Owner's Club News
By Enrique Zuniga
Even as a convention advisor it is not often that one has an opportunity to visit the venues of an upcoming convention, so when I received an invite to attend an evening convention planning meeting late last fall, I did not hesitate… and the visit quickly became an overnight stay at the convention hotel with a preview of what was in the works for our annual AROC gathering.
I fired up the Spider engine at 5am on the day of the meeting, setting off for the six-hour drive from northern NJ to Pittsburgh via the route with the most curves – the one that cuts through the mountains, of course… It’s always a joy to hear the engine purr turn into a roar as the nimble bella macchina cuts through the curves and cold morning air as the sun keeps rising.
Despite the forecasted possible rain that materialized into a full snow for forty-five minutes, I made it on time to the first venue: DoubleTree by Hilton Pittsburgh Cranberry hotel.
Upon exiting the Spider I met my host: convention organizer and Pittsburgh chapter secretary, and 2019 Convention Chairman, Bernie Martin. I had spoken with Bernie many times over the phone and via video conference, but this was the first time we got to shake hands. As we stepped into the hotel lobby, I was taken in by the spacious feel and natural bright light afforded by the modern, totally open, layout.
The lobby, lounge, dining room and bar are completely unobstructed from any view point and the elevator’s glass wall allows for panoramic observation while riding up five stories. As we toured the hotel’s meeting rooms and business facilities, I took note of the gym, as well as an indoor pool and another pool outdoors. My room was impeccable, and my overnight stay would turn out to be most pleasant.
When we exited the hotel, Bernie pointed out that we were only 20 minutes from the second venue on our list: Pittsburgh International Race Complex. This re-modeled site offers perhaps the most comfortable setting we’ve ever had for our traditional Track Day.
In addition to the expected driver and meeting room facilities we will have access to the air-conditioned VIP area which is often used to host large dinners and gatherings. I can see many of us enjoying a drink in total comfort while watching the competition taking place on the track below.
We will be running on a 1.6 mile course with 13 turns and exiting changes in elevation. As the track manager drove us around the course a few times, with the fun meter revving high, we commented on the opportunity for every AROC convention attendee to drive this course through what I am calling an Enhanced Parade Laps Experience.
Our traditional Autocross will also take place at the track premises. With the largest
paved area for an autocross that I have ever seen at a convention, this is a course
designer’s dream. Seasoned competitors and their cars will have ample staging room.
Furthermore, we will have a low-key staging area for a Novice Only group. As a full
motor sports facility, this complex also has a Go-Kart course. Karting has become very
popular because it is a blast and the course will be open during our Track Day.
The third venue stop was Jergel’s Rhythm Grille. From the onset, an evening at Jergel’s has been an enthusiastic component of the vision for this convention. Upon reading the website description however, “Jergel's Rhythm Grille" offers a unique live music experience in the Pittsburgh area with a 600-person capacity, full restaurant menu, cigar bar and patio!”.
My vision was that of crowded bar, with loud music that made it impossible to communicate without screaming and appealing only to a very young age group.
Well, I could not have been more wrong. First, the setting is impressive and enormous. The pictures on the web do not do it justice. In the main floor, off to the side, there is a very cool looking and inviting oval bar with comfortable seating for at least 100 people. Yes, I counted!
The well-thought out bar area is not just generously spacious all around, but it does not collide in the least with the stage and main viewing area in front of the stage. In addition to the first floor, there is the even better second floor, which is the one negotiated for our convention. It is accessible via stairs or elevator, as the Jergel’s manager giving us the walk through pointed out.
Our convention will have full and exclusive access to the second floor, which has capacity for 250 people. The second floor has a square opening that overlooks the first floor, including the stage. The opening is built with a ledge for drinks and food and furnished with 60 plus chairs, each of which provide a front row seat to the stage below.
This floor also has an inviting bar, off to the side, with comfortable seating for 45 people. Furthermore, almost an entire wall of the second floor is lined with large booths and there are plenty of tables arranged throughout. I can honestly say that my vision of a crowded room was replaced with the reality of an easy-to-walk-around-and-mingle adult setting. Two-hundred and fifty of us will fit nicely and none of us will have to fight for a chair.
At this point it was clear that Jergel’s has a great setting, good food, drinks and reasonable prices, but I still had to ask about having to scream over music in order to communicate?
As it turns out, Bernie was already several steps ahead of me. The evening reserved for the convention features the music of accomplished musicians "Three Car Garage" who have already been selected and confirmed specifically by our chapter hosts. We will be on the second floor enjoying a lovely evening, and others not associated to our convention may also enjoy our evening, but from the first floor only.
