Desert Centre – Triumph Registar of America


As related by our Founder, Tom Pennell

“The Birth of D.C.T.R.A.”

Have you ever wondered how your Club got started, how all these fine people came together in a organization centered around (of all things) an out-of-production British car marque?
Since we’re sure that this question has been burning to the minds of all the newcomers, we will attempt to explain. first, you should know a little history of the National Organization, the Triumph Register of America. About ten years ago, a group of TR2 and TR3 owners in central Ohio got together and formed a small club. Their intent was to take advantage of each other’s specialities in keeping their aging sports cars on the road. They learned of the existence of the Triumph Sports Owner’s Association (T.S.O.A.) in England and began to correspond with that group. The idea of TRA grew of this, and to it was. TRA became then “The only National Organization dedicated to the TR2 and TR3” and as it was stated: “Formed to preserve the marque – TR2 and TR3”. Little did they know that the Triumph marque itself would require preservation in the fairly near future. After all. the TR6 was the current Triumph sports car and Triumph looked healthy as a company.
At any rate, the TR owners began to join and support the TRA from all over the country. This made formation of local “Centres” necessary to provide forums for discussion and activities on a local basis. The first such “Centre” was C.C.C.T.R.A. (Central Ohio Centre – Triumph Register of America). The principals in COCTRA were the same individuals who started the first club. As the number of “Centres” grew, it became evident that some sort of annual get-together would be needed to bring all the centres together (mostly for a party) and create some synergy among the individual centres. The first TRA National Convention was then scheduled and came off very well. There has been a TRA National Convention every year since then, hosted by one of the Centres in the East. Each National has been bigger and better then the one before, and in 1984 the convention entertained 400 people and showed 125 cars.
You should remember that the TRA National is really only two people – a President and a Newsletter Editor. Each of these people is also a member in good standing of a local centre. The message here is that the local centre is what TRA is all about. Now, what about YOUR local centre?
I bought a 1958 TR3A in 1959 and was introduced to the world of Sports Cars be a friend who owned (please don’t hold this against him, he really is a nice person) a Porsche. He showed me the S.C.C.A. and a local club called S.S.C.C. I raced, slalomed, gymkhana’d, rallied and concoursed for the next 3 years with my TR and then fell for an Italian beauty called “Alfa Romeo Guilietta Sprint Coupe”. I couldn’t resist the charm of this fire-engine red conveyance, so my TR went to the used-car lot of the local Alfa Romeo dealer never to be seen or heard from again. I won’t dwell on my experiences with the Alfa, just to say that the car put me in a financial hole I didn’t get out of until 1975. Many other vehicles intervened, but in 1977 I bought a basket-case ’59 TR3A for $150.00 with the intention of doing a complete restoration. I was living in Birmingham, Alabama at the time and there was no local centre for TRA. After joining TRA, Gracie and I went tot he 1978 TRA National Convention in Burr Oak, Ohio. We were so impressed by the organization and the people that we decided to start a local centre in Birmingham. Fate held other cards, however, and in mid 1979 my employer went bankrupt. The TR’s (by now I had acquired a 1961 example which ran) would have to wait until I could secure gainful employment. The search was successful in Phoenix so we moved here still holding the idea of starting a local TRA centre. After settling in (and buying yet another TR) we decided to forge ahead. We posted signs at all English car places and the foreign parts houses, placed flyers on every TR3 we saw, watched the newspapers for TR’s for sale, and ran ads announcing the formation of a new club for TR owners.
The first meeting was held in November of 1980 at my home on 28th Way. In attendance were John Gallen, Vernon Zigler, Vicki Burke, Fred McArthur, and a couple of others whose names escape me. The name “Desert Centre – Triumph Register of America” was selected at that meeting, and the format and frequency of the newsletter was established. John Gallen took on the Editor’s post and Vicki Burke became the first Secretary-Treasurer. The dubious honor of the office of President fell to yours truly (I think because nobody wanted it).
From those humble beginnings has grown a strong, cohesive group of Triumph motorcar owners who enjoy each others company, swap secrets and skills, and are ACTIVELY “preserving the marque – TRIUMPH”. I wish to thank each and every one of your for your dedication and hard work, and I’m positive that DCTRA is here to stay.