HUBER'S HASH by Walt Huber

February 2014

Whichever Month  -  (I’ve lost track.)

I started my last previous scribbling with the line, “Hey, I’m back again.  Although who knows for how long.”  It had been hectic in the month previous.  But I didn’t really know how busy and how screwy things could actually get when I wrote that several months ago.  Back in 2008, when the love of my life was diagnosed with a mesothelioma, things were not this mucked up and I was able to get a column to the Pole Cat editor for every issue.  It took having Nancy suffer a stroke in November to find out.  I’ll give you a quick summation of what’s gone on in the last couple of weeks:

Nancy & I were planning to head to northern Virginia to spend Thanksgiving with three of our grandkids (and those big kids who live with them, too).  We were all packed and ready to leave on the Wednesday before the holiday.  But I had to run an errand early that morning and was out of the house for a couple of hours.  Expecting to find Nancy ready to leave when I got home, I was surprised to find that she was still in bed.  When I realized that something was very much wrong, I called 9-1-1.   

Nancy had suffered a stroke and was taken to Morristown Memorial Hospital.  Her condition see-sawed for several weeks in the ICU.  Shortly before Christmas she was taken to the Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange.  The folks there were fantastic and she was in their care for five weeks, during which time she improved dramatically. Bob Zecca’s wife, Aminah, is a nurse there in the neurological ward and she was a great comfort to have nearby all through Nancy’s stay at Kessler.

Recently Kessler said Nancy no longer needed “acute rehab” care and she was transferred to a sub-acute facility located only a few miles from our home where she will be for the next several weeks.  She remains there as I write this in mid-January.  Her condition continues to improve, albeit slowly.  

And it seems there is a fair amount of illness & distress both among our Region membership and in the automotive competition community as a whole.  

Seven time F-1 World Champion Driver Michael Schumacher was on a skiing vacation in France with his family between Christmas and New Years.  Schumacher is rated as an expert skier, but his skis hit a rock and he fell.  His head struck a rock and despite wearing a helmet he was severely injured.  As this is written, Schumacher is still in an induced coma at a hospital in France and his chances of survival are unclear.

And back here in the states, our own Steve Ambrose did a tumble off his bicycle back in September when he couldn’t avoid the biker in front of him who had fallen.  Steve went over the handlebars of his bike in the collision and landed pretty much square on his head.  He says that if he hadn’t been wearing a helmet, for the ride to the hospital, they’d have had to put a sheet over his head as well as the rest of him.

Steve was in the hospital for four days.  He had a concussion, plus he had broken five thoracic vertebrae, his sternum and one rib.  He was out of work for six weeks.  But four months later, Steve is 99% healed and is expected to make a full recovery.  And he’s already been riding his bicycle again since the end of November.  

In preparation for one of our January snowstorms, Dave Miller was moving cars in his driveway when he slipped on ice and went down.  He broke his hip.  Rather than undergo a difficult operation to put in some pins, screws & plates to assist in the repair, Dave has opted to allow healing to progress to the point where he can get the hip replaced down the road a few months.  Apparently this will be a more routine & easier surgery than the screws & plates repair & healing process.  

Meanwhile, in other news from the Miller clan, Diane is quite fully recovered from her surgery to reconnect the pieces of internal plumbing which had to be disconnected when she had her episode last June.  Yeah – getting old sucks.

But on the bright side – Boris Kwaloff was at our region’s party & awards function at the end of January.  I’m told that Boris will be blowing out 95 candles the next time he’s called upon to perform this task.  And Boris has recently celebrated 55 years of membership in SCCA.  He’s one of our region’s longest serving member.  Congrats on both of these long-term milestones, Boris!

Moving along….   I recently read that the Volkswagen Type 2 has been taken out of production.  What’s a “Type 2”?   Well, it was the second model of a VW to be made after the original Beetle.  We knew it by various names:  Kombi or Camper or Bus for instance.  Yeah – the old California surfer’s vehicle, the one the Hippies heading for Woodstock drove.  That was the Type 2.  And it was in production, in one guise or another, for over sixty-three years.

VW was persuaded to make the Type 2 by a gent named Ben Pon, a Dutch businessman and Beetle importer, who became a millionaire exporting Kombis to the United States. The T2 made its debut at the 1949 Geneva Motor Show, and went on sale the following year. It was a stylish, if unexpected design: a scientifically streamlined utility vehicle with an air-cooled engine hidden under the floor at the back, and with the driver − perched over the front wheels and with nothing in front of the windscreen − holding a big, bus-style steering wheel.

No other vehicle has ever been built for such a long period of time.  But at the end of last year production was halted.  The last of their kind were coming out of a VW plant in Achieta, Brazil which is near Sao Paolo.  After 34 years of production there, the Kombi was still selling well, but VW decided to pull the plug.  Apparently, safety regulations in other countries had finally caught up with this much-loved coach.  

And having earlier mentioned our region party, those who attended the NNJR mid-winter gathering at the Packanack Lake Clubhouse in Wayne on Sunday, January 26th, once again had a most pleasant afternoon.  

Solo guys, Ernie Andersen & Perry Aidelbaum presented the NNJR Solo Series Awards to recipients.  I’m quite sure that there will be a listing of all the Solo Champions elsewhere in this electronic publication.   Congrats to all who took home some bling for their accomplishments in the 2013 season!

Board members and all Chiefs of Specialty were recognized for their service.  Workers of the Year were also recognized for their dedication to our club.  And the buffet spread put out by the caterer was delicious!  I certainly enjoy getting together with friends at this time of year to chase away those mid-winter blahs of this dreary time of year.  I think most of us do!

We hung the Flight 93 Flag at the Region Party and spoke about all the places it had been in the past year.  Former RE, Tom Lynch was in attendance and he spoke about his flight to San Francisco back in September on the 12th anniversary of 9/11 and of taking Flag on the plane that day.  You can read the entire Flag story by visiting the region’s website – www.scca-nnjr.com – and clicking on “The Flag” halfway down on the home page.

Also at the Region Party, arrangements were set for Flag to attend the Commissioning of USS Somerset, the new naval ship which is named for Somerset County in Pennsylvania where Flight 93 went down, and which recognizes Linda & Joe and the other thirty-eight heroes who perished there.  The ship’s commissioning into the service of the US Navy will take place on Saturday, March first in Philadelphia.  

Philly Region’s Dale Gogel will be going to the commissioning as well as our own Tom Lynch and a friend of his.  Let’s hope some great photos of Flag and some dignitaries can be published in a subsequent issue and be included in Flag’s own blog as well.

In addition, we have offered Flag to be recognized at the SCCA National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina on the weekend following Somerset’s commissioning ceremonies.  Among the NNJR members that we know of who will be heading south to the Tarheel state are RE Chris Mosley, Region Secretary Brandon Fetch, and members at large Lenore & Dave Panas and Bob Dowie. But whether or not Topeka chooses to recognize Flag, it will be attending the National Convention.