President’s Corner – Winter 2018

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By Neil Gambony

I’m baaack! Or as the late great 20th century philosopher Yogi Berra once said, it’s like déjà vu all over again. For those who joined the Club in the last 10 years and don’t know what I am referring to, I previously served as NJ Chapter President for 3 years, 2006-2008. I have still been around since then serving on the Board as a Member-at-Large and more recently as Driving Events Chairman for the last 6 years.

For a little background, I bought my first BMW, a 1985 325e in 1991 and joined the club in 1995. I think my biggest regret was that I didn’t join the Club sooner! I currently have a 1988 325 iX as well as a 1987 IS that I use for our driver’s schools. I attended my first driving school in 1979, I’m sorry to say it wasn’t with the BMW CCA; rather it was with the Jim Russell School in Mt Tremblant, Canada using Formula Ford cars. I was pretty certain that I was going to get a full-time ride with either Williams, Tyrrell, Ferrari, or Penske at the time. To make a long story short, life got in the way of my driving career so I decided to start attending the BMW CCA driver schools in 1996. You might be able to find me there now checking your wrist band as you pull out of pit lane.

Now before I get into what’s going on in the Club, I must first thank my predecessor Jeff Caldwell for his five-year commitment to the Club. Jeff joined the Club when I was President many years ago and it didn’t take long for him to decide where he wanted to go with us. I have to say I admire his tenacity; he let us know his thoughts about what we should be doing without sugar coating it. Five continuous years, by the way, is a record for the Club by any president, one I’m sure that will stand for a very, very long time. Jeff is not going away, he is just stepping back from the top spot and will still be around as a Member at Large.

Another Jeff I need to thank is Jeff White. Jeff has served as our Driver School Chairman for the last 11 years. As it happens to be, I had appointed him as Driver School Chairman in 2007. Jeff is stepping down from that position and has transitioned over to be the Driving Events Chairman. He is the main reason that the Driver Schools have run like a well-oiled machine the last 11 years. Jeff had also spent a lot of time orchestrating the driver schools at Oktoberfest in 2015.

Now it seems that fate has brought me back to the Presidency to appoint our new Driver School Chairman, Jamie Kavalieros. Jamie has served under Jeff as Registrar for our Driver Schools the last 9 years. Jamie is one of only 4 Club members who have won the NJ BMW CCA Club Championship Trophy 4 times, a feat he was able to accomplish with his autocrossing skills. In addition to having been the Registrar for our driver schools, Jamie is the skid pad instructor who had either you or one of your children holding their hands straight up while driving around the skid pad at our Street Survival Schools. Club member Mark Mallory will now be taking over the position of Driver School Registrar.

Some other Board changes – Paul Ngai has moved from Business Manager back to Vice-President. Paul had served previously as VP for both Larry Engel and Jeff Caldwell. Moving into the position of Business Manager is Matt Baratz. Matt was instrumental in starting the VDC Tour, now in its 6th year. It’s one of our events that fills up quickly and we use the proceeds from it to make a donation to the BMW CCA Foundation. Those are the major changes in personnel on the Board for 2018. I’m fortunate enough that the other Board members have remained in their prospective positions.

I would be remiss not to give a shout out to Vic Lucariello Sr., our Technical Advisor who is no longer in NJ but is just an e-mail away. You can keep up with Vic through his Philes’ Forum in the Bulletin. Vic has been contributing his column to the Bulletin for over 30 years now, which could be another record for the Club!

So what’s different now than when I last served as President? Communication is the main thing; the Bulletin now is a quarterly publication. You will only get to hear from me 4 times this year unless we get a chance to speak at one of our Club events which I hope to touch upon further in this column. We now use a very effective tool known as the e-blast; we can send out up-to-the- minute information regarding events. The important thing with this is you need to provide an e-mail address in which you can receive the e-blast. You should have provided an e-mail address when you joined the BMW CCA. If you need to update your e- mail address you may do so through the National BMW CCA office at www.bmwcca.org; we still have our own website with features like the Events Calendar and the Forum, which I find useful for either buying or selling parts or cars. You can also look for us on Facebook at New Jersey Chapter BMW Car Club of America.

We have many events already in the works for this year. There are 4 Driver Schools scheduled along with 2 of them holding Club Races: 1 at NJMP and 1 at Summit Point. There are 6 Autocrosses scheduled with the possibility of 1 or 2 more. For our rally enthusiasts, we are looking forward to once again joining the Northern NJ Chapter of the SCCA for a spring rally along with our annual Whack Your Turkey Rally in November. Have a teenage driver? There are 2 Street Survival being scheduled as I write this.

For our non-driving Events, something new we are trying this year is the Winter Social. Social Chairman Vic Lucariello Jr has put together an event at the Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit NJ to be held on March 10th. It’s intended to be a more casual event without any schedule of activities. You can find out more about it elsewhere in the Bulletin. Another event happening on March 24th is the VDC (Vehicle Distribution Center) Tour. This is where BMW prepares their cars before being shipped to their dealerships. It’s always been a no camera event; they always have something of interest we get to see first.

Chartering new territory for me as President is having to inform you of the passing of a fellow Club member. Albert Drugos, or as we more affectionately referred to him, Big Al, passed away in early January. Big Al joined the Club in June of 1995; during his time of membership he served the Chapter as Vice-President for 2004 and 05 and then went on to serve as Social Chairman from 2006 through 2013. Al had an intimidating presence but once I got to know him I realized that his best interests were for the Club. He was well-traveled and had many connections that he used to help make our events great, either putting together a Club meeting or Banquet.

Al participated in the Driver School program where he drove his E30 M3 as often as he could. He was an integral part of the program working both the Tech Inspection line and Pit Out. I was fortunate enough to work with him there where he taught me the fine art of pulling cars off the track safely with the tow truck. Although he hadn’t been able to make it to the track the last several years, his presence was surely missed. Godspeed Big Al.

Neil

neilgambony@njbmwcca.org

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