Magnolia Region Porsche Club was formed in 1987 by a few Porsche enthusiasts, including two who were originally members of a Louisiana region. They wanted a Mississippi club, and convened a group of Porschephiles who worked ceaselessly to obtain enough members and earn a charter. They put applications on vehicles on the street, knocked on doors with Porsches parked outside, and even flagged down Porsches driving down the road. In the State of Mississippi, with a total population of less than three million people, finding enough Porsche owners willing to form a club was a task.
Tony Santangelo and Bill Webster, the two original enthusiasts, both owned Porsches for years. Tony joined PCA in 1971. Bill introduced him to Howard Freeman, another future founder of Magnolia Region, who owned an auto shop. They were later joined by Rusty Williard and Michael Hartung, also enthusiastic Porsche owners. According to Tony Santangelo, the first Magnolia Region president was Howard, who was elected because he missed the meeting.
The club spans the State of Mississippi and the introduction of the internet has done much to bind the club and help it become stronger. We have easy access to racing with the race tracks in Talladega, AL, Birmingham, AL, & Donaldson, LA. Our roads are relatively flat with great scenery and historic destinations within a days drive.
We enjoy uniting together with fellow Porsche owners through social, technical, educational, and competitive events. We welcome all Porsche enthusiasts to join us and add your vitality and energy to a growing auto club.
Porsche Club of America History, courtesy of PCA.ORG
Great things start small, and the Porsche Club of America is no different. It began with one man, Bill Sholar, who was a commercial artist in the Washington, D.C. area in the early 1950s. He bought a new 1953 356 Coupe, and, as time passed, he met other Porsches on the road and flashed his lights at them in silent greeting. By late 1954, Sholar was convinced that a more personal meeting would be appropriate with other Porsche owners to discuss the positive and the not-so-positive aspects of driving the infrequently encountered marque. Hence the Porsche Club of America was born. The first unofficial PCA meeting was held at the Sholar house on February 8, 1955. Following that meeting, several Porsche owners occasionally got together that spring and summer to share knowledge about the unique cars they drove. Eventually, they decided to start a club. A brief paragraph in the August 1955 issue of Sports Car Illustrated informed readers that a Porsche club was being formed in the United States; all inquiries were directed to Bill Sholar’s attention. As part of the effort, Porsche was petitioned to recognize the proposed club.
The original members of the new Porsche club titled the new organization the Porsche Club of America, but unofficially, they refered to it as “the gripe group.” They held their first business meeting on September 13, 1955, at Blackie’s House of Beef in Washington, D.C., and thirteen prospective members showed up. Only 12 of them were admitted as members because one person was a Volkswagen owner, didn’t qualify for membership under the Club Bylaws – which remain in effect today – and politely was asked to leave. Those in attendance at that first meeting were Bill Sholar, Karl Grimm, Peter Pearman, Ken Twigg, Frank Beckett, Gamble Mann, Fred Schulenburg, Bob Flick, Bob Elliott, Ray Pitts, Harvey Brown, and Don Carr. Sholar was elected President, and the PCA sent a press release to Porsche’s magazine, Christophorus, introducing the Porsche Club of America to other Porsche enthusiasts. Word spread, and the 189 Porsche owners who joined the PCA by January 31, 1956 were designated as “charter members.”
As more and more members joined outside the Washington, D.C. area, Regions were formed in other communities. The original Washington, D.C. group eventually became Potomac Region, which remained the hub of activities. First appearing in December 1955, the Club’s monthly magazine, Porsche Panorama, kept all members updated on the latest technical information, factory news, and events.
Early in 1956, an invitation was extended to all club members for the first “Porsche Parade,” which was billed as a gathering of all PCA members and arranged by the Potomac Region. This first national convention drew 64 PCA members and was held at the Washingtonian Motel in Gaithersburg, Maryland, from August 29 through September 1, 1956. There was a rally and a gymkhana, the factory service representatives present gave technical tips, and there was plenty of time for socializing and pit talk.
By the time of the second Parade, there were 550 members in 21 Regions, mostly in the eastern U.S. Besides including a Concours d’Elegance for the first time, this 1957 Parade saw the first national officers elected from outside the founding Region, starting a trend that developed the club into a truly nationwide and, later, international organization. Several years later, the event lived up to its name and finally featured a parade of Porsches driving through the streets.
