A Look Back at 150

IT’S HARD TO BELIEVE that this is my 150th Track Talk article. Some of them practically wrote themselves, when I was building a car or some track policy change happened. Others, not so much. I would try and think of something relevant, but that is harder when it’s -20 degrees outside and everything is in storage. So forgive me if I spend some time talking a little about how we got here.

I’m sure you’re aware that the Porsche Club of America started out with a few owners of those quirky original cars getting together in an effort to fix and appreciate them. Parts, shops and expertise were rare back then so they relied on a growing fan base to enjoy and understand the little high-revving sports cars. The cars were called giant killers because despite their small engine displacement, they could kick some serious butt on the race track. Light and nimble often beat big and powerful. Winning brought desirability and the Porsche Club was the result.

Upper Canada Region had the same sort of start. A group of Ontario-based owners, in 1976, chartered our club in order to serve the largest Porsche market in Canada. No sooner had the club been started than the members started looking for places to put the cars through their paces. Porsche’s racing history, both factory and privateer-sponsored cars, raised the profile and made the cars desirable purchases. I don’t want to forget to mention that they were just plain fun to drive on the street as well. Direct, responsive and, for lack of a better word, zippy, the brand developed a loyalty that few other manufacturers enjoyed. I’ve owned them since my late 20s and I must be close to a hundred now!

Individual regions were always recruiting new members, not for bragging rights but to increase the amount of social fun that membership offers. If you’re a member who just gets the magazine, you are missing out on a whole host of activities with a lot of amazing people. Like the mafia, I joined in 1992 and was never able to get back out. I owned a 928 five-speed at the time and noticed an advertisement in the Wheels section of the Toronto Star. UCR was having a spring get-together at a tire dealer on a weekend and I was bored on an early spring day.

I had never been much of a club person. I joined a Corvette club when I was younger and quit as soon as I found out that they just drove around. Back then they actually travelled in order of membership with the founders at the front and the new members at the back. I just passed everyone and went home. UCR wasn’t like that. It had a series of social events as well as a track program. Phil White “the Wise” was working the DE table and invited me to come to Mosport for a ride in his car. Insurance allowed them to do that then and it was a great recruitment tool. I showed up at the track and after a few laps around Mosport in Phil’s white 911 I was hooked.

At the time the late Clive Van Wert was president and I think Jurgen Kontor was either track chairman or chief instructor. Clive then became track chairman with able assistance from chief instructors Glynn and Patti Green. The Greens were the first to spearhead the Club Race and selected me as UCR’s pace-car driver. That’s been my privilege every race season since. It’s one of my favourite events of the year because driving is my only job. They both put their hearts and souls into making the DE program fun and educational. Phil White “the Wise” got me to join, but it was the Greens who got me to stay.

The PCA National reps are often amazed by the participation numbers and safety record of our events. A lot of that’s due to the participants themselves. Our rules are simple and if everyone agrees to follow them, we all benefit.

Since we are only up to the 1990s this will either be the longest article in history or I should skip to the end. Along the way there have been hundreds of volunteers including your amazing track team. There have also been tens of thousands of participants who not only enjoyed the programs but marketed them to the future generation of club members. I never went out of my way but somehow I’ve got two nephews who are instructors, an ex-employee who worked with me for 10 years who is also an instructor, and my very first employee in Kingston who owns a supercharged 928 but never seems to get to the track. When Phil invited me to come and see what the track program was all about, who knew that the club would eventually benefit by five active members? Maybe that’s why they called him “the Wise.” So when things return to normal make sure you invite your friends and family to join us. Participation secures our future.

Somehow we attract the best of the best in this club. While only agreeing to be track chairman for a season, I’ve filled the position through five presidents, each of them totally dedicated to making the club better. There have been slow changes in the track team over a decade as life moves on, but everyone who ever joined has worked tirelessly and often invisibly, to build us the most successful track program in North America. The PCA National reps are often amazed by the participation numbers and safety record of our events. A lot of that’s due to the participants themselves. Our rules are simple and if everyone agrees to follow them, we all benefit. We had to make some radical changes last season in order to keep the program going and we’re looking forward to getting back to doing what we do best.

I had thought of naming some of the people that stand out in my memory as having a huge impact on my club membership, but I would surely forget to name someone who was pivotal. I also realized that it’s the totality of the membership that makes the club and the DE program what it is. We are a large group of like-minded people enjoying their amazing cars together in many different ways.

So thank you everyone, for your support, your efforts and your participation. Get ready because a new track season is on the way.


From the Provinz Team: HAPPY 150TH DAVE!!!

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