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Porsche Parade in French Lick: A look back

Tuesday, June 30, 2015
National News

French Lick, Indiana. When Porsche Club of America announced that this was the location Porsche Parade 2015 — the 60th — would be held, many didn’t know what to expect. As the start of PCA’s weeklong convention neared members wondered, why there? However, during Parade week, the historic French Lick Resort and West Baden Springs Hotel proved to be ideal places to host PCA events and great hubs from which to explore the area’s beautiful countryside on twisty back roads.

Rain could have been a problem. Enough fell to fill up the concours field with water, making it a large pond, and at least one road between the hotels was completely submerged. In spite of being moved to a parking garage to avoid the rain, the 1960s-themed Pirelli Welcome Party kicked off with excitement and a costume contest. 

Generous space at French Lick Resort allowed concours volunteers to move the show into a parking garage, as well, and the historical “60 4 60” display into the indoor tennis court. The event was saved, cars and people stayed relatively cool and dry, and PCAers enjoyed a lineup of pristine vehicles, from 356s to 912s, 911s to 928s, and nearly every type of Porsche in between.

Members were also treated to 60 years of Porsche vehicle history all in one place at the “60 4 60” display. Starting with 1955, one Porsche from each year was represented, and it was just one of many ways PCA celebrated its 60th Anniversary at this year’s Parade.

In addition to the historical “60 4 60” display was the PCA 60th Anniversary Museum. National Historian RJ Wilmoth and his wife Linda worked tirelessly at PCA National Office for years, combing through historical documents and items, filing them away — and the work paid off big time with this year’s museum. PCA proudly displayed its history plus a handful of significant Porsches, including one 356 that attended the first Parade in 1955. A Nikolas Hunziker painting also was unveiled on the museum’s opening day.

Porsche and The Ingram Collection added a few of their own cars to the museum, such as a 1996 911 GT1 Le Mans racer, a Paris Dakar 959, and ultra-rare Viola Metallic 918 Spyder. The four-cylinder water-cooled crowd was appeased by a 924 Carrera GTS Club Sport, the top, race-ready, street-legal 924 offered by Porsche to customers (though not in the US). If that wasn’t enough, members could attend the “Manny and Dieter Show” hosted by PCA Past President Manny Alban and Porsche AG Archivist Dieter Landenberger. There is no better person than him to talk members through the historical significance of each of the Porsches in the 60th Museum.

PCAers came from all over the country to attend Parade, which was clear after spotting a 944 with Hawaii plates at the start of the Time-Speed-Distance (TSD) Rally, and after seeing Alaska Region’s Mike Holtzclaw’s famous 911 covered in protective blue painters tape. (Yes, he drove further than any other member.)

In addition to the 60th Anniversary-specific events, there was the usual lineup of activities attendees love. TSD Rally put a competitive spin on cruising the Indiana countryside. Two days of autocross at the municipal airport made for some spectacular entertainment, whether you competed, spectated, or checked out the cool — and sometimes odd — Porsche machinery.

Michelin hosted a Drive & Experience event, in which members could drive timed autocross laps in a Boxster GTS on new Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, on a course set up next to the main autocross. Michelin also sponsored the 1980s-themed Autocross Banquet, and once again a costume contest was held after dinner, with Bose prizes awarded to the winners.

The RC Car Competition allowed members and children of all ages to demonstrate their skills behind the wheel of miniature HPI Porsches, and they could also flaunt their Porsche knowledge by taking the Tech Quiz. Members even competed in a golf tournament at the Pete Dye Golf Course nearby. There were so many more activities that aren’t listed here that we encourage you to visit the Porsche Parade 2015 website and check out the photo gallery, courtesy PCA Parade Photo Team.

At the end of most days, members packed dinner tables at various banquets, chatted it up with friends, and received awards for scoring well in the various competitive events. During the Welcome Party on opening night, Dr. Wolfgang Porsche and his son Felix made their first appearance, and they stayed at Parade for most of the week, driving in tours, autocrossing, attending banquets, and more. PCNA’s CEO and President Detlev von Platen and Vice President of Marketing Andre Oosthuizen also attended.

Perhaps the most memorable banquet moment was a complete surprise to both members, volunteers, and even most National Office staff: the Cayman GT4 made its North American debut when Felix Porsche drove it into the West Baden Springs Hotel during the Concours Banquet. It sat at the front stage for the rest of the night, and was put on display at the French Lick Resort for the rest of the week. PCA thanks Porsche for putting together such a surprise and giving our members the privilege to be among the first people in North America to see it in person.

Capping off the week was the traditional Parade of Porsches and Victory Banquet, the last event of the week. For the parade, hundreds of members drove their cars from French Lick to the historic town of Paoli and back, and then parked their cars in a large parking lot for The Photo. Those who were there or have been to Parade before know what this is, but for those who don’t, it’s an aerial photo of all the Porsches at Parade taken from a lift — there’s no other way to capture them all without putting a little distance and height between the camera and the subjects.

At the Reliable Carriers Victory Banquet, PCA gave members and Regions various awards, for public service, for the Region with the most members who drove the furthest to Parade (Alaska Region), for the Region with the highest rate of growth (Upper Canada Region), for the Region with the highest factored growth, and more. National President Caren Cooper highlighted PCA’s latest slogan: “Fueled by Volunteers.” And lest we forget about the Spring Member Only Raffle, a video was shown of PCA Executive Director Vu Nguyen and Manny Alban giving away the first Porsche, a Cayman GTS, to a surprised Maryland-based member. A surprise announcement also was included: PCA is giving away six Caymans due to the success of the raffle, two more cars than originally planned. We’ll be surprising five more members with a new Porsche, and it could be you!

And for those wondering where Porsche Parade 2017 will be, that was announced, too: Spokane, Washington at the Davenport Grand Hotel!

Porsche Parade 2015 was held in an unlikely location this year, but it was one of the most successful Parades with approximately 2,000 members who registered (there were approximately 2,300 in attendance at last year's Parade in Monterey, California). The mix of camaraderie, activities, and PCA 60th Anniversary events proved to be a winning combination, and of course, it all would not have been possible without help from hundreds of volunteers, members, and PCA sponsors. Here’s to Porsche Parade 2016 in Jay, Vermont at Jay Peak Resort, June 19 – 26, 2016. See you there!

Photos by Damon Lowney and Porsche Parade Photo Team

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