Last, the main parking lot in front of the entrance has been reserved for Alfa Romeo cars only.
The last venue we visited was the Pittsburgh Golf Club, founded in 1896. The convention will hold a Friday dinner at the Club as well as Car Show and Concours weekend. As expected, the grounds are beautiful, the place is immaculate, and classy with a sophisticated vintage feel. Our Alfas will feel very much at home in such elegant premises.
After a very full day, Bernie and I returned to the convention hotel for a full planning meeting. I got to meet some great AROC members. The majority were from the Pittsburgh chapter, of course, but there were other volunteers from neighboring chapters as well. A lot was discussed, but it is very important to note that while our convention is taking place, the city of Pittsburgh will be hosting the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, a major charity event which includes two weekends of historic races.
Our host AROC chapter, Three Rivers Alfisti, has been proudly participating heavily in the PVGP event for many years. While our convention is a distinct event, with activities open to AROC members only, the Car Show and Concours weekend will take place within the PVGP setting, which also includes spectating the historic races that take place on that weekend.
Furthermore, Alfa Romeo has been named as one of two featured marques of this year’s PVGP, and therefore AROC convention attendees may register for overlapping activities. All PVGP historic Alfa Romeo racers, AROC members or not, will be staying at the convention hotel.
The following morning, I got into the Spider for the drive back to northern NJ. This time however, hoping to avoid another unpredicted snow storm, I opted for the reliable, albeit boring, interstate highways. The interstates have these wonderful easy-to-read and up-to-the-minute informative electronic boards. As I drove these kept displaying a warning for “POSSIBLE EXTREME WHITE-OUT CONDITIONS”… Thankfully those conditions never materialized, and I was able to think about my Pittsburgh visit and enjoy the notion that we are going to have a great convention!
Kelly Telfer has been been selected at the featured artist to create the Cortile della Corsa poster for the 2019 Alfa Romeo Owner's Club Convention and the Spotlight Car for the 2019 Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix.
, aKelly designed and printed their race team shirts and soon, everybody else wanted him to design their shirts! He started a T-shirt company, O.Tee Shirts, when he was 20 years old- based on his original art and new-found race contacts.
It turned into one of the largest T-shirt companies specializing in motorsports in the country. Over the next couple of decades, Kelly created art and apparel for many top racers, tracks, and manufacturers; including Mears, Andretti, Petty, Earnhardt, Senna, Mansell, the Daytona 500, Laguna Seca Raceway, Monterey Historics, Long Beach Grand Prix, Indy 500, Monaco F1, as well as Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge, NASCAR, Indy Car and F1.
Be sure and check out Kelly's website, Kelly Telfer's Fine Art, and learn about his Ambush Art. We should be making an announcement regarding the poster art sometime in February or March.
Three Rivers Alfisti is excited to announce that Dwight Knowlton has been selected as the artist to develop the logo for the Cortile della Corsa AROC convention in July 2019.
Dwight is the author of The Little Red Racing Car, a father son story about a Maserati race car car restoration as well as The Greatest Race ,which is the story of Sir Stirling Moss’s record setting 1955 win of Italy’s great race, the Mille Miglia, and his most recent book, The Small Silver Speedster, about a father and daughter who fly to New York City to pick up their new Porsche 356 Speedster from Max Hoffman’s iconic dealership.
The Little Red Racing Car has been featured in various articles and interviews including Road&Track, MotorTrend, Sports Car Digest, and more. It’s no wonder Yahoo Autos raves it’s “The Best Kids’ Car Book Ever.”
Dwight is a dad, husband, and passionate car guy. According to Dwight “eight months of the year, I drive with the top down. I live in sunny Phoenix, AZ with my wife, son, and daughter. We share the house with our dog Tess and an occasional scorpion.
In January Bernard martin presented a proposal to the Alfa Romeo Owners Club Board of Directors that the Three Rivers Alfisti chapter of AROC would host the 2019 AROC Convention at the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix's Cortile Italian Car Show where the TRA was founded in July 2017.
Our Club presented some rather unique ideas for the convention:
The Board voted unanimously to hold the convention in Pittsburgh. Our next step is to start to revise the initial planning in more detail. The complete presentation is below and can also be found on our YouTube Channel.
Alfa Owner: The Dawn of a New Chapter
Below is the Cover story in the November Issue of "Alfa Owner" it's the monthly magazine published by the Alfa Romeo Owner's Club. The article was written by Enrique Zuniga announcing the formation of our chapter, The Three River's Alfisti!!
