The original seed of club organization is believed to have originated in the fertile mind of the late Stewart Whitsett. Already a member of the Kaiser-Frasier Club, Stewart recognized the benefits to be gained by banding together into an association. Stuart's friendship with Pete Mills (a MORE Opel principal and former Opel racer) and his patronage of the MORE Opel successor business (Autosport, owned by Steve Cortesy) helped to get the organization going.
The first meeting I can recall was held at Autosport in Santa Ana, CA on an indeterminate date, probably in late 1980. Crowded into the small office were: Joe Regan, Steve Koch, Vince Buchanan, Chris McCurdy, Rick Graham, Stewart Whitsett, George Bradford, Pete Mills, and, of course, Steve Cortesy. Pete Mills led the discussion and the major topic was the details of the By-laws. Pete had drafted up a proposed set of By-laws, liberally plagiarizing some from another club. The focus of the club charter was to be that of racing, hence the "Motorsports" portion of our club name. Additional meetings were held to firm up the scope of the club and real meetings were convened at the Sambo's Restaurant in Buena Park, California. Unfortunately, our early record keeping was not the greatest and exact dates have long passed from memory. However, the first issue of "The Blitz" was published in November 1981.
The original slate of officers was: Pete Mills, President; Steve Koch, Vice President; Chris McCurdy, Secretary/Treasurer; Vince Buchanan, Activities Chair; and Joe Regan, Membership Chair. Steve Cortesy purposely remained in the background with no official club duties to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest. Other early names appearing in the first issues of "The Blitz" were: Fred Larimer, Roger Prilliman, Jack Walling, Ells Goshorn.
Not long after the first general meeting was held, the meeting location was changed to another Sambo's in Norwalk, California, which promptly went bankrupt. (I don't think that our lack of tip money was the primary reason). They changed the name to Season's, but our patronage was soon to go to yet another location. Some may recall meeting at Katie Gannon's Spaghetti Stop or the Sizzler Restaurant. We moved to our current meeting place, the Hartwenn Golf Course Coffee Shop in April of '88. (Note: The OMC Meeting location changed again by 1997).
Money (actually, the lack thereof) was an early problem. While members were paying their $18.97 per year, this was not enough to really fund the kind of membership drive and mailing that was needed to build the club into a viable, self-sustaining entity. The odd membership dues of $18.97 was picked because the actual displacement of the 1900cc engine is, you guessed it, 1897cc's. The money difficulty was solved for the most part by OMC's hosting of a series of Autocross events at Orange Coast College. Held in conjunction with the Lotus Club, we even managed to be the hosting club for a Pro Solo (semi-pro) Autocross event. This provided us with the working capital and a short lived points advantage for voting at the SCCSCC meetings. Many of the early members worked these events for one or two or more days to get them organized, set up and officiated. I sometimes have felt that it would have been easier to donate $100 than to work in the hot sun for the two days. However, the experience was easily worth the effort and a sunburned neck.
The publication of "The Blitz" was another matter. Coming out monthly was, and is, a major accomplishment and expense for any club of our type. The first several years, the newsletter was photocopied on 8 1/2" by 11" paper then folded and stapled, usually late at night. Seemingly tireless editors burned out like comets entering the earth's atmosphere. Only the most hearty member can be the editor of "The Blitz" and remain married. Eventually, the size of our newsletter grew to 8 1/2" x 14" (folded in half to 8 1/2" x 7"). "The Blitz" was still being run off on a photocopier in December 1983 when it was becoming apparent to anyone in the know that the job of Editor, coupled with Secretary and Treasurer, was bigger than any two people. In November 1984, the ballot for officers featured some additional officers, contingent upon the membership passing the amendments to the By-laws. These were approved by the members, providing us with the office structure and definitions we use to this day.
March 1986 brought on the introduction of the magazine size and format for "The Blitz." Cheryle Smith also contributed in a major way by working out the logistics of printing up mailing labels for the newsletter. Prior to this, the Editor and anyone that could be hoodwinked into helping, addressed the issues of "The Blitz" by hand. While this was time consuming in a club with 40 or so members, it was clearly impractical with the growth of the club. Cheryle was also the developer of the Key-Razie Kode which appears in our roaster roster (Note: This has since been changed).
Roster records show that in 1986, OMC had about 100 members. By this time, the Opel Motorsports Club AG had outgrown its local flavor and had members joining from around the country. It seemed only logical that OMC fill the need and promote itself beyond the Southern California area. "The Blitz" became even more important in communicating with our ever more far-flung members. And as membership has grown, OMC has received recognition from a variety of sources. We are listed in the "Directory of American Organizations," the "Hemmings Almanac," and "Opel Clubs Adressen und Termine '91." The latter is an Opel factory produced listing of Opel Clubs worldwide.
The Opel Motorsports Club has current or past members from Montreal, Canada to San Diego, California; from Miami, Florida to Yellowknife, Northwest Territory (Canada); from Berlin to Seoul, South Korea. Our common bond is our enthusiasm for the vehicles produced by Adam Opel AG of Russelsheim, Germany. The members of OMC all look forward to another prosperous year, and welcome all who share our enthusiasm for the Opel marque.
(Note: Since the publication of this article, OMC has added hundreds of Opel-owner members, continued the tradition of monthly publication of "The Blitz" newsletter, and has established an Internet presence at www.opelclub.com. The OMC Picnic is the highlight of the year, attended by Opel owners in mid-Summer at announced locations in Southern California).