It was 40 years, 3 hours and 24 minutes ago that I started out on the biggest journey of my life…
There I stood, a 24-year-old tool and dye maker, accepting a loan for $500 to take my Corvette hobby to the next level. If someone had told me then about all the different opportunities and adventures that loan would bring, I probably wouldn’t have believed them!
At the time, I knew that there was a void in the industry of one easy location for Corvette lovers like me to find owners manuals, patches, glassware and other accessories to support their passion for America’s Sports Car. I took that $500, purchased a mix of items and headed to a Corvette show with my trunk full of my very first inventory. And I sold out!
So I bought more and did it again. And again! Soon I was spending more time with my hobby than I was at my regular job and I knew it was time to take a risk. My first mail order “catalog” was a 2 page black and white flier, but people saw the need and placed orders. Soon my inventory outgrew my trunk and invaded my apartment, and eventually, I moved to an office.
From there, things just kept moving! We broke ground on a 7,200 square foot office and warehouse in 1979, added an Air-Cooled VW line in 1998 and added an interior manufacturing facility called PERFORMANCE CHOICE in 2002. Today we mail 4.5 million Corvette and VW catalogs to customers around the world, and we just launched a brand new e-commerce website to provide products, information, how-to videos, tech tips and more 24 hours a day.
But what has resonated most with me over these 40 years is the amazing people I’ve been fortunate enough to meet. From some of my automotive heroes, like Zora Arkus-Duntov and Larry Shinoda, Dave McLellan and Wil Cooksey, Bruce Meyers, Linda Vaughn, and George Barris, to everyone on the Corvette Challenge Racing Team during the years we were involved with professional racing as a sponsor, Chip and Lance Miller, Dave Burroughs and countless other fellow enthusiasts, to the one-of-a-kind customers, car clubs and friends we have made over the years.
One of – if not the most – rewarding parts of this business is seeing someone’s eyes light up when they talk about driving their Corvette for the first time or finally finishing their Classic Volkswagen restoration and knowing that we helped make that happen. When it comes down to it, I’m still just one of those guys who is crazy about cars!
I always say our customers sign our paychecks when they call, visit or write to us to say what a positive experience they have with Mid America Motorworks. That’s part of the reason we host our Funfest events – to spend a weekend twice a year with several thousand of our friends! I look forward to Funfest for Air-Cooled VW in June and Corvette Funfest in September, because we have FUN! That’s where the name came from! I get to spend the whole weekend with people who drove thousands of miles – sometimes from a foreign country – to share their automotive passion with us. What could be better?!
But really, this journey started for me even before that fateful day in 1974. It started with my parents, who instilled in me the idea that hard work and responsibility are paramount in the “real world” and showed all of us 9 kids the value of a happy, stable marriage. It started with my brothers, Frank and Corky, who respectively introduced me to Corvettes and Volkswagens; and all my brothers who showed me at an early age the joys of being under the hood in a garage. I’m thankful for those early influences, more than any of them could know.
I’m thankful for quality employees, who have become dear friends, and who I have been fortunate enough to both teach and learn from – on both business and personal levels – over the years.
And of course, I’m thankful for Laurie, Michael and Blake – my awesome family! Laurie has been my companion, partner, sounding board, idea generator and true teammate and I simply could not ask for a better soul mate! Michael and Blake have grown up in the business, and it has been a pleasure and a true honor to see them choose Mid America Motorworks for their careers as young men.
This anniversary is more than just a celebration of Mid America Motorworks. It is a celebration of the many people and places that have shaped the experiences that got us here. As we celebrate 40 years, I can’t help looking ahead, to the future. The future of the Corvette hobby, as the 2014 C7 Stingray keeps rising in popularity. The future of Mid America Motorworks, as we continue to build our website, host new music festivals and events at our corporate campus, and as Michael and Blake transition into leadership roles within the company. The future of my family, as Michael starts a new chapter in his life, getting married.It has been a wild journey with too many curves in the road to count. Overall, I am so proud of where we have been and can’t help but think that we’re just getting started! Thank You to my friends, employees (past and present), family and most important – our faithful customers and supportive suppliers!
More information to follow soon......
We just received word from one of our suppliers of a new "mobile" treat during Corvette Funfest 2013. Our good friends at Motorbooks International have decided to remind all of us of days of yesteryear with a bookmobile on the grounds at Corvette Funfest.
You will be able to find your most favorite Corvette book, or your next "most favorite" Corvette book or automotive book. Make a point to stop by the bookstore during your time at Corvette Funfest!
With this year being the 15th Anniversary of Funfest for Air-Cooled VW, we are really amping up the event in so many ways! To add to the excitement I just confirmed that we will have some Air-Cooled Volkswagen Military vehicles on display thanks to my friend Dr. Mac Jones.
Making the journey to Effingham will be the rare Kübelwagen, Schwimmwagen, KdF-Wagen and 5-6 other unique VW’s from his collection. All three of these vehicles were produced by VW and used by the German military during WWII. If you are a Volkswagen fan or a history buff, you won’t want to miss this cool display!
For event information or to register for Funfest for Air-Cooled VW 2013, visit www.funfestacvw.com.
Kübelwagen, light military vehicle based heavily on Ferdinand Porsche's early Beetle designs
Schwimmwagen, an amphibious four-wheel drive off-road vehicle
KdF-Wagen, this vehicle is the closest predecessor of what we now know as the Volkswagen Beetle
The Return got its start back 1995 when four friends got together to play their favorite Beatles songs for what they thought would be a onetime show. That show, which was very well received, turned into a regular gig and the group has polished up their act for the highest level of authenticity. Richard Stelling as John, Shane Landers as Paul, Michael Fulop as George and Adam Thurston as Ringo capture the essence of the Beatles themselves with a near-perfect reproduction of the live Beatles concert, down to John Lennon’s on-stage gum chewing and using exact replicas of instruments and gear originally used.
“With this year’s theme of Magical Mystery Funfest, having The Return as our Saturday entertainment just makes sense. I’m thrilled to welcome one of the most authentic, entertaining and exciting Beatles tribute bands to Effingham and to Funfest,” said Mike Yager, Chief Cheerleader and Founder of Mid America Motorworks.
In The Return’s career, they have shared the stage with legendary acts such as Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Monkees, Peter Noone, Chubby Checker, Jerry Lewis & The Playboys and 38 Special. The band also headlined the Path Rocks 2009 Paul McCartney pre-party concert and the 40th anniversary celebration of the Beatles’ visit to Tokyo, and has been featured nationally on CNN, TBS and VH1.
The Return’s first set will consist of black suits similar to those worn on the Ed Sullivan show on Feb. 9, 1964 and include a mixture of #1 hits consisting of I Want to Hold Your Hand, A Hard Day’s Night and Day Tripper. The second set will switch over to Sgt. Peppers suits as seen on the album cover for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and include various #1 hits like Hello Goodbye, Revolution and Hey Jude.
The concert begins at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 1 on the 14,000 seat amphitheater located on Mid America Motorworks’ corporate campus in Effingham, Ill. All registered Funfest attendees have automatic admission to the concert.
Mid America Motorworks is celebrating the event’s 15th Anniversary with a Magical Mystery Funfest. In addition to the popular Celebrity Choice car judging, slalom races and Saturday night concert, Funfest has added an all new line up of seminars with a new location and will be exhibiting more suppliers and vendors than ever. For the latest updates and to register, visit www.funfestacvw.com. All participants registered by May 15, 2013 will receive preferred pricing on weekend admission and the Funfest t-shirt and a goody bag, while supplies last.