These early days always saw a group of PCA members at local and national sports car races, many of whom competed in them. Several members came out as winners, such as now-famous racecar drivers Art Bunker, Bob Holbert, Lake Underwood, and Charlie Wallace, who were beginning to develop Porsche’s “giant killer” reputation in the U.S.
In 1958, Max Bunnell was elected PCA President, and Parade moved to New York State. That year also saw Sholar come up with something new for PCA members: a trip to the Porsche factory in Stuttgart. Eighty-one members made that first “Treffen” (the German word for “meeting”) aboard a prop-driven Lufthansa Super Constellation, arriving to a welcome from not only the Porsche factory, but also many of the German Porsche Clubs. The Treffen® presented the attractive option of taking delivery of a new Porsche at the factory, a tradition that is still available today. In October of that same year, Sholar was appointed PCA’s Executive Secretary, running the day-to-day operations of the Club with the help of a part-time secretary. He remained at the position until 1962.
Parade moved west for the first time when Rocky Mountain Region hosted the 1960 Parade in Aspen, Colorado. This event featured Dr. Ferdinand “Ferry” Porsche’s first appearance at a Parade. Early in 1961 PCA appointed its first committee chairman to develop the club’s activities even further and to coordinate activities at Parade. This proved to be a great asset to the club, as over 250 PCAers attended the sixth Parade. After only six years, PCA had earned the reputation as one of the best sports car clubs in the world.
PCA had a big year in 1963. Charter member Ken Twigg was elected President in 1963 and club membership reached 2000 for the first time, the 1963 Treffen saw 40 PCA members take delivery of a car at the factory, and Sholar moved to a new position with the Porsche of America Corporation, the U.S. Porsche importer at the time. Before he did so, PCA’s founder recommended his secretary, Jane Nestlerode, as his replacement as Executive Secretary. Nestlerod was promoted to the position and became synonymous with PCA National until her retirement in 1980, running the office out of her home and serving the needs of a membership that grew over 800 percent during her tenure.
Through the mid-1960s PCA-affiliated racers continued to provide Porsche with SCCA victories, as Bruce Jennings, charter PCAer Don Wester, Bert Everett, Joe Buzzetta and others carried the Porsche banner into winners’ circles across America in cars ranging from the ever-competitive Speedster to the more exotic Spyders, 904, and 906. After the creation of the Hawaii Region in 1959, Regions were not confined to the continental U.S., and a Germany Region of the PCA was formed in 1963.
In 1980, Nestlerode transferred the Executive Secretary position to her assistant, Ruth Harte, who continued to run the Club superbly from the basement of her Alexandria, Virginia home until a year before her retirement, when PCA relocated to a business address in Springfield, Virginia.
Although each Region held a wide variety of events and meetings, Parade became the pinnacle of PCA activity and the focal point for friendships among far-flung Porsche enthusiasts. By the late 1960’s, a typical Porsche Parade kept 500 entrants busy for an entire week, not to mention the time spent in preparation and travel. Classes in speed events and Concours were expanded as the club’s focus shifted to include new Porsche types, such as the 911 and its many derivatives. The Parade rally offered classes for both equipped and unequipped cars.
PCA has experienced an unparalleled growth, not only in members, but in the quality of its events and services. Fifty-eight years after its creation, PCA found over 2,000 Porsche people at the 58th Parade, in Traverse City, Michigan, where attendees were able to view 200 Porsches at the Concours and see a 911 under restoration by Porsche Classic. In early 2013, PCA served more than 63,000 families, with over 107,000 members, in 140 local Regions, making it the largest single-marque club in the world. PCA Concours standards are second to none, and multiple national committees help members with technical problems, insurance valuations, event safety, Region management, and newsletters.
Today, activities range from competitive events, such as autocrossing, club racing, rallying, and Concours, to social events, such as Touring, vehicle restoration, and Porsche history. A revised “Treffen®” now allows PCA members to visit the factory, the new Porsche Museum, the area around Stuttgart, Germany, and the research-and-development unit at Weissach. A professional staff, headed by Executive Director Vu Nguyen, operates the National Office in Columbia, Maryland, where a growing historical section is also housed. The Club functions like a finely-tuned, high performance Porsche. One of the objectives stated in PCA’s Bylaws is to promote the enjoyment and sharing of goodwill and fellowship engendered by owning a Porsche – that hasn’t changed in nearly 60 years of operation.
As the saying goes, “It’s not the cars, it’s the people…”
“It’s not just the cars, it’s the people.”
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