President’s Corner – Spring 2018


By Neil Gambony

Last quarter I covered some upcoming events for the NJ Chapter, but neglected to include a big event coming up for the BMW CCA. This is Oktoberfest, which will be held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from July 9-15. Normally, O’Fest, as I will be referring to it from here on out, is held in the Fall, like September or oddly, October. However, it has been moved to July to coincide with the premier automotive event of the Pittsburgh Grand Prix.

The Pittsburgh Grand Prix is over 35 years old and is one of the most attended enthusiast events in the country. What makes the Pittsburgh Grand Prix (PGP) even better is that it is a fundraiser for the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and the Allegheny Valley School, which helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The PGP has raised over five million dollars for them since its inception.

This year, O’Fest will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 2002. It’s hard to believe they are that old now [cough, cough, or the rest of us – JF]. My first real exposure to BMW was through my buddy George from high school whose dad had bought a new 1975 square taillight 2002 in the color of Burgundrot. It was a great little car. We used to do minor service work on it like change the sparkplugs and condenser and set the points with a feeler gauge, then checked the timing with a timing light. We also changed the oil and the filters, etc.

We drove the car all around and sometimes up to a marina on the Long Island Sound in Milford, Connecticut where George’s family had kept their boat moored. As I recall, that was back in the days when BMW owners either waved their hand or flashed their lights whenever another BMW approached them. Nowadays when people are waving at me in my BMW I hope they are using all of their fingers.

The car was eventually sold to someone in the next town over and I saw it sporadically for years. I even think I saw it last year, or I wanted it to be the same car, no matter, I was happy to see it now had a BMW CCA decal on it. George’s dad got a very good return on the purchase price when he sold it, something BMW was using in their advertisements at the time.

Information for registering for O’Fest can be found at the BMW CCA website if you haven’t already received information from the CCA about it.

Many of our members have joined the BMW CCA to get the rebate from a new car purchase or certified pre-owned car through BMW. The stipulation was you had to be a member for one year before you were eligible to get the rebate, up to $1500 depending on the model. Now, the BMW CCA and BMW North America have worked out a plan that if you join the Club with a minimum three-year membership, you can be eligible for the rebate immediately without having to wait the one-year time period. Does this help you since you are already a member?

Perhaps not but it may help a friend, family member or co-worker who you know that might have been thinking about buying a new or certified pre-owned BMW and this could be the incentive they need to buy the car and the join the club. A three-year membership can be had for the bargain price of $134.00. If you are still renewing year by year (like me), please be sure not to let your membership lapse for even one day or you will lose your eligibility for any rebate. The BMW CCA has no control over this, it all done through BMW NA. There are many other benefits of being a Club member that certainly could provide me with plenty to write about for a future Neil’s Way.

I’ve often been asked about our membership and I would like to share with you some statistics about our Chapter and its members. Our Chapter was formed and incorporated in 1971; we were the fourth Chapter to join the BMW CCA. Our Chapter currently has 2375 primary members and 365 associate members; associates members are mostly significant others, offspring, or siblings, giving us a total of 2740 members. Our oldest member’s number is 216; the newest member’s number is 540,808 as of the end of May. The town that I see that has the most members is Westfield; I can only speculate that it has something to do with former Club President Larry Engel living there.

There are about a dozen members living in the New England area although the furthest north member is in Pointe Claire, Canada. We have many members from our bordering states New York and Pennsylvania along with some other east coast states: Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina among them. The furthest southeast member is in Miami Beach, Florida. To the west are a handful of members in Arizona, Colorado and California with the furthest west member being in Tokyo, Japan. Hello Keisuke and hello to everyone else not living in the Garden State.

The New Jersey Chapter is ranked 6th in membership out of 68 Chapters. We are 198 members ahead of the New York Chapter and only 81 members behind the Tarheel Chapter. Maybe I should make some kind of challenge for our members to help us move up in the rankings. The largest Chapter, by the way, is the National Capital Chapter with almost 5000 members. For our track junkies out there, the NJ Chapter started you down the slippery slope. We were the first Chapter to hold a Driver School; Lime Rock Park in 1974 at a staggering cost of $15 per student. If you have ever seen the footage of that event, it’s pretty much a 2002 driver’s school.

For those who were able to attend the Winter Social in March at the Reeves-Reeds Arboretum in Summit, thank you. It was a very casual and laidback affair with the premise that you could come and go at any time; the reality was that most everyone stayed until the end. It was a welcome respite in the midst of all the Nor’easters we were having in March. As I talked with many of the members there, I realized that I was fortunate that where I live still had electricity. Even the Arboretum was running on their back-up generator. Many thanks to our Social Chairman Vic Lucariello Jr. for organizing the event. I am looking forward to this event for next year.

The April program for our members was held at the Deutscher Club in Clark with the program topic being Liqui Moly, a German manufacturer of synthetic motor oil. Not only do they make motor oil but many other products like fuel and tank cleaners, and oil additives for both gas and diesel motors. Liqui Moly will be a sponsor for Team Turner cars this year in IMSA; let’s hope they both have great results. Thanks to Vice-President Paul Ngai for arranging the meeting.

Speaking of the Deutscher Club (DC) I would like to thank former Vice-President Marc Goeller for organizing the BMW Biergarten night at the DC in Clark which was held on Friday, May 11th. The event was moved up in the season so we could enjoy Alex Meissner and his Polka Band that the DC sought to have while they were in the area. Thanks also go to the many Club members who brought their cars out to be displayed and judged in in one of the three categories that had been established. The DC members enjoyed seeing the cars and are always welcoming to us when we are there. Many thanks also go to our Club members in attendance to support this event for us as well as the DC.

Now that the warm weather is finally upon us, it’s time to get the car out and ready for the track. There are some great events coming up like the K&N series Race and Drivers School at NJMP in June, as well as the Geoff Atkinson Memorial Driver School and Club Race at Summit Point Raceway in July, which is always a highlight of the summer. I hope to see you somewhere.


Related Articles - President's Corner