2020 Driving Tours 2.0

“WILL THE NEXT EVENT GO AHEAD if there’s no vaccine?” asked a club member way back on March 7 during the Macan, Cayenne and Panamera Winter Driving Tour.

An odd question, I thought. This was pre-lockdown, pre-physical distancing, pre-mask mandate, pre-armageddon. COVID-19 had arrived but for how long and to what extent, nobody yet knew. The World Health Organization hadn’t yet even declared a pandemic, though it would just four days later.

For your beloved Porsche club, reality quickly set in, your leaders took action and events sadly succumbed to coronavirus cancellation. One by one, month by month, gone. You’ve heard it many times before and here it is again: Health and safety come first. Without them, we cannot do absolutely anything.

Driving tours are a great way to explore some of the province’s best roads with fellow enthusiasts while behind the wheel of an incredible sports car. Many club members are going through severe withdrawal.

A big part of driving tours, many would say the biggest, is the social aspect — “It’s not just the cars, it’s the people!” — when club members gather for a wine tasting or a delicious lunch or simply just a rest stop and bathroom break at a coffee shop, time to chat about their Porsches, chat about life. With many businesses shuttered, or having drastically reduced hours and then also only letting in two or three people at a time, a bathroom or refreshment pit stop became practically impossible.

And then there are other logistics such as gathering as a group for the safety briefing, multiple people touching and signing the liability waiver, sanitizer and masks, not to mention the additional new PCA National “communicable disease” waiver, and other challenges.

And so most of the 15 incredible driving tours that our hosts had worked so hard on organizing for the 2020 season also hit the chopping block. We use the off-season to seek out routes, confirm refreshment stops with businesses, budget a breakeven price for club members, publish and start to promote. The April Provinz outlined these driving tours on eight pages, all for naught.

Driving tours are a great way to explore some of the province’s best roads with fellow enthusiasts while behind the wheel of an incredible sports car. Many club members are going through severe withdrawal.

PCA UCR has been encouraging small-group, private and casual drives that are not officially through the club. We’ve been sharing routes via E-blast and trying our best to connect those who are interested in going out for a drive together. As well, be sure to check out the Porsche Roads app for sharing routes.

After not driving my Porsches, or any vehicle, for seven weeks this past spring, strictly adhering to the “stay home” orders from Justin and Doug, I was also itching to get out and drive.

I had my cars serviced and plumbed in with some fresh oil. I started out very small with a group of three Porsche friends. Then a bit larger. Then a group of 10 cars with, as group restrictions began to ease, a patio dinner at a nice restaurant. Then a little bit bigger with 17 cars. Most of these drives were in my back yard in Niagara, one in Muskoka.

This also gave our club some desperately needed new material for social media. Our club needs to look alive, even if our pulse is faint. With most events wiped out, for the small number that do happen, they need to be amplified. In this spirit and looking to fuel the Porsche passion, Porsche Centre Oakville sent out an electric Taycan and some goodies for the Muskoka drive, Porsche Canada also contributed face masks and goodies.

So, what’s next?

I’d like to answer, “a vaccine,” but it appears quite a bit of uncertainty still lies ahead, especially with children heading back to school and the possibility of a second wave as the weather gets cooler and we spend more time indoors.

Your driving tours chair and hosts are looking at all possibilities. One thing we must be mindful of is that everyone’s comfort level with COVID-19 and health guidelines is different. Many volunteers refuse to host a driving tour during this pandemic. Many club members refuse to be a participant in any in-person group activity, even one where we are mostly in separate cars.

But we are plotting a way forward, anticipating a return to (near) normal. As of press time, mid-August, we have the sold-out Exclusive VIP Behind-the-Scenes Niagara Falls Driving Tour set for Aug. 28, although there are many variables and still some doubts on whether it will run. Check social media and these Provinz pages in October to see if it did indeed head out. We are considering a Muskoka driving tour before the cold weather sets in, though an event in cottage country is even trickier than others as, at the best of times, bathroom and refreshment stops are fewer and farther between. We are also looking at a driving tour out west, in Lake Huron County.

Quite honestly though, it may not be until sometime in 2021 before more driving tours become available. Time will tell. Be assured, we are working on it. Extra planning and precautions are required. In the meantime, let’s all do our best to quash this disease.

And be sure to get out and drive before many Porsches burrow into winter hibernation. Stay connected to PCA UCR’s social media, E-blasts, website and here to Provinz for the very latest updates.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines. Hopefully not to idle for too long. </>

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