Porsche Club of America
Several months ago I was asked to assist in writing a history of CIR/PCA. At that time there were questions as to format, content, the ultimate disposition, etc. Resolution of these points was to give direction to the project. After not hearing anything for several months and recently having a little free time I decided to proceed on my own. I started writing by reaching into my memory and supplementing that with a few personal documents relative to particular events. I subsequently obtained the Region’s record copies of the newsletter [CIRcular] and was able to fill in many more details from that source. Unfortunately, the first eight years of the CIRcular and about half of the next ten or so years are not included in the file. Michael M. Robbins Oct. 7, 1993
Although there weren’t great numbers, Porsches could occasionally be seen on the streets of Indianapolis and the roads of central Indiana beginning in the mid ’50’s. During these early years of Porsche importation there was an almost unbelievable situation in the small town of Hoopeston, IL, about 120 miles northwest of Indianapolis. This town of approximately 5000 population had a Porsche dealership! A high percentage of the Porsches seen around the Midwest, including Indianapolis, came from Hoopeston. It is believed that the first formal dealership in Indianapolis was Auto Imports Ltd. in the 300 block of N. Capitol Ave. This was shifted in 1957 to Monarch Foreign Cars at 11th and Meridian Sts. Since those early years, the Porsche franchise in Indianapolis has been held by various owners and in various locations. One probably set a record for longevity in reverse–having handled Porsches for a period of two weeks. The one car they sold, a 356C Coupe, still belongs to an ex-CIR member, now living out of state.
Few, if any, of the Porsche owners in the area were aware of the Porsche Club of America for the first year or two of its existence. Slowly, the word started to get around. As owners joined the national organization they were assigned to the nearest chartered Region–in this case, the Chicago-Milwaukee Region. In 1959, the Chicago-Milwaukee Region was split into two Regions. Central and northern Indiana PCA members were then assigned to the Chicago Region. Beginning in late 1958, it was not unusual to periodically see a small group of 356s on the highway enroute from Indianapolis to the Chicago area to attend PCA events.
In the fall of 1960 the Indianapolis area PCA members began discussions regarding the expansion of membership and formation of their own region. A mailing list of over 100 names was made from information obtained from the dealer, independent shops, other club rosters, etc. On Jan. 20, 1961, weather wise one of the worst nights of the winter, approximately 75 people attended a meeting to hear the story of PCA. A second meeting was held a few weeks later to finalize the necessary steps to obtain a charter. Boundaries were established, region name selected, officers elected, by-laws written, etc. The charter was granted Mar. 17, 1961, following which the region was incorporated as an Indiana Not-For-Profit Corporation. See Appendix 1 for a list of charter members and Appendix 2 for a list of the original counties comprising CIR.
In that spring of 1961 PCA members nationwide were thinking of the Porsche Parade to be held in western Massachusetts. Several CIR/PCA Members had attended previous Parades but this would be the first time as representatives of the new Region. Six cars from fledgling CIR attended. Their group arrival with region banners attached to the front fenders and horns chirping made quite an impression. Indeed, CIR has been represented at every Porsche Parade since. Along these lines, several CIR/PCA Members participated in the PCA trips to the factory Treffens. Some of the cars purchased on those trips still show up at an occasional CIR event.
There had been early recognition of the importance of a newsletter. The name “CIRcular” was chosen as a means of integrating identification of the region into the title of the newsletter. Over the years the CIRcular has been produced by many techniques and taken many appearances. Mimeograph, offset, desktop publishing and probably other methods have been used. In some periods the CIRcular was nothing more than a folded sheet carrying a report on the previous event and an announcement about the next event. At the other extreme has been a booklet format containing photographs, technical articles, book reviews, recipes, etc. At times there have been dealer subsidies to cover the production costs but for the most part it has been covered by the club treasury. Probably the highlights of the CIRcular‘s existence have been as the recipient of national awards at the 1980 , 1981, 1997 and 1998 Porsche Parades.
