July 15-20, French Lick, Indiana

Conclave 2018 was the 43rd consecutive annual gathering of Austin-Healeys in North America. Hosted by the Central Indiana AHC in French Lick, just fifty miles south of Bloomington, Indiana, the site of the first Conclave. 2018 is also the sixtieth anniversary of the introduction of the Austin-Healey Sprite and Conclave 2018 honored this. French Lick is a resort in the hills of southern Indiana with a long history. If you Google “history of French Lick” you will learn that a lodging establishment was established at the current site in 1845 to take advantage of the healing properties of mineral springs located nearby. The resort was the unofficial headquarters of the national Democratic Party in the 1920s and 1930s. You can Google for other facts about the history of the resort.

French Lick Resort

West Baden Springs, a town next to French Lick, is the birthplace of Larry Bird, the great Boston Celtics basketball star. Larry grew up in French Lick and built a home and, of course, a basketball court just outside of town. Conclave 2018 made good use of this property, as you will see.


South Texas Austin-Healey Club members attending were:
  • Bonnie and David Ayer
  • John Eslinger
  • Karen and Jim Richmond
Sunday was the official start of Conclave with registration and an opening greeting that evening. There were 209 registrations with a few cancellations meaning we had about 400 Healey enthusiasts and an estimated 140 Austin-Healeys in attendance.

The popularity car show was the main event for Monday. This event was held at the former estate of Larry Bird on Abbeydell Pike. Consistent with the sixtieth anniversary of the Sprite many small Austin-Healeys were on display, including a rare Innocenti Sprite Coupe (below, right) owned by Mark Doust, President of the Austin-Healey Club of Southern Ontario. Several other British and European cars were also on display.

A thirty-mile drive took us to the Salem Speedway used for sprint car, midget, hot rod and stock car events on the .555-mile oval and 33 degree banking. Big Healeys and Sprites used the inner quarter mile track for the Gymkhana on Tuesday.


A barbecue dinner in the Abbeydell Hall at the Larry Bird estate was a great way to end Tuesday. Bugeye/Frogeye Sprites were given a special place of honor in front of the Hall.

Wednesday was a day to relax at the Resort with activities such as Pine Wood Derby, RC Races, Valve Cover Races, Tech Sessions, Arts & Crafts going on throughout the day. Dinner that night was on our own. As on other days the Hospitality Room was open during certain hours.

Conclave special Guest, John Colgate, fielded questions from Dick Lunney, Dick Storrs and the audience later Wednesday night. John was the first American race car driver for Donald Healey and answered questions about his experiences driving Sprites in the 1959 and 1962 Sebring races, Le Mans and others. Very interesting.

The rally was scheduled for Thursday morning and early afternoon. Ladies Tea took place in two sections during the afternoon at the West Baden Hotel about a mile from the French Lick Resort. The West Baden Hotel is a sister hotel to the French Lick Resort and was the alternate hotel for Conclave attendees. It features a round lobby and a domed ceiling/roof once know as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”.

The traditional awards banquet was the last official event for Conclave 2018 and it was well attended. The October issue of Healey Marque will have complete results for all the events at Conclave and other coverage of this very successful event. I would like to thank the Central Indiana AHC and other AHCA clubs that helped (including Blue Grass AHC, Midwest AHC, South East Michigan AHC, Ohio Valley AHC and many other individuals) for a most enjoyable week.


Deadwood, in the Black Hills of South Dakota, will be the location of Healey in the Hills Conclave 2019, September 7–12, 2019, and will be hosted by the Minnesota AHC. The Conclave 2019 web site is up and running and online registrations are preferred. Go to:
The Black Hills are very scenic and the roads are made for Healeys. This is the first Conclave to be scheduled in September, instead of the hot months in the summer, it starts on Saturday not Sunday and ends with goodbyes Thursday morning instead of Friday.