More Than Just A Drive In The Country

This time of year as the weather warms and our thoughts turn more to outdoor activities, NNJR-PCA provides one event that is tailor made to get the entire family out for a truly fun day of automotive pleasures. Our “Welcome To The Club” event is just the right type of activity to get the entire family thinking “Porsche”.

As many of you know this event, in its many incarnations in recent years, was held at Schooley’s Mountain State Park. For this year’s event, we decided to move to a new venue that would be more geographically convenient for most of our members. Somerset Hills Learning Institute in Bedminster, NJ and just off RT 287 fit the bill. The school, being the benefactor of our current charity fund raising efforts, generously agreed to host our event. The school is a beautiful and modern facility set in the rolling hills of Somerset County. With this change of venue we had the comforts of indoor dinning and clean restrooms. We are sure those of you familiar with Schooley’s Mountain would agree the amenities at the school were a significant improvement.

For those unfamiliar with the “Welcome To The Club” event, it is open to all, but its focus is to give new members experience with our concours and rally programs. In concours, Hank Menkes and Craig Ploetner’s goal is to teach the new member how to prepare their cars for a judged event and at the same time to help them preserve their condition and value. Rally master John Vogt started the rally portion of the event with a school so members will be familiar will rally terms and how to follow route instructions. After which participants were sent off on a “Gimmick Rally” that required following instructions, and correctly answering questions on sights along the way.

The day of the event dawned cloudy and misty. This did not please us as you can imagine, as nothing keeps concours enthusiast home leaving their treasured Porsches in the garage more than the threat of rain. But, the event goes on rain or shine. The weather report called for partly cloudy skies, with clearing in the late afternoon. So much for the weatherman. Skies remained cloudy though out the morning and into the early afternoon with a few light sprinkles. Happily it did not get worse, and by the time the first car was off for the rally the skies were sunny and clear.

After a few quick stops to pick up the breakfast items, we arrived at the school around 7:30am to find Craig Ploetner and Dennis and Marlys Thovson already setting up the registration table and canopy. Hank Menkes arrived moments later to further aid in the setup. By 8:30am some of the early risers arrived. About fifteen participants showed up in short order and then no one. We became concerned that the turnout was going to be very light, but a half hour later more entrants began arriving and this continued until we had about thirty-five cars in the lot for the concours. The lot was a beehive of activity as members and their families cleaned and shined their Porsches.

At 10:00am Hank Menkes called the judges meeting and gave us our instruction on what we would be examining and how the point scoring would work for this event. What is inspected and the point deduction changes depending on the event, so this meeting was very important to ensure consistent judging. After the meeting, the three judging teams got started. Since the goal of the Concours Chairs is to educate new members, after each car was judged, the judges spent time with the car owner explaining the judging process and giving tips on improving and maintaining their Porsche’s appearance and condition. We would be remiss if we did not mention that while all this was taking place, the New Member Liaisons were serving up a gourmet breakfast in the schools lunch room.

After the judging was completed, it was time for lunch, while Craig, Hank, and Dennis totaled the scores. Lunch was supplied by world famous Annie’s Deli of Pluckermin, NJ and included a selection  of five varieties of sub sandwiches, a garden salad as well as various snack foods and beverages. Just the quantity and selection of food alone makes this event at $20 the bargain of the century. Where else can you feed the entire family two meals and gain entrance to a concours and rally for that low price.

With scoring complete, Craig and Hank called the group to the conference room for the awards presentation. Every class winner received a beautiful model Porsche 911 (997) GTS RS customized with an NNJR “Welcome To The Club” logo commemorating the event. You had to be present to see the joy in everyone’s faces as they received their trophies.

When the concours portion of the day was complete, John Vogt stepped to center stage for his rally school. John discussed all the details that a rally participant would need to know to have a successful rally. And now it was rally time. Starting at 2:01pm and at one-minute intervals, John released all thirty-one cars. The rally would take approximately two hours and pass though some off the most beautiful countryside this state has to offer. At around 4:30pm with all cars back, we enjoyed snacks while Dennis Thovson, Gary Koupf, and Peter Schneider totaled the scores. We should mention at this point that the rally was written by professional Rally Meister extraordinaire Peter Schneider, past NNJR-PCA Rally Master Gary Koupf, and present NNJR-PCA Rally Master John Vogt. With the completion of the scoring, Peter and John presented the awards. First place in experienced was taken by Javier DeLaCruz and family and first place in novice was Bruno Guarini and family. We should mention at this point that the rally was written by professional Rally Meister extraordinaire Peter Schneider, past Rally Master Gary Koupf and present Rally Master John Vogt.

With the rally scoring and awards completed, it was time for Dennis Thovson to total the scores for both events for the new members to determine the overall event winner. The 2012 “Welcome To The Club” event trophy is awarded by the New Member Liaisons to the new member with the top combined finishes in both the concours and rally events. The overall winners were Bruno, Nathalie and Luca Guarini. This was truly a family effort as they all were spotted in the lot helping prepare the car for the concours judging, and teaming up to run the rally.

The New Member Liaisons would like to thank Hank Menkes and Craig Ploetner for running a well-organized concours, John Vogt, Gary Koupf and Peter Schneider for a great rally and Dennis and Marlys Thovson for their assistance with registration and scoring. We would also would like to thank the concours judges as well as the staff of Somerset Hills Learning Institute. We hope everyone enjoyed the event as much as we did, and hope to see you all again at future NNJR-PCA events.