History Of The Northern Illinois Fiero Enthusiasts By Jim Hallman
Part One - 1991-1992
Ten years! Hard to believe, but the Northern Illinois Fiero Enthusiasts have been in existence for ten years. Our official start date was October 19, 1991. I was surprised to re-learn as I was reviewing the history covering this first segment of 1991-1992, that several events and actions actually took place before October 19th.
The first �formal� gathering of Chicago Area Fiero Owners took place on April 28th, 1991 at the Tri-State Auto-Cross Event held at the Rosemont Horizon parking lot where five Fieros gathered. This event took place with about one weeks notice and a list of seven Fiero Owners I had met through personal contacts.
Three days later, on May 1st, a list of over 70 Illinois members of the Fiero Owners Club Of America was received by �Fiero� Phil Huff. Phil and I had been in contact on several occasions discussing the formation of a Fiero Club in the Chicago area. This list of Illinois members turned out to be the cornerstone of what would later become our club. Later in May, the list was divided up to create a chain letter to contact all of the people on the list. I sent a letter to seven people who then sent it to the balance of the names on the list along with a questionnaire asking if they would be interested in forming a Fiero Club in the Chicago area. Twenty-seven Fiero owners on this list responded to the questionnaire � quite a positive response.
Another invitation letter was sent out in September of 1991 announcing the first get-together to take place at the home of Jim and Sylvia Corbin in Elgin, IL on October 19, 1991 at 11:00AM.
October 19th turned out to be a beautiful, crisp fall day as eleven Fieros gathered on the side year of the Corbin residence. We all shared our Fiero stories and learned from each other what makes the Fiero so unique. Fourteen people showed up that day. They were to become the founding members of our club. Included were: Jim Hallman, Rich and Carol Benanti, Bruce Chlevin, Jim and Sylvia Corbin, Ed Jacobs, Jon Kalsmith, Paul Ketterer, Dave Koesche, Todd Tilton, Gary and Christine Smith, and Ron Kowalski.
At this �first� meeting, we determined the name of our organization (The Northern Illinois Fiero Enthusiasts), when we would hold club meetings (on Thursday evenings of every other month), where we would meet (The Union Church Of Hinsdale (Bruce Chlevin worked there!)), how often our newsletters would be published (every other month � opposing to the club meeting month), our newsletter�s title (Fiero Focus � thanks to our resident photographer, Bruce Chlevin), our club dues ($5.00 per year!), our club�s goal (to provide an exchange forum dedicated to the care, preservation, and positive publication of the Pontiac Fiero), and our club officers: President - Jim Hallman and Secretary � Greg Kocialkowski. Several ideas were suggested for club events as well, including: shopping mall shows, junkyard visits, auto cross events, parades, cruise nights, and road trips. A lot of these still sound familiar, huh?
Our first newsletter was published in November announcing our first club meeting � December 12th, 1991. The newsletter was three pages long and included our first tech tip, which was submitted by Gary Smith on how to repair the driver�s side door manual rear view mirror lever that was already starting to pop out of its place in the door panel back in 1991!
By December, we had 19 paid members and 34 potential members on our mailing list. Paul Ketterer and Cory Anderson volunteered to be our first Activity Directors at our December meeting � eleven members were in attendance. Our second newsletter issued in February of 1992 contained our very first Meet A Member; Jim Hallman was featured.
A quote from our March 1992 issue of Fiero Focus: �Our February meeting had 14 Fiero Enthusiasts in attendance. The meeting became very interesting when the floor was opened up to the attending enthusiasts to introduce themselves. One thing that should be realized is that each enthusiast enjoys his or her Fiero in a different way. Some are into showing their Fieros, some are into storing their Fieros, some are into engine performance upgrades, and some are into suspension improvements. How a member enjoys their Fiero is not as important as the fact that they enjoy their Fiero. Everyone enjoys a specific Fiero, whether it be an 84 four cylinder or an 88 six cylinder. Every Fiero is a piece of history � every Fiero is important!� What else need be said?
By April 1992, we already had our first road trip planned! Organized by Jim and Sylvia Corbin, we headed out for an overnight weekend to the Auburn/Cord/Duesenburg Museum in Auburn, Indiana. We also had our first parade planned � we would participate in the July 4th Parade in Hinsdale, IL.
Thanks to the artistic talent of Rich Benanti, with the help of his daughter�s �My Pretty Pony� Doll, we were designing our club�s logo and organizing the details to place our first club T-shirt order. Boy, we moved quickly � all of this in less than six months!
Where you there on August 15th, 1992 when Rich Benanti subjected his blue 1987 GT to the scrutinizing eye of �Corvette Cathy� � a Bloomington Gold Corvette judge? Rich wanted to find out what it takes to earn First Place in a car show � what do the judges look for? Rich was a bit reluctant to have his car looked over by a �professional� car show judge, but in the end, Cathy �awarded� Rich with a Second Place and a list of improvements. I think most of you know the rest of Rich�s story!
Do you remember our return visit to Jim and Sylvia Corbin�s house to celebrate our first birthday on October 24, 1992? At this meeting, we held our first club elections to divide up the responsibilities of our growing club. The following members volunteered for their positions: President � Jim Hallman, Vice President � Rich Benanti, Membership Director � Todd Tilton, Activity Directors � Paul Ketterer and Paul Ilosvay, and Newsletter Editor � Gary Smith.
After numerous delays and changes, our first club T-shirt order was placed before year-end. It sure felt good to finally get that monkey off of our back! Looking back, we accomplished quite a bit in the first two years. We were able to get a lot of ground work laid out for our club to build upon in the years to come.