I remember it very clearly. It was a rainy Saturday afternoon in 2004.
It may have been New Years Day. Rick Belfoy, the current club president, called me while I was keeping a couch company and asked if I would be interested in taking over as president of the Gig Harbor Cruisers. I sort of panicked and explained I didn’t live in Gig Harbor. He shared with me it didn’t matter, and I should think about it. I hung up the phone and quickly called former President, Mike Campbell. He was the leader when I joined in 1998. He told me it was a great opportunity to develop leadership skills and the Cruisers were really supportive of the president. He was right. The meetings were well attended at the Gig Harbor Eagles Lodge (Taco Tuesday), and people were engaged. I was a single guy with time on my hands, and a strong desire to be more involved in the community. I thought it over and called Rick later in the week. His sigh of relief was much louder than I expected…I get it now.
I was President of the Gig Harbor Cruisers from January of 2004 to sometime in 2008. It was a good run, and I learned a lot. During my time, ("The Mark Years") our meeting locations changed a few times. We could no longer meet at the Eagles, so Harbor Place at Cottesmore offered us their meeting room for free. It was a nice space, with lots of parking and in theory, that sounded good. But I missed the fact that food was no longer available and my $1 Rainiers at the Eagles were a memory. Without an opportunity to have the dinner and talk, the meetings started to get smaller. At the end of my run, even though our membership numbers were still very strong, our meeting attendance numbers dwindled. Not good. Something needed to change, and it was the perfect time shake things up by stepping aside.
At the time, the club's president also directed the car show. So, to speed up the process of finding a replacement (remember Rick Belfoy’s loud sigh?) I offered to continue to direct the show and make the position of president “seem” more attractive to a potential candidate. Fortunately, John Hopkins signed on and began making some positive changes to rebuild. We moved to a new location that served food and people came back. Under his leadership, it was once again a social club and not just a meeting. We rebuilt the board and got serious about assigning tasks to make sure people weren’t getting burned out. Three presidents, later the club maintains well over 100 members and meetings filling over 40 seats. Pretty cool!
The club is in a good place right now. Membership is strong, and people are enthusiastic and being involved. Personally, I consider this club a part of my extended family. I’ve learned a great deal about cars, leadership, and life from many of the people who have called themselves Cruisers. The experiences I have had with cars and within the community simply would not be possible had I chosen not to join. (That decision is fun story I’ll share another time). I’m still learning and reaping the benefits of my membership by being surrounded by smart, good people.
Now if we can get $1 Rainiers back on the menu that would be fantastic.
See you on the road! Mark
If you are reading this Blog, you are obviously a Car Guy or Gal.
In 2003 I was transferred to the Pacific Northwest and made my home in Gig Harbor, Washington. We live in a beautiful community and like anyone who transplants here that first week of June you find yourself downtown at the Maritime Gig Parade. That was my introduction to the Gig Harbor Cruisers with club member Roger Mossiman walking behind the cars dragging a toilet bowl float down the street representing the parade's "oldest float." The Cruisers have participated in the Maritime Gig for as long as I can remember to promote their upcoming car show.
I was born into a car family; my father like many of our family members grew up working on their cars to keep them going and also helped my uncle's in their body shop. It is easy to forget how much work there is in owning a car then; even just the commuter car back in the day. Today computers have made cars super efficient, but are designed kind of boring and many can run without maintenance for 100,000 miles.
It's the cars that we love we are sometimes frustrated by. Many a day and night of my youth was spent on the frozen Philadelphia streets trying to keep mine or my friend's cars going. No way in hell we were taking the bus, or a train if we could avoid it.
On every trip as a child, my father and I would challenge each other to name the approaching car and even at night by the headlights. By the time I got my license, I was extremely proficient at spotting a Crown Victoria, or Chevrolet Impala, and many more. Every trip to the store with my mother I would disappear to the toy section; while I loved baseball and all forms of racing, she would always find me deeply immersed in the Hot Wheel section. My mother would say don't you have them all? Don't you have enough? And now at nearly 50, my beautiful wife Shelly says "don't you have enough..." Simply, No!
