While we are a “small” region with a large geographical area and smaller urban and rural populations, it has a surprisingly long history.
In the beginning….
Our region was first incorporated in late 1959, amazingly just 4 years after Porsche Club of America, itself, was founded by D.C. Bill Sholar. President Tom Warner presided over the first meeting with 30 charter members and 14 Porsches. A flyer for the second meeting was reprinted in the April 2000 El Portal recalls the time: Dining choices were Shrimp for $3.15 or Sirloin Steak for $3.45. Prices included tax and tip. The territory initially was from the Sierra Mountains to the coast, and from Sacramento to Fresno, per a 1966 article in Panorama. The initial incorporation indicated the region’s name was San Joaquin, but in 1960, its name was changed to the current “Yosemite Region”.
As years went by Golden Gate was formed in the Bay Area, San Joaquin to the south including Fresno, and Sacramento Valley Region to the north. San Joaquin Region ran Parade one year with all of the income and expense going through their books. The government said that was non-member income, causing San Joaquin Region to turn over their funds and declare bankruptcy. Sequoia Region was later formed in that area.
The Early Years of the Region
Dale Burnham who joined Yosemite Region, PCA in January 1966 (a 1955 356 (not an A Continental sunroof coupe) provided a remembrance of what the club was like in these early years. Walter Rupple, of Rupple Imports, was president. Some of the members were Johnny and June Knight, Bob Romans, Jim Burt, Bud and Mary Ann Behrens (see below) and Bob and Gladys Ikeada ( they won one of the first PCA member raffles). We were a small region but we fathered many others in the beginning of PCA.
I believe the 1970 issue that highlights Yosemite region covers our history. I had a copy but it was stolen at one of our dinner meetings. We are the parent region for Sac Valley, Golden Gate, Monterey Bay and Loma Prieta.
We were a small region when I joined with a lot of our Stockton members belonging to Sac Valley. I became president either 1969 or 1970. Our membership kept declining because people felt the was more activities in Sacramento. About 1972 I advised we were going to dissolve the region unless they helped us. They forced the Stockton people to Yosemite region and they decided to get active locally. Helped a lot.
We had a couple of tours to San Simeon on some 3-4 day weekends. Stockton to Hollister, south on Hwy 25 to the end. Turn right to 101 over to US 1 to San Simeon. Spent 2 days at Hearst Castle and then home. Had 20 + cars. We started doing rallies put on by our own people and by John Cleaver ( rallye master supreme). We had auto crosses all over the local areas from Turlock to Stockton. We used small airports, wineries, fairgrounds and the Stockton Gun and Boccieball club. We had dinners at Dave Wong’s when it was located south of the Cross town freeway in Stockton ( complete meals were not on the menu). We would travel to various places for dinner( down to Dos Paulo’s for basque dinner).
Dale moved out of the area in 2007 and transferred membership to Heart O’ Dixie, but during his membership, served as president, vice pres, sec/treas newsletter publisher and historian. Dale’s During the many years I belonged to Yosemite I served as president, vice pres, sec/treas newsletter publisher and historian. Dale’s wife designed our regional badge that was used until late 2000.
Bud and Mary Ann Behrens were major contributors to club. Bud (1931-2019) held numerous YOS offices including newsletter editor for years and 1979 President. He was also Zone Rep for several years. Mary Ann was Zone Rep for one year.
Bill Snyder (1947-2018) holds the record for years as President. He held the position in 1983-84, 1988, and 1994-95. He held numerous offices including newsletter editor for several years. He organized many events, including an annual trip to the Historic Races at Laguna Seca.
The Ikeda family has been a big part of the club. Bob and Gladys bought a new 356 in 1961. They also bought two other used 356’s. Bob was Zone autocross series champion several years. They had two sons, Pat and Steve. They grew up in the back of 356’s. Both sons were board members with Pat (1960-2018) President in 1997-98. Steve’s wife Kathy was also Treasurer. In 1997 Bob and Gladys bought the first Boxter in our Region the day before our Concours. Norm Swanberg wrote an article for the El Portal on the event and commented it looked just like new at the Concours 😊. (…more on Norm Swanberg below). That Boxter was later replaced with a Boxter S. There was a special edition 911 for PCA members only. More people wanted one at MSRP than cars. There was a drawing to determine who can buy one and Bob/Gladys were drawn allowing them to buy it. Bob and Gladys are still members and have those cars.
