History of TCVCC: 40 years of fun and frivolity
by: Mike Mucci
The Treasure Coast Vintage Car Club, began in 1980 as an independent club with a diverse group of local Stuart residents with a common interest in vintage vehicles, including an insurance agent, radio personality, real estate agent, lawyer, surgeon, photographer, auto detailer, food vendor and several others. The group was quickly joined by others interested in old cars, and by 1983 the club grew to over 150 members in Martin and St. Lucie Counties.
Among the founders was Rick Carroll, an agent for vintage vehicle insurance, who valued the club affiliation for his clients to secure preferred rates. Another was radio personality and promoter Chip Green, who was heavily involved in the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) as a show promoter and active judge in his previous Ft. Lauderdale Region. Chip became the club’s Charter President in 1981. Feeling that their fledgling local organization had enough critical mass to be considered as a Region of AACA, the organizers soon petitioned AACA to accept the club as a Region. That request was granted August 22, 1983.
Now officially listed as the “Treasure Coast Region, AACA,” the club retains its original familiar name as the Treasure Coast Vintage Car Club, a Region of AACA.
As those first years moved on, it was clearly evident that this would be a fun-loving organization driven by entertaining meetings, frequent tours and crowd-pleasing shows.
In the club’s first full year, the inaugural Fall Festival of Cars brought overflow crowds to the show field at Indian River Plantation. The Plantation kitchen provided the food concession, while WSTU radio sponsored the entertainment stage featuring the Martin County High School Band, barber shop quartets and other featured entertainment. Road trolleys were enlisted by Rick Carroll Insurance to provide transportation to and from remote parking areas. All-in-all, it was a total success for local residents who enjoyed a free day of wholesome fun and entertainment.
The venue remained at IRP for several years until the show field became closed-in due to ongoing residential construction. Fall Festival maintained its success as it migrated to other venues, including the fairgrounds, downtown Stuart, Tradition at St. Lucie West and St. Lucie Botanical Gardens. As time went on, the Fall Festival name became common to many events in the area. Confusion reigned over which Fall Festival was what! So we changed our show to the “Cars of Our Lives” show—or the “COOL” show—still every Fall.
With the early success of Fall Festival, the club was recognized as a show promoter and was soon in the position of taking over a Spring show in downtown Stuart, previously sponsored by another local car club. In a few years, after it was discovered the downtown park was a floodwater retention area, that show was discontinued, giving way to other events less prone to flood damage to old cars!
So here we go: Back in 1982, two of our members, Dwight Geiger and Mike Mucci—neighbors at the time–were reminiscing about the “old days” commuting from their homes in Broward County to Gainesville and the University of Florida in their college years. They came upon the idea of planning a nostalgia tour for old times’ sake. The three-day weekend spring tour would stick to back roads (there were no thru-ways in the old days!) and it would patronize “mom and pop” motels and restaurants. Upon announcement to TCVCC membership, the tour amassed a group of 32 willing souls to take that first tour. Despite the fact that the motels had no pools and shuffleboard courts hadn’t been used in years, the first tour was deemed a success, eventually evolving into what has now become the “Cracker Tour” through parts of Florida seldom seen by our club members.
One of the most common things heard on Sunday morning on the tour, on the return trip home, was “oh no! We have to wait another year to do this again.” So, in 1996, Dave and Amy Brown decided to do another tour in March, to Naples. They called it the Naples Depot Tour for the Marco-Naples Region annual Naples Depot Show. The Naples club had been kind enough to welcome us to Naples on a Cracker Tour, and cooked and served us our Friday night supper, consisting of fried chicken, hot dogs and hamburgers, potato salad and corn and drinks. Also that same year, the Brown’s decided to do another tour in August, called Hot August Nights. These additional tours, coupled with the Cracker Tour helped satisfy the desire of the club to drive their old cars and see the off the beaten path areas of Florida. When Mike and Dwight stopped hosting the Cracker Tour in 2006, Mike Even and Roger Bollman hosted it in 2007. In 2008, Dave and Amy picked up the mantle and have continued the Cracker Tour since then, while handing off the Naples Depot Tour to Mike Even and Roger Bollman.
During the early formative years, the club had no official “newsletter.” Instead a simple hand-drawn fold-over post card was used to announce meetings and events as well as tidbits of pertinent and often frivolous information. It worked for a while. Then came Vintage Times, a true magazine-size newsletter printed monthly and mailed to the entire membership. It is worth mentioning that for many years, our valued member Pearl Jackson hammered out the paste-up, “licked and sticked” the mailing labels and stamps, trundled to the post office–boxes of mailings in hand–and fed us our monthly dose of club news. We are forever grateful to Pearl for her tireless efforts. More recently, the slightly re-designed format is handled with new, state-of-the-art techniques and swiftly e-mailed to the membership. They don’t build newsletters like they used to, and that is a good thing.
From the very beginning, our officers and board members have worked tirelessly to plan interesting membership meetings and community-wide events; each board member hosting one event as well as the board meetings—usually at their homes. It all proves that when there are things to get done, work turns to fun when people gather in the spirit of camaraderie. Or as we like to say “It’s all about the journey.”