Throughout the early years there had been conversation in the region about an annual award to recognize member participation. Finally, in 1973, the Alton Dice Award was instituted. The award was named for Alton Dice of Peru, IN who was a very active member beginning in the mid ’60’s. In May, 1970 Mr. Dice suffered a fatal heart attack just before the start of an event in Indianapolis. The rules for the award have changed some over the years and there have been two years in which it was not awarded. For several years practice was to present a trophy for the recipient to keep and also have a traveling trophy bearing the names of all the winners. In 1984, space on the traveling award was exhausted so it was retired to that years’ recipient. Appendix 3 lists winners of the Dice award.
A subject of discussion over the years was that of a region emblem. In 1976, CIR member Gene Covert presented a design. It was promptly approved. In order to insure some degree of permanence, a description of the design was added to the region By Laws. Quantities of embroidered patches and metal badges were obtained and made available to the members through the region goody shop– The CIR Bazaar. Miniature metal versions were used on member name badges. Subsequently, the design has been used on decals, T shirts, mugs, etc.
Returning to 1961 for a moment, the ink was hardly dry on the charter when CIR/PCA was approached by the Lilly Motor Club to participate in a Braille Rally for students at the Indiana Blind School. Thus began an on-and-off affiliation that endured into the ’90’s. In some years CIR/PCA Members drove their Porsches with blind students as navigators while other CIR/PCA Members worked at check points, etc. In other years the Lilly Motor Club found adequate personnel within their membership to staff the event and didn’t look to CIR for help. In any case, CIR stands ready to assist in this worthwhile event.
Again in the 1961 time frame; thoughts were growing as to putting on a multi-region event in the spring of 1962. Contacts were made with the equally young Kentucky and Ohio Valley Regions. They were interested and helped plan Dreistaatenfest for April 14 & 15, 1962. A TSD Rally, a fun rally, a gymkhana and a tech session delighted the twenty-six entries from around the Midwest. The three co-sponsoring regions provided all of the workers but entrants came from several other regions as well as the host regions. This event enhanced the image of the three young regions. In the late ’80’s the name Dreistaatenfest was resurrected to cover a tour and social event. A tour to historic towns on the Ohio River with an overnight stay and sightseeing was put on by CIR with invitations extended to the Ohio Valley and Kentucky Regions.
In 1979 a few CIR/PCA Members decided to participate in the Hoosier Auto Show and Swap Meet, then held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This event brought members of approximately fifty car clubs plus individual entries together for car display or judging, a “Hershey” style swap meet and a display of cars for sale. On Saturday night a dinner was held and awards from the car judging presented. After getting a taste of the event, the officers decided to expand things for the next year. The event was publicized to other regions of PCA, box lunches were made available, PCA members served as judges of the Porsches and a separate dinner was held for Porsche entrants. Response from other regions was significant and over fifty Porsches were present for each of several years. CIR continued to be involved with the event for several years but after a while interest waned. First the box lunches ceased to be available; then the dinner went by the boards. 1990 was the last year that CIR was involved as a club but some members have continued to attend as independent entrants.
In 1978 CIR was approached by local Porsche parts and accessory dealer, P.B. Tweeks, regarding a swap meet. The meet was proposed to be held on the grounds around Tweeks store and to be sanctioned by CIR. The CIR Board had reservations about some aspects of the situation and declined involvement. Tweeks obtained sanction from other regions of PCA and proceeded with the event. The event proved to be successful and the Board’s fears unfounded. Consequently, beginning in 1980, CIR became associated with the event and continued to not merely support it but to supply workers and otherwise be actively involved. This proved to be a very popular event for several years….drawing Porsche owners from across the country.
In Oct. 1987 CIR was co-host to the 356 Registry East Coast Holiday. This event was held on the grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 356s from around the country were in attendance for a concours, tech session, dinner and tour. CIR/PCA Members participated with other models of Porsches as well as 356s.
