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Zone Rep Report December 2011

Sean CridlandIn the Zone by Sean Cridland

            If you’ve read my columns before, you know that I don’t shy away from my love for new technology. Certainly Porsche has made its reputation on the world stage by being a step or several ahead of its competitors in engine, handling, and aerodynamic developments. At the same time, much of our PCA activity has centered on tradition. And that often means fetishizing a particular favorite model or period. Sometimes that leads to an interesting tension between Porsche’s reputation as an innovator and Porsche enthusiasts’ love for the brand as they’ve come to know it.

This past month I’ve found myself at a similar crossroads with a project I’ve been working on for Zone 9. I’ve been updating the Zone 9 website  (see http://zone9.pca.org ) and have been working on a couple of historical pages. One of them is a listing of all our Zone 9 Reps and the other is a page which commemorates Zone 9’s Regions and members who have won either National or Overall Parade trophies.

This project came about when I was over in Amarillo this fall visiting the Llano Estacado Region for their 45th anniversary. While there, I met former Zone 9 Rep Mike Tiernan and we started talking about who all the Zone 9 Reps had been. I said, “you know, Mike, a couple of years ago Frank Barrett and Dale Thero -- also former Zone 9 reps -- put together a list. I’ll send it to you.” Of course, when I got home, I couldn’t find it. So, recently I got back in touch with Frank and Dale and we reconstructed the list. Then we ran it by other former Zone 9 Reps Kathy Fricke and Larry Pittsley. OK, we got it and did it.

So, I figured, rather than lose it again, we should post it on the Zone 9 site for all to see. But once I got it there, I was unsatisfied. It looked empty. In putting together the list, a number of colorful stories were told about this person or that who contributed to the Regions that make up Zone 9 and it got my mind going again. Rather than just a list, we need some photos and biographies. Well, that’s a different kind of project entirely. See, it works out that many of us who are having fun with our Porsches and great times with the people of PCA don’t ever think to write anything down or even to take photos. These days it’s a bit different because our phones have cameras and the digital age has made it much easier and cheaper to record just about everything. But that wasn’t the case in decades prior. And even if people did take photos, not as many thought anyone would want to see them in 10, 20, 30, or 50 years!

Finding info on the last four Zone 9 Reps was easy. They’re still active in the club and it’s just a matter of rousting them to get something to me. Going back a little further is harder. Luckily for me, Frank Barrett is an author and former newsletter editor and has a mind for keeping and recording things. I’m also lucky to be able to draw on some members from my own and nearby Regions who were present for some of the great adventures and stories. Roadrunner Dave Stinchcomb has a wealth of stories about Zone 9 in the 70s. Carrera past-President Fran Walker knows everyone from that era and even manages to keep track of many of them.

We’re also luck to have some PCA members who are either club-historians or just keenly interested or both. Amy Legg-Rogers is the Rocky Mountain Region’s historian and has done some good digging around for me. Phyllis Godfredson and Kathleen Lennon of Alpine Mountain Region have done some excellent research and found some info that I was having trouble with. National PCA Historian RJ Wilmoth and PCA Office Manager Charlotte Chirinos have both helped me to find bits and pieces. I was able to find a thread about one of our early Zone 9 Reps, Jim McConnell (dec.) on the Studebaker Drivers forum on-line and through them his wife Mary contacted me. And the list goes on. So now it seems that I have info on all our Zone 9 Reps, starting with Jim Stubbs at the very beginning in 1974.

Our list of Zone 9 Reps is:

For more complete info see http://zone9.pca.org/history.html

What struck me as I was working with everyone to pull this list together was just how dedicated these people were to the Porsche marque, but also how dedicated and enthusiastic they were to serve their clubs by putting on events and organizing, but most of all, to having a GREAT time and encouraging others to have an equally great time together as a community of friends. Reading and listening to the stories makes me think that we’re going to need a couple more history pages on the website, one that might be a Wall of Fame notable Zone 9 characters and one that’s just stories and photos.

That brings me back to my original thought. When it comes to the cars, we love innovative technology, but also have great reverence for our favorite period. That’s the rub that I’m encountering in my research. Let’s call it the 356 syndrome. Everyone loves their era, but no one seems to think that it’s worth much...until it’s too pricey to retrieve. If we think only of modern cars and modern PCA we lose a great bit of the value of both. If we think only of our favorite period we don’t appreciate the developments and the excitement of the present. That’s true of our Regions as well.

When I was newsletter editor for Roadrunner, I had opportunity to write the monthly history column and that meant sifting back through old issues of our newsletter and Panorama and putting together names, faces, places and events. What struck me was how much fun was had with so little. In many of the photos the cars were being driven on dirt road and showed signs of use. The PCA Regions we all take for granted were chartered by people with great zeal and passion for their cars, for adventure, and for each other. Just as you can see the heritage of the original Gmund prototype 356 in the current 991 Carrera, you can feel the enthusiasm of our PCA forebears in our own activities today, but not without concentrated effort.

I would argue, however, that just as we worry about Porsche losing its identity as technology rushes further away from the air-cooled era, we’re in danger of losing our soul as a club if we don’t pay a little more attention to our Regional and Zone histories. So, when you get a chance, take a look at the Zone 9 website and check out some of our history. Also, support your Regional Historian with stories and photos, dig out the old stuff and take care of it. And share it. If there was anything obvious at the recent Rennsport Reunion IV at Laguna Seca it was that people still love the drivers and cars from the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s and they want to know the stories! As we move into the Holiday season, let’s take some time to remember where we came from before we move into the next adventures in the New Year.

Best wishes to you for the Holiday season and I hope to see you at an event soon.

Sean

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