Welcome to the latest edition of BimmerLife’s Chapter Newsletter Showcase–a series that highlights outstanding BMW CCA chapter publications. This week we’re traveling to our nation’s capital to learn more about the National Capital Chapter’s der Bayerische (dB) magazine. The National Capital Chapter (NCC) is BMW CCA’s largest chapter and geographically includes Washington D.C. along with parts of Maryland and Virginia. With over 120 chapter event days each year, there’s plenty to cover in NCC’s bimonthly magazine.
I’m particularly excited about this week’s showcase because not only is NCC my home turf, alongside Jack Raymond I’m also Co-editor of dB. Layout and Production Manager, Raine Mantysalo, seemingly uses magic to transform text into professional product and completes our trio of dedicated dB staff. While Jack and I have only been a part of the team since 2019 and 2020 respectively, Raine has been involved with dB in a number of roles since 1982. That’s over 40 years!As part of research for an article spotlighting Raine’s NCC contributions, I had the pleasure of reading every issue of dB back to 1971. The old issues were easy to track down because they’re all online! NCC completed a large-scale scanning project that was completed in 2010. Raine recalled, “The scanning was outsourced and we paid by the page. It wasn’t all that expensive, but an excellent decision.”
Take it from someone who has read every issue (I may be a tad biased)–with a mix of event coverage, member and shop profiles, new vehicle reviews, restoration stories, automotive adventures, race coverage, and great photography–it’s worth adding to your reading list. In addition to Jack and myself, we have a number of regular contributors over the last few years that include James Chew and Steve Tenney. Prior to that there have been a number of prolific writers to include Marc Caden, Woody Hair, Cory Laws, John Hartge–with over 50 years of issues there’s too many to list! We’re always excited to receive submissions from new authors, so if you have something you’d like to share, please reach out!Let’s hear more about dB from Jack Raymond and Raine Mantysalo.
BimmerLife: How has dB changed over the years?
Raine Mantysalo: It used to be called a newsletter to fill the chapters’ requirement to publish one per the bylaws. It evolved from a cut and paste, black and white publication to a full-color magazine and now also is provided a user-friendly online version. It used to mainly have coverage of club events that had taken place with minimal photography. It now not only covers them, but also covers national races and such with professional-quality photography and tech-savvy writing. It also publishes interesting new model test drives and comparisons and educates members on many new products, maintenance, and driving.
Jack Raymond: I think the single biggest change was going from printing hardcopies that were mailed to the entire membership to web-based publishing. This started out as a cost-saving measure, but it had the additional advantage of allowing us to use hyperlinks throughout the issue, including the Table of Contents and sponsors’ ads.
BL: What are the benefits and challenges of the current format?
RM: Every issue starting from a blank sheet of paper with a given set of existing ads and a fixed number of pages is a challenge. Trying to fit as many articles as possible and making them interesting and captivating to the reader is always somewhat of a give and take compromise. The number of allocated pages per each article is always something that restricts the layout.
A benefit of moving to primarily online publishing is that the page count can vary and it does not have to be divisible by four. With only a limited number of copies being printed for sponsors and contributors, the additional weight of extra pages does not add substantial expenses that are typical in mass mailings.
JR: The challenge of the current format is that many of us old-timers miss the tactile feel of a printed hardcopy in our hands. The benefits include the ease-of-reading (zoom in) and being able to navigate quickly to a desired article or sponsor’s website.
BL: What kinds of stories do you like to run in your publication?
JR: We typically cover our chapter’s events, including Autocross, Karting, HPDE, M Club Days, Street Survival, and Tours.BL: What would you like to see more of in dB?
RM: I’d like to see the “Traditions” column continue to be written. It educates the newer and younger members of cars and people from the chapter’s (and BMW’s) past. I would also like to see something like Mike Miller’s “Tech Talk” (While back, Terry Luxford from Quality Car Service started a column called “When the Wrench Turns.”
BL: What regular features do you include in your publication?
JR: In the last couple of years, we’ve run a number of feature articles with the title Sponsor Spotlight to give an in-depth shoutout to our longtime chapter sponsors, and a feature called Volunteer Spotlight to give a shoutout to our hard-working program heads. One of our more popular, ongoing features is a pictorial called The Many Cars of NCC, which features pictures of our members and their cars.
BL: What is your favorite part of working on dB?
RM: I like the challenges. Starting the layout in my head is always like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Trying to solve one problem usually makes another one pop up. I try not to be biased when allocating space either. But sometimes it’s like in the old Ricky Nelson’s Garden Party song, “…can’t please everyone…“
JR: In addition to helping create each new issue and see it develop from inception to finished product, I’ve really enjoyed sharing the motorsports tips and techniques I’ve gleaned over the last twenty years in two series of articles that appeared in dB: The Habits of Highly Effective Autocrossers and Preparing For Your HPDE Track Day: What You Need to Know. I’ve also enjoyed sharing my thoughts on various subjects via dB‘s editorial page, The Steering Column.
BL: How did you get involved?
RM: I had joined the club in the 1970s and started getting Roundel and the NCC’s chapter newsletter, dB. Being a professional graphic designer in those days urged me to look into helping with the publication when the opportunity arrived. The rest is history.
JR: I started out by answering a call from the Autocross Chair, Fraser Dachille, to write articles about our events, and next thing I knew, former editor Anna Maripuu was asking me to serve as Co-editor.BL: Do you have any advice for BMW CCA members that would like to get involved with their chapter newsletters?
RM: First of all, it is their newsletter. It is based on volunteer work by other members and can’t be put together without people, other members, who take interest in it.
JR: Dive right in! Write articles about your chapter’s events, especially if you’re attending the event anyway. Submit photographs. One thing will lead to another.
BL: What do you think sets dB apart from other chapter newsletters?
RM: The material: event coverage, educational and product coverage, excellent writing and photography. May I add that how it is all presented as user-friendly coffee-table publication also helps.
JR: What sets dB apart is the professional look and feel of the magazine, which is almost entirely due to our Production and Layout Manager, Raine Mantysalo.
BL: Is there anything else you’d like to share with BimmerLife readership about dB?
RM: Personally, I think der Bayerische is currently the strongest and best looking it has ever been. (Thanks, Mike and Jack!)
JR: Serving as the Co-editor of dB has been one of the highlights of my life. Thank you for allowing me to share.
____________I couldn’t have said it better myself, Jack and Raine! Thanks for sharing your experiences, your insight, and the history of National Capital Chapter’s der Bayerische!
As other BMW CCA chapters have learned, one of the challenges of shifting from a print publication to an online publication is notifying members when a new issue is released. For dB, we currently attack this on multiple fronts. We have a dedicated biweekly email that highlights and links to three stories (on rotation) in the current issue of dB. Based on our readership stats, this has proven to be our biggest success. We also piggy-back on a program-wide NCC bimonthly email with a link to the current issue of dB. On the social media front, we use FaceBook and Instagram on a weekly basis to highlight and link to stories in the current issue.
One nice thing about having an open-access online archive and being an open-access online-based publication is that we can use dB to grow our membership. People see the coverage of our events, they see our members’ stories, and they want to join in on the fun.
If you’d like to read the latest issue of dB check out NCC’s website: https://www.nccbmwcca.org/db/. If you’re not yet a member and would like to join the National Capital Chapter, click here. —Mike Bevels