This history of the MARC Mileage Program has been gathered from bits and pieces published in the Model “A” News over the years and from the recollections of MARC members and some former program chairmen. We appreciate all of their input and invite any MARC members with knowledge of the program to contribute any missing pieces of information.
IN THE BEGINNING: In the late 1970s there was recurring discussion at national and membership meets concerning a program to give national recognition for those who restored their Model A’s to good running condition and used them for “driving pleasure.”
At the 1980 Membership Meet in Cincinnati, Ohio a committee was formed under the direction of Bob Thams of the Motor Cities Region to explore this topic and develop a proposal for a national driving award. This proposal was published in the September/October 1980 Model “A” News and approved at the 1981 Membership Meet in Louisville, Kentucky.
1981 – SUMMER 1985: Bob Thams was appointed as the first chairman of the committee that would administer the program first known as Mileage Awards. The committee developed and “tweaked” the guidelines and standards for the Mileage Awards, and the final standards were accepted at the 1981 National Meet in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania.
The fee structure associated with the program at its inception was as follows: Initial Registration, $1.00; Certificate of Registration, $2.00; First Mileage Plaque with Tab, $3.00; and Mileage Tabs (after the first one), $0.75 each. Application/registration forms were printed in triplicate, with one copy (white) being sent to the MARC home office, one copy (yellow) for use by the region; and the third copy (card stock) also being sent to the MARC home office to be maintained as the permanent registration record.
The first Mileage Awards, earned for mileage during calendar year 1981, were distributed to the members who had earned them, and the fledgling program was off and running. By the end of 1982, the program had 169 total registrations and had bestowed 95 awards at the 2,000, 5,000, and 10,000 mileage levels. By the end of 1984, more than 200 mileage awards had been presented.
It had been hoped that awards and certificates could largely be awarded at Membership and National Meets, but it became evident that a number of those receiving awards were not always present at these events, so the practice of mailing the awards was initiated and continues today.
The $3.00 fee for the plaque was eliminated effective with reporting for the 1983 driving year, but the other fees remained intact at that time. Although these fees are no longer being collected, there is no record of when they were discontinued.
Summer 1985 – October 1993: Larry Lovechio was appointed chairman of what had now become known as the Driving Awards Committee. Don Bivens, Andy Honiotes, and Jerry Parr were committee members assisting Larry in the operation of the program.
At the 1986 Membership Meet in Toledo, an additional award was proposed by the committee and approved by the Board of Directors. This was a “MARC Driver of the Year Award,” which would be presented annually to the MARC member registered in the program who accumulated the highest number of miles in a calendar year, within the standards and guidelines of the program and with the added requirement that the vehicle must have been registered in the program during the previous year to be eligible the following year. We found no record of how long this award was given or to whom.
In 1992, in an effort to make more members aware of the program, Larry began publishing an occasional column in the Model “A” News called “Model A’s at Play,” where he answered questions and provided information about the Driving Awards Program.
NOVEMBER 1993 – FEBRUARY 2001: Roy Bertola became chairman and began publishing a column in the Model “A” News called “Along the Highway.” In his first column, he indicated that he was in the process of constructing a computerized database which would yield more accurate and timely information. The column continued for approximately two years.
Roy’s database was completed in the summer of 1994 and yielded the following statistics:
- 509 members with 596 automobiles in the program
- 62 regions represented
- 95 awards given out for miles accumulated by driving year 1993
The first published list of award winners appeared in the July-August 1994 issue of Model “A” News for driving year 1993, with Kenneth “Pete” Fore receiving the highest award for 90,000 miles and Jack Sullivan, Sr., close behind at 85,000 miles.
The standard requiring proper wheel and tire size for year of manufacture was dropped from the Driving Awards Guidelines in 1995.
In the Spring of 1997 there were 869 cars enrolled in the program, and more than 100 awards were given out.
The first 100,000-mile award was given for driving year 1997 to William Steele of the Fayetteville “A’s”.
In 1998 and 1999 the awards lists for driving years 1997 and 1998, respectively, were not published until the Nov-Dec issue of Model “A” News, and there was no list of award winners for driving year 1999 in any of the 2000 Model “A” News issues.
Roy’s database apparently became lost to history, as there is no reference to it after this point.
