President’s Corner – Spring 2020


I hope this message finds all of you and your families well. The last few months have become a difficult time physically, mentally and financially for many. How have you been spending your time? Perhaps you have been home schooling your loved ones, working remotely, finishing projects you had been putting off or just laying low hoping to emerge when the time is right.

Personally, I think I have found my biggest challenge of all the years of my being President of the New Jersey Chapter — what to report when there is very little to report. Normally I use my column to fill you in on events that may have occurred recently or events that may be coming up on the horizon. Right now we are dealing with a great amount of uncertainty. Many world events have either been canceled or postponed until a later date; it will be strange not watching the Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix on the Memorial Day weekend but I will be happy to see them later in the year.

We are now almost 3 months into a governmental induced shutdown caused by a pandemic of the coronavirus. I am not going to write about that, I’m sure you’ve heard enough about it already and are probably either no longer watching or listening to the daily news other than to hear when state and local businesses will reopen and yes, restaurants.

For their members’ safety, the BMW CCA National Office has suspended all Chapters from holding any events until June 2nd. No word yet on whether they will suspend events past that date. This will depend on governmental mandates; it may even be by region. There is also no indication from our own governor as to when he will let us all get back to work. I certainly don’t expect life, or business for that matter, to be the way it was for a very long time.

All we can do at this time is to prepare for when the stages of reopening happen. Currently it is difficult to plan for events when we don’t know to what capacity our events can be or whether we can be indoors. Most of our events except our monthly meetings are outside so that may not be a problem, weather cooperating.

Let me start with some things I do know. The Driver School and Club Race that was scheduled for June 8-9 has been canceled. There were too many unknowns with what protocols we would have to follow to have a safe event while maintaining social distancing. There is also is the possibility of the governor extending the quarantine past June. It would have been a major financial loss to the Club if we were to have proceeded with the event.

Another event that is victim of the pandemic is the Street
Survival School that was scheduled for Sunday, June 28th. We still have the September Street Survival School on the calendar; we’ll know more about holding the school later in the summer.

The 50th year celebration of the New Jersey Chapter founding has been postponed until next year, 2021. There is currently no date or venue scheduled but expect it to be in the warm weather months so we can enjoy an outdoor gathering of people and cars. It just didn’t make any sense to try to have it later this year; we need to return to some kind of normalcy, whatever that may be and it needs to be something that we can all enjoy.

We also have some events on the schedule for July. First up is the Biergarten at the Deutscher Club in Clark, Friday July 10th. The following weekend of July 18-19 is the 6th Annual Geoff Atkinson Memorial Driver School and Club Race at Summit Point, West Virginia. Finishing out July is an Autocross on July 26th at the TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater. You will be able to find more information about these events and their status on our website.

If you haven’t been looking at our website the last few weeks, check it out. You will find the updated version is finally here. We are still working some of the bugs out of it but I think you will find it more user-friendly. Our goals are to be able to have more pictures, personal interest stories and after-event posts that are timely. You may find you can connect to some of our sponsors through their advertisements. Many thanks to Mark Hulbrock and Colin Vozeh for getting the “new” website done.

Last year I had mentioned buying a 2007 328Xi. I still have and love my 1988 E30 iX but wanted a car that had cup holders. As an update to the story, I had mentioned how great the seat heaters are; the other feature I like very much is the stereo volume control in the steering wheel. I have gotten so attached to it that when I push the same spot on the wheel in my work van I just end up blowing the horn. I’m also impressed with the mileage I get at keeping-up-with-traffic speed.

The main reason the previous owner wanted to sell the car was the run flat tires or the RFTs as they’re known as. Unexpectedly I had to deal with this issue after several months of driving the car. The tire pressure monitor system was telling me I had leak in the right rear. Adding air would last a week or so before the system light came back on. After checking the Tirerack website for what run flats were selling for, I needed to confirm what the issue was before purchasing a tire. I removed the wheel from the car and placed it in a big vat of water. With that I found I had some good and some bad news, the good news was the tire was okay, the bad news was the rim was the problem. There was a crack on the inside of the rim that was not visible until after seeing air bubbles coming out of it in the water.

I contacted another member with a similar vehicle for advice and it was conclusive that eBay and Craigslist were the way to go. I watched a set of 4 very, very low mileage Bridgestone RFTs mounted on the same style rim I had for a week on Craigslist and realized the owner was anxious to sell since he had lowered the price when I had checked on Saturday morning. After making contact with the seller, I had negotiated a counteroffer which was accepted. The downside of the deal was they were located about 2 hours away in South Jersey but it was a trip well worth taking. For a little over what 2 tires would have cost from the Tirerack I now had a set of rims that were in much nicer shape than the ones that came with the car along with tires that had low mileage. Eventually when I find another rim I will have a set of tires that I can use for autocrossing.

To those of you who are essential workers and first line responders, I would like to express my gratitude and say thank you for you have been doing the last several months. I look forward to when we can all be together with minimal restrictions.

Stay Safe.

Neil Gambony

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