The birth of the Grand Prix Chapter, Douglas Klein
Somewhere during my junior year of college, 1976 to be exact. I signed up with POCI through a small ad. in one of the car magazines. Back then, POCI was dedicated to Oakland’s and Pontiacs up to the late fifties. After a few issues of the “Silver Streak News” ( the original name of the national magazine), I was let down because there was nothing about my car, a “70 GTO. It took some time for coverage of “newer” vehicles to begin, but too long for my liking!
As time went on, I became involved with the Long Island Chapter. After attending few National Conventions, I made a handful of contacts within the organization and was asked to serve on the POCI Board. My everyday driver was a special order ( Hertz executives car) ʼ78 Grand Prix SJ. The car was very sharp for it’s day and there was nooo way, there would be any coverage of this car or most other Grand Prix’s in Smoke Signals. Car magazines, or books also contained nothing about the Grand Prix line. I actually felt left out . It was time to do something about that!
During the ʼ87 POCI Convention at Sturbridge, Ma. I asked the POCI Vice President
( the VP was in charge of all the chapters) if a chapter dedicated to Grand Prix could be formed. The answer was “No!” “We don’t want “Specialty Chapters” because we had a GTO Chapter and it failed.” Great logic? Stupid thinking at best, but at that time, that was the mentality of who was in charge. After asking the President, the answer given was, “try it!” That was all I needed.
The trip home from the Convention is where the foundation started to take place. Fellow Long Island Chapter member and friend for life, Greg Kersul ( ʼ63 Grand Prix) agreed to help get the 10 signatures needed for the paperwork. Greg and I found people, my wife Lisa, did all the required forms and our petition to the board was filed.
The POCI Board of Directors were not entirely behind the “specialty chapter” concept, but I had a good relationship with President Debbi Arend, and Debbie helped get approval. A few well placed letters within Smoke Signals gathered the needed support to get the Chapter up and running. Among those offering assistance was MIke Schaudek, Jim’s dad. Mike and I hit it off from the beginning and Mike became our first treasurer. Mike was very helpful in finding the money for newsletters/postage and promo. items. He also provided much needed mental support as there were many times when we both dug deep into our pockets to keep the newsletter going.
Within a few months, we jumped to about 40 members and held our first Chapter meeting in ʻ88. In ʼ90 we had iconic Pontiac Historian John Sawruk talk about GPʼs at our Annual meet at the Convention. When POCI members heard that John was speaking at the Grand Prix Chapter meeting, we finally arrived!
Many thanks to Greg,and Mike, and a long list of dedicated members that would buy our membership, purchase our promo. items. contribute to the newsletters and continue through some mighty “dry spells”. Douglas Klein