Citroën Traction Avants
in Northern California

Menlo Park, California


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Traction Pique-niques in Northern California

Gundlach-Bundschau Winery 
in Sonoma County

Ledson Winery
in Sonoma
Cline Cellars
in Sonoma
San Francisco Presidio
with Tracbar America
French Cheese Factory
 in west Marin 
Domaine Carneros &
Grey Eagle Farms
 in Sonoma


Gundlach-Bundschau Winery in Sonoma County
July 24, 1999

 Twenty Tractions Gather in Sonoma County

In 1999, Traction owners in Northern California gathered for their fifth annual picnic at the Gundlach-Bundschau Winery just southeast of the town of Sonoma. Eleven 11s started together at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge for the 55 mile trip, picking up another four cars at the Larkspur Ferry landing plus a fifth at a country crossroads. The resulting caravan of sixteen Tractions made a splendid sight winding over the golden hills of Sonoma County. Onlookers were left in open-mouthed wonderment.

The group's arrival at the winery was hailed by a reception party of four additional Tractions. Thus, for the first time, picnic-organizers Dennis Bayer and Ray Brisebois had the satisfaction of reaching their stated goal of twenty cars. There was a nice mix of Légères and Normales, as well as two Commerciales and a Familiale. A 1936 Voisin put in a special guest appearance. (The group nearly made the newspapers when, on a particularly curvy and hilly section of US 101, a pile-up threatened as one car headed for the shoulder and followers had trouble deciding whether to stop or continue.)

Despite a rash of battery, fuel line and fuel filter problems, all but one of the twenty-one starters made it to the winery. The trip was documented by a videographer. Blessed with sunshine, moderate temperatures and a light breeze, participants spent much of the afternoon aligning the cars for photographs. The picnic spot, under an arbor of wisteria, sits on a rise on the east side of the flatland vineyard with oak-studded hills beyond. The group toured the winery's cave and took turns riding in the Voisin. In the evening, as advertised, the Sonoma Valley Shakespeare Festival performed a frontier mining town version of Comedy of Errors in a natural hillside amphitheater at the winery. Sad to report, only your humble correspondent and wife stayed on for the play, most Traction owners presumably wishing to get their dimly lit 6 volt systems home before dark.

Traction line-up at Gundlach-Bundschau Wineryphoto by Georgia Windhorst

photo by Georgia Windhorst
1956 Normale departing the Golden Gate for Sonoma

3 photos below courtesy of Dennis Bayer

photo by Dennis Bayer 

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Ledson Winery in Sonoma County
October 14, 2000

In 2000 the site of our annual get-together was Ledson Winery, in the upper Sonoma Valley, just north of Kenwood. There was a slight fall-off in attendance from the previous year: 18 Tractions compared to the record 20 in 1999. About half the cars caravanned from the Larkspur Ferry Terminal.

The weather was perfect, the shady picnic area very pleasant, the adjacent vines heavy with grapes and the landscape stunning. The winery's circular drive provided a natural layout for photographing the cars. (No squabbles this year over the arrangement.)

Ledson is a winery of the modern tourist-oriented sort, with an ersatz castle, large gift shop and a high-priced deli featuring only high-priced Ledson wines. (The cheapest red was their Merlot at $34.) This could have been ignored had the terms-of-use of their picnic grounds not required purchase of all food and drink at their shop. And we were charged full price despite the fact that they had used our event in their publicity as an attraction for yet more tourists!

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all photos by Dennis Bayer

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Cline Cellars in Sonoma County
October 7, 2001

Dennis & Aggie

photo by Dennis Bayer

Caravan convenes at Larkspur ferry landing          
photo by Dennis Bayer

David & Luba


David & Desiree


Don & Kristine


Gene & family; Bob & friend   photo by Dennis Bayer

The tasting house

The only cabriolet

                The organizers: Karen, Ray & Dennis     
                                                photo by Aggie Bayer

Desiree & Karen     photo by Clark Rodgers


San Francisco Presidio
in conjunction with Tracbar Yankee
July 21, 2002

Tracbar America at the San Francisco Presidio 
substitutes for our Pique-nique 2002

