Alex Gabbard's 1966 Sunbeam Alpine

During our Route 66 travels into the southwest in the Spring of 1967, a wire wheel on our Alpine roadster had collapsed, and when I learned that Albuquerque had no Sunbeam dealer, I reconciled myself to having to mail order a replacement from England. Well into our stay, I was told of a local enterprise that might have such a thing, Nine Mile Hill Garage, located west of Albuquerque on the nine mile long incline to the mesa, a place we had passed many times. I drove in one day thinking that a greasy fingernails garage was certain not to have a Sunbeam-Talbot wire wheel, but when I went inside, I was amazed at the extent of racing hardware, photos, and posters all around. This place was big and clearly not just a garage; it was a race shop of high breeding that immediately intrigued me. Stepping to the counter, I told the young parts man what I was looking for and held no hope that he even knew what I was talking about. He went back into the garage and returned in short order with exactly what I was looking for, a brand new wire wheel trued and balanced. I was amazed, and the price wasn't nearly as much as I anticipated having to pay for a wheel shipped from England.
Looking around further, I asked the parts man about the place.

"This is the Unser brother's garage," he said. "You know, the Indy 500 racers."
I didn't know, but I was pleased to actually be there, now with a purchase in my hand that gave our Alpine a spare and me with memories that I would always recall as another unexpected adventure.