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MX-5 Car Club QLD, The Early Days

A history of growth, fun and change: The First Five Years


In the Beginning was the Word. No, in fact it was the Meeting. Supported by Mazda's state manager, Paul Mc Neill (Club member no.1) and his assistant, Joan Tuite (Club Member no. 2), a group of MX-5 owners met in the Mazda (Qld) auditorium, set up a Committee and announced the formation of the Mazda MX-5 Club of Queensland. That was the night of November 25, 1990. The Victorian Club initially met in May of that year, NSW just behind them and WA and Queensland in November.


The inaugural Committee included: Colin Jones (Foundation President); Rosslyn Savage (General Secretary); Sam Nashaar (Treasurer); John Cartwright (Club Captain) and Bill Cunliffe (Social Director). There were, in addition, three general committee members - Loch Stewart, Don Hunter and Mark Savage. In addition, Loch Stewart undertook editorial duties for a Club Newsletter.


Membership fees were set at $25, with a one-off Joining Fee of $50 and the Club's first Newsletter came out late in December with an offer to country owners of a $25 total "Newsletter Only" fee. The Januarv Newsletter advised that Joe Camilleri from Grand Prix Mazda had become the Club's first Corporate member. At that time, Joe was at both Gympie Road, Aspley and Robinson Road, Virginia. Joe and his team have supported the Queensland Club ever since that first decision - a matter of pride for us all. Amongst the list of new members for January was Alex Molocznyk who, I think, holds the Club's longest continuous membership. There were, in all, sixty Foundation Members registered in January of 1991.


The February Newsletter has a change of President, due to an interesting typo. Colin Jones has become Colin James and stayed that way until the hand-corrected June 1991 edition - same contact phone number - and a second Corporate member, Henk Kebel from Keema Mazda in Springwood.


There was at least one planned Club activity each month. Check these out:

  • Dinner (March 12) at the Filling Station, Myer Centre, City
  • Observation Run (March 24) A 'fun' Run
  • April 28 Warwick to Toowoomba Run
  • May 19: Breakfast Run to Beechmont (early start!)
  • June 2: Spectators at the MG Mt Cotton Hill Climb
  • June 30: Treasure Hunt
  • July 27 & 28: Overnight at Montville for a Gourmet Dinner
  • August 25: Shopping day at Sanctuary Cove
  • September 29: Boreen Point jetty restaurant via Maleny, Kenilworth and Tewantin
  • * Late October to be kept free for first birthday Party* (Actually November 3)


On March 19, President Colin Jones was flown to Sydney to a meeting with Toshihiko Hirai, the "Father of the MX-5", the man responsible for the coordination of the design and production of the Mazda eXperimental no 5 in the 1980s.


And so the MX-5 Club of Queensland rounded out its first year. At the AGM, the Profit and Loss Statement showed a retained profit of $3202 and membership fees totaling $5289.


1992 and a change of Committee places with John Cartwright moving from Club Captain to President and Colin Jones taking up a new position as Vice President. Loch Stewart continued, in spite of major illness and overseas travel in 1991 as the Newsletter editor. His pleas for material have rung through the corridors of time since then. And the annual fee was now set at $50 for members, $5 for associates and $25 for newsletter-only members.


The Club affiliated with the Marque Sports Car Club in January and so became an affiliate within CAMS, the Confederation of Motor Sports. This enabled members to participate in a variety of Marque-managed events, including a "Fuel Economy Run" in April with MX-5s coming in overall first (Gavin Goeldner). fourth (Glen Battershill) and sixth (David Verna) out of a total of eighteen participants. Then on 15 August, four MX-5s entered the Marque Sports Car Club's Airport Sprints in the Sports sedans section: Tony DiVincenzo; David Verna; Brett Peters and Alex Molocznyk. The same four entered the Mt Cotton Hill Climb the next dav as a part of the 1992 IronMan weekend.


Brett Peters was placed tenth out of a field of 43, Alex 19th and David 24th. Also active on that weekend was a name most will remember, Brian Ferebee, placed 14th. Mx-5s also participated in the Sports and Classic car Team Lap sprints in August, with the now familiar four: Peters; Battershill; Goeldner; Verna entering as Team Mazda MX-5. The team set the fastest lap time for Class 3 at 1:08:68.


Then it was off to the second AGM of the Club - or, as the Club Newsletter: "Team Miata" has it, Metting.


Mazda (Aust) had also been active in supporting the development of State-based Clubs and then in November the President received a proposed agenda for a National Clubs' meeting to be held during 1993.


Here's what was on the table:




1. A yearly MX-5 Festival to be introduced, including:

           i) Competitive events - Motorkhