We’re kicking off a new article series designed to showcase BMW CCA chapter newsletters! Whether you want to get to know your neighboring chapters better, play the role of club historian, or immerse yourself in countless wonderful stories from our members, this series can serve as your recommended reading list of automotive journalism.
First, a short history lesson: BMW CCA is comprised of 69 chapters across five regions. Prior to the 2020 release of BimmerLife magazine, which has dedicated pages for chapter submissions, each chapter was required to produce a newsletter for its members. With nearly 70 chapters, that’s a lot of BMW-related stories and news! Despite the newsletter requirement being lifted, there are chapters continuing to churn out professional-grade publications on a regular basis.
Chapter newsletters have come in all formats and sizes, from home-printed, hand-delivered communications to full-blown mass-mailed magazines. Some were started in the early 1970s, and they’ve evolved with technology. A number of chapters have undergone large scanning projects to host all of their issues online; many of these newsletters are available for everyone to read (no login required), similar to BimmerLife’s website (which you’re currently reading, so you obviously have great taste).
I’ve always enjoyed reading what goes on in other chapters. In addition to entertainment value, these chapter publications serve as a great way to track the history of the club and its members by covering club events and sharing member stories. They get members active and participating by showcasing chapter events and programs. They serve as a rolodex for contacting chapter officers and program heads. They even provide a place for chapter sponsors to advertise their services.
To start things off, we’ve contacted the editor of Boston Chapter’s Boston Bimmer, Eric Richards, to learn more about their publication. The Boston chapter boasts over 3,000 members in the New England area, and, like all of BMW CCA’s great chapters, “it’s run entirely by volunteers who donate their time and effort to benefit their fellow members.” I’ve been enjoying Boston Bimmer for years, and was excited to get the inside scoop from Eric.
BimmerLife: When was your chapter magazine first published?
Eric Richards: Boston Bimmer can trace its roots back to the 1970s. It was originally the first and only BMW CCA magazine, and was published as the national newsletter. However, at one point in the ’70s, the operation was spun off as Roundel, and Boston Bimmer continued as its own magazine published by and for the Boston Chapter.
BL: How has it changed over the years?
ER: Over the years, the magazine has gone from being entirely a print publication, where it was printed en masse and directly mailed to all Boston Chapter members, to its current form as an entirely digital publication. I ushered in this transition when I took over as editor in 2018; I worked with our previous editor and former webmaster to create its new home on our chapter website and create a direct emailing campaign using Constant Contact.
BL: How often is it currently published?
ER: The magazine is a quarterly publication, typically published around January (winter), April (spring), July (summer), and October (fall).
BL: Who is involved with your magazine, and what are their roles?
ER: The heart of the Boston Chapter is its board members, many of whom contribute to different elements of the magazine, such as a president’s column, membership details, an autocross section, and more. To be technical, however, the magazine’s staff consists of just me, since we currently do not have any permanent columnists or other roles.
BL: What kinds of stories do you like to run in your magazine?
ER: For stories, I like to feature event coverage as well as personal stories from members. For example, in the past, we’ve included a story about a member’s electric conversion of his E21 3 Series. In the upcoming issue we will be featuring a member’s experience purchasing his brand-new i4 Gran Coupé.
As far as regular features go, we also include sections for local BMW centers and parts discounts, Boston Chapter advertisers, a section with a link to our classifieds section online, and a section where we feature membership milestones of ten, fifteen, 25, 35, and 40 years. Older issues used to have a tech column, which was written by a mechanic. I’m hoping to bring that column back at some point.
BL: How is the magazine distributed?
ER: The magazine is posted on our chapter website (links to mobile and desktop PDFs) and to our member list via email using Constant Contact.
BL: As the editor, what is your favorite part of working on the magazine?
ER: I love hearing the terrific stories and experiences from our members—and learning about their amazing BMWs! I also enjoy designing the layout for different articles and making the never-ending tweaks to the overall layout of the magazine. I also love sharing photos from events and giving members a chance to have their cars featured.
BL: How did you get involved?
ER: I got involved after seeing an ad seeking a replacement editor in one of the previously published print copies. This was in 2018, when our former editor, Rachel Ogelsby, was retiring from her post after many years of fantastic editorial work and design on the Bimmer. I reached out to her, as well as to our president, Simon Cooper, to discuss the role, and was delighted when they offered it to me. Since then I’ve worked to bring the Bimmer into the digital age, giving it a fresh look while also trying to pay homage to Rachel’s classic design elements.
BL: Do you have any advice for BMW CCA members who would like to get involved with their chapter newsletters or magazines?
ER: My advice to members looking to get involved with their newsletters is simply to reach out! I personally love hearing from members, and would be more than happy to discuss their ideas concerning the magazine and ways in which they can get involved. Strength in numbers!
BL: What do you think sets your magazine apart from other chapter magazines?
ER: One thing that sets the Bimmer apart from other magazines is definitely its longstanding history. The Bimmer is something which was read by many members’ parents and grandparents, and I’m honored to help continue its legacy today.
Thanks for your insight into Boston Bimmer magazine, Eric!
Readers, if you’d like to read the latest issue of Boston Bimmer, check out the Boston chapter’s website: https://boston-bmwcca.org. Eric says that they are working on posting an archive of issues online, so keep your eye out for lots of great reading material when that archive hits. If you’re not yet a member and would like to join the Boston Chapter, click here. —Mike Bevels
Images courtesy Eric Richards and Boston Chapter BMW CCA.