In 1988 the Porsche factory entered the Indianapolis 500 mile race. This gave CIR an opportunity to host an event built around the race and its ancillary events. Race tickets were obtained, motel space reserved, bus transportation to the track arranged, and a program featuring some of the factory dignitaries was planned. The event was advertised in Porsche Panorama and indeed, PCA members from across the country eagerly signed up. The event was repeated for a couple of years but after the factory dropped the Indy car race program, there was no basis for continuing.
If the original Dreistaatenfest in 1962 helped give CIR national awareness, it was furthered by still another occurrence. The October, 1963 issue of Porsche Panorama included a special section with articles and pictures about CIR. To expand on this point of national involvement, CIR member Georgeanna Tutrow served as National Treasurer in 1971-1972. Mike Robbins has served as National Secretary, Zone Representative, Committeeman for the Parade Competition Rules and Chairman of the Parade Competition Rules Committee. At the Porsche Parade in 1966, Mike Robbins was presented the Lazar-Blanchard award as PCA Enthusiast of the Year. CIR’s prestige was enhanced in April, 1988 by hosting a meeting of the PCA Executive Council.
In a more local vein, CIR/PCA Members were very active in SCCA. And not just participating but placing well in all of the competitive events. Some of the SCCA year-end dinners in the ’60’s and ’70’s seemed almost CIR/PCA benefits when awards were presented for rallies, races and autocrosses. Some of the honored CIRPCA Members were Phil Allgood, Gene Dodd, Erwin Dollinger, Dale Fazekas, Garrett Harbron, Bill Krebs, Gerry Mason, Don Parish, Mike Robbins, Will Zobbe and probably others whose names escape us. Beyond local SCCA events, Phil Allgood, John Carmack, Bob and Don Dender, Garrett Harbron, George and Wilma Robbins and Mike Robbins were frequently seen on SCCA National Rallies. In the mid ’60’s, a triumvirate of CIRPCA Members, Fred Lawrence, Jim Moneyhun and Mike Robbins, co-chaired a National Championship Rally hosted by the Indianapolis Region, SCCA.
Just as the first Porsche was raced shortly after being built in 1948, many of the Porsches in the Midwest were being raced from the mid ’50’s on. The level of intensity varied from merely unloading the trunk and taping the headlights to going as far as the rules allowed. But in those days the rules didn’t really allow much. When the Spyders and Carrera engined 356s started to appear interest in Porsches picked up. Over the years a number of CIR/PCA Members have participated with everything from cars in show-room-stock classes, through production and sports-racing classes. There have also been home-built sports-racing cars that utilized Porsche components. Many CIR/PCA Members have distinguished themselves in SCCA and IMSA racing. Gene Dodd, Erwin Dollinger, Dale Fazekas, Jim Osborne, Don Parish[914-6], Mike Robbins, and Will Zobbe[914-4] all competed in the SCCA runoffs in their Porsches. Members Gerry Mason and Jay Shadoan competed at the runoffs in other marques after having raced Porsches in earlier years. After running in SCCA for a few years Tim Selby concentrated on IMSA endurance races and placed well in year-end standings. His reports in CIRcular were extremely well received. Tom Ashby, Don Parish and Ed Taylor also competed in IMSA. Other racers were less successful in their finishing positions but very successful when the fun quotient was factored in. In the early ’70’s, Gene Dodd, Mike Robbins and Will Zobbe formed a race team with the unusual name of “Rennstall Alterschwach”–a loose translation into German of “race team weak from age”. One wag suggested that it meant “Team Decrepit”. A younger contingent of Phil Allgood, Mike Cooper and Erwin Dollinger soon became members of the team also. Although not an official wing of CIR the team carried a feeling of representation of the region. CIR members have continuedto participate in races conducted by other sanctioning bodies as well as those of PCA.
