NIFE History 1993 - 1994 By Jim Hallman
In our last issue of Fiero Focus, we focused on the first two years of the
Northern Illinois Fiero Enthusiasts. Ever wonder what took place during the next
two years? Read on:
Member Ron Jordon donated our first batch of club business cards at our December
1992 meeting. The cards were used as they are used today - to leave on Fieros
seen in your travels around town to help promote our club.
Our first official club activity schedule was published in our January Fiero
Focus with TEN activities listed in it. Events included our first participation
in the Midwest Fiero Regional/Dells Run event, attending the annual Fiero Owners
Club Of America Fiero Festival that took place in Pontiac, Michigan, our first
fall road trip to Starved Rock State Park, and a cruise night at Flukey's Drive
Remember our member John Lane's presentation on the Moly Black Gold engine and
transmission additives that took place in February? I think we all learned
something about machine longevity at that meeting.
Membership hit the 50 mark by February - the word was getting out!
Rich Benanti began the groundwork for our official club jackets - this is the
same design we still use today!
The first issues of Fiero Focus in 1993 were organized in a board member report
format with each board member submitting information as well as presenting
information during our bi-monthly club meetings.
By April, our dues had doubled - from a low budget $5.00 per year to $10.00 per
year - this increase helped absorb the cost of purchasing the stitching program
needed to do the needlework on our club jackets. Rich Benanti found out that to
create the stitched logo jacket, a computer program would need to be purchased
at the cost of $300! But how would a small, growing club pay for a large expense
like this? Well, we just did an early dues collection and the membership was
asked to pay their 1994 dues in April 1993 so we could have enough money to
purchase this asset for the club - it worked! Good thinking!
Nine NIFE members (8 Fieros) were the first to represent NIFE in a Midwest Fiero
Regionals/Dells Run event. The trip to Wisconsin was amid over 250 Harley
Davidson Motorcycles that were gathering in Milwaukee as part of the 90th
Anniversary of the 'Hog' - it made for quite an interesting trip! Fifty-eight
Fieros participated in total!
NIFE participated in our first Cruise Night on Friday, June 18th, at Flukey's
Drive In in Niles, IL.
At our July meeting, our Activity Director, Paul Ketterer, brought in an article
entitled "Classic Comments" for club discussion. The subject of this
article related to the liability of a club's membership at club events and who
is responsible for actions incurred by the club's members. This article became
the basis for our club's decision to become Incorporated within the State Of
Illinois; to protect our club and its individual members from the liability of
In September, I received a phone call from a potential member who was referred
to our club by Harold Hooton of the Fiero Memoribilia Museum in Adrian,
Michigan. I was asked to help him purchase his first Fiero. He was interested in
a 1988 Fiero GT after reading several articles on the collectibility of this
car. On September 18th, we both went together to look at a bright Red 1988 GT
with 48 thousand miles on it and, after a thorough once over and test drive, we
both decided it was the right car to buy. This new Fiero owner's name was none
other than Paul Vargyas and most of you know the rest of Paul's story!
NIFE participated in their first car show without an 'official' Fiero Class on
September 18th at Al's Diner in Elmhurst. Gary Amundsen, Bruce Chlevin, and Jim
Hallman took Third Place, Second Place, and First Place, respectively. Who would
have known what this first step would later turn out to be as the years went by…
In October at our annual meeting, Tim Hill replaced Todd Tilton as our club's
Membership Director. Christopher Sass replaced Paul Ilosvay as one of our
At our Fall Cruise in October to Starved Rock, the NIFE Board Members presented
awards to members who helped make 1993 the success that it was:
Paul Ketterer presented Gary Smith a "Lead Foot" award for being the
caravan leader to the Dells Run event back in June - and making it in record
Jim Hallman presented Bruce Chlevin with an award for his 'behind the scenes'
club support and dedication.
Rich Benanti presented Laura Sedlacek with an award for the cleanest, dust free
black Fiero in the July 4th parade - she never stopped cleaning her Fiero!
Paul Ilosvay presented Jim Hallman with an award for Presidential Dedication.
