By Marc A. Fails, President
Central Penn SAAB Club
Since our formal convention announcement, a great deal has been accomplished, with even more left to do, but I want to thank everyone who has contacted me to date to volunteer to help. I continue to hear from people weekly, offering suggestions, and I want to stress how important it is that this continues. If you have an idea, share it, and we'll see how it can be implemented. Special thanks to Tom Nelson, Larry West, Phil Lacefiled and Dan Orzano who have all shared their experiences with me and are helping the cause. Your help is greatly appreciated. Several other key people are sending me whatever they uncover on the various chat boards, etc. and we are filtering through these ideas on a daily basis.
I am pleased to announce that Christine Krueger from Atlanta, GA was the first person to register at The Hershey Lodge. Christine is a regular attendee at SAABtoberfest, and a four- time long-distance award winner at that event, so I wasn't too surprised. Thanks Christine.
On October 21, SCNA President Garry Grimes made of presentation to SAAB Cars USA of the 2003 Convention Planning Guide; my lengthy wish-list; and our progress to-date. A teleconference will take place hopefully before year-end. While we are on the subject of SAAB Cars USA, I have been asked several times as to the impact GM's recent announcements and management changes at SAAB will have on SOC2003. While I have nothing written in stone, I have received no indications from SAAB Cars USA that SOC2003 will be impacted, but in today's business climate, we also know that this could change overnight. I will close this subject by saying I am not losing sleep over it, nor should you at this point.
I have heard from a few sponsors and potential sponsors, and am pleased to say that Kevin Brewer (Brewer's SAAB), Bill Jacobson (Sports Car Service and Hunt Valley SAAB) Kevin Booth (Lititiz Auto Service) and Ken Lehman (Lehman Motors SAAB) were the first to have expressed early interest in supporting SOC2003. Kevin Booth and his team at Lititz Auto Service announce that in addition, their shop will be open on both September 4 and 5 for convention attendees only, should anyone need to use their facilities, for repairs or even an oil change. They will also provide rollback service should anyone encounter problems on the road. Thanks to Kevin Brewer, Bill Jacobson, Ken Lehman and the Lititiz Auto Service team:Kevin, Dale, Don and Zack for their early support. The sponsorship programs will be completed and posted on the convention website within the next few days. Information packets will be mailed out to potential sponsors in January. Inquiries regarding sponsorship may be directed to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the help of Don Fatzinger, we have secured our headline speaker for SOC2003. Once we have received a formal bio and discussion topic, we will announce his name formally, but will offer a few clues until that time. He has written on automotive and racing topics for years; has been involved in racing and rallying equally as long and is as witty and entertaining as he is skilled behind the wheel. And no, it is not Mario Andretti.
I have received a great deal of input on the awards, Concour, People's Choice, name tags, and many other topics. I await samples for the 2003 awards, which tentatively are going to be an etched acrylic, of "yet-to-be-determined" design. Once a design has been chosen, we will mock up an example and post on the convention website for everyone to view. Chris Moberg, who has been snowed in, both literally and figuratively, continues to work on the convention website, with much more to come, including details of The Viking Challenge and rules, People's Choice categories, Autocross, and much, much more. I have received numerous inquiries regarding the Concour, and while I await the Concour Committee's list of classes, I want to point out a few things regarding the Concour.
I have read many accounts from people who voice varying levels of dissatisfaction on the Concour. First and foremost, Larry West and his committee members do a very fine job, but I believe we need to spell out once again what the event is, and what it isn't. It is a display for cars that most resemble their condition upon leaving "the factory". Regardless of how a car may have been purchased new, if it even has dealer installed items on it, they typically would not merit recognition or points on most Concour fields. For cars that are either highly modified, or restored to some standard other than how it left the factory, this is where I see the most questions and disappointment.
While I feel the committee has done a good job of accommodating the number of cars that have entered, the time has come for another event to supplement an already overworked team of judges. With the addition of the People's Choice event, and the addition of 63+ awards, including a category for "Under Construction" or cars not quite finished, I think we will offer something for everyone. This is particularly true with the proliferation of many note-worthy, and highly modified SAABs now attending events on a regular basis. The Viking Challenge will offer it's own set of awards for competition cars as well. This diversity is very exciting indeed, and should capture the interest of all in attendance. On the topic of shows, one thing I have noticed missing from many cars is the presence of a "Show Card" on the dash. A Show Card is your method of communicating with onlookers and judges alike. It spells out not only the obvious features of the car, but the not-so-obvious ones too, which you want people to know about. I have used them for years on all of my cars (yes, even before SAABs) and they always seem to catch the eye of on-lookers. We will also be posting an example of a "show card", which is used in many car show venues to describe pertinent details of the car. These are important because people will refer to them as they look at your car, and will take note of the little touches you've made mention of on the card. At SOC2003, we will also be providing dash cards, which will have space to describe some of the features of your car, but probably won't be as detailed as you could make on your own.
One of the areas I wanted to particularly emphasize in 2003 was the Under 21 participants. At the time I recognized this as a priority, no one could have imagined how truly meaningful it would become, given the recent passing of the Crisman brothers. It had a direct impact on my own club because several of our young members knew them quite well. I am deeply touched by the responses I have read, and by Scott Paterson's willingness to publicly offer our heartfelt sentiments for the loss of Kyle and Timothy. While many have suggested that we do something in their honor, I have yet to receive any specifics as to what that something should be. Scott Paterson and Saabnet.com has offered to co-sponsor a memorial award, and with that, I would propose the following: "The Kyle and Timothy Crisman Memorial Award": dedicated to a deserving Under 21 participant at SOC2003. Any participant who is 21 and under, and has a SAAB registered and present at the event, will be eligible. This award will be selected under the People's Choice balloting on the People's Choice Show Field. I will appreciate hearing from others who may have other suggestions, or offer support of this proposal.
Other topics that have surfaced in the past few weeks include the information, or lack of, on the name badges. Of particular note, many wives have voiced their discontent of not having any car information included on their badges, when their husbands did. I have also seen other suggestions about including an "electronic alias" as well. All of these are reasonable, and most importantly, "do-able". On the registration form, there will be an additional line to add whatever name, or club info you'd like.
Registration forms, menus and many other items are completed, or nearing completion shortly, and will be posted on the convention website soon. I have had a flurry of suggestions concerning Technical sessions, and potential speakers, and I am working on each of these, but will take some time to evaluate and work into the schedule. Once we have more detail, it will be passed on in a subsequent update.
Please continue to offer your suggestions and assistance. It is greatly appreciated.
Until next time...
Marc Fails, Chairman
2003 SAAB Owners' Convention