Russ’s Ramblings

By Bruce Russell



By now, most of you are aware of the situation with the publication and mailing of the Heat Exchanger.  The HE is an award winning and professionally published newsletter that all of us here in Shenandoah Region should be proud of.  Unfortunately, the slick, glossy, color publication came at a price that was unsustainable by our medium-sized PCA Region.  I applaud our President and Board for making the difficult decision to cease the costly publication and mailing of the HE.  I am certain they will find a suitable alternative that will provide us the same Region news and information in a timely fashion.


I would generalize that the majority of PCA Regions that publish the attractive glossy, color newsletters/magazines are larger Regions with revenue sources other than the Region subsidy obtained from PCA National.  In many cases the additional revenue comes from Driver’s Education events hosted by the respective regions.  I was Treasurer and on the Board of Schattenbaum Region for 6 years.  We ran 7 or 8 Driver’s Education events and a Club Race each year.  The revenues we received from those two activities alone provided the funds for our monthly magazine and numerous social events for our members.  The social events, including a very extravagant Holiday Party/Dinner/Dance, were provided at a very nominal cost to our members (i.e. $10/couple) because we used profits from our track program to support the other activities of the Region.


I am not suggesting that Shenandoah Region become a Driver’s Education focused Region; just making an observation.  To sustain 7 or 8 DE events in a year takes a very large time commitment from a strong and active DE Committee of at least 5 or 6 dedicated members.


Shenandoah does have an active Auto-X program that is very popular; could we raise the registration fee and still maintain an exciting and attractive program?  Another question the Board could address is the financial goal of RPM; should RPM be a money maker, a money loser, or revenue neutral?  I do not have the answer to those questions, just providing some “food for thought”.  Running a PCA Region is not unlike running a small not-for-profit business where your cash income needs to match your cash expenses.  Sounds simple, but in reality it is much more complex and every PCA Region’s Board must deal with those complexities.


Enough on that ramble.


Earlier this year, I became a volunteer officer with my local police department.  I am a deputized volunteer who assists regular police officers with accidents, broken-down vehicles, crowd control and anything else they need me to do.  I go on patrol a couple of days each week, I wear a uniform and drive a police vehicle with police radios and equipment; I don’t go to serious criminal situations since I do not carry a weapon.  I patrol the county roads and interstate highways around Richmond.  It is a lot of fun, rewarding, and allows me to give something back to my community.  Plus, all the little children in my neighborhood love it when I stop by and turn on the multi-colored lights.


In early October, all the police officers (including volunteer officers) went through refresher Car Control Clinic training.  We did this training at Richmond International Raceway.  Let me digress and say I used to be an avid PCA auto-crosser in my old 911S and actually got pretty good at it.  Driving a Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor on an Auto-X course that is very similar to a PCA course is something to behold!!!  I had them running for the grandstands and laughing until they cried; I knocked cones into downtown Richmond!  Wow, that Crown Vic does not handle and drive the same line as a 911.


When you spin a 911 on an Auto-X circuit, it makes a quarter or half revolution and stops.  Not so with the Crown Vic; it goes around a full 360 degrees (or more) due to its sheer mass and weight.  Once I learned the proper line for the “4500 lb. beast”, things settled down and I actually got around the course fairly quickly.  Despite my rapid improvement on the course, I received a lot of good-natured ribbing and heckling from the patrol officers.


Next year, I will drive my Carrera to the car-control clinic and show them what a sports car will do on the course.  The little red 2700 lb. product of German engineering will rip around the RIR course so fast they will think they were watching the greyhounds run at the Palm Beach Kennel Club!  That might be a slight exaggeration, but that is my plan so stay tuned.


Have you ever noticed when you are out driving your Porsche you suddenly have a lot of “competitive drivers” that want to challenge you to some form of speed contest?  Is it me, or does every 20 year old male in his “wannabe” race-car want to push your “Go” button.  The ones I love are the soccer dads driving the family mini-van that have suddenly transformed into Vic Elford at the controls of a Porsche 917.  I once had some middle-aged gent in a mini-van darn near lose control trying to keep up with me on an exit ramp.  I actually slowed down because I seriously believe he would have spun trying to catch me.


In the years driving my Porsche, I have come to two generalizations about non-Porsche drivers.  1) They can all go fast (to a point) in a straight line, especially between suburban stop-lights.  2) They have no clue how to control a car in the “twisties”; they just disappear in your rear-view mirror.  Note that these axioms do not apply in Germany for obvious reasons; can you spell AUTOBAHN?


A friend and I went out for a drive yesterday to the west of Richmond.  My friend is a former SCCA track guy and now owns a 1966 Corvette convertible that is a beauty.  We had our tops down to enjoy the cool, crisp fall air on a beautiful crystal clear day.  We are always cognizant of our speed and always stay within that 5-8 mph buffer allowed by the police; except on freeway ramps where we do push the envelope a bit.  On this drive out in the central Virginia countryside, we returned home via I-64.  There is an elevated fly-over bridge in Short Pump that you take when going from I-64 East to I-295 East.  The elevated bridge is a long sweeping left-hander that is a lot of fun at speed if there is no traffic. 


A young man in a small Toyota started running with us a mile or two before that sweeping left-handed bridge.  I thought to myself, “Oh brother, here we go again”.  He would run up beside us like he was going to blow our doors off, and then fall back to taunt us again.  We were running about 70 going onto the bridge; we then picked up the pace “a bit”.  I have to hand it to the young man because he did his best to keep up, but it was not to be.  By the time we apex’ed the sweeping left-hander, the Toyota was but a fond memory.  I asked myself if he really thought he could keep up, or was he just oblivious to the cornering power of real sports cars?


I do have a “developing story” that could result in some interesting future Rambles.  Our oldest son who attended the Savannah Parade with us is now interested in buying a 914.  I know very little about 914’s, but I am beginning to do my research.  More on this as the story develops.


OK, enough rambling for this month.  I have no tales of technical prowess or engineering wizardry this month (or lack there of) so I will conclude with a fond “Adieu”.


Drive safe.