2015, Sep - Oct
Big bites of fun at the 60th VWCA Convention
By Shell Tomlin
Members of the Northeast Illinois Volkswagen Association hosted the 60th VWCA Convention in June, and they hit the ground running. Starting off the Friday activities was a cruise to nearby Augustino’s Rock & Roll restaurant, where a replica of Jake and Elwood Blues can be found lounging in the dining room. Augustino’s is a popular site in the western Chicago suburbs for cruise nights and impromptu car shows.
Then it was on to the Cascade Drive-in theater, one of only a handful of outdoor theaters still remaining in the country. NIVA members were clever enough to arrange for all of our group to park together so we could “party-on.” Cascade offers a double-feature, with the first film suitable for general audiences and the second, well, not so much. It was OK to leave early and not feel that you’d missed a lot.
Saturday morning’s business meeting brought out several fresh ideas for improvement of the club and its benefits to members. This bylaws-mandated gathering is sometimes thought to be too dry for some, but it was quite productive this time. If you usually skip this convention feature, it’s time to get your feet wet!
After lunch, it was time for Photoscenic 2015, back by popular demand. This rallye is fashioned after Chicago club member Gaston Krishman’s classic event of the 1960s and ’70s, where participants are given a page of photographs and their approximate locations. The goal is to drive to the object in the photo and answer a question about it. With almost any piece of information available via smartphone nowadays, this type of event is as challenging to the rallyemaster as it is to the participants. In the end, everyone finished and nobody got lost, even one who ran sans navigator.
This year’s awards banquet took an interesting twist. Just a few hundred yards from the headquarters hotel sits one of many Portillo’s Restaurants. Chicago-area folks know the Portillo’s chain for its famous hot dogs, but the restaurant also has a full line of pasta dishes, salads, beef entrees and the best chocolate cake you have ever eaten. (This writer remembers frequenting the first Portillo’s, a simple hot dog trailer located in a shopping center parking lot in the 1960s!) We took over the restaurant’s banquet room and were treated like royalty by the staff. This gave us enough privacy for our awards presentations after dinner.
Another unique twist was the slide presentation by Ryan Schulz during our meal. Rallye participants were encouraged to take photos of their adventures along the route and email them to Ryan. Roars of laughter periodically went up as we watched the successes and failures of our fellow rallyists shown on a large screen TV. Now there’s a concept that was never dreamed of back in the 1960s.
On Sunday, back at the headquarters hotel, the setup began for the car show and swap meet. This is NIVA’s regularly scheduled Bug Fest (one of two major NIVA car shows each year). After an all-night drizzle, by 9 a.m. the sun was shining and usual level of attendance of a typical Bug Fest was on hand. So many unique and beautiful VWs were on display, it was difficult to pick a favorite. You can see many of them in our website photo gallery at vwclub.org.
But all conventions must come to an end, so we bid our thanks to NIVA for a job well done. Next up is Kokomo, Ind., for the 61st, with the help of the City of First VW Club. More details later. VWCA
Shell Tomlin | firstname.lastname@example.org
Convention Award Winners
Eberle Newsletter Trophy: “Badger Beetles AutoFun News,” Laura and Lyle Kuklinski, editors
Woodbury Dunn Safety Award: Badger Beetles AutoFun Club, Lyle Kuklinski, safety director
Wolfsburg Trophy (most active local chapter): Northeast Illinois Volkswagen Association, Kirk Schulz, president
Photoscenic 2015 Rallye
1. Ryan Schulz, driver; Rick Carlson, navigator
2. Kim Rodriguez, driver; Bev Kuntzsch, navigator
3. John Portzer, driver; Laura Portzer, navigator
4. Tom Janiszewski, driver; Joe Marrazzo, navigator
5. Don Maldonado, driver; David Maldonado, navigator
6. Kirk Schulz, driver; Pam Schulz, navigator
7. Frank Caruso, driver; no navigator
G & H Import Auto Parts
9734 S Cicero Ave
Oak Lawn, IL 60453
Stiftung AutoMuseum Volkswagen
1070 Robert Fulton Highway
Quarryville, PA 17566
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:
- GOLF SPORTWAGEN: VW has a new Squareback and it's chuck full of surprises.
- LOSSES IN THE FAMILY: Deaths of three VWCA members leave a big hole.
- SUMMER SCHOOL: We hit the track and learn some key lessons for older drivers.
PLUS OUR REGULAR COLUMNS AND FEATURES:
- Driver's Seat - VW news & views by Cliff Leppke
- Frontdriver – Richard G. Van Treuren
- VolksWoman - Lois Grace
- Small Talk - VW and Audi news - quickly
- Retro Autoist - From the archives
- Parting Shot - Photo feature
- VW Toon-ups - Cartoon feature by Tom Janiszewski
BONUS FEATURE: Vintage videos capture early days of the VWCA
Recently, some rapidly deteriorating movie footage was discovered showing scenes from the fourth VWCA Convention in 1959 and a club rallye, gymkhana and hill climb of about the same era.
Although these were in poor condition and the sound tracks obliterated, they are still amusing to watch, whether you are a new member or an old-timer.
In one, you’ll notice the (then typical) disputes between rally driver and navigator, the skillful maneuvering of VWs through the cones on a gymkhana and a hill climb, once a frequent convention event.
Scenes from the fourth VWCA Convention recall the days when hundreds attended the business meeting in suits and ties, and smoking was common. The featured speaker at that convention, by the way, was legendary CBS newsman Walter Cronkite, seen in the video at the awards banquet.
To view these, go to yesvideo.com and click on the “sign in” button in the upper left corner. After clicking the sign-in box on the next page, enter the email address email@example.com and the password vwca2015 and the two videos will appear. Click the triangle in the center of the desired video to watch.
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Big bites of fun at the 60th VWCA Convention
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