President’s Corner – Summer 2019


By Neil Gambony

In October 2019, the BMW CCA will be celebrating its 50th anniversary at the Oktoberfest celebration in Greenville, South Carolina. Over one thousand members have registered for the event, sure to be one for the record books. The BMWCCA, now known as the BMW CCA, was formed in 1969 in Massachusetts by some overly enthusiastic 2002 owners.

To put 1969 in perspective, Richard Nixon was elected the 37th POTUS, the Beatles recorded and released their last album Abbey Road, IMSA (International Motor Sport Association) was formed by John Bishop, Mario Andretti won the Indy 500 and who could forget Woodstock, an event that changed the course of music forever.

For our Chapter, 1970 was an important year; it was the year that the New Jersey Chapter became the fourth chapter to join the BMW CCA. We will be celebrating our 50th anniversary in 2020, exactly how I am unsure of at this time.

An event that I have been attending since 1998 is the US Vintage Grand Prix held in Watkins Glen NY, typically held on the first weekend of September after the Labor Day holiday. Since I own vintage cars, the newest model year car being a 2007 E92, I also enjoy seeing vintage race cars. Some of the cars at this event are ones that I have seen racing in their heyday in the 80s and 90s, yes it makes me feel old seeing them again.

This is not a BMW CCA event. However, in all the times of my attendance there I have seen members from the New Jersey, Delaware Valley, New York and Genesee Valley Chapters, as well as I’m sure there are many more members from other regions that I haven’t met yet. Some of them are spectators like me, others are participants.

The US Vintage Grand Prix is sanctioned by the SVRA, which is the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association, one of the oldest and largest vintage racing groups. The cars that race over the weekend are from many different disciplines; there could be former Formula One, Indy, NASCAR, Trans-Am, ALMS and IMSA competition cars as well as cars raced in the SCCA such as the production cars or as I call them the “alphabet cars”.

There are sports cars both large- and small-bore, GT cars, formula cars, spec racers and prototypes. There are Corvettes, Mustangs, MGs, BMWs, Jaguars, Porsches, Minis, Alfa Romeos, Datsun and Volvos just to name a few makes. This year the featured marquee car happens to be Triumph, it’s been a few years since BMW was featured. A typical weekend will have between 400-500 cars.

The event is really a 2-part celebration. The main part is the use of Watkins Glen International (WGI); A 3.4 mile road course circuit located approximately 5 miles from the Village of Watkins Glen which is situated at the southern tip of Lake Seneca, one of the Finger Lakes. The second part of the event takes place in the Village of Watkins Glen on Friday.

Watkins Glen is where the first Grand Prix was held in the US after World War II and marked the revival of road course racing in the U.S. A 6.6-mile road course was established on public roads which still exist today although they have not been used for racing since 1952. On the Friday afternoon of the weekend several hundred race cars are escorted from the track where they have been practicing for the day to town where they join the festivities that have been going on all day.

In the town which has been closed off to thru traffic for the day, thousands of people are taking part of the many events going on such as car shows, gymkhanas, art shows, wine tasting, car tours, and listening to live music playing from rooftops. When the race cars arrive from the track they line both sides of Franklin Street which is the main street through town. This gives everyone a chance to look at the cars up close and talk with the drivers who are more than happy to share the heritage about the car. There is even the possibility that the owner of the car is the original owner/driver.

Franklin Street is an interesting one, there are granite markers set in the sidewalk that are engraved with racer’s names on them, racers who have raced either on the original street course or those who have raced at WGI, it’s similar to Hollywood’s walk of shame. I couldn’t imagine what it would have been like standing behind (or even sitting on) the hay bales that lined the street when the Grand Prix cars roared past in 1948.

At about 6 PM the cars are escorted in groups around the original 6.6-mile circuit for 2 laps and it is always a thrill to see them re-enter Franklin Street. Many drivers have either their significant other or a crew member ride with them, surely a thrill for both occupants of the car. When the laps are over, they are then escorted back to the track for the rest of the weekend’s activities.

Back at the track for the remainder of the weekend, there are qualifying and racing sessions for the racers, either in 1/2-hour or 1-hour enduros. The cars are run in groups such as those they ran in when originallycompetitive or they may grouped into an enduro of similar performance cars. There are also several feature races such as the Collier Cup for MG automobiles, named for the brothers of Miles and Sam Collier who started the Automobile Racing Club of America in 1933 which later became the Sports Car Club of America in 1944.

The Collier brothers were businessmen from New York City and were involved in the importing of MG cars, the car of choice for racing in the 40’s and 50’s. Their involvement of car importation opened the door for others to be able to import cars such as Max Hoffman; among the many of the car brands he brought was BMW. The rest as we say is history.

