Below are some excerpts from the this 1971 issue of The Windmill. The first is a description of the first national convention by Allen LaDriere, Editor. Second, a letter describing the personal history of the President of CORSA at the time (me!). Also included is the Robert C. Lichty art work that graced the cover of the issue. While it loads, let's start with Allen's description of the convention.
News Briefs on the 1st Annual CORSA Convention
The Place: Arlington Park Towers, Arlington Heights, Illinois
The Dates: July 24th & 25th, 1971
It is my firm opinion that there can be no better description of our past convention than just plain "Total Success!" After all, how many other organizations conducting their first convention get TV coverage on the two major networks? This is not to mention the many newspaper articles, and even the appearance of Mr. Byron Block, one of Mr. Ralph Nader's associates.
Let us now go back to the beginning of this most noteworthy weekend. Rick Norris and I arrived at the Arlington Park Towers on the morning of Friday the 23rd of July, all the way from Charleston, West (By-Garsh) Virginia. Upon arrival, we quickly discovered that we were alone, as far as Corvairs went, that is. It wasn't until later in the evening that the Vairs began to show their colors, but when they did, they came on like gangbusters. From Friday evening until Saturday afternoon there was an almost continuous flow of incoming Corvairs! Our strong turnout had certainly made a noticeable change to the 500 acre Arlington Park Hotel complex. There was no doubt something new and different was going on.
The first official event aside from registration, was the meeting. It began about 4:00 p.m., Saturday, and ended around 6:30. The meeting took place in a large room at the hotel. This same room later accommodated the banquet. After the business portion of the meeting, Byron Block was allotted time to speak; his subject being the legal aspects of automobile manufacturing... in regard to safety, of course!
Around 8:00 p.m., the banquet got underway, wrapping up at 9:30 with the showing on two very entertaining films from GM on the Corvair. These films were following 3 Corvairs traveling from Chicago to Panama, using the Panamanian Highway to its end. Of course, at the end of the "Highway," lies the Darien Gap, which consists of rivers, lakes, mud, and very rough terrain; but most of all, very thick jungle. Did this stop our Corvairs? Heck no! Naturally by the time the Corvairs made it through the Gap into South America, they were not worth more than the amount of scrap metal they contained. I'd like to see a $9,000 Cadillac make it half the distance!
Bright and early Sunday morning (around 10:30), the concours event got underway, and I can say most assuredly there has never been such an array of beautiful Corvairs assembled in the same place at the same time in the history of the car.
The autocross began at 1:00 p.m., lasting until 6:00, with the trophy presentation at 7:30 wrapping up the wildest of "Wild Corvair Weekends" ever taking place, leaving those who attended with memories never to be forgotten.
Many thanks go to those of the Chicagoland Corvair Enthusiasts, hosting club, and especially to Diana Brodman, Convention Chairman, for the many hours of work in preparation of this most successful convention.
PERSONAL HISTORY OF YOUR PRESIDENT
Richard A. (Rick) Norris
Age: 27 (July 7, 1944) Chas., W. Va.
Occupation: Draftsman, FMC Corp.
Having always been interested in things mechanical and cars in particular, I was naturally curious about the "radical" Corvair. In 1960, I tried to get my mother to buy one, as we were looking for a replacement for our tired old '53 Chevy, but she wouldn't even look at one. She'd heard they threw fan belts and had bugs still to be worked out. (She wouldn't have known a fan belt from the spare tire). It ended at the Ford show room with the purchase on an 80 hp, 2-speed automatic, 1960 model Falcon which I, at the age of 17, beat to death.
A friend and neighbor talked his father into a 1961 4-speed Monza coupe. I'd watch this friend, who is presently a member of CORSA, work on modifying the car. This, I guess, fired the coals of desire for one of these weird little machines. It wasn't until 1964, during my stay in the Air Force, that I owned my first Corvair, It was a 1964 Monza coupe, 110hp 4-speed, which I still own. It had less than 10,000 miles on it then, but now has over 80,000.
I immediately started to modify it bit by bit. I ran my first autocross on Long Island and had third fastest time out of 36 cars. I was beaten by a Mustang GT and a bug-eye Sprite.
In 1968, shortly after returning from my year in Vietnam, I purchased a '65 Corvair 500 2-door with a 140 hp engine and a 4-speed. Up until then, my interest was somewhere between half and total. It has since been total interest. That's how I got interested in Corvairs. Why I like them is a question I've been asked and I'm sure all other "Vair people" have been asked, but I have no stock answer. I'm an odd type person who likes different things. Not many people know the potential of a Corvair's performance and handling other than "it goes good in snow." I like coming off an interstate exit or driving down a twisty road and watching some yo-yo in a Fairlane or Impala trying to follow or outrun that "dirty old Corvair"; some of my friends call it a "Nader wagon."
In April of '69, I though about buying a new one but thought I'd wait until the '70s came out. Needless to say, I was shot down. I thought maybe I'd just start a little club for local Corvair owners to have rap sessions and swap parts. Then one day as I was reading the January, 1969, Car & Driver, I read Richard Langworth's letter to the editor. I was overjoyed and immediately wrote him a letter. I then became zone manager for West Va., and set out gathering Corvair pilots for the club and zone. I later became one of the national tech advisors and a member of the Board of Directors. Dick Langworth later asked if I'd accept a nomination for president, which I did. The rest is history. I can only say that as your president, I'll do my best for CORSA.
I would also like to take this opportunity to extend my hardiest congratulations to the CCE and Miss Diana Brodman for the most fantastic experience of any Corvair enthusiast's life, the first annual convention. It was far better than anything I ever imagined. Last but not least, a personal thank you to two fine people without who's cooperation and hospitality our stay in Chicago would have left something to be desired; Jim and Carol Micheau.