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Auto clubs: Fill ‘er up!

By, courtesy Keeneland Concours d’Elegance

For car club members, summer nights are the best. Club Corvette of Connecticut likes to gather its members and 50 Corvettes on a grassy strip along Long Island Sound. After enjoying drinks and dinner at a nearby restaurant, club members sit outside and listen to ’50s music. For member George Sipprell, it doesn’t get much better than that.

“It’s like having a second family. The cars bring you together, but it’s the friends you make and the experiences you have that matter most. You’ve got lifetime friendships,” said Sipprell.

As long as there have been automobiles, there have been car clubs. Owners love to show off their vehicles and savor the camaraderie and memories. Today, there are thousands of car clubs loyal to particular vehicle makes and models. And travel is a big part of it.

Sipprell’s Connecticut club has done a three-hour trip north to Saratoga Springs and Lake George, N.Y., where members and their Corvettes were guests at the historic Saratoga Race Course. Talk about horsepower.

“The next morning we had a champagne brunch cruise on Lake George,” said Sipprell.
Sipprell is also a volunteer master ambassador for the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky., traveling 25,000 miles a year promoting Corvettes and the museum, located next door to GM’s Corvette plant.

Katie Frassinelli, museum marketing and communications manager, is in touch with club members from around the United States multiple times each day. Clubs love to visit; 22 of them, along with 583 members, did so in 2010.

“Typically, they tour the museum and plant, and sometimes do road tours to attractions in other parts of Kentucky,” said Frassinelli. “They love to eat and enjoy the mom-and-pop-type restaurants. They want to experience the South.”

Museum visitors also hail from Canada and Australia. One man even flies over from the Netherlands. “They can never visit the museum too often. We change our exhibits frequently. Some consider Kentucky their second home,” said Frassinelli.

The Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) fosters the love of the pioneering days of automobiles. Enthusiasts like Don Barlup always seem to be cruising to an AACA show. He recently traveled from his Pennsylvania home to Berlin, Ohio.

“It’s an annual gathering of Oaklands and early Pontiacs,” he explained.

Soon after came the AACA Vintage Tour in Williamsport-Corning, N.Y. “That’s for automobiles 1937 and back. We’ll be touring in our 1926 Lincoln.”