Todd Tilton presented Gary Amundsen with an award for his wealth of Fiero
Gary Smith presented Rich Benanti with an award for his help in rebuilding his
Fiero after an accident earlier in the year.
Twenty-two members attended our December meeting - our largest gathering to
date. One of those in attendance was none other than Elmer Schild - Fiero parts
guru and mechanic extraordinaire! Elmer was able to solve numerous member's
Fieros illness' during the later portion of the meeting. Also at this meeting,
Jim Hallman was presented with a NIFE club jacket that was purchased with
contributions from over 40 members! Eunice Riemer and Rich Benanti organized
this endeavor behind my back. What a Christmas gift! I still wear this jacket
with pride - thank you again to all who contributed to this gift for me!
Our club license plates were ordered in January.
Paul Vargyas sent a letter to the Chicago Tribune Automotive Editor, Jim Mateja
that appeared in the January 9th edition letting people know of our club's
existence. Jim's response caused quite an uproar when he implied that our big
event each year is a 'bonfire'. Even to this day, Jim does not show respect for
the Pontiac Fiero! However, 30 Fiero enthusiasts responded to this letter and
later, 22 actually became NIFE members!
Two letters of response were sent to Jim to reiterate the positive aspects of
the Fiero by Gary Amundsen. As expected, Jim butchered Gary's response with more
negative comments and we decided this was leading to a no win situation.
On February 26th, the NIFE Board Members met with two attorneys' to discuss the
Incorporation of our club for liability purposes. This was the first of several
discussions to take place.
An invitation letter to our club was mailed out to all of the Illinois members
of the Texas based - Fiero Owners Association to encourage membership in our
local club. Current membership had risen to 77 at this time.
The May issue of Fiero Focus brought with it significant changes. First, my old
Apple Word Processor was set aside as Byron Daugherty used his computer skills
to add life, photos, and graphics to our once humble newsletter format. Second,
the announcement was made that our club would soon be Incorporated within the
State Of Illinois - a sure sign of our growth and long term dedication.
Our club received much positive publicity for our Food Drive for the Hinsdale
Community Service Pantry in the Suburban Life Newspaper. A large photo
accompanied a nice text review. This Food Drive was held in conjunction with our
members car wash event where members could learn from each other about the
tools, techniques, and products that each of uses to keep our Fieros clean. Over
7 grocery bags of items were collected and donated!
A caravan of 19 Fieros cruised up to the Copa Cabana Hotel for the Midwest Fiero
Regional/Dells Run event - what a caravan sight that must have been!
June 16th is the official date that the Northern Illinois Fiero Enthusiasts
became Incorporated in the State Of Illinois.
In July, our resident mechanic, Elmer Schild, hosted a tech-tip meeting to help
our membership understand how our Fieros are supposed to properly perform.
Paul Vargyas was our Meet A Member feature in the July issue of Fiero Focus.
Paul stated, " In August of 1993, if someone had said I would own three
Fieros at one time within six months, I would have laughed hysterically. It
happened!" Paul must still be laughing…
On July 19th, our 100th member joined our club - just 34 months since our
In August, a total of 21 NIFE members trekked down to Indianapolis, IN to
participate in the FOCOA National Fiero Festival. This event included a two-lap
trip around the Indy 500 speedway! Our club had the second highest participation
count. The Michigan Fiero Club had 24 members in attendance. A whopping total of
346 Fieros were in attendance.
On September 18th, NIFE participated in our first car show with two designated
Fiero Class' - the Illinois Pontiac Oakland Club's Detzler Pontiac Car Show.
Fifteen Fieros were presented.
Our November issue of Fiero Focus brought about another format change
advancement. Instead of being an 8-1/2"x11" stapled-in-the-corner
style, we began using a 11"x17" magazine style fold format - for that
polished, more professional look!
Included in the November issue's Bits & Pieces section was a listing of a
new member who was looking for a white or red 1986 or 1987 Fiero GT. This was
the first step for Al Silverman in his search for a Fiero that lasted over one
year and touched the lives of many members who offered their help!
In summary, these two years were quite active. A lot of changes occurred and a
lot of growth was accomplished as a club. Many of the activities and events that
we participate in today began way back in these 'early years'.