Happy Anniversary LVCA

Larry Leard - Awards Banquet - January 19, 2008


How do you boil 35 years of LVCA history down to 5 minutes? Since I have been a member over half my life, I'll take a stab at it. 35 years ago last October, Bob Braswell, Jim Slocum, and Russ Galpin set up a card table at Wonderworld on the corner of Eastern and Owens. A sign taped to the table said, "Want to join a Corvette Club? Sign up here." I was driving by in the Little Red Money Eater - what I called my first Corvette, a '61 Fueler with both tops. I couldn't resist, I signed up with these guys - quite different from me - a little weird. My first serious encounter with civilians in 17 years other than my family.

In January 1973, the Las Vegas Corvettes Association held its first event, a run to Death Valley, and I was elected Secretary. Think of the memories, the people, the cars and what has happened since that day. LVCA was originally an amalgam of three chapter clubs (North, West, and South) an organizational design by Bob Braswell. We've had parties, auto-crosses, rallies, road trips, balloon races, elections, reorganizations, marriages, children, divorces, deaths, all the things that occur in a vibrant, fun organization. Let me tell you about some LVCA members in the past:

The early events involved mostly mid-year Corvettes with a number of C3s and a smattering of straight axles. Driving involved fine control of power because the skinny, bias-ply tires just didn't grip any better. Jim Slocum, who served as President of West Chapter, built some of the wildest looking customs you could imagine. He was clear-coating over pure silver metallic in the early 70s! He taught me how to wet sand and polish out a finish. He used carnuba wax when others were Simonizing.

In mid-1973 the first gas crisis hit. Gas went from 30 cents to over 50 cents a gallon and became scarce. Even Corvetters drove less and slower. Our response was to organize tricycle races. Oh yeah! We had classes of stock tricycles, custom tricycles, and straight pedal and geared tricycles. We raced them at the Moby Grape, Tropicana and Maryland Parkway. Brent Lyken's son inherited his racing tricycle. Brent was a Naval photographer stationed in Alaska, thus his license plate 'Snapper'. Brent created the Mossyback idea. He thought that experienced LVCA members should be recognized for their tenacity and capriciousness. The last thing Bob Braswell did for LVCA was design the Mossyback logo for us.

The Hogues joined the Association when Craig was 70 years old! Rita made Yorkshire pudding from heaven. They took yearly tours in their '71 big-block, towing a trailer and having a ball. He said it was his job to make the upper 95% possible. They came to almost every event, dispensing advice and driving conservatively. What nice folks! We loved them and loved having them in our club.

Russ Galpin was an original! He lived with us from time to time and was a fascinatingly free thinker. In those days, Bonnie Roush was his heartthrob. My dad bought two Corvettes because of Russ. It was a soaking, rainy day and Russ's '69 two-top was first in the driveway. Father and Russ went to Wonderworld to get something (don't remember what). When they arrived, it was raining even harder. Russ took the hardtop off the car, raised the convertible top, and they used the hardtop for a shared umbrella while they shopped! Father never recovered. He said that if Corvette folks were like Russ, he had to have one too! Dad bought a couple of mid-years and enjoyed them back in Ohio..

Then there was T-Top, Darrell Hinde, an EMT at the test site. Darrell spent a lot of time setting in a room waiting to be called and thinking up weird things to write and say. We'd call each other and tell the first part of a joke then hang up. Had to wait till the next meeting for the punch line! He wrote a column in the Newsvetter for several years in which he needled other members about mistakes or social errors committed at events.

I have to recognize my fellow charter members - Jenny Leard, Linda Saldana, and LVCA6, Bonnie Roush. They've been with us through thick and thin, many meeting places and hundreds of events.

