Family & Friends
By Judy Keppler, F283131
If you love to watch auto racing, you really would have enjoyed the Monaco Northwest chapter rally at the Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon, June 8 through 10, 2007. This three-day event included the Star Mazda, Atlantic, and Champ Car series races. By combining racing with a motorhome rally, we came up with an exciting event for everyone who attended. There were nonstop activities throughout the rally, which also included shopping in downtown Portland and the Rose Festival activities.
When Dean Moretti, national director for the Monaco Northwest chapter, and I began to plan the event, we weren’t sure about the logistics of having a rally at a race track where there would be thousands of non-FMCA race fans, but it worked well. We congregated in a tent provided courtesy of Monaco Coach Corporation for our potluck and catered meals. Bus shuttles took us to the vendor and paddock areas at the track, and we were given identification bracelets that allowed us entrance to special areas. We also set up a booth at the event site to recruit new members to FMCA.
The Monaco Northwest chapter invited FMCA chapter and non-chapter members to join us; they included Northwest Area vice president Donzella Leahy and her husband, Bill. There were other motorhome owners in the general parking area, and they were very interested in what our group was doing, which gave us the opportunity to talk about FMCA. It was a great place to recruit new FMCA members and enjoy the races.
You can imagine the excitement generated by Champ Car racers flying past you at 180 mph. It’s pretty difficult to focus on anything else when these cars are on the track. Our parking area was a great place to view the cars as they raced through the “S” turns, where we saw some spinouts and a few parts scattered here and there when the cars maneuvered a little too close to one another.
Along with the racing, rally attendees received a personalized pit tour and an overview of how each car (and driver) is weighed to ensure each one has the same advantage on the track. We also were given a group tour of the track, during which we learned how it came into existence. The city of Vanport once occupied the ground on which the races are held. At one time it was the second-largest city in the state of Oregon, with a population of 40,000. But in 1948, the entire city was demolished by floodwaters when the swollen Columbia River crested and broke the west-side dike. After hearing all of the details and visiting with the caretaker of the property, we had a new appreciation of the track and its history.
The winning car of Sabastien Bourdais is owned by Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, of which actor Paul Newman is a partner. And, yes, we got to see him in the winner’s circle. That was exciting, too. But the best part of all was meeting the new people and forming friendships. This is one rally that we will never forget.
We couldn’t have put this rally together without the support of our generous sponsors, Guaranty RV Centers and Monaco Coach Corporation.
New York Centrals Celebrate 30th Anniversary
By Esther Rogers, F9838
FMCA’s New York Centrals chapter commemorated its 30th anniversary by gathering for a rally July 14 through 17, 2007, at the Camillus Elks Lodge in Camillus, New York. Members who attended will remember this celebration for a long time.
The rally officially started on Saturday, but the advance crew arrived on Wednesday evening to set up the parking areas and to check out the facility. Early Thursday morning, school buses arrived carrying 175 local fourth-graders who were there to experience old-fashioned crafts and learn a little history. The school leaders were short of volunteer helpers, so when the FMCA ladies were asked, they volunteered to assist. We helped out by doing stenciling, yarn dolls, and embroidery while many other crafts were being done throughout the facility as well. We worked from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. and all of us agreed that we had forgotten what it was like to work for four hours straight. We missed our books and our easy chairs, but agreed that the day was fun and we wished we had done things like that when we were in school.
Friday morning saw the rest of the 29 coaches arrive. Members in attendance came from as far as Albany to the east and Rochester to the west.
The rally got started with sandwiches, salad, and banana splits on Friday evening. There’s nothing like plentiful food to bring the group together. Banana splits for 60 people took some organizing, but with the cooperation of the group, the serving went smoothly and we did not hear any complaints, except that we were too full.
Saturday morning, everyone gathered at the pavilion for a big breakfast. (Yes, more food!) The annual meeting followed and the group was presented with a 30th anniversary certificate and a check from Bill Conway, then Northeast Area vice president. Sam Allen, Northeast Area vice president-elect, also spoke at the meeting. It was nice that the members of the chapter were able to meet both men and their wives.
Saturday evening was the banquet, and the people who were there for the weekend were joined by several former members, plus members who were not able to attend the entire rally. The highlights of the banquet were the recipe books and picture CDs that everyone received as banquet favors. The old pictures on the CD were projected on the wall, and members commented on what they remembered. That was definitely good for some laughs.
We also recognized five chapter presidents who were in attendance: Bart Barton, Richard Snyder, Nancy Rifken, Chuck Machell, and the chapter’s very first president, Andy Mancini. All were honored with flowers. We also handed out bouquets to charter members Nancy Rifken, Pat Snyder, and Andy and Ginny Mancini. We felt so fortunate that some of our charter members were there to celebrate the occasion with us.
Sunday morning saw another big breakfast and the usual good-byes. We ate a lot and laughed a lot that weekend. Everyone agreed that it was a great rally and that the weatherman deserved a big thank-you, as the weather was perfect.