Peachstate HistoryIn the autumn of 1959, 10 PCA members at large formed the nucleus of a new southern region of the Porsche Club of America. An organizational meeting and dinner in Atlanta attracted 30 people whose enthusiasm made it clear that Georgia was ready to take its place as PCA’s southern outpost.

By December, Peachstate had a name, a president, Chuck Lawrence, and a petition for a charter. On January 23, 1960, it was granted. Of the signers of Peachstate’s charter petition, only 2 couples were still active 8 years later. But from them we learned that caravanning was the primary interest during the early 60’s, a period of friendly and formal meetings in member’s homes. In 1962, Ed Batchelder took the gavel as president of a thriving region that offered rally’s, tours to races, and dinner excursions to outlying areas of the region.

Steady growth continued through 1964, but shortly afterward, Peachstate entered a dark period of inactivity. Frozen with inertia, members numbered fewer than 30 by late 1966, and active participants were less than 25% of that.

Arriving back in Atlanta from a tour with US Air Force, Leonard Turner, who joined in 1964, went to a meeting and was declared president in 1967 by the nine remaining active members of the club.  Mike Williford signed on as Vice President and Presse Editor. The goal was to reach 50 members by year’s end. Rallys, autocrosses, tours to Sebring and Gatlinburg, were on the menu. And by the holiday dinner dance, membership had swollen to 121. 

Ralph Dorchester took over in 1968, and the good times rolled on.  The Sebring Tour found 40 Peachstaters in two private boxes right over the factory pits watching Hans Hermann and Jo Siffert take the Le Mans start and drive to victory in a 907.

Huschke von Hanstein, Porsche’s charismatic PR and Race Boss, came to a national SCCA convention in Atlanta. We invited him to a Peachstate breakfast meeting, and he became our first honorary member. We had our own man in Stuttgart, and he wrote to us regularly.

By the way, von Hanstein wasn’t our only celebrity member in those days. Steve McQueen was a card-carrying member of Peachstate Region for a couple of years after he signed on with us at Sebring in 1970. And Mark Donohue showed up at a Peachstate meeting while he was testing the CanAm 917 at Road Atlanta.

Our work didn’t go unnoticed at the national level. At the 1968 Parade, Peachstaters came home with 12 trophies, including the treasured Ferry Porsche Trophy naming Peachstate as the 1968 Region of the Year.

Only a few years removed from near extinction, Peachstate Region found itself 140 enthusiastic members strong, with a lot to be proud of.

1969 saw the birth of the “Rebel Rennfest.,” later shortened simply to “Rennfest,” but always a gathering of PCA’ers from far and wide, to participate in what was a weekend mini-Parade with autocross, concours, and rally. Held the first year at Executive Park in northeast Atlanta, Rennfest’s special guest was Panorama Editor Paul Heinmiller. It was a big event, attended by 86 PCA’ers, representing six of the ten regions in Zone 3. Charlie and Judy Young made their debut there as Peachstate Singers. And the Ballad of a Porsche Wife hit the top of the charts. Today, you know it as Zenith, Solex, and Weber.

In 1970, the first year that Charlie Young was president, Rennfest moved to the dramatic setting of Stone Mountain, with the autocross taking place at North DeKalb shopping center. You can’t imagine how funny Leonard Turner’s 904 looked zooming by Rich’s department store. PCA national president Charlie Quell and Parade Coordinator, Burt Prop, and his wife Joni were on hand.  We knew that they were checking us out as a Parade site. It’s a little known fact that Peachstate actually was awarded the 1972 Parade bid, but things changed when the national club decided city parades were a bad idea, and so we backed out gracefully.

For the third Rennfest in 1971, Ron Sattele was Chairman, and Stone Mountain was again the site. Earl Walker, active Peachstate member and President of Road Atlanta, arranged for the driving event to take place at what was fast becoming one of the greatest tracks in the country. Special guest was Chuck Stoddard, who presented a tech session.  This was the year the bar served a special concoction called a 917. Anyone who had the courage to drink it received a red badge. Those wearing three or more badges were helped to their rooms by friendly compatriots.

The next year, Ron was president, and Woody DeLong, who joined in 1969, signed on as Vice-President. The region was thriving, and we had fun in and out of the cars. At the Christmas Party in 1972, Ron determined to spend every dime in the treasury, if necessary, but there would be roses for the ladies.

By: Betty Jo Turner