My mother was my hero, and I treasure the memories of driving in her Pontiac LeMans as a kid. By the time she passed in 1982, I’d estimate she had wasted thousands of dollars she didn't have on Match Box cars for me. When I packed my things and left Philly in 1985 I never would have imagined my brother would have tossed all those cars; a 55-gallon drum of them, now worth God knows what, but he wasn’t a real car guy.
I’m a GM guy although I’ve owned a few Mustangs over the years. I’ve been part of Corvette and Camaro clubs for decades now, and all of them pale in comparison to the Gig Harbor Cruisers. Why? Simply, the people and the Cruisers approach to a car club. Twenty years ago the Cruisers started out as friends with a common interest; Cool Cars and wanting to make a difference in their communities which they lived and worked. They were friends that bumped into each other at shows around the area and joked about “We are the Gig Harbor Car Club.”
Twenty years later I think all of them would be surprised and should be darn proud of what a tremendous positive impact they made in our community. In the last Twenty years the Cruisers through their efforts and the vision of Founding Members: Pat & Renée Crist, Mike & Sue Campbell, Dan Lehosky, Sr., Tim & Jorjia Potter, Tom & Laurie Smith and Charter Members Bruce & Linda Dishman, John & Barbara Gilchrist, Mitch & Kim Mackenroth, Monnie (and Milo) Moen, Harvey & Sharon Oslin, Dave & Janet Robertson, Dale & Lyn Schultz, John & Karen Streich have raised and donated nearly 75,000-dollars for scholarships to help young adults who wanted to pursue an automotive related education. Having four children of my own and having sat through local scholarship awards ceremonies I can tell you some of our winners wouldn’t have been on that stage if not for the vision of our founding members. It was about the people first and cool cars second. One of our first winners, now in his 30’s and the father of two children has a successful career at the Ship Yard as a welder because the people mentioned above cared as much about people as they did cool cars.
I didn’t join the Cruisers till 2005 after I quit my job. I was searching for a better work-life balance and quickly became involved as Newsletter Editor, eventually served the club as President and Activities coordinator. While I love Corvettes, if you seen one…. you’ve seen, well, most of them. I can bore you to death with numbers matching; rarity, correctness, but because of the Cruisers my eyes have been opened to many other wonderful and sometimes orphaned cars because they are all welcomed in our club, and you'd be surprised how many Gig Harbor garages are housing some rare and unique vehicles.
Many of my fondest memories in life involve cars and nearly all my memories of the last 14 years in Gig Harbor involve the great friends I met because I choose to become a Gig Harbor Cruiser. ~John
Thank You Charter Members!
The Gig Harbor Cruisers Automotive Club formed in
January of 1997. By vote of the Board of Directors anyone who joined the club in the first six months of 1997 would be recognized as a "Charter Membership".
In addition, the Charter Member designation would remain for as long as the membership continued uninterrupted and in good standing. In addition to the 7 Founding Members, the following Charter Members have had uninterrupted membership in the club since 1997:
Bruce and Linda Dishman
John & Barbara Gilchrist Mitch & Kim Mackenroth
Monnie (and Milo) Moen Harvey & Sharon Oslin Dave & Janet Robertson
Dale & Lyn Schultz John & Karen Streich
Each of the names listed above over the past 20 years have contributed to the club by chairing committees, organizing and/or volunteering at club events and supporting our charitable endeavors. At the January 2017 Club meeting, it was announced that by vote of the Board of Directors, the club wished to acknowledge and thank our Charter Members by awarding them each Honorary Life Membership, in appreciation for their years of membership and service to the club.
