters and a “Downton Abbey” themed culinary tour with Darren McGrady that follows in the footsteps of PBS’s British period drama. Over $35,000 was raised in just 2 and-a-half
days of raffle ticket sales.

South Texas regional chapter member, Robert Ober, of Robert Ober & Associates in San Antonio, is a long time supporter of the tremendous efforts of the San Antonio Food Bank and he graciously donated the grand prize for the raffle. “Although the San Antonio Food Bank has many generous corporate and individual supporters,” says Ober. “Every volunteer hour, every can or box of non-perishable food and every dollar donated makes a difference to this wonderful organization. Providing emergency food assistance to almost 58,000 people per week, over a third of which are children, is not a small job left just to their larger sponsors. We can all make a difference.”

The final day of the event was judging day and more than 125 Rolls-Royces and Bentleys were
aligned on the judging field of the Hyatt Hill Country Golf Club. From the early 1900s ranging to the latest
models, all aspects of these amazing vehicles were represented. The winning car was announced that
evening at a gala and award ceremony. The gala, also held at the resort, began with a cocktail reception
where guests enjoyed the music of Paul Salos, with his Sinatra-themed performance.

As guests enjoyed dinner, the “Best in Show” car was announced, the 222 AJS 1931 Rolls-Royce Phantom
II, originally owned by Helen Hay Whitney, who herself also had a history. Whitney was a remarkable woman with a unique political upbringing as her father was the personal secretary of President Abraham Lincoln. Whitney purchased the car in 1931 after her thoroughbred horse, Twenty Grand, captured the hearts of America when he won several races that same year including the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. The automobile was recently restored to its original glory by current owner and RROC member Steve Nannini and looked as it did
the day Whitney purchased it. Several first place awards were won by Texas members: with Robert Ober of San Antonio receiving two of these prestigious awards for his modern cars, and Bill Blasco, also of San Antonio who received a national first place for his 1965 Silver Cloud III.

The purpose of the Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club is to encourage the preservation, use and restoration
of Rolls-Royce and Bentley automobiles through educational presentations, dissemination of technical and historical information, and social meetings and gatherings. The Rolls-Royce Foundation is located in Mechanicsburg, PA, and its headquarters includes a museum with best Rolls- Royce and Bentley models. An extensive library holds books, technical manuals, handbooks, sales literature and periodicals, as well as historic documents and more information can be found by visiting Rollsroycefoundation.org.

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