A woman's perspective of living with and loving a Mercedes-Benz Maniac
Authored by our own Bonnie Fancy.
Reprinted with permission from The Star Magazine. July / August 2009 Issue.
Not all club events have to be centered around the Mercedes. Yes, it is the Mercedes Benz Club of North America, but for almost every member who is enthusiastic about the cars, there is a spouse with or without small children who isn't as into this whole restoration/driving event scene as the family Mercedes Maniac. To encourage attendance by all, it is a good idea to have events that are interesting to everyone and don't cost and arm and a leg to attend. Oh, I know there's a certain cachet to having a Mercedes Benz, but right now it is cash not cachet that most people lack, so keeping costs to a minimum will encourage greater participation.
Caravans to places of interest are always fun and not necessarily expensive. Most sections of the club have places to use an end point for a caravan. There are restored forts throughout the US and Canada . Historic battlefields, museums, parks, zoos and picnic grounds are great destinations. Participants may pack a picnic lunch and enjoy a family outing. These destinations may have nothing to do with Mercedes Benz, however, when the destination interests the rest of the family, turn out is better. For the Mercedes Maniacs, there can always be an informal show with popular judging in the parking lot. If the people in charge of the place know the section will be there, they might even rope off a section of parking lot just for the Mercedes lovers.
Ice-cream runs are fun. Everyone meets at an ice cream stand, talks cars, and enjoys the ice-cream. Some places are so popular that they have other amusements besides ice- cream such as miniature golf or petting zoos.
We have led caravans to several art museums in the western part of Massachusetts and have gotten participation by some members who live in that area and by some members who have always wanted to see the Norman Rockwell Museum or Mass MoCA but have never done so. Not every Maniac was interested in the art; they were just looking for an excuse, any excuse to drive their Benz. One man said that as far as he is concerned the best art he's ever seen is a perfectly detailed engine compartment, but even he admitted that the scenery through the Berkshires was interesting, as was the driving.
For those with ready access to an ocean or other large body of water, a nautical event such as an afternoon cruise or maybe just a trip to the beach is fun.
John Piekarczyk has set up a couple of events at Indian Ranch Campground on Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaug . Yep! That's its real name, although it appears on most maps as Webster Lake . The event is a low key affair with boat rides and food provided by a caterer. There is sand for children to play in and other games for adults.
If caravans aren't your thing, how about car shows. No, not the Pebble Beach kind with judges who are trained in the art, but local ones that support the schools or some other organization. Many vocational schools train auto body people and mechanics, and to raise money to support the programs, they have shows that are open to just about anyone with an unusual car. Next to your 220 SE cab, you might have a resto-mod. While the purists among us may cringe at the thought, these shows are not as expensive to enter as the more prestigious ones and generally have other activities going on as well, and you are supporting a worthy cause. Remember, the students you are supporting through your participation are the restorers of the future. You may even meet someone who wants to talk about your car. Play your cards right, and you may find a new member for the MBCA.
Still, we mustn't forget what the club is about. If your section has an event every month, then you can divide the types of events up. The winter months are a good time for Tech sessions or dinner meetings where the keynote speaker talks about tires or some national event. The rest of the year is good for concours and other driving events. If you had a tech session in January and a dinner meeting in February, then March may be good for another tech session. April through November is good for caravans and rallies. The important thing is to mix it up, so that all members can find something to interest them. The more members who attend, the stronger your section will be.
While you are mixing up the type of event, mix up the location as well. Have events in different parts of your section. You might get attendance by members who have never attended club event before. You can even contact the local newspaper in that area and see if they will cover the event. More publicity means more interest from potential members. Pre-publicity is also important especially if it includes information on how to join the club. Believe it or not, there are some Mercedes owners who have never heard of the MBCA.
Remember, a large group of Mercedes in one place draws attention, especially if it is at an attraction where non club members will be. When people ask if it is a club, you can explain what the MBCA is and hand out membership applications, or give them the club's URL. Remember, new members mean new ideas, new vitality, and a more vibrant club.