Bob had a key role in the forming of the Dummkoph Award. Dummkoph is German for someone who screwed up something (more or less). The award was given in a good-natured manner, in the Yosemite Region PCA, not as a punishment. Bob was rebuilding a 356 engine and oops left out a part. The result was a broken crankshaft. Other members got ahold of it finished a walnut plaque and bolted the crankshaft pieces to the board. The two parts formed a V so it was obvious that it was broken. This was the beginning of the award.
It was transferred to various other members, over the years, who did something that made them worthy. A brass nameplate was added to the board for each new recipient and a star added to the nameplate for each additional award to that person. It was usually passed on at the Christmas dinner. There were frequently multiple candidates for the award. It was given to someone who went into a corner too fast, hit the brakes and almost stopped in time. He crept over the edge, down a hill, and into a tree. No injuries, but his 911 had a puckered look until it was fixed. Someone else received it for allowing a shop towel to be sucked into the fan of his 911SC twice.
Whatever happened to the award is a mystery? It may have been forgotten about in someone’s closet or something like that.
The “Modern Era”
Our story, lets call it “the Modern Era”, picks up with the contributions of Norm and Virginia Swanberg. Their first car was a 1987 944 which they owned for 31 years. But a 1974 914 graced their garage from 1991 to 1998, and Norm bought a 1988 944 Turbo in 2007 as his “track” car. Not only were the Swanberg’s members of the region, they were ACTIVE members, showing their 944 and winning a number of trophies in Concours: 41 first place trophies Yosemite Region events (Norm admits that the entrants were limited, but a “win-is-a-win!”). But he also competed in Zone events and a first in the 2000 Parade (much stiffer competition!) Norm served as a concours judge in Zone series, at the 2000 Parade and the Hillsborough Concours in 2002. The Norm also served in the region’s leadership team, 5 years as Secretary, 5 years as Treasurer, one year as Vice President and one year as President (in 1996). Virginia was a board member 17 years. Between the two one or both were on the board 27 of the 30 years between 1990 and 2019. In 2004, Norm fell into a passion for “Track Days”. with 116 track days and counting with the 944, the 944 Turbo and recently in a Miata.
Another key figure in Yosemite Region’s history is Paul Czopek (and wife Vanessa). Paul joined the region in 2002 and immediately started participating in a number of activities. One of his favorite activities was Concours. He pressed the region to be a part of the Zone 7 series. Paul served the region’s board, including President. In the mid 2010’s Paul was appointed as the Zone 7 representative; no small job! He moved to Arizona in 2014 but still visits California and often comes out for WERKS!
In the 2010 to 2015 period, the region’s presidents included Chris Dias (wife Tia) and Steve Searles (wife Tami). The region’s actives included drives (some very spirited ones lead by Steve Perry and wife Lili Ma, concours driven by Paul Czopek and annual dinner. Not terribly active.
In 2015 things came to a head, the then VP Andrew Goreff had to step down and Chuck Pierce, then a member since 2010, volunteered to complete Andrew’s term. Thus started the Pierce leadership of the Yosemite Region, spanning two terms, 2016 to 2019.
Chuck, with back up from his wife, Jennifer, started to pull the region together. Membership was essentially constantly at about 110 members (plus associates). At the end of 2019, Yosemite region was up to about 150 members and was the highest membership growth region in Zone 7. The Pierces’ started the “New (& Old) Member BBQ” event, held at their home. The first BBQ had “1 member” attend. In 2019, the event attracted about 50 members or about 33% of the regions active and associate members!
At Jennifer’s instance, the region organized their first multi day drive/tour. Since then, multi-day tours have been a mainstay in the region’s events and have included trips to Yosemite National Park and Hearst Castle.
The capstone to the Pierce’s tenure was the Region’s 60th Anniversary celebrations. This was a “two part” celebration. Part 1 was a multi day trip to Yosemite National Park, staying at the Wawona Hotel. Part 2 was “supposed” to be a grand luncheon at Ironstone Winery — with all our cars on display in their amphitheater. Mother nature did not cooperate, knocking our power to the event venue. So, the Chuck and Jennifer totally reorganized the event to be held at their home, with caterers doing the cooking, and saving the celebration. And, permitting PCA National Treasurer Craig Kugler to present Yosemite Region a plaque celebrating 60 years.
The torch has been passed to a new cohort of leaders, President Brian Sturkie and VP Dave Boyd. The region’s events now populate the full year’s calendar and offers a variety of activities for our members, membership growth is the largest in Zone 7 for the last year(s) and our region’s performance has been noticed by both Zone and National PCA.
Our story will continue to grow.