NIFE History 1999-2000 By Jim Hallman
We have already reached our last segment reviewing the history of our club.
Though only just a few years ago, let's begin with 1999 in our final segment.
Our January/February issue of Fiero Focus contained an index of all previous
articles featured in our newsletter from January 1995 through November/December
1998. Our member, Tom Derr, compiled this index to assist members in solving the
'finding that article that you know you read somewhere, but just where was it'
Little did he know what luck he would have later in the year, but Gene Keenan
joined our club in late 1998 and on September 12, 1999, he would be announced as
the winner of the first ever Fiero GT raffle that took place at Fierorama!
An article series began focusing in on the Fiero in miniature, toy form.
Authored by Ray Paulk, these articles discussed all of the variations in
Matchbox, Hot Wheels, Micro Machines, and model kits, among others. Ray is still
considered the 'toy expert' in the world of Fiero.
April marked the grand opening celebration of Twin Lakes Fiero in Paxton, IL.
Bob Steiger moved all of his Fiero parts and services from Loda to Paxton (just
a few miles south) to a bigger building with better facilities to service Fiero
Owners. Fiero Fest '99 helped mark this event with door prizes, a free lunch
presented by Bob's wife, Gerry Kay and their family, local TV coverage, and of
course, the opportunity to buy all of the Fiero parts you could bring home!
The May/June newsletter announced NIFE's intention to raffle off a 1986 Red
Fiero GT in the world's first Fiero GT Raffle. What a concept! Tickets were only
$5.00 each and only 500 tickets were sold. This idea was so well received, that
all of the tickets were sold within 60 days - yet another innovative idea from
The July/August issue announced that our newsletter was now a two-time Golden
Quill Award winner. Old Cars Weekly magazine annually presents this award to car
club newsletters that represent excellence in content and layout. The
announcement was also made that our club was the recipient of the Best Club
Display and Midwest Regional Traveling Trophy awarded at the Midwest Fiero
Regionals/Dells Run event - talk about getting a big head!
August 16th was a sad day for NIFE as our member, Rich Warber, passed away after
a battle with cancer. Rich is best known for his 450 HP, black chop-top, chromed
V8 1986 Fiero GT. Rich's Fiero was a shoe-in for First Place at any car show he
attended. His engineering talents and drag racing heritage were one of a kind.
We still miss you, Rich!
Our cover story for the September/October Fiero Focus was from Al Wagner who had
recently returned from a 7,331-mile trip to and back from Alaska. Al's catch to
the story was that this trip was taken in his Fiero with over 234,000 miles
already on it! Remember to keep this story handy the next time someone questions
the reliability of the Fiero! Al averaged 39.5 miles per gallon with his
high-end geared 4 cylinder 1984 Fiero Economy Coupe. Only one quart of oil was
used on this 14-day excursion!
Our Fierorama attendance reached over 135 Fieros marking our event as the
biggest gathering of Fieros of any event taking place in 1999, even despite
another occurrence of rain!
As our calendar changed from nine's to zero's, so NIFE changed as well. With our
Y2K crises never coming to fruition, a full color cover was put in place to
continue our ongoing improvements with the best Fiero newsletter in the Fiero
The year 2000 marked our first participation in the World Of Wheels custom car
show in Chicago that took place in early February. Our club display consisted of
some of our most highly modified Fieros to the likes of Jason Crow, V8 Archie,
Lothar Bacher, Jeanette Warber, and Paul Vargyas - all of which were trophy
The year 2000 saw the explosion of popularity in the summer cruise nights in the
'burb's of Chicago. What began years ago in Downers Grove and Elmhurst, had
exploded to include over seven other villages presenting cruise nights - most
were/still are sponsored by Rally Insurance that specializes in collector car
insurance. Just about every night of the week, somewhere in the suburbs, a
cruise night is held allowing classic car owners the opportunity to show off
their pride and joy in a non-competitive gathering. Did you make it to a cruise
night this past summer?
2000 also marked our third golden quill award as presented by Old Cars Weekly
magazine - we were on a roll!
The cable TV series Motor Sports Unlimited highlighted NIFE and the Fiero twice
in 2000 - once at the World Of Wheels show and a second time focusing in on the
shop and workings of our own V8 Archie. This was fantastic publicity for the
Fiero in our local environment!
A change in Board Membership took place when Byron Daugherty resigned as our
Webmaster and was replaced by Ken Pittman and Bill Klicker. Byron brought our
club to the forefront of Fiero web design back in 1996 when the Internet was
'new' and still in its infancy. Thanks to Bill Klicker and Ken Pittman, our
website has been updated and revamped for the new millennium!
Membership in 2000 reached over 350 members where it has stood for the past few
years. What impressive growth has taken place since our humble beginnings of 14
members back in 1991.
Fierorama was yet another success with over 130 Fieros participating despite
what has become another annual event for us; rain! The new highlight this year
was the V8 Archie 'V8 Kit Raffle'. Over 180 tickets were sold with Mike Kroyer
(our Meet A Member author) holding the winning ticket for the prize.
Paul Vargyas, Mike Kroyer, and Paula Ton organized and executed a Fierorama 2000
video compiled of an interview of each and every participant describing their
Fiero - what a feat! This video was then sold as a fundraiser for the club.
The 2000 Fierorama manifested the Rich Warber Best Of Show Award presented to
the one Fiero voted as the Best by the people's choice. This award is voted on
annually by the guests and non-drivers of the Fieros in attendance. This was to
honor Rich Warber, the pioneer of the chop-top Fiero, a true automotive engineer
who passed away in August of 1999.
The period of 1999-2000 was highlighted with minor tweaks and improvements to
keep our momentum going. As we begin our second decade in 2001, we look forward
to keeping the Fiero excitement rolling with new events, new newsletter
features, new friends, and new members combined with your favorite events of the
past ten years, your favorite Fiero Focus award winning features, and your old
Fiero friends you have been able to get to know better over the past decade. I
hope you have enjoyed this NIFE history series - we'll do it again in another 10