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Gathering 2009

Mark Pribanic's article describing the event appears below the photos.  To see Mark's article in another format with the photos inserted at relevant points in the article, click here.  All photos courtesy of Connie Schmitt.

I attended last year’s GOF solo.  Some may remember that my wife, McCall, was pregnant and nearing her due date.  This year I brought my wife, my infant daughter and my mother.  Several Foggie’s had been asking about Winnifred, our daughter, and so I thought this would be a great first 356 event for her.  As in all road trips, I am usually dialing something in to make for a smooth trip.  This pre-trip focus was on adjusting the clutch cable and making sure the fuel filter was clean and rust flake free.

We were to depart around lunch time on Friday.  I left the office & met my family at the gas station  to top off the tank.  I was about to hop in the car to leave, when I decided to check the oil.  It was a good thing I did because there was zero oil in the case.  Fortunately, I always travel with spares and especially with the price of oil these days I usually carry 4 quarts of oil.  I topped off the oil and we were off for the 200 mile trip.  My next question was where did all the oil go?

The drive down was sunny & cold.  Like many living in Florida I did not have heat hooked up in the coupe. However, I did have the trusty plaid wool blankets to keep me warm.  The trip down was breezy.  Just southwest of Daytona Beach I came upon the only 356 I would see during the 3 hour trip.  As I approached the 356 I recognized it as Bob & Connie Schmitt driving their very nice 1959 silver coupe.  It would have made a great driving picture, but my wife found the digital camera in the bottom of the dryer while she was finishing the packing earlier in the morning

We arrived early, checked in, and then proceeded to register with the Florida Owners Group event organizers.  I was handed two bags.  The first was a red gift bag from Heacock Classic automobile insurance.  Inside was our event schedule and other marketing materials for Lakeland. The second bag was a lap top bag/ attaché case handed to me by Trustee Mike Davis.  The lap top bag was a cool surprise and was given to all who registered as a gift from Mike.  The FOG logo is embroidered on the outside.  There are a few for sale.  You can contact Mike Davis for availability by clicking here. (Note from Mike: the attaché cases for sale are not the same as the ones distributed to registrants at the event, which were expandable cases capable of holding a laptop computer. The ones for sale at $10.00 each are not expandable, but are great for toting around papers while proudly displaying the FOG logo.)

After registering, I had a great conversation with Larry Marshall.  Larry told me he once owned a 4 cam Speedster back out west.  He purchased it while living in the Bay area and had it several years. Did I mention it was his daily driver?

 The Cocktail party lasted a couple of hours and was a great opportunity to meet new people, their spouses and catch up with old friends.  I enjoyed talking with Registry Trustee George Dunn.  George drove his green ’65 cab from Atlanta to the event. We spent several minutes talking about how the Registry has been focusing on implementing technology to better communicate and streamline costs.  Everyone went to supper on their own accord with most people opting for Harry’s Seafood. 

 The morning came quickly and except for the chill in the air the weather was perfect, sunny with clear skies.  As 10am approached many of the 356’s were in place around the green terraces overlooking Lake Mirror.  Due to Mike Owen and Dennis Frick’s meticulously plotting on graph paper, the cars were laid out with ample room between them.  The Porsches were parked by class or generation.  Pre A & A coupes and open, B coupes & open, and C coupes and open 356’s.  The event was people’s choice and I had a fun time trying to explain the different 356’s to my wife and mother.  They both enjoyed talking with the owners who had great stories to tell. I’m a big early 356 fan and was happy to see 2 pre A’s at the event.  Dennis Frick brought his multiple award winning Azure Blue 1955 Continental Coupe and Jim Doughton his 1953 Cab.

The breakdown of cars was:
Pre A/ A coupes: 4
Pre A/A open: 9
B coupes: 4
B open:  3
C coupes:  9
C open: 6

The people’s choice voting ballots were turned in at noon.  The concours was now over and everyone packed up and headed back to the Terrace Hotel for a 2 hour lunch break. The afternoon began with a driving tour through old Florida 2 lane roads and over a couple of hills through a few orange groves.  There were several fun low speed turns throughout the tour.  The tour concluded over an hour later at Harry and Judy Bopp’s house.  We had the pleasure to view Harry’s 356s and the spotless garage in which the cars are housed.  The Porsches were meticulously displayed and are worthy of being in any world class auto museum.  They included a 1958 Carrera Speedster, a 1957 Speedster and an early 1960’s Carrera 2 Coupe.

 The evening began with a cocktail party were we all gathered to catch up on the days earlier events.  Shortly after, we moved into the banquet room for supper and awards.  I have listed the Peoples Choice awards below.

Open Mike Owen – 1956 Speedster
Closed Dennis Frick – 1955 Continental Coupe
Open – Mark Koorland and Vivian Fueyo – 1963 B Cabriolet
Closed – John King .1962 Coupe
Open- Mike Davis – 1965 Cab
Closed – Terry Davis – 1964 SC Coupe
Peoples choice Harry Bopp – 1958 Carrera Speedster

Next up was the “Drive those cars” awards.  This year’s winner, Sid Wilde, raised the bar by clocking 20,000+ miles in 2008.  Second and third place were taken by George Dunn and Glen Getchell.  Both George and Glen had just under 10,000 miles.  2009 promises to be another great year of driving and,  if I had to guess, George Dunn probably has a good start by racking 1000+ miles during the weekend in his ’65 Cab.  Next on the evening agenda was an update by George, our newly elected 356 Registry trustee.  George brought us up to speed on how the Registry is utilizing the internet to help advance the platform in which we communicate.  In case you are not aware, the 356 Registry has launched a new talk forum in which it is easier to follow a topic, post pictures, share information and list your classifieds.  In the short 9-10 months the new forum has been in place it has already surpassed the old talk list in number of subscribers.  Additionally there are 111 pages of pictures in the “Album” to browse through.  If you have not yet seen it, you can access it through the 356 Registry’s home page. 

 Sunday morning we reconvened in the banquet room to partake in an educational discussion on show quality restorations.  The discussion was lead by well known Porsche expert Dennis Frick.  We learned the differences between a PCA concours, a Pebble Beach type concours and the AACA style of judging.  I was impressed with the great lengths and high level of detail people pursue to win an award.

 The weekend came to a close with the FOG annual meeting.  Our President, John Reker opened with the healthy state of the club.  Mike Davis followed up on our financial well being and reviewed our improved website, launched late 2007, early 2008.  Next up was Mike Owen who reviewed the shows/events from 2008 and what to look forward to in 2009.  The 2009 GOF concluded as we said our farewells. 

 I hope 2009 brings every one plenty of pleasurable driving weather.  Here’s to the wind in your face and the sun at your back!