THE PCA UCR Porsche Centre Oakville Spring Awakening Driving Tour was rescheduled so many times, due to COVID-19 concerns, that we were beginning to wonder if we should change the name. Perhaps the Porsche Centre Oakville Sooner or Later Driving Tour. However, Sunday, July 18 arrived and the event finally went ahead as planned. As might be expected, the anticipation was high. There were several conversations about how long people had been unable to get together with friends to enjoy their Porsches.
The week prior to the event, monitoring the weather forecast was a fool’s game. In typical Niagara Region fashion, the forecast changed daily, and it varied depending on which meteorologist you preferred. As of Saturday afternoon, the Sunday forecast was for sunny with some cloudy periods, 60 percent chance of rain, or afternoon thundershowers. So we stuffed the trunk with rain gear and crossed our fingers. As it turned out, the day started with high overcast, and it gradually improved until we had a gorgeous sunny afternoon, about 29 degrees.
We started the proceedings with an introduction and safety briefing by organizer and PCA UCR President Stefan Walther, and welcoming comments from Policaro Group Vice President of Operations, Anthony Poole. Several of the Porsche Centre Oakville folks joined us on the tour, including Domenica Ventrella, sales manager, and Ilja Lukac, marketing manager.
The first part of the route took us through the congested area along Lakeshore Road into Burlington, over the lift bridge, and down to Centennial Parkway in Hamilton. The lift bridge was up, which lead to another delay, however, in a fortuitous piece of timing, the group was not divided as the bridge went up a few hundred metres in front of Stefan in the lead car. We made it to the edge of the escarpment and Ridge Road, and from then on it was mostly great views, tight twisties, and thrilling elevation changes.
After a noisy blast through the only real tunnel in Ontario under the Welland Canal at Thorold, we had a brief bio and fuel stop, then back through the tunnel and into St. Catharines. Here we stopped at the location of the new Porsche Centre Niagara location. Porsche Centre Oakville Sales Manager Domenica Ventrella introduced the new dealership and announced that while this was originally planned to be only a Porsche service centre, it was now going to be a full-service dealership, built on the new Destination Porsche dealership architecture. Ground breaking is scheduled for next year, and opening in 2023. The group took the opportunity to socialize, enjoy a light snack, admire some of the great cars, and pose for photos.
Back on the road for the last leg, we traced the edge of the Welland Canal north to Lakeshore Road, then east into Niagara-on-the-Lake. Part of the group got separated here due to stop signs and traffic lights, then took a wrong turn. Fortunately, the mop-up crew at the end of the train spotted this and lead them back on track.
Traffic through Niagara-on-the-Lake was expected to be more or less grid-locked, so it was no surprise. However, it’s a very short main street so we were soon cruising along the Niagara River Parkway in the glorious sunshine, enjoying glimpses of the Niagara gorge. The recent loosening of many COVID-19 restrictions certainly brought the crowds back to Niagara Falls, so we had a slow drive alongside the Falls, so we took time to enjoy the views. The main parking lot had a reserved section for our group where the cars were all lined on one side. An impressive sight. We took the short shuttle bus ride, then a short walk to the Queen Victoria Place Restaurant, where we had a reserved area on the patio, with spectacular views of both the American and Horseshoe Falls. Dinner was provided by our generous sponsor, Porsche Centre Oakville.
We had a number of first-time driving tour participants and they all expressed their surprise at how much the event exceeded their expectations.
Now that PCA UCR is able to resume more normal activities, I encourage everyone to participate in club activities, whether it be social events, driving tours or Driver Education at the track. If you have an idea for a driving tour, please contact Driving Tours Chair Larry Funnell at email@example.com. </>
By Gerry Cornwell
Photography by Marilyn Cornwell