By Lawrie Alexander
Ed. Note: This is the first in a series of how-to’ features, relating to car clubs. This month: forming a club: future issues will cover organizing rallies, driving events, gymkhanas & social occasions. Contributions are welcome from any of our readers who have comments on what we propose or suggestions of their own. Please note, however, we cannot publish local club events or activities, nor solicit membership for any specific local clubs!
Much of the fun of owning a sports car is sharing its trials and tribulations with other people who have the same kind of car. But what if you’ve just bought your first sports car and don’t know of any clubs in your area? Obviously, you ask around at local parts stores, gas stations selling premium gas, etc., to see if they know of any car clubs or other owners. The local Chamber of Commerce may also have a listing for a car club. We’ll assume, however, you draw a blank, but that your enthusiasm remains undampened!
Now you enlist the support of the media. Ever hungry for local news, your town newspaper will be happy to print a press release worded along the following lines:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Local Enthusiast To Start MG Club John Smith, proud owner of the beautiful 1958 MGA pictured above, invites all local MG owners to the inaugural meeting of the Spring Valley MG Car Club, to be held in the Public Library Meeting Room at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 14th.
Since the MG factory ceased production in 1980, the value of all MG’s has risen steadily. By forming a local club, John hopes to help owners preserve and enjoy these delightful cars. Planned activities include driving events, social events, tech sessions etc.
If you own an MG, plan to attend the meeting or give John a call at 555-1212.
Obviously, names, marques, etc., should be changed appropriately but the essential message will remain the same. If you can provide refreshments (coffee and cookies will suffice) or rent an interesting car movie to show at a meeting, put that in the announcement, too. You’ll be surprised how many people show up! The photograph is important, as this will catch the eye of readers who skim through the paper. If your paper has an ‘automotive’ page one day a week, ask for your release to be printed in that section.
THE MEETING. The most important thing is to be ready to take charge and to have a plan of action. Everyone who shows up will be willing to hear you out. Differing ideas will surface in due course, and other ‘take-charge’ individuals will emerge from the group. The first meeting however, is up to you. Your agenda might be as follows:
Welcome guests, introduce yourself and give a brief background on your involvement and interest in MG’s. (Exaggerate if you must!)
Pass out sheets for people to record their names, addresses, phone numbers, types of car owned, preferred meeting night, type of activity preferred (Picnic tours, rallies, social events, tech. sessions, weekend trips, etc) This becomes your first mailing list.
Ask guests to introduce themselves briefly, telling what kind of car/s they have, etc. (Make a note of those who are obviously unafraid of speaking to a group of strangers. These are your potential first club officers!)
Announce the first couple of planned events. A Sunday drive to a scenic spot, museum, etc. would be one choice; a meeting at a friendly local garage where everyone could look at each other’s cars, discuss problems, and hear a presentation from the garage owner on the type of maintenance an owner should do (or ‘preparations for a long trip’, or other such subject) is another idea. It is important to tell the group what the first event will be rather than say ‘OK, now, what do we all want to do?’ After one event is safely past, future plans and ideas can be solicited and discussed at subsequent meetings.
Suggest a meeting night for the second meeting, and get a consensus as to which night is best for everyone, whether private homes or public rooms should be used in future, etc. Be decisive and try not to get too many contradicting ideas under discussion!
Adjourn the meeting to the parking lot to kick tires and look at cars, or enjoy the refreshments, or watch the movie. Make a point of getting to know the two or three people who seemed most interested, least shy, etc and sound them out as to whether they’ll help organize the club. At your second meeting, you’ II want to propose the formation of the Board of Officers and to invite volunteers to help run the club. It will be nice to have some volunteers primed to speak up right away! Now you’re started. The continued success of the club depends on having regular activities or meetings which in turn, depend on having enthusiastic leaders who organize and communicate. So long as you don’t overdo it, your local paper will continue to publish news releases about major events, especially shows the public can attend installation of new officers, etc. That publicity, plus constant recruitment of new members (a club card with contact phone number on the windshield of every sports car you see parked) will ensure a healthy membership base. Good Luck!
Next issue-How to run a simple driving event thats competitive, requires skill, but is FUN!