European Tracbar Group caravans from Los Angeles to New York

Tracbar Yankee 2002 successfully made it to New York, where they were fêted with a police-escorted parade on Fifth Avenue. The durable thirty European Tractions, starting from  Los Angeles, had an early stop at the Presidio in San Francisco on Sunday, July 2, 2002, where they were greeted by a large assemblage of local Citroën enthusiasts, including fourteen local Tractions. After much picture-taking in the parking lot, the party moved inside the Officers Club, filling the large hall, where Eric Massiet du Biest, the charismatic leader of the Tracbar adventurers, honored a group of invited American World War II vets who had served in France. The cross-country tour continued through Death Valley and Monument Valley. Eric was so impressed by Monument Valley that he proposed to his girlfriend, whom he'd met on Tracbar Dundee at Australia's Ayer's Rock. They then followed old Route 66 to Oklahoma City, where they turned northeast to Chicago and on to New York City. They terminated their trip at the 12th International Citroën Car Club Rally (ICCCR) in Amherst, Massachusetts (Aug.9-11, 2002).

The newspaper coverage of the Presidio event in the next morning's San Francisco Chronicle was lavish.

If you wish to review the American adventures of the Tracbar group, visit their website, where you can also learn of their prior worldwide exploits and those planned for the future.

And whence cometh the term "Tracbar"? According to Eric, it's an old French nickname for the Traction. The logo below, in life, includes a nice touch in script in the white patch at bottom: "Lafayette, nous voíla!"

For more information about the ICCCR, visit

pictures from the Presidio party, San Francisco, California


French Cheese Factory in west Marin
September 20, 2003

Good Samaritans and new French friends Claude and Nathalie

Peter & Georgia Windhorst, en route to the French Cheese Factory picnic venue in 105 degree heat, came a cropper when their black & bordeaux Traction started bucking and then died beneath them on the hill just west of Fairfax. The cell phone didn't work (no cell), so Peter hitchhiked on to the Cheese Factory and recruited the first party of rescuers, David Russel and Ron Clymen. 

Fuel filter, fuel pump, fuel lines were all fiddled with to no avail. 

Then a vintage Toyota pulled up, the couple inside staring intently at our predicament. Peter approached the car and heard French being spoken. Mon Dieu! Claude is a mechanic from Marseilles who has worked on Tractions all his life! Soon Claude was at the front of the Traction, back-blowing through the fuel line, while Nathalie, at the rear, put her ear to the fill-pipe, listening for the insufflations. The new theory was that a defunct electric gas pump, still in place, through which the gasoline has been passively passing, might be the culprit. Claude disappears under the rear of the car to remove it. 

Then he opens the port in the floor of the trunk (I hadn't known it existed) and discovers several feet of redundant gas line, which he removes. Then he inspects the recently installed mechanical gas pump in the front and finds a leak. He fashions a washer from a plastic water bottle cap to fix it. Now concluding that the car is low on gas from the leak, he jury-rigs an auxiliary tank from his plastic gas can and ties it in place in the engine compartment. We have ignition!

Down the hill we go back into Fairfax for a fill up at the first gas station. Then we find shelter from the blistering sun across the street under the portico of a vacant gas station, where Claude reconnects the fuel line. By this time, other Tractionistes (Dennis & Aggie Bayer, Ron & Françoise, Tony Inson) are returning from the picnic and gathering in the gas station. Dennis immediately bonds with Claude, showing off his photo album of his recent trip to Clermont-Ferrand for the big Traction festival. A good time is had by all. Peter and Georgia head off into the sunset, having missed the picnic but at least able to make good on their paid B&B reservation for that night in Point Reyes. And the ever-generous (and thorough) Dennis & Aggie briefly follow behind to make sure we get over the big hill.

Thanks once again to David and Ron, Claude and Nathalie, and Dennis and Aggie for all of their help! As Georgia said afterward, "It takes a village."


After a 5 year gap, another pique-nique in Sonoma
September 27, 2008


Gathering at Domaine Carneros for sparkling wine



15 Tractions, including 2 cabriolets, at Jerry Terman's Grey Eagle Farms, site of the picque-nique







A stop en route at Cavallo Point Inn / Fort Baker just north of the Golden Gate Bridge



links to Dennis Bayer's musical "video" of the picnic and his slideshow



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