2016 CTN Awards
Trophy Category Trophy Sponsor Awarded to Entry
Founder's Founders Choice Gig Harbor Cruisers Tom Hardy 1971 Dodge Charger R/T
Favorite 4X4 Rick and Trish Belfoy Brent Hughes 1967 Jeep-Army OD Green
Favorite Muscle Car Kent Cashman Statefarm Insurance Frank Perales 1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1
avorite Unfinished Ride Sculpture Hospitality Ray Herold 1965 Dodge Dart
Favorite Truck (2 wheel drive) Erin Rockery Deb Gregor 1958 Ford Ranchero
Favorite '30's Les Schwab Tires Dave Murray 1931 Auburn Phaeton
Favorite '40's Griot's Garage John Griffith 1949 Lincoln Cosmopolitan
Favorite '50's Pacific NW Eye Associates Mike Davis 1951 Ford F1 Pickup
Favorite '60's Gig Harbor Boat Works Bart Lovely 1966 Ford Shelby GT350
Favorite '70's Soundview Barbers Tres Merrill 1970 Dodge Charger R/T
Favorite '80's Mackert Automotive Tom Larbin 1981 Buick Grand National
Roger Mosiman Most Unusual Gig Harbor Cruisers Lance Lambert 1963 Studebaker Avanti
Favorite GM Jackie's House Daycare Dennis Steever 1957 Chevrolet BelAir
Favorite Ford Bridan Builders Kevin Merriott 1970 Ford F100
Favorite Orhan Monnie Moen Robert & Deborah Botsford 1986 Ford Zimmer
Favorite Mopar Uptown, Gig Harbor Mike Dawson 1970 Dodge Dart Custom
Favorite First Date Car Sloan Bobrick, P.S Dan Rick 1969 Chevrolet Nova
Most Photogenic Pat and Renée Crist Greg Eling 1936 Chevrolet Coupe
Favorite Under 20 Cruiser The Speed Factory Hunter Martinez 1961 Ford Falcon
Favorite Corvette Mackert Automotive Jim Conant 1966 Chevrolet Corvette 427
Favorite VW Northwest VW Club Scotty Timmerman 1957 Volkswagen Karman Ghia
Favorite VW Bus Handy Man Unlimited Susan Griggoin 1971 Volkswagen Camper
Kid's Pick Engineered Software Steve Walker 1948 Diamond T
Kid's Pick Engineered Software Tom Stewart 1939 Chevrolet 2 Door
Host club members vehicles entered in the show are not eligible for awards consideration
Gig Harbor Cruisers Scholarship Recipients – 2016
The Gig Harbor Cruisers have awarded $4,000 in scholarships to five graduates from Peninsula School District high schools.
We should be proud as Gig Harbor Cruisers that we have contributed over $75,000 to scholarships and charitable donations since the club was founded in 1997.
We encourage more of our membership to get involved in this process. The selection of scholars and the award evenings are educational and provides a perspective to our students as they move to higher education. We have a fairly broad selection criteria which allows us to choose students with varied interests. We really strive to support those who want that automotive or related career.
This year we awarded the following scholarships:
Peninsula High School:
Gig Harbor High School:
Look for these high school graduates; we are sure you’ll see their names in the future.
As members of the Gig Harbor Cruisers we should be proud that we may have helped a student with his career when education is expensive and there is a real desire to learn and succeed.
In the Beginning
The Gig Harbor Cruisers Automotive club had its beginnings with two couples from Gig Harbor with a few really cool rides who kept running into each other at cars shows all over Western Washington. Wondering why there was not a car club in their hometown they reached out to three other local car lovers, also with with really cool rides. All invested funds and time to get the club up and rolling. In February 1997 The Gig Harbor Cruisers was born. Within the first six months, the club had over 125 memberships with a cumulative vintage vehicle ownership numbering over 300, formed a scholarship committee and was planning its first major car show for July at the Tacoma Narrows Airport to fund the scholarships. The club has kept a consistent membership base of over 100 memberships ever since along and has produced Cruise the Narrows Car show annually.