Located in the western foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, at the point where the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers meet to form the Ohio Rriver, lies a city well known for its steel history, bridges and sports – and often ranked as one of the best places to live in the world! It’s Pittsburgh, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s largest western city, with a population of over more than 3,000 three hundred thousand and almost two and half2.5 million within the greater metro area. For automobile enthusiasts, it is also a city with a well-established tradition for car events, such as the annual Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix and International Car Show that has been going on for 35 years.
Unsurprisingly, this area is also home to a good number of Aalfisti, who for several decades had hoped to establish a formal Alfa Romeo owners group. While the desire had not materialized, it was not for lack of interest. Locals will relate some of the attempts made over the years, such as the Allegheny Alfisti of the late 1970’s. This was the effort by Howard West, Don Wannagat, Kevin Benzenhoefer and others, to form an Alfa Romeo Owners Club chapter in the Pittsburgh area. Despite holding meetings for several years, a chapter was not formed.
Then, in 2010, invigorated by the 100-year celebration of the Alfa Romeo marque during the Vintage Grand Prix event, local organizers and Alfa enthusiasts, Jim Shaw and Marianne Fenoglietto once again considered the creation of formal Alfa owners group. It would be an AROC chapter in Western Pennsylvania. As Spider owners, they organized driving events,
which brought other enthusiastic Alfa owners together. The idea enjoyed great support, but while the interest never waned and the formation of a chapter was a topic of discussion for several years, formal steps to organize the group were not taken.
In 2016 however, with the establishment of the Ron Lewis Automotive Group as an Alfa Romeo dealer in the Pittsburgh area, the elusive goal was to find a path towards reality. While returning from corporate Alfa Romeo training, during an extended flight delay, the Ron Lewis Sales team found themselves on the airport tarmac with Jim Neville, the Alfa Romeo chairperson for the Pittsburgh Grand Prix Italian “Cortile” Car Show. A few months later, in April, the dealership hosted the area’s 2017 launch event of the Alfa Romeo Giulia. Enveloped by the energy at the event, Jim Neville was joined by Bernard Martin (Cortile event Managing Director), and together they approached the dealership about joining their endeavor of establishing an AROC chapter.
Their proposal was enthusiastically embraced by Gwen Lewis and Jobie Glessner. The newly formed partnership quickly took concrete steps, with Gwen hosting local Aalfisti meetings at the dealership and contacting AROC National on behalf of the Pittsburgh group. Conversations, meetings and a bit of work took place from April through June, as Jim, Bernard and Gwen took the lead to establish a formal Alfa Owners group in the Pittsburgh area.
Three Rivers Alfisti, a.k.a. Three Rivers AROC, is our newest chapter. It was officially launched during the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix week, at the Cortile Italian Car Show, on Saturday, July 15, 2017.
Three Rivers Alfisti Founding Officers
Jim is a long-time Alfa enthusiast and owner of an award- winning 1967 Duetto Spider. He is Vice President of Oil and Gas at Equipment & Controls, Inc. in Pittsburgh PA. “It’s perfect timing for the Three Rivers Alfisti to officially kick off at the Cortile Italian Car Show Saturday July 15, 2017,” said Jim Neville, first President of Three Rivers Alfisti, said. “Alfa Romeo’s return to the U.S., and the launch of our new Chapter, present a great opportunity for owners to share their love for these automobiles.”
Gwen is also Vice President of Marketing/Online Operations at the Ron Lewis Automotive Group. Ron Lewis Alfa Romeo is the newest franchise addition to the family-run dealership group. “To celebrate the launch of our Chapter, Ron Lewis Alfa Romeo will subsidize a 1-year Standard membership of any new Alfa Romeo customer betweens July 15, 2017 and -December 31, 2017,” said Gwen Lewis said. “We’re excited to welcome our customers to the joys of Alfa Romeo ownership and to introduce them to a local group who share the same affinity.”
Bernie is the Founder and President of Rapid Production Marketing in Pittsburgh. In 2009, Bernie created the Italian Cortile in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix. Owner of a 1988 Alfa Romeo Spider, Bernie completed a 2,890- mile round trip journey to the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance in March 2017 in his Alfa. “We’re already receiving positive feedback about forming the Three Rivers Alfisti,” said Bernie Martin said. “All the pieces are in place to make this Owner’s Club a success after many years of trying.”
Here you will find the details about upcoming and past events as well as member profiles.