Were you there?
Were you one of the 135 people at Chicago Region’s annual Checkered Flag dinner at Rick Mancuso’s Lake Forest Sportscars dealership February 18th? Did you walk freely among millions of dollars’ worth of exotic fantasy-making, world famous Sports Cars? DID YOU DRIVE A FERRARI?!!
If the answer to these questions is “No”, then you missed one of the most amazing events ever hosted by our Chicago Region. The event which is and has always been open to all members regardless of their club interests, (be it Solo, PDX-Track Days or Road Racing), celebrates the efforts and accomplishments of every member during the previous year. It has gone on since the club was formed, and until about 2007 or thereabouts, it was a black tie formal affair. The fancy-shmancy garb were then traded in for more relaxing attire and this year saw men in everything from sport coats, to shirts and jeans, and the ladies in whatever made them comfortable.
The evening actually started off in the late afternoon where anyone who wanted could sign up to drive a new, bright red Ferrari California. Actually there were 3 of them that Rick Mancuso provided to the club members and their guests to drive. So did drivers get a slow circle around the parking lot? Heck no; it was just the
opposite! Lake Forest Sportscars representatives took each person for one lap around a block near the dealership for familiarization and demonstrating use of the paddle shifters while putting the hammer down and warming up the brakes as they ripped around the course. After pulling into the parking lot the two switched places and the fantasy became real as people who had never driven a Ferrari before got to take it up through the gears, feel the mighty tug of the brakes and marvel at the poise of the car through the corners. One “lap” and it was over but the experience left everyone with an indelible memory, possibly never to be repeated. Oh but wait, Rick Mancuso said he plans to make cars available for drives again at next year’s dinner.
Mark your calendars now to remind yourself to register for the 2018 mid-February event.
The driving was just the appetizer to an evening of automotive eye-candy with Ferraris, Aston Martins, McLarens, Maseratis, Lotuses, and even a Koenisegg on display. Rick has always honored the Chicago Region members by allowing guests to walk freely among the vast inventory of new and used cars, some being unlocked so that the seats can be tried on for size. There is something about sitting in the left seat of a Ferrari and looking at the yellow tachometer dominating the instrument cluster, feeling the supple but firm leather seats and taking in the details of the ergonomically perfect interior that makes the heart rate jump and plans begin to form as to what do I need to do to own one of these magnificent machines. Were you there sitting in the cars?
Everyone had two hours of socializing with friends while munching on appetizers and enjoying complementary beer, wine or soda as a three piece jazz ensemble played background music to add to the experience. All of the car-ogling was interrupted by the call to dinner. Because of the delicious and plentiful hors d’oeuvres no one was starving at that point but when the buffet was opened up most threw dietary caution to the wind. A change in caterers from last year resulted in a healthy mix of culinary treats that were tasty and filling. There was plenty of food so second servings were welcome and there were some of us who took major advantage of that opportunity. It was a first class meal in a first class setting and while enjoying it I thought to myself, “Where can you get an excellent dinner, the run of an exotic car dealership and the chance to drive a Ferrari for $35.00”?! The concept was as ridiculous as it was real.
Dinner was followed by RE Rick Bentson’s presentation of some awards and acknowledgement of those who have been Chicago Region members for 50 or more years. Rick began with presenting Rick M
ancuso with a thank you for all he does for the Chicago Region in the form of a wall plaque. Then followed with REconition awards to some of those who organized or volunteer to help support the many functions of the club. Chicago Region awards ensued for Driver of the Year, Soloist of the Year, Worker of the Year, Member of the Year, and the Founders Award.
Roger Vilmer – Chairman of the PDX committee and club racing corner worker
Peg Ball – Fun committee member, co-editor of Piston Patter, organizer of banquet
Marcel Berkhout – Website administrator, PDX instructor, club racer
Dylan Hauge – Social media, Solo and PDX participant
Sue Green, Blackhawk Valley Region member – Chief Registrar for June Sprints
Chicago Region Awards:
Chris Bovis – Club Racing Driver of the Year
Dennis Bednar – Dave Morrell Worker of the Year
Chris Perry – Soloist of the Year
Linda Novak – Member of the Year
Founders Award – Jim Marinangel
There is no doubt that Chicago Region’s annual Checkered Flag Dinner is one of, if not the best, event of its kind in the country. Appreciation for making it possible goes to the planning committee as well as our gracious host, Rick Mancuso. Thank you, Rick, for allowing the Chicago Region membership to hold its annual event at your magnificent facility. It was a thrill for everyone who attended and what made it even more gratifying is that you, our host, is a Chicago Region member as well. It was truly a night to remember.
One last time: Were you there? (Mark that calendar!)