Meanwhile, Back in Virginia. . .
By 1960, there were at least two Corvette clubs functioning in Virginia. The oldest and still extant is the Corvette Club of Richmond. The other was the Tidewater Corvette Club that was sponsored by Colonial Chevrolet (then located at the intersection of Boush Street and Olney Road in downtown Norfolk). The Tidewater Corvette Club (TCC) proved to be the granddaddy of all the Corvette clubs on the Southside. By 1972, the Hampton Roads Corvette Club (HRCC) was founded on the peninsula and Tidewater had split into two clubs. The Virginia Beach Corvette Club (VBCC) was established to represent the second largest group of Corvette enthusiasts on the Southside. At the same time, the Corvette clubs of Virginia and North Carolina got together and formed their own sanctioning body called the Southeastern Confederacy of Corvette Clubs (SCCC). (Bob Parrish of Cannon’s in Moyock is one of the founding fathers of the SCCC.) By the time I arrived in the local area in 1978, there were 28 clubs in the SCCC as well as five local Corvette clubs: TCC in Norfolk; VBCC in Virginia Beach; HRCC & Peninsula Corvette Club on the peninsula; and Twin Cities Corvette Club in Portsmouth/Newport News. Future Beachcombers Linda Creed, Jim Moody, Lewis Knudsen, Dave Olsen, and Gene Sykes were members of VBCC then sponsored by RK Chevrolet in Virginia Beach while John Creed was a member of Last Capital Corvette Club in Danville, VA. I joined VBCC and participated as much as possible. (I was deployed 73% of the time between 1978 and 1980 before leaving the Navy).
VBCC and the SCCC
Let me explain a little about VBCC, the SCCC, and Corvetting in the late 70’s. First of all, the club had two (2) business meetings each month. Dues were payable either on an annual or a semi-annual basis to accommodate the military transients like myself. The SCCC dues were prorated on a quarterly basis and everyone in the club had to be a member of the SCCC. The SCCC itself was based upon intense “friendly” competition between individuals and between clubs in particular. VBCC was roughly divided into two groups, racers and waxers. Racers wanted their Corvettes to be the fastest thing on the road and valued performance above all else. Waxers liked to show off their Vettes. Although stock Vettes were to be found in the SCCC show car circuit, customized Vettes were kings. Here I’m talking about radical custom Vettes with blinding combinations of color, swoppy fiberglass modifications, and “angel hair” dashes! The motto “if it don’t go, chrome it” was roughly the anthem for the waxers. Even the racers had Vettes with more chrome under the hood than Chevrolet used on an entire year’s production of Corvettes along with racing stripes designed to confuse the casual bystander or local gendarmes. Wide tires (60 series), multiple carburetors, blow-yer-ears-out side mounted exhaust headers were common. Of course, I sorta fit right in. I had a ’67 convertible with a balanced & blueprinted 1970 LT-1 engine with a radical cam and side exhaust that got maybe-miles-per-gallon, but never lost a drag race along Shoreline Drive on Saturday night. SCCC events were a weekend affair. We would rendezvous after work on Friday and caravan 200+ miles to some locality like Fayetteville, Jacksonville, or Martinsville to roll in at the designated host motel around 10 p.m. and head on up to the hospitality room for adult beverages, munchies, pre-registration, and to swap some tall tales or try to psych out the competition with hints of new changes under our hood. Saturday morning started with a car show. Saturday afternoon found us out on the road for the Corvette version of Blind Man’s Bluff, a road rally. If you found your way back to the motel in time, there usually was a party Saturday night. Clubs competed in trying to float the host club’s kegs. Sunday morning’s hangovers were greeted with raucous exhausts revving up for the final event, the auto-cross. Some were low speed events held in parking lots, but most were high-speed, wet-yer-pants, scary events held at NASCAR raceways and local airports. By Sunday afternoon, the weekend’s trophies would be given out with one special trophy given by the host club to the visiting club with the most participation in that weekend’s events. Then we would get back on the road and head back to Tidewater as a group trying to get back in time to go to work on Monday. (The SCCC had a minimum of two weeks between sanctioned weekends so you could recover between events!)
Time for a Change of Pace
Business meetings were now once a month since there wasn’t any need to raise funds to support the next SCCC weekend. Beachcombers enjoyed the laid back approach to Corvetting and spent what little money there was in the treasury on summer events like pool parties. Road trips to Williamsburg and Busch Gardens were popular. John & Linda Creed initiated a club tradition of caravanning to the Smithfield Inn for brunch and then riding the Jamestown ferry across the James River to cruise the Colonial Parkway. Other than these events, club participation was really limited to high school homecomings in the fall and parades laps for charities such as the Special Olympics during the spring. However, something was missing that was needed to hold the club together. The club shrunk to exactly ten members when we joined the NCCC’s Carolina Region in September 1991.
Why Real Beachcombers Wear Red
Before handing over the leadership to Dick Kline in December 1991, Mike Johnson made one lasting contribution still seen today. Previously, in order to entice new members, the club had established the policy of giving new members a 1988 style club patch (an ‘82 Vette framed by a multi-color sunrise with a seagull silhouetted by the sun) and white tee shirt with the club logo silk-screened on the left front side. (These tee shirts really looked tacky after just a few washings. In fact, if the truth must be known, we gave them away because the club members wouldn’t buy them!) Mike investigated the cost of embroidered golf shirts for club members. We ended up with Marine Corps red golf shirts that had a yellow ‘69 convertible (where have we seen this Vette before?) framed by the words “Beachcombers Corvette Club Virginia Beach, VA Est. 1982” as our official club shirt for the next seven years.
(By this time, I was living in Arlington, VA, worked full time in the Washington, D.C. area, and commuted back to Virginia Beach on the weekends whenever possible. Much of this period is really lost to me because I didn’t return until August 1993.) As the new club President, Dick Kline really was responsible for nudging the Beachcombers off their downhill road to apathy and towards the present outgoing group of Corvette enthusiasts. Dick realized that the club couldn’t wait for future members to inquire about the club at RK Chevrolet and then invite them to a club meeting or social function. The club needed to become more aggressive in seeking new members. He initiated the club tradition of attending the Saturday night at Jenro’s get together of auto enthusiasts. The first ever Saturday night at Jenro’s for the Beachcombers consisted of just Dick and me rendezvousing at Pembroke Mall one Saturday night in June and then waiting almost two hours for other Beachcombers to show up. Dick was ready to give up on the club, but decided that the two of us would go anyway. From this trip to Jenro’s and countless others, we met a core of Corvette owners such as Terry & Maggi Fennessey, Don & Lori Pacetti, and John Orris that would lead the club to a re-birth in 1992 that started a change that would become what I call the “nouveau” Beachcombers.