TOURING CLASS JUDGING HISTORY
By Andy Honiotes
The birth of the Touring Class Judging system started with a request from the membership to be nationally recognized for their driving and restoration efforts. On the average, one of every ten cars that register for a MARC Summer Meet will enter Fine Point Judging. These cars are restored by amateur and professional restorers or the combination of the two. Restoring cars to the MARC – MAFCA Judging Standards takes each nut, bolt and thread of upholstery to exact detail of authenticity. Once the car is complete, the job of maintaining the restoration is just as hard as the restoration itself. Changing temperatures, humidity and sunlight in a storage area can destroy the detailed restoration and finishes of all plated, painted, unpainted and upholstered parts.
Nine of every ten car owners who register for the summer meets don’t want any part of this. They choose to restore to a lesser detail. They are the drivers who travel hundreds of miles with their Model A’s to attend the national meets. They choose to maintain the wear and tear that driving the cars brings. Stress cracks happen in body filler and paint. They show up within a couple of years of restoration and normally don’t get any worse. Most Model “A”ers accept this. They try to keep the bicycles and car doors away from the fender. When filling the gas tank as often as the drivers do, there is always the chance of finding that pump handle with the drip that you didn’t expect. As much as you try to protect your upholstery, mistakes happen with children, lawn chairs, luggage and normal wear. How can they be recognized for doing all this driving and maintaining? The Model “A” Restorers Club would soon take the first step to solve the problem.
At the 1980 Membership Meet, the question of recognizing members for driving their cars was brought before the Executive Board at the membership meeting. Ideas went back and forth. Bob Thams of Plymouth, Michigan suggested a mileage award program of some sort. The MARC Region he belonged to had a mileage award program in place with annual awards. More discussion followed with a motion to create a committee to put a mileage program in place. Bob Thams headed the committee along with Larry Lovechio and Ross Anderson of Mishawaka, Indiana. Don Bivins of Canton, Michigan, Glen Hoffmeister of Milford, Ohio, and Andy Honiotes of Joliet, Illinois. They met a month later at Ross Anderson’s home in Mishawaka to lay out the guidelines. The guidelines were accepted at the Board of Directors meeting that summer and the MARC Driving Award Program was born.
It was first thought that these awards could be handed out at the Membership Meet banquet. Registration for the program was through your local Region. The Region Director would verify beginning and annual mileages. After the first plateau of 2000 miles, the award was to be given out. The first year that the award was to be presented, MARC realized that there were too many to be awarded at the membership meet banquet. It was decided that all awards would be presented by mail. At the first they were sent out to the individual members. Larry Lovechio became chairman on 1985, and Jerry Parr of Lily Lake, Illinois joined the committee at that time. In 1993, all data was computerized by the new Mileage Award Chairman, Roy Bivins of Rolling Meadows, Illinois. All awards would now be delivered to the Region Director or the mileage award contact person from the region.
In 1994, Andy Pogan of Rockville, Maryland spoke up at the membership meeting on Cincinnati, Ohio. He thought that MARC could go one step further and create a judging program for the drivers who attend the summer meets. MAFCA had a “ Touring” and a “Modified” class. The cars entered were judged right along with the Fine Point cars. President Nick Markes asked Judging Standards Committee Chairman Roger Kauffman his thoughts; he said “a touring class would be fine as long as the fine point judges did not have to judge them.” Andy Pogan suggested that a system could be developed using the drivers themselves as the judges. The Board gave Andy the go ahead to investigate the idea. By the October 1993 Board of Directors meeting, Andy reported with entry criteria and class structures. The criteria was as follows:
- Model “A” type four cylinder engine
- Model “A” frame, suspension and axles
- No body alterations
The mileage structure was divided up into five classes from 0 to 100 annual miles driven and up to over 5000 annual miles driven. The MARC Mileage Award Program would be used to verify mileages.
Andy Pogan was at a stumbling block and suggested that someone else should study the owner – judging idea. In October 1994, President Jackie Van Houten appointed outgoing Director of Membership and Public Relations, Andy Honiotes, to try to prepare something for the National Meet in St. Charles, Illinois, just eight months away. Andy went home with the new challenge. He hooked two of his best friends, MARC members Art and Jerry LeMere of Crete, Illinois. This father and son team did not know what they were in for! Their first meeting was over lunch at the truck stop near Andy’s home. The judging process using car owner – judges solved first. The judges would use a multiple choice type of judging sheet. Using a spiral binder, and thinking out loud, they asked each other what to look for as they went through the engine compartment, upholstery, chassis and exterior finish. Five hours later, the basic questions that are presently in the touring class score sheets were on paper. With a 50 mile distance between them, they net every Saturday night for the next four months to work out the details. In all, a well restored Model “A” meeting the MARC Blue Ribbon qualifications would score high. Only missing or wrong parts and excessive wear and tear would lower the score.
There were announcements in the Model “A” News about the new touring class explaining how it would work. The registration form for the 1995 National Meet in St. Charles has touring class registration information in it. A rough draft was tested with 10 of the Joliet Region Model “A’s” in March of 1995. A few changes were made, and a second draft went to the MARC Board of Directors for approval. This draft, which was now called Touring Class Judging Standards, was a first class document. The Board approved the standards at the membership meet in Newburgh, New York that spring. A few dozen standards were available for sale at that membership meet and were sold out after about three hours. Two station wagons that drive over 5,000 miles annually owned by Roger de Socarras and Butch Klecha were tested against the standards at that membership meet.
In May of 1995, the system was tested for time on a dozen Model “A’s” at the Memorial Day car show in Sandwich, Illinois. The new Touring Class Judging Program was ready for St. Charles. Now that the hard part was done, the implementation of judging day was next on the list. The committee decided that the judging would take place after the mandatory tour since there really wasn’t any other time available in the schedule. The activities for the week were in print long before the touring class was invented! The majority of cars that registered for touring class judging were at the front of the line up of the mandatory tour. When they arrived at the destination, the McCormic Mansion at Cantigny Park, they set up their cameras, started the safety checks and began judging in an hour. The judging at this meet was different than all meets to follow. The committee took the first ten cars and their owners, quickly trained them, and sent them on their way to judge the next ten cars. The drivers of the second group of ten cars were trained and judged the first group of cars. There were over sixty cars registered. They ended up with six groups of judges finished up at 2:00 P.M. There were only a few problems with the judging that day. The biggest problem was that club members involved with judging had to leave their families, who went on the tour of the McCormic Mansion. When it came time for the box lunches, they seemed to lose some judges for a while. In all, the program that was an idea just one year earlier was now a big success.
Minor changes were made to the standards over the next few years. Each change was an improvement to the wording of the text and implementation of judging on judging day. Judging day was moved to the same day of the meet as Fine Point Judging which helps the drivers join their families to take part in the week’s activities. In 1995, John Marhsall Jr. of Chicago, Illinois; Jerry Sund of LaGrange, Illinois and Frank Pollack of Wilmington, Delaware joined the committee. They were instrumental in helping with that first judging day in St Charles. In 1999, Frank Pollack became the committee chairman.
About 25% of past touring class winners return to try for a higher score. This helps judging day as the past winners are familiar with the judging process and are used as team captains and group leaders. 80% of touring class registrants receive awards. There have been over 250 awarded to date. MARC now has an excellent way to nationally recognize the drivers. The Touring Class does just that.