So, you don’t like getting up at 0-dark-30 on a weekend morning and driving your collectible car to a parking lot so you can stand around and drink coffee — and perhaps enjoy a donut or bagel — while showing off your ride for a couple of hours.
Well, bunky, do we have an alternative for you. The Sarasota Club Racers meet mid-week, for lunch, and for a guys-only (sorry, car gals) conversation that starts in the parking lot and then moves inside Gecko’s Grill and Pub before migrating back to the parking lot for the afternoon departure.
“The concept was to get people together to talk, not to show off their cars and then leave,” said group founder Marty Schorr, a long-time automotive journalist and publicist and author who established his retirement residence on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
The group started with five people. Now, during winter months, as many as 70 show up for the biweekly gatherings.
Lunchtime was selected because it was “more reasonable” than the early morning cars-and-coffee timing, Schorr said. It also meant that non-retirees, guys who were still working, could attend the gatherings.
Dinner was out because it would take time away from families, an interesting decision in light of the fact that this is a guys-only gathering.
“The wives actually look forward to the guys getting out of the house,” Schorr said with a chuckle.
And it’s not just rich guys, Schorr said.
The group chose its location in part because of the parking lot, in part because you can eat lunch for around $10 a person. Yes, there are exotic cars, but “we wanted guys who had worked on a Camaro for 10 years” to be able to join in, Schorr said.
The group became organized around 2003, has spun off a separate group based in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area about an hour to the north, has helped start similar groups in the Northeast and Canada, and even has five affiliated clubs based in Iran, though Schorr said that in the last year or two, communication with the Iranian car enthusiasts has come to a halt because of governmental tensions between the two countries.
That’s too bad, he added, because the entire basis of the Sarasota Club Racers is talking, especially about cars.
“It’s a group of people, not a group of cars,” he said.