Among the other races of the weekend is the new Trans -Am series. The management of the SVRA now also runs the Trans-am series with four different classes of cars. Although the main class has a lot of American cars such as Mustangs, Camaros and Challengers, there are also other classes that have BMWs, Porsches, Aston Martins, Ferraris, Audis, McLaren and Mercedes-Benz. The downside to having the Trans-Am race there is that a few vintage race groups were eliminated to make room in the schedule.

As we head into the Fall, we need to consider our Club Officers for next year. We will be holding the election at our December Meeting with the Pinewood Derby. The positions available are: President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary, Social Chairperson, Driving Events, and 2 Member-at-Large positions. If you are interested or know of anyone else who may be, please send our Secretary David Allaway, a note with your nominee.

We will be holding our final Driver School at the Shenandoah circuit of the Summit Point Raceway complex on October 5th-6th. This is a technical, 2-mile course with 23 turns, and a scaled down version of the carrousel turn of the Nurburgring racetrack in Germany. It’s also the only track we use where we use the skidpad. Hopefully it will be cooler there than when we were at Summit Main back in July. I hope to see you there.

Neil Gambony

President’s Corner – Winter 2019


By Neil Gambony

Welcome to 2019. I’m happy to report that we are heading into the year with only a few minor changes from last year. Yes, we will be holding our usual Driver Schools/Club Races, autocrosses, rallies and the Street Survival Schools. We will also be holding the Spring Social. Vice-President Paul Ngai has come up with a year’s worth of programs; he will be making announcements about them as the details are finalized.

There are some minor changes on the Board of Directors, one them is Jeff Caldwell has stepped down from his Member-at-Large position to run for the North Atlantic Region Vice President’s position. The good news is he has won the spot. I am looking forward to Jeff representing New Jersey as well as the other Chapters in our region on the BMW CCA Board.

Mark Hulbrock has stepped up to take over the vacant position of Member-at-Large. Some of you may know Mark from our Driver Schools; he has been an Instructor for several years. He brings to the Board his experience of website design and development; I am expecting to see some changes on the website in the future. Mark will also be giving us more exposure on social media; we could always use a few more members who share the same passion we have for BMWs.

Another change to our Board, Vic Lucariello Jr. who has been our Social Chairperson, has stepped down due to commitments with his employment. Vic has graciously committed to the Chapter to finish organizing the Spring Social which will be held on March 30th at the Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit, NJ. If anyone is interested in taking on the position of Social Chairperson and would like to know what the responsibilities are, please contact me, my e-mail address is at the end of this column.

One pleasant point of business that carries over from last year involves the Whack Your Turkey Rally. Through the generosity of the participants and the Club kicking in a few more dollars, we were able to contribute one thousand dollars to the Food Bank of NORWESCAP. NORWESCAP is the Northwest New Jersey Community Action Program. One of their programs is the food bank which distributes over 2 million pounds of food to charitable organizations in Hunterdon, Warren, and Sussex Counties. Many thanks go to our Co-Rallymasters, Jeff White, Trisha Camp, Doug Feigel and Sherrie Natko on the success of the Whack Your Turkey Rally.

On the National level, an event to look forward to later in the year is Oktoberfest. Last year we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 2002, this year we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the forming of the BMW CCA. The date for O’Fest will be October 15th through the 19th.

The BMW CCA has promised that the event will be nothing less than spectacular and it will be held in Greenville, South Carolina. That puts it right near the BMW Spartanburg factory, the new BMW CCA Headquarters in Greer and the BMW CCA Foundation which is also located in Greer. There will be more information coming out about the event or you can go to the BMW CCA website and find the information there.

Something I have finally done this winter was upgrading my ride. I sold my old half German car, a Chrysler PT Cruiser. Yes, the PT Cruiser was made by Chrysler when they were in cahoots with Daimler; I think we all know how that turned out. Now the Cruiser was a great car, had plenty of space inside to lug everything you need to the track, the only problem was it was not a car to drive on the track.

My search began when I saw an ad for a MINI in a local stuff for sale publication that was in my budget. I had read Melissa Cunningham’s story in the Roundel a while back how a group of several hundred Minis congregated to the opening day of Watkins Glen International in the spring where they also took a tour of several of the vineyards in the region surrounding Watkins Glen. I thought I would like to get in on the MINI fun or maxi fun as what it sounded more like, I responded to the ad for the MINI. This wouldn’t have been the first MINI in the family; my younger brother has several MINI although they were made by BMC, not BMW.

As I’m writing this story, I’m beginning to find out what “Initial Ramblings” author JT Burkard goes through when purchasing cars; this is a classic example of “you can’t make this stuff up.” I called the number and got the owner of the MINI. The car was available; however he was out of town at the moment. As it turned out his return coincided with my having to go out of town.

