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In the Rearview: Driving Tours 2018

Looking back at the year’s 15 successful Porsche club drives

SAFE AND FUN. This is how I measure the success of any driving tour.

And for one single driving tour—an outing of 25-plus Porsches and 50 or more people driving together, often spiritedly, for several hundred kilometres—to be successful is a great accomplishment.

For 15 of these driving tours to be successful—well, this is absolutely outstanding!

And this is how PCA UCR’s 2018 calendar of driving tours culminated, with not one single injury nor damage to a P-car, not one incident or insurance report filed with PCA National. This is an even bigger relief considering this was my first year helming the club’s very popular driving tours program.

Our season began all the way back in frosty February and wrapped up eight months later in October—with exciting tour routes taking place in far-off places like Muskoka, Georgian Bay, Prince Edward County, Niagara, Kawartha Lakes, Port Dover and even right inside Toronto (the latter not so far-off, just a bit far-out).

Thousands of kilometres were logged on Porsches of all varieties—911, Cayman, 944, Boxster, 928, Cayenne, 718, Macan. Hmmm, I don’t remember seeing a 918 Spyder or Panamera Sport Turismo GTS Turbo 4S E-Hybrid, perhaps we need to reach out to these owners.

Let’s rewind to February and March when PCA UCR hosted what are believed to be the first two winter driving tours ever, both taking place in relatively balmy Niagara­—Ontario’s banana belt. It was fun to see various vintages of Cayenne and Macan SUVs take front and centre stage instead of the usual 911s and other two-door sportscars. Although we still had several 911s, Caymans and Boxsters take part, outfitted with winter tires. Both tours benefitted from unseasonably warm weather—no snow, sunny and a high around 10 Celsius—so much for kicking up some fluffy white stuff and testing the thresholds of Porsche Stability Management.

Then the official season kicked off on May 6 with the big Spring into Action Muskoka Driving Tour hosted by veteran fun runner Peter Hoffman, attracting around 30 Porsches on a sunny but cool day, starting in Orillia with a wonderful pit stop at the always-delicious Crossroads restaurant in Rosseau, overlooking the lake and marina.

From there, driving tours were in full force with yours truly hosting Spring Awakening in Niagara, first-time host Larry Funnell’s Muskoka Locks, Martin Hederich’s Southern Georgian Bay, James Biggar’s The Land Between, also-first-time host Eric Wang’s Best Of Wine Country in Prince Edward County (July) plus a second in Niagara (August), Blue Mountains Art Appreciation hosted by Hazel de Burgh, Martin Tekela, Paul and Peggy Biggin, Driving Tour To South Coast Jazz Festival hosted by John Buckingham and Jeremy Gunness, Klaus Reif’s Summer Cruise and German Barbecue, Pfaff Porsche’s GTA Urban Circuit, then two big autumn events in Niagara and Kawartha Lakes.

Thank you to all these hosts for enriching our great club and providing our 3,000 members with some amazing outings from which to enjoy their prized Porsches. Many have already told me they will be back hosting in 2019.

An extra special thank-you goes out to Eric Wang, host of two driving tours in 2018 and an avid volunteer who attended and helped out with numerous other driving tours. He often took the initiative to make other hosts’ work much, much easier. His extra effort earned him our club’s Enthusiast of the Year award, recently presented at the annual banquet on Oct. 27.

As your driving tours chair, I implemented several changes this year to make things run smoother for both hosts and club-member participants.

The most obvious change is the name—we said good-bye to fun runs (we will still always have the wonderful memories from over the years, some very cherished fun runs in PCA UCR’s history) and adopted the more widely recognized PCA nomenclature of driving tours, which more aptly describes the nature of these events and makes it especially easier for hosts when they are booking restaurants and other pit stops and must explain that a fun run is not a fundraising jog for children. Having hosted 11 of these events at various restaurants and wineries, I can tell you that “fun run” is not easily associated with a Porsche club drive.

Another change was streamlining registration for all driving tours to go through the Club Registration website. Before this, hosts could manage registration on their own through simple E-mail. For club members, ClubReg is easier to have all driving tours listed in one place and to better plan their driving season. For hosts, ClubReg is easier to keep all registrations together, to plan and communicate with those registered, as well to secure payment.

Which brings us to our final big change: payments. This year we encouraged driving tour hosts to charge a fee for their events. This was mostly to discourage late cancellations and no-shows. This fee could go towards paying for a lunch or snack venue. Hosts had to get a quote from these venues and set a budget so that the driving tours operated, as our club does, as breakeven and non-profit.

This change was a success. We expected to get some blow back but not one club member complained. We actually heard some nice compliments, members expressing how inexpensive they thought the charges were, for example, for a wine and appetizer reception at Peller Estates for only $50 per person. Again, everything is run non-profit, so no mark-up.

Another side benefit of this charge is, if the fee went to pay for lunch, then after lunch there wasn’t a big bottleneck line-up for each person to pay the restaurant individually. We could just go back to doing what we wanted to do best—drive our incredible Porsches.

To get an idea of how much a problem late cancellations and no-shows had been, in 2017 I hosted an Autumn Colours Niagara tour with 20 Porsches and 40 people registered. The night before, two cars (four people) cancelled. During the drive, several people left before the lunch stop. The restaurant was expecting 40 people. We had only 30 by then and I had to explain why and hope they did not charge me for the no-shows. Keep in mind, restaurants bring in extra food and extra staff to accommodate a group. The tour wrapped up at a winery with a tasting. By this point we only had 11 Porsches and 20 people. Once again the business was understanding and did not penalize me.

Last year, earlier in the season, however, a restaurant did charge me $200 extra when 30 people showed up to eat instead of the reserved 50-plus. Lucky for me, our club’s treasurer and president reimbursed me.

Other hosts had similar problems, one having eight Porsches (15 people) bow out the very morning of his event.

Onward and upward!

Planning for the 2019 driving tour season is already underway. As mentioned, many of the experienced hosts promised to return. Tours in Muskoka, Kawartha Lakes, Georgian Bay and Niagara are virtually guaranteed.

We are working on some exciting new endeavours, such as Porsche dealerships hosting and sponsoring a couple of tours. Pfaff Porsche already hosts one, for which we are very grateful and two more from other dealers are in the works. Stay tuned.

We are working on some exciting new endeavours, such as Porsche dealerships hosting and sponsoring a couple of tours. Pfaff Porsche already hosts one, for which we are very grateful and two more from other dealers are in the works. Stay tuned.

As chair, I will work hard with the hosts to promote their events, help in all the administration and accommodate as many club member participants as possible with the goal being another year of many memorable—safe and fun—driving tours.

Which brings us to you! Do you have a cool Porsche-friendly route and a favourite lunch restaurant? Then host a driving tour! I’m here to help. You may be surprised at how easy and rewarding it can be. Drop me a line at driving-tours@pcaucr.org.

If the pure fun of a driving tour is not incentive enough, the big change for 2019 is that hosts and up to three of their guests will have their participant fees covered plus free lunch!

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines! </>

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