They keep coming back. Why?
by Richard Lewis
The Panhandle British Car Club is 33 years old, and we have some members who keep coming back to its meetings, events, and shows as regularly as the swallows come back to Capistrano. We also have some members who have been members for a lesser time, but show up equally regularly, like moths, drawn constantly to the consuming flame (such as YLC, Your Loyal Correspondent).
YLC has contacted some of these persons, both the older and the newer members, to ask a couple of questions: "What attracted you in the first place?" and "Why do you keep coming back?"
One of those contacted is Jeff Olive, a member since the inception of the club, circa 1987, and one who argued for an all-inclusive British club, rather than a single marque club (MG, which was first proposed). It was this love of sports cars in general and British in particular that piqued his interest in such a club initially.
When asked why he has shown up for some 33 years, Jeff replied that, since he had had a British repair shop, along with another long-term member, Keith Sanders (more later), his pleasure at seeing and sometimes tinkering with a multitude of cars gives him great pleasure.
Jeff was quick to add that he enjoys the company of others who share his affection for British cars. He has served in several leadership positions and, as a skilled woodworker, has crafted many beautiful special trophies - plus his famous stirring spoons, which he gives away at the Friday Night Welcoming Party.
He left us with the thought that "It's everybody's club, and one can have any level of participation he wishes, but all need to be involved, not just pay dues."
Thanks, Jeff, for all you have done for PBCA.
Another long-term member is Tom Schmitz, who joined in 1990. What got him here?
Looking for a British car club soon after moving to the area, he made contact with Keith Sanders (more later). Although owner of a '55 MG TD 1500, he drove his Miata to his first meeting with Keith, who jokingly told him he could not join if he continued to show up in a Miata (incidentally a super car; YLC drove one this weekend and was simply astonished by it). Tom had used this same car to win the SCAA C Stock title for 10 years.
Tom has served in almost every leadership role in the club and has chaired the "Brits on the Bay Show" since time immemorial, helping to form it into the best British car show on the Gulf Coast. He has transformed it from a show conducted by a few club members into one that now has capable members helping with all aspects of it.
Furthermore, he has joined other clubs such as the Mardi Gras MGs and the South Alabama British Car Club, and is active in them as well. What keeps him coming back?
While Tom does take pride in his accomplishments for the club, he emphatically says, "It's the people, it's the people. Virtually all my friends are car people."
Thanks, Tom, for your years of service.
Although in on the preliminary planning, Keith Sanders didn't get active in the club for a few months, but was soon humming with a club that invited all British marques. Most of the members were relatively young and the club organized regular meetings at Smokey's BBQ, monthly driving events, "Shine and Shows," and even some informal events that were spontaneously organized by members. It began to have shows with awards and ribbons.
Keith and Jeff Olive even got into business together with their repair and restoration shop, "So British," located in an old convenience store on Copter Road — which, while not a big money-maker, was lots of fun. What keeps him coming back after almost 33 years?
Keith says it is the friendships he has made and continues to enjoy, his chance to gain knowledge and to share it, and the energy he feels being around fellow car enthusiasts. Some people, like Keith, are in for the long haul.
Thanks, Keith, for all you have given and gained.
Liz and Tim Maynard are more or less accidental members. In about 2015, having just finished the restoration, with professional help, of their '62 MGA (and a gorgeous job it is, too), they parked it at their home visible from the roadway. Two reprobates, Dick Maddox and Bob Manske, passed by, and likely posing as Tupperware salesmen, wormed their way into the unsuspecting couple's domicile. Revealing themselves as poseurs, they confessed to being members of PBCA and then seduced the unsuspecting couple into joining, offering a free toaster.
No doubt there have been many moments of regret, especially during Show Committee meetings. (As you might guess, YLC has somewhat embroidered the facts. That's journalism for you.) What could possibly be their reason for returning, and return they did with a vengeance, with Tim now as one of the Vice Presidents and Liz as Co- Treasurer?
Both attest to liking the members. (Astonishing, isn't it, the judgment of some persons?) Tim especially likes the annual "Brits on the Bay" show and meeting members of other clubs, while Liz revels in seeing the cars, especially the ones she has never seen before.
Both have turned out to be wonderful members. At last we have something to thank Dick and Bob about.
Cameron Leonard is another relatively new member. An aircraft controller, he transferred to Pensacola five years ago and joined after going to our show. Coming from a family of car enthusiasts - grandfather, father and mother - he grew up with a Porsche 356 in the garage (not that he had unlimited use of it), so his bona fides are pretty solid.
Cameron's best friend, Paul Casarona, is equally subject to the same infatuation, and they spend lots of time together both working on and enjoying sports cars.
Paul has taken several awards at our show. He, too, like most members, enjoys being with people with like interests, which is likely the same for those interested in stamps or butterflies. He especially enjoys networking with others, which helps him organize the Friday Events, like trips to the Naval Museum and Flight Controllers facilities, which he does with skill and aplomb.
Time and space prevents YLC from digging deeper into the backgrounds of other members, for it is a particular deep vein to explore, but know these five are just the tip of the iceberg. We are fortunate to have so many capable and gifted members. Thanks to everyone who make PBCA the premier club on the Gulf Coast.
July 3 - Breakfast at the Grand and Executive Board meeting. The usual good food and companionship and plans for the club's activities. PBCA’s monthly meeting at Calvert's Britishthemed restaurant was also fun. Good food and a touch of Old Blighty.
July 21 - Tom Schmitz fabled Pig Roast. Come as early as 10 a.m. and the guest of honor at 12 or thereabout.
July 26 - Fancy Friday on the Town, 6 p.m., Grand Marlin, Pensacola Beach.
July 27 - Ride/Share. An opportunity to drive another member's car, hosted by Fred Veenshoten.
Next time, start the Marque article earlier.
PBCA member Cameron Leonard with the Porsche he grew up with, and his friend Paul with his MGB. Photo courtesy PBCA
Tim Maynard with his prize-winning MGA at the "Brits on the Bay" show. Photo by Mike Japp
Keith Sanders with a favorite MG, in a time far, far away. Photo by Gail Sanders
A younger Jeff Olive with a wounded TR3 at So British. Photo by Keith Sanders