Think of the talented people in LVCA. Jerry McCorkle, 5-time President, is one of the best machinists I've known. Oh, he doesn't do engines, he maintained cinetheodelites. The things were made in Switzerland in the early 70s. We have three that I know of - two up on the ranges and one in Hawaii. They have been out of production for so long there aren't any parts for them. Jerry made parts as needed! During one of his terms, LVCA's treasury was attacked by a forger who signed LVCA checks to herself for over $5,500. Jerry and Jo Weibersick worked over nine months and recovered every dime. Craig Hogue learned his craft in the oil fields of Texas. He machined blast doors for the test site within .0001 inch over an 8 foot span! He also made 'fishing tools'. What happens when an under-ground nuclear device fails to detonate? It has to be recovered. It has to be disassembled such that the parts can be brought up through a 1400 foot deep 4 inch diameter pipe. That's what Craig's fishing tools did.

A current member, Ray Battaglini, was the first president of the National Corvette Museum and its first Chairman of the Board of Directors. He was the guy who walked into the Corvette plant and asked to see the manager! Raised over $15 million to get the NCM started. Talked GM into giving him 30 acres of ground. Caused a race track and casino to be built in Hobbs, NM. If you run into him, watch your shirt! He?ll try to talk you out of it.

We have several retired military members - Academy Grads, Pilots, Intell Guys, Security Specialists, Sailors, Soldiers and Marines. Give them a hand!

Thank them for their service. We also claim several retired Metro Police and Nevada Highway Patrol members. Thank them for your personal security and safety. A couple folks have retired from high positions in TRW. Are we getting old?

Around 1983, Dennis Williams was President of LVCA. He had been a member of West Chapter for two years when elected. North Chapter had about 40 members and had $4K in its treasury. West had about 20 members and was broke. South Chapter had dwindled to about 8. Dennis wanted access to North's money, so he engineered (he was an engineer for Union Pacific) an emergency meeting at which, by a vote of 26 to 28, the chapter system was dissolved and we adopted by single club structure we now have. Bob Braswell resigned from LVCA and Brent Lykens stayed away for two years.

More recently, we have enjoyed the efforts of several folks who provide personality to LVCA: Kathy Clapp, Dale Foust, Bob McVane, Ken Rees, Jim Lemar, Marvin Maize, Cathy Wilson, Jim Gregorio, Jim Wolf, Pat Russell, Benita Klaizner, Ron Peterson, Connie Gentry, Carl Hastings, clan Gagliardi, Lennard Grodzinski - the list goes on.

Used to was the cars had point distributors, carburetors, skinny tires and rumpitty idles. Now they have computers, fuel injection, big meats and smooth idles. Crank windows have been replaced by power windows and air conditioning. Long swing brake pedals and drums now are power assisted disks. 17" diameter steering wheels have been replaced by 14" wheels and power steering. It has been an exercise in evolution, replacing what was good with better. Like the Corvette itself, LVCA has and is evolving. Like all good things, the best is yet to come.

LVCA is as good as the people in it make it. The Officers and Executive Board have major influence, but members do the work and have the fun. Direc-tion of the Association is defined by leadership, rate of activity is defined by the membership. Members are the power that makes it go. Their contribu-tions of time and energy are what makes LVCA. Where would we have a party without a host? How could we do a homecoming without Corvettes and drivers? How could we be informed without a Communications Committee? How could we have an autocross without course workers or timers? How would the National Kidney Foundation receive $27,000 without the Bill Heinrich Memorial Chevrolet Show? How could you read this without an editor? Part of membership in LVCA is participation in LVCA.

Taking the long-term point of view, LVCA has been a rewarding adventure. I've met interesting people, owned interesting Corvettes, and been involved in the development of the club from its outset. There's much to be said for holding office or serving on the Executive Board - I've done both, but to be able to participate has been a pleasure for almost half my life. Sure, some folks have done things that make my toes twitch, but I haven't walked because I want to be here when the storm dies down and I can enjoy the good weather. Corvettes make people do strange things. I hope we can spend the next 35 years together!

Thanks, The Mossiest