AutoMatters: Join A Car (or truck) Club!

Jan autocrossing - photo by Randy Butcher
Jan autocrossing - photo by Randy Butcher

By Jan Wagner

And no, the AAA isn’t quite what I’m recommending here.

The final decision when shopping for a primary, everyday automobile often comes down to practical considerations like room for our stuff, fuel economy, safety equipment, comfort and more, but shopping for a car to have fun with can be an entirely different matter.

That decision depends upon what kind of recreational driving we enjoy. For me, that is a no-brainer. I’ve been autocrossing since the late 1970s and I still do that, so my recreational car needs to be a competitive autocrosser. Other people might prefer off-road driving, going on road trips with others who have vehicles like theirs, participating in track days and so on.

Belonging to a car club puts you in touch with other like-minded people. Membership is also a great way to make new friends. Suitable clubs that match your automotive interests are just a quick Google search away.

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Jan & Curtis packing up after the autocross

In San Diego we have clubs that include autocrossing as one of their regular activities. Over the years I have belonged to several, including the San Diego chapters of the Porsche Club of America (when I had my ’78 911SC), the BMW Car Club of America (when I owned my ’95 M3) and the Sports Car Club of America (too many cars to list here). The SCCA’s autocross program is open to most makes and models, the few exceptions being for reasons of safety on the track.

Belonging to just one club might not be enough to satisfy your recreational needs. For example, typically in San Diego our SCCA autocrosses are held a little more than once per month (a weekend consisting of one Championship day and usually one practice day). Since I don’t run practices (to extend the life of my autocross tires and thus keep costs down), that leaves only the Championship days to autocross my car. We get about four runs of around a minute or so each and then, other than working the event and perhaps going to meetings, the fun is over until next time. I want more car-related fun than that.

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Mostly Mustangs at the MCSD picnic

So, that can be a good reason to belong to more than one car club. When I buy an autocross car, I try to find one that has a local chapter of a marque club associated with that make or model. There are Porsche clubs, Ferrari clubs and so forth. I bought my Mustang in large part because I knew that there are active Mustang clubs nearby. The one I joined is the Mustang Club of San Diego (www.sdmustangclub.com).

For starters, we have monthly meetings with guest speakers. Coming up in the next few months are car shows, a bowling night, dinner cruises (the car kind, not on the water), a teen driving course, a wine cruise and more. Frankly there are more activities than I have time to participate in.

Last Sunday we held our annual MCSD picnic. A bunch of us drove our Mustangs (and a few other special Ford vehicles) to scenic El Monte County Park in Lakeside. We enjoyed each others’ cars and company, a BBQ and a raffle with lots of prizes.

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