Most of the following pictures are of BMW CCA board members’ cars, and as they’re all enthusiasts, you definitely won’t be bored by these members’ cars.
If you’re reading BimmerLife.com, you’re probably a fan of the automotive world. I’ll go out on a limb and posit that you’re especially a fan of BMWs. As a BMW fan, you’re probably also a BMW Car Club of America member—if not, you should be! Within our great club, the majority of the 60,000-plus BMW CCA members may not have joined the club specifically to take on leadership roles, but fortunately for all of us, many do. And fortunately for them (and us), there are many roles to take, including the five regional vice president roles, the executive board positions, and other important roles that keep this club, well, rolling.
While each chapter has their own boards and board members, at the national level, there are five regional vice presidents and four executive board members. So, let’s take a look at why they joined the BMW CCA, and as super-BMW-enthusiasts, let’s also take a look at what they drive. I had the opportunity to catch up with our club’s regional and national leadership at a recent gathering when they were not driving and learned a bit more about what makes them tick. (By the way, if you want to get involved in your chapter or region, keep reading to see who to contact in your neck of the woods!)
North Atlantic Region Vice President Larry Engel got into BMWs the way many of us have. “I joined the BMW CCA shortly after I bought my first BMW in 1999. It was a reward for a really good year in my new business,” Engel says. “I fell in love with BMW after reading David E. Davis’ famous 2002 article as a boy. I had always wanted one. I still own that 2000 328i. When you include sentimentality, it’s my favorite. Being able to join a community of like-minded BMW lovers was very appealing, and I’ve benefitted greatly. I’ve done things with the club that I never thought I’d be able to do.”
“I bought an E46 M3 several years ago, and it was my favorite for a while,” he continues. “Then I bought a G80 M3 a year ago. It’s better than the rest in almost every way. It’s a fantastic car, and admittedly my favorite.”
When I first met Central Region Vice President Jeff Gomon six years ago, I learned he was also a big E46 fan. When we met this time, he eagerly showed me his relatively new M2 Competition along with its new shoes. But it hasn’t always been the new models that interest Gomon.
“My first BMW was a 1985 325e,” he says. “Then I moved into a 1991 E34 M5, which remains one of my favorite cars. I can’t imagine being without it. The 2021 M2 is eminently special to me as it is the first brand-new BMW I have ever purchased. It is a really impressive machine whether on the street or on the track. It does not disappoint.
“I joined the club in 1992 when I got that E30,” he adds. “I wanted to meet other enthusiasts and learn more about my car. I really enjoyed the events and tech sessions, too. When I moved back to Nebraska, I became involved in the Great Plains Chapter and not long after, joined the chapter board and eventually became chapter president. I joined the national board in 2016 and have really enjoyed working with ad learning from the chapters’ leaders and members.
I have always said this club has given me more than I feel I could ever return. So my serving on the national board is my way of giving back.”
There are many BMW fans and BMW CCA members that started life as muscle-car fans. North Central Region Vice President David Brighton is one of those. “I had been a muscle car owner until a friend of mine took me for a ride in his 1995 325i convertible. That changed everything,” Brighton says. “I soon was the owner of a 1994 325i and shortly after that, joined the club to meet other BMW owners. I had been Iowa Chapter president for twelve years, and then, in 2020, was elected to the national board.”
Also relatively new to the national board is South Atlantic Region Vice President Simone Harrison. “I joined the club to network and learn from other Bimmer enthusiasts and share the joy for the cars,” she says. “After a few years on a chapter board, I wished to join the national board to help shape a future-focused organization.”
She has been an active participant and leader with autocross events, HPDEs, concours, club race schools, and social gatherings. She’s also watched her two kids from their early years with four wheels—strollers—to their track cars, an E82 and an E36. When asked which car is her favorite, she says, “Picking a favorite car in my garage is like picking a favorite child. For cars, though, it’s the one that’s been with me the longest and makes my heart happy. That has to be my E30 M3 named Emma.”
Many members (including this author) joined the club before they even owned a BMW. Pacific Region Vice President Steve Libby falls into that category as he joined when his only car was a 1996 Ford Ranger. “I fell in love with BMWs when I took a ride in a 1988 635CSi,” Libby says. “My first BMW was an E46 328i. I enjoyed it at track days at VIR. James Clay was my first driving instructor. When I moved to the Puget Sound region, I continued with the track program and then got involved in editing the newsletter. I joined the Puget Sound board as a membership coordinator, then vice president, then president. I moved up in the ranks with the DE program and am now the chief driving instructor. I became interested in serving on the national board when I was asked to help out a struggling chapter in Eastern Washington and a little while later, I ran and was elected. I have a sense of duty and volunteerism.’
Another national board participant with track passion and experience is Steve Stepanian, National Driving Events Committee chairperson, among other roles. “I joined the club because of the atmosphere and love of the brand by like-minded people,” Stepanian says. “I stay a member and contribute my time and efforts because I enjoy the make-up of the club and the great people that I have met.”
He holds more driving event roles, which probably explains he track car arsenal, that now includes a Spec E30 and Spec E46.The rest of the national board includes President Eddy Funahashi, Executive Vice President Lou Ann Shirk, Secretary Darlene Doran, and Treasurer Brian Thomason. We’ll have to learn more about their cars next time—they all have some great ones, too!—Kyle van Hoften