Friday, August 16, 2013

The Inspiring Beginnings of Porsche Club of America

Bill Sholar, an artist and resident of D.C. during the 1950’s once had a great idea. The idea was what is now called the Porsche Club of America. Though neither an auto maker nor a mechanic, Sholar was a fan of fine automobiles. It was his experiences with his 1953 356 Coupe that egged him on to embark on building a community with other Porsche owners. It wasn’t enough for him to blink his lights at the few other people driving Porsches— he wanted for these strangers to be his comrades in his enthusiasm for the classy car brand.

Bill arranged his first gathering with a few local Porsche owners in February 1955 at his own home. Amidst the occasional fellowship over Porsche news and tips was the idea to start a club. They jumped right on it: the following August a portion of Sports Car Illustrated announced to its readers of a Porsche club forming.  What started as “the Gripe Group” became the Porsche Club of America. The first official meeting in September gathered 12 of its first members. Soon after, Sholar was elected as the first club president. Sholar then sought out more members through announcements of the new Porsche Club of America in the Christophorus magazine. Half a year later the club had attained over 150 more members.

Popularity grew. Members were found not just in the D.C. area, known as the Potomac region, but many more regions on the east coast. Potomac was the head honcho, the founding region. Despite the far-stretching regions, PCA enabled a way to reach out to local and long-distance members. The club made it a point to keep members informed with latest news on activities, technology, and affairs of the Porsche factory. December of 1956 released PCA’s monthly magazine, the Panorama.

PCA was on a roll. The club started its first major event, the “Porsche Parade,” during the summer 1956 in the Potomac Region. Participation in the Parade was open to all PCA members, which resulted in the participation of 64 of them. With socializing and the Parade aside, there were competitions to turn up the heat and factory service reps to educate members with some Porsche tips and tricks. The Parade wasn’t absolutely confined to PCA members. Participants showcased their classy automobiles parading down the streets of Gaithersburg, Maryland.

A year later, nationwide membership grew by more than 100% within 21 regions, expanding westward. 1957 kicked off the Concours d’Elegance, the election of PCA officers nationwide, and relations on an international level.  A new annual event was also introduced in 1960 and was called the “Treffen.”  It became a trip to provide American Porsche enthusiasts the opportunity to visit the Porsche factory in Germany. The Treffen event now has expanded to also visiting the new Porsche Museum and other hot spots in Stuttgart, Weissach, and Leipzig. In pursuit of more interaction, PCA appointed its first activity coordinator in 1961. Hopes were to generate more opportunities for fun and fellowship. This actually did get the ball rolling even faster, as PCA built distinction as one of the best worldwide sports car communities.

By 1963 the Parade had been hosted in New York and Colorado. And during this time even greater leaps occurred when an incredible woman by the name of Jane Nestlerode took office as Executive Secretary— membership of PCA had an eightfold increase! As membership grew, so did PCA’s agenda. Throughout the 1960’s a wider range of cars appeared at events, including the 904, 906, Spyder, and 911. PCA became more inclusive to all sorts of Porsche owners in offering preparation classes for concours and speed events for both geared up and not-so-geared-up cars. And, by 1970, the annual Parade had 500 or so participants shuffling throughout the week making sure their cars and events looked and ran smoothly.

Porsche Club of America has 139 regions and 100,000+ members across the nation to date. It‘s renowned for its superb philanthropic community that seems to perpetually grow in not only numbers, but quality. Before doing research for this blog I thought PCA was just some neat club to join if ever I owned a Porsche (unfortunately, I’m currently a broke college student. Ha-ha). What I’ve come to find, however, is a great respect for the strength and generosity given by the contributing members of PCA; I commend the founders, alumni, and current organizers of PCA for creating a wonderful means for humans to interact, share, and pass sweet time! After all this blogging I want a sexy Porsche just to be an active participant in the Porsche Club of America.  :p 


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