The Appalachian Region may have been hindered in 2020 by COVID restrictions, but you can’t keep a good team down!
Early in the initial lockdown period, the APR Board made a decision to keep the Region active. We shifted to online activities, but knew we needed to bring back the social aspects of our club. When we were safely able to do so, we found our members wanting more than ever to participate. Our first events in early summer were instant sellouts. We added additional drive groups and additional days to help meet the demand.
The Region held 67 Events and Meetings in 2020. By the summer, Region members were anxious to resume PCA activities. We were forced to cancel or postpone all of our large planned Events in 2020. Here is a description of those 67 Events and Meetings:
- 2 January and February Tech Sessions averaging 21 members
- 1 February Board Meeting with 15 members
- 1 March Mountain Driving Clinic, with 18 members
- 1 October Gimmick Rally with 13 cars and 26 members
- 1 October Lead-Sweep Driver Training Academy with 6 members
- 4 Wednesday Brewery Socials averaging 18 members
- 4 other planning meetings with 6-10 members
- 6 Breakfast Rambles averaging 26 members
- 7 Drive & Dine or Picnic Events averaging 26 cars and 43 members
- 9 MANNA FoodBank / Appalachian Region volunteer work parties with 10 members
- 36 TOTAL 2020 in-person Events/Meetings
- 9 Monthly Board meetings averaged 18 members
- 1 Annual Meeting in December, attended by 28 members using ZOOM
- 10 Planning Meetings with 7-18 members each
- 11 Wednesday Socials on Skype with 4-5 members each
- 31 TOTAL 2020 online Meetings
2020 Events Cancelled due to COVID:
- Region Charter 5-Year Anniversary Party for 100+ members and guests
- Two multi-Region Events: Luft-Wasser and Appalachian Adventure
- Annual New Member Social and Car Show
- Farbe Picnic, a new for 2020 Charity Fundraiser
- Annual Christmas/Holiday Gathering and Charity Benefit
Drive and Dines
Drive and Dines (‘D&D’) are a staple of the Region’s activities. Every D&D is an organized driving tour, using lead & sweep drivers for each group of up to 15 cars. Second drive groups are added when this limit is exceeded. Groups are led through Western NC and surrounding areas, using twisty and scenic backroads whenever possible. A restaurant or picnic area is planned on the chosen route. In addition to lunch, an interesting stop or two might include a State Park visit, waterfall viewing or short hike to an exceptional vista. This year all lunches were at outdoor seating restaurants or picnic areas.
Seven D&D’s were conducted in 2020
- June - a rambling drive to Troyer’s Amish Blatz Farm in Fairview NC for an outdoor lunch
- July 22nd - drive to and picnic on Mt Mitchell
- July 25th - due to overwhelming member demand, a second day on Mt Mitchell!
- August - drive the Tail of the Dragon with overnight at Tapoco Lodge in Robbinsville, NC
- August - SUV off-road drive and picnic on Wayah Bald, near Franklin, NC
- September 19th - Ferry Porsche Birthday drive to Cashiers, NC
- November - drive and picnic at Table Rock State Park in SC
|Members drive to Table Rock Park at 5300’ elevation to enjoy a sunny cool day in November|
Member Surveys that Tech Sessions are one of the most popular APR Events. To help maintain the Region’s goal of holding a significant Event each month indoor Tech Sessions are held in the winter months.
In January 2020 we visited K & M, a Porsche Certified Collision Center in Hickory, NC. Our private Saturday tour was enjoyed by 22 members, showing us what is done to restore a damaged Porsche to like new condition.
February’s Session offered an in-depth look at the new 992. Porsche Asheville’s Master Service Technician explained the changes found on the new 911 to a 20-member group. Note the pre-COVID social distancing!
A look at the new 992 at the February Tech Session
The March Tech Session was presented classroom style by the Region’s Chief Driving Instructor, Dan Dazzo. Titled a “Mountain Driving Clinic”, Dan covered Porsche safety features, driving techniques, vehicle dynamics and safely controlling the car on the road.
The Region started the ‘Ramble’ concept in 2018 and it is favored by many Region members. A Ramble is a social meal gathering, usually breakfast, where participants find their own route to a designated restaurant. 2020 Rambles were all held at restaurants offering available outdoor dining. Rambles are held in different locations to offer easier access for Region members.
This year we transplanted a fixture of our cancelled Appalachian Adventure into a stand-alone Event. Our Rallymaster, Larry Koupal, planned a terrific Gimmick Rally just north of Asheville with couples looking for painted barn Quilts and specific Signs. Navigators needed to determine the exact order in which the signs and quilts appeared along the route. Six of the 13 couples competing were new Region members. First, second and third place prizes were awarded to the winners.
Monthly Social Mixers
Mixers are normally held at a local brewery on the second Wednesday of each month. The venue changes every month giving members a nearby mixer to attend. In 2020, 4 Brewery Social Mixers were held with an average attendance of 18 people. Two of the four were held since March following COVID guidelines. Additionally, 11 mixers were held on Skype with 4-5 attendees each.
The Appalachian Region does not have a track within its territory. Region members are actively encouraged to attend DE’s at tracks like Roebling Road, Carolina Motorsports Park and Virginia International Raceway. For 2020, the Region’s Track Chair, David Wells, had identified 6 HPDE’s for Region promotion. With restricted Track Events the Region was only able to attend two DE Weekends, 1 at CMP and the other at VIR.
Region 5th Charter Anniversary Party
A Committee was formed in 2019 to plan and execute a celebration of the Region’s 5th Anniversary of its 2015 Charter. The Event was scheduled for Saturday, March 14th at the Country Club of Asheville. On March 12th, an emergency session of the Region Board had no choice but to cancel the Party due to growing concerns about COVID. The Region has plans to hold this celebration as soon as practicable in 2021.
Christmas/Holiday Gathering and Charity Benefit
Since the Region’s Charter in 2015, about 100 APR members have enjoyed celebrating Christmas and the Holidays with a Charity Fundraiser held each December in the showroom at Porsche Asheville. Unfortunately, COVID restrictions forced cancellation of the Event this year.
Since the Region’s formation, membership has steadily grown from its 158 primary charter members in 2015 to 303 primary members as of December 1, 2020. Total membership is now approaching 500!
Although restrictions disabled most planned Charitable work in 2020, we were able to continue working with a Charity partner that experienced a greater than normal need. MANNA FoodBank, an affiliate of Feeding America, is a private nonprofit service organization feeding the hungry in the same 16 counties of North Carolina that comprise the Region’s territory. Region member Judy Butler currently serves as MANNA’s Vice-President.
Region President and members David & Judy Butler, presenting a $1,000 check to MANNA in September
Since 2017, an average of 10 Region members (from a larger available pool) have volunteered to work two hours each month at MANNA. In 2020, APR volunteers provided over two hundred service hours to MANNA. Participation in the MANNA workgroup provides members an opportunity to help their community, while building strong relationships with friends in the Region.
Most of the 2020 Public Service Award prize money ($1,000) was donated to MANNA. The balance of $500 was donated to the George Charles VA Medical Center in Asheville.
Website activity was down somewhat from 2019 with an average of 51 visits per day. The site is focused on engaging casual visitors and reviving the interest of inactive members.
President - Appalachian Region