In the mid ’60’s the speed bug was growing in other ways also. With their experience in SCCA and the availability of Indianapolis Raceway Park it was a natural for CIR/PCA Members to begin thinking of holding Porsche-only autocrosses. It wasn’t really needed but surrounding regions were applying pressure also. This led to a series of speed events at IRP over the next few years, often topping 100 entrants. Porsches from Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis and other distant cities were to be seen. Ironically, the popularity of IRP to other clubs led to the end of the series. The law of supply and demand kept pushing track rental fees upward until the PCA event was no longer economically practical. In the meantime, it wasn’t unusual to see CIR drivers bringing trophies home from autocrosses put on by other PCA regions. Frequently there were six or eight CIR/PCA Members at the Chicago PCA Region events at Elkhart Lake, WI. By the late 80’s safety considerations had pushed the competitive race-track-autocross off most region schedules. In its place are the PCA driver training event and SCCA Solo events. CIR has been able to follow this trend and is fortunate to have the new Putnam Park facility and new tracks in southern Michigan and northern Kentucky as alternates to IRP. In 90’s CIR’s Scott Holley competed in SCCA Solo events across the country.
The original boundaries of CIR went from the Illinois line on the west to the Ohio line on the east. The northern boundary was the northern limit of counties containing US highway 24. The southern boundary was the northern limit of counties containing US highway 50. In early 1963 seven counties on the west were ceded to the newly formed Lincoln Trail Region that was centered in Urbana, IL. In 1978 a group in Muncie, IN decided to form a region and asked for several counties in the northeast quadrant of CIR. This new Ramme Region functioned until 1986 when its officers decided to cease operation as a separate region and the territory and members reverted to CIR.
1981 marked the 20th anniversary of CIR/PCA. A banquet was held at the Naval Armory in Indianapolis. A number of former members who had previously been quite active attended and were “honored” by having anecdotes told about unusual experiences with their Porsches. Some past members who had moved to Florida attended a portion of the banquet via conference telephone call. The service representative who had covered this area for Porsche of America also attended. As a coincidental time marker, 20 year membership certificates were presented to several qualifying members. All in all it was a great event.
1986 marked twenty-five years for CIR. A People’s Choice Concours and dinner were held and again a number of former members attended. Although not on the scale of the 20th anniversary celebration, it was still a wonderful event. Group photos of the attending charter members were taken and published in the CIRcular. There were many heartwarming instances of old friends seeing each other after lapses of several years. A major highlight was receipt of a commemorative plate from the Porsche factory. In today’s society, the concepts of tradition and heritage seem to have lost significance. Perhaps that is why CIR’s 30th year, 1991, slipped by without any special recognition. If multiples of five dictate the frequency of anniversary recognition, then 1996 would have been the next opportunity for celebration. There was no special activity to mark CIR’s 35th year. However, a graphic appeared on the cover of each issue of CIRcular that read, ”Celebrating 35 years 1961-1996″.. Four or five of the charter members have maintained their membership through all of these years. Sad to say, several have passed away in the intervening time. Some have moved to other parts of the country and are members of their local region of PCA. Those are surely expressions of loyalty to the club as well as the marque.
This account has reported on many of the “serial” events that were held in conjunction with other organizations and were repeated over a number of years. There have been other events that have been popular enough to warrant repetition over several years. These have fallen in with the other tech sessions, concours, dinners, tours, drivers’ eds, rallies, etc. CIR has consistently offered its members a variety of events sure to please all tastes.
What about the next thirty years? With the unhealthy nature of today’s automotive business climate, the long term future of the Porsche automobile may be suspect. Ecological considerations in some parts of the country have suggested that older cars be legislated off the roads. But as long as there are Porsche cars there will surely be a Porsche Club. In the event that production of new Porsches were to cease and as current cars are trashed, perhaps the PCA growth pattern of the first thirty or so years would follow a bell curve and reverse itself. The peak of that curve may have already been reached. As membership reduced, regions would merge or die and ultimately there would remain a scattered core of owners who had preserved their cars. The remaining members of CIR might again find themselves as members of the Chicago Region — or beyond that, perhaps something like an “Upper Midwest Region”. But all of that would take many years and in the meantime we will make the most of the prevailing circumstances.
Although this history is titled “The First Thirty Years”, it has been written in the thirty- second year of CIR’s existence and edited in the fiftieth. Hopefully it will be periodically updated so as to provide a complete history to those interested.
Oct. 7, 1993