MARCH 2001 – DECEMBER 2003: Randy Sierk was appointed program chairman. Because the records were in arrears, there was no list of award winners in the Model “A” News during 2001.
Randy began with the records from 2000, and by the summer of 2002 those records were up to date and awards mailed for that time period. The awards list for driving year 2000 was published in the March-April 2003 Model “A” News.
The brass plaque that had been designed for the Driving Awards Program was completed and available for sale during this period.
Because of the time constraints of a full-time job and family life in addition to the deadlines of the program, Randy opted to turn the program over to someone else.
January 2004 – April 2013: Bob Barker’s appointment as chairman was announced in the January 2004 issue of the Model “A” News, although Bob and Janice actually started working on the records, which were still in arrears, several months earlier. They worked diligently to get the program records up to date, and the catch-up process was completed in time for the 2004 Membership Meet in Jacksonville, Florida. The driving year 2003 award winners were published in the July-August 2004 issue of the Model “A” News.
With the records now well organized and current, Bob and Janice were able to focus on maintaining them in good order and promoting the program among MARC regions and unaffiliated members, and program membership grew steadily.
During the next ten years, from mid-December to the end of April each year, the Driving Awards program occupied a huge portion of Bob and Janice’s time as they logged and double-checked reported mileage, mailed appropriate awards, and compiled information on award winners every year for publication in the Model “A” News.
In the fall of 2011, in the MARC tent at the Hershey AACA Meet, Dick Fisher mentioned to Janice that if she and Bob ever decided they wanted to turn the program over to someone, he would be interested in being considered for it. After much discussion, Bob and Janice came to the conclusion that turning the program over to another person would afford them the opportunity to do some of the things they had been either postponing or unable to do entirely because of the demands and timetable of the program work.
The Barkers approached the Board of Directors and in early 2013 received approval for Dick to take over the program. But Bob and Janice wanted to complete the records and awards distribution for the 2012 mileage year, which they did, and it was for this mileage year that Jack Sullivan, Sr., earned the first 200,000-mile award ever given.
In April 2013, following the MARC Membership Meet in Charlotte, North Carolina, Bob and Janice turned over the records and files for the program—“their baby”—to Dick Fisher.
APRIL 2013 – PRESENT: Upon assuming the chairmanship of the program, Dick Fisher and his wife, Betty, spent some time familiarizing themselves with the records and procedures and decided to see if they could streamline the process by using a database. During the summer and fall of 2013, Dick and Betty spent many hours keying every piece of information on every registration card in the “Active” file into the Microsoft Access database they had developed. They also designed an Excel spreadsheet reporting form at the request of several regional mileage coordinators who wanted a format that they could receive and send back by email.
By the end of 2013, the database was ready for its first real test. But Dick and Betty decided that for at least the first few years they would continue to record the mileage manually on the registration cards as well as in the database—just in case!
The 2013 reports came in, and (whew!) the program performed as expected. In addition, using the end-of-year membership roster from MARC Headquarters, the current MARC membership status could quickly and easily be determined for each person in the program. The database also allows queries and reports to be developed for an almost limitless range of information so status updates can be provided to region mileage coordinators and individuals upon request. And it greatly reduces the time and effort to determine the award winners and get that information to the Model “A” News.
At the end of driving year 2014, there were 1,152 members in the program, with 1,684 vehicles registered, and 276 mileage awards were sent.
In early 2015, Dick requested permission from the MARC Board of Directors to change the name of the program to the MARC Mileage Program, which is what most people seemed to call it, and the Board approved the name change. Also in 2015, at the National Meet in Niagara Falls, Canada, the Mileage Program conducted its first door prize drawings for program members only. Ten door prizes were donated by Bratton’s, and a grand prize, a custom car cover donated by LeBaron Bonney, was won by Jackie and Roger Van Houten.
Little by little, the information for the vehicles in the “Inactive” file is being added to the database. When completed, this information will provide a complete history of every vehicle that has been registered in the program since its inception. However, this task is not expected to be completed until at least the end of 2015. When it is finished, we will be able to generate and post on the website a list of award winners for every year the program has been operating.
If you have read all the way down to this point, thank you! You have made our research and efforts worthwhile! If you have any information to add to this history, please don’t hesitate to contact us.