By Akemi & Murray Kane

Cocktail Part anyone? The answer was overwhelmingly “yes,” judging from the huge turnout. Once more a stroke of genius by our social chairs, Cindy and Tony Cristello. Instead of a sitdown dinner we had an all-night cocktail party where guests could move freely around the room to socialize. Food, drink, friends old and new, music and a great new location made for a perfect holiday party. The Mountain Lake Club in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, is where it all took place. We were in the club’s grand ballroom on the second floor. What a glorious evening we were treated to. As some of you may have noticed already, not only was the club the location for the holiday party, but it will also be the location for many of our monthly meetings in 2017, starting in February, as well as for  our winter DE seminars. Those in attendance got a preview of our new location, and all seemed pleased. As is the custom, the holiday party is also when the season’s awards are given out. The first award presenter was our rally master, John Vogt. He began with the novice season champions. They were navigator Lisa Jackson and driver Bill Lerokomos. Great way to start your rally career guys! Next up we had the experience class, taken by navigator Bruce Crelin and driver Paul Armstrong. Competition in this class was super close with the second place team just a few points behind. A hard fought victory. The last award presentation John made was to the winners of the Rene Dreyfus rally, the most prestigious event on the rally calendar and highly prized by the NNJR rally community. For this event everyone competes in the same class and the winners were novices, imagine that! Coming out on top, besting the veterans, were navigator Nancy Samsel and driver Rudy Samsel. It gets better, Nancy and Rudy got married in the morning before the rally and left the wedding to compete. What a story and what a honeymoon! See you next season.
Then, a surprise for our rally master, as the last three winners of the Charles E. Fowler award, Dennis and Marlys Thovson, Dom Miliano and Tom Iervolino stepped up to present the award to him, the 2016 winner. The award is much deserved and recognized John’s long time service and dedication to NNJR. It was noted how John, among other contributions, almost single handedly revived the rally program which suffered from low participation. His fun rally events have become very popular with our members and are extremely well attended. We all thank John for an incredible job, bringing the program to new heights.

Next up was the father and son team which runs the NNJR concours program, Jeff and Chris Erven. While they are no strangers to concours, they were in their rookie year as chairs. The first award they presented was to the 2016 novice championship series winner Charles Rothwell who campaigned his alluring 2014 white 911 to victory (picture on page 10). 2016 championship series experienced winners Akemi and Murray Kane, brought home the gold with their 1992 black 964 Turbo Coupe(picture on page 10). The final concours award is the most prestigious in the NNJR concours world. Criteria for winners of this award are so stringent that it is not awarded every year. Jeff and Chris awarded the 2016 Charles J. Mulhern Concours d’Elegance trophy to a much deserving Walter Sliwa.
Tom Swift, our current driver education chair, came to the podium next. He presented the 2016 Most Improved Diver award to a very excited James Coleman. James drives a 1979 911 with none of the driver nannies the newer Porsches have. This award is a testament to his skills and accomplishments behind the wheel.
Club President Tom Iervolino made the next two presentations in absentia. The 2016 Rookie of the Year trophy went to Bruce Grobman and the Enthusiast of the Year award went to Bill Merritt. The last award of the evening, the 2016 Presidents Award, went to Murray Kane.
As we write this the 2016 season is just a memory, so what better time for some thanks for a great year. First a big thank you to Cindy and Anthony Cristello and the Mountain Lakes Club for a wonderful holiday party. Next we would like to thank the 2016 NNJR BOG and everyone who comes out to assist at our many events. Thank you to our program chairs for their hard work and efforts on our behalf. That’s it. Hope to see you all in 2017 which, we a sure, will be another great year in the annals of NNJR history.