Not wanting to miss out while I was out of town, I had asked my older brother (I have 4 brothers) to call and check it out. The response he got when he called was the car was in a repair shop, apparently with a mechanic who not in a hurry to repair it.

When the next edition of the publication was out where I had originally seen the ad for the car, he had raised the price several hundred dollars obviously trying to recoup upon the expense of getting it repaired, yet was not able to show the car since it was still with the mechanic being repaired. A follow-up call a week or so later, the owner decided after the expense of the repair he was going to hold on to the car but would call me if he decided to put it up for sale again.

So if you are still reading this and wondering what I ended up buying, I decided to go in a different direction. Realizing that I had purchased 3 325iXs in the past, I wanted to go back to having an all-wheel drive car again. I made a deal with the owner, Don, of a local store I frequent often for an E92 328Xi with an automatic that he had bought for his son to use while he attended college. Now that Don’s son was done with school and had joined the Marines, he had decided to sell the car. Don’s son had decided to get a car that didn’t require as much maintenance and didn’t have RFTs (run flat tires). He didn’t like the idea of not having a spare if there was a problem late at night. The tires are something I’ll have to deal with when they wear out.

Now this is where I get to make a shameless plug for the Tire Rack Street Survival School for teenage drivers since we are planning two for this year. I had encouraged Don to enroll his son in the program a few years back and he was more than eager to do so. So my car has completed the program, or more appropriately, Don’s son is a graduate of the program. I expect to see Don’s daughter there when she is eligible.

I’ve only been driving the car a short while but can tell that monumental advancements in technology have been made in the 20 or so years from when the iX was developed. The one thing that I have mastered using in the car this winter is the seat heater, everything else I am still learning about.

I enjoy the simplicity of the E30 iX, a car that I am able to do much of the maintenance and repair work on by myself; I’ll have to see how much of the E92 I can do by myself and what additional tools I will need to purchase. The one thing that I have noticed is that both the iX, one of which I still have, and the Xi are black, a coincidence?


Club Happenings – Fall 2016: Circle BMW Hosts its First Oktoberfest


By Matt Baratz

The trees hadn’t quite blossomed last spring when Circle BMW contacted our Chapter to inquire what kind of an event the Chapter might like in 2016. Circle has hosted a dealer meeting at its pristine Eatontown facility for many years and it never fails to impress the membership with its events.

Pam Marshall, Circle’s Director of Marketing and Communications and Ken Vicari, its Parts Manager, have hosted tech sessions and new product presentations at previous events. Pam and Ken wanted to build on Circle BMW’s tradition of success and create a really special experience for the Chapter. When Board Member John Gyorfy suggested a show and shine, the team at Circle hit on an Oktoberfest event and a new Chapter tradition was established.

Over the summer, plans for the event solidified – it would be held on October 8th, a real celebration in prime Oktoberfest time. By mid-September, more than 100 members had registered for the show and shine.

Circle hosted the event at its beautiful new back lot overlooking the dealership. They set up registration, hospitality and raffle stations and arranged for BMW to demonstrate its detailing system on a Caribbean Aqua Mini Convertible. Circle even opened a dedicated parts store and offered special pricing for members. Circle also provided a prime spot for the New Jersey Chapter’s tent and over the course of the day we registered new Club members and sold some of national’s nicest bling.

BMW Chemical demonstrated its incredible detailing system. Photos by Justin Kennelty

By late morning the lot filled up with fine German metal. Circle displayed a new M2, an M3, as well as an M4, an M6 and an i8. They joined a wide range of classic Bavarian beauties, from shark-nosed E24 classics to V-8 E92 M3s and Individual F32 M4s. There were even a few fine motors from Stuttgart and Sindelfingen and one silver beauty from Modena.

Photos by Justin Kennelty

Circle arranged to have Sterling Sowerby, also known as the Flying Deutschman, drop by in his incredible mobile beergarten. Sowerby’s Currywurst is just as good as they serve in Charlottenberg and maybe better because Circle treated the attendees to lunch. The Deutschman went through so much food that his truck must have really flown home.

Photos by Justin Kennelty

After lunch, Circle raffled some great prizes including BMW’s new carbon fiber bike which was won by Vic Lucariello, Jr. As goody bags were loaded into trunks and engines fired up, Circle bid farewell to participants and promised to make this fabulous event an annual tradition.

Jeff Caldwell, Marc Goeller, Ken Vicari and Pam Marshall
pose with raffle winner Vic Lucariello, Jr. Photo by Justin Kennelty

Thanks for a great event Circle, we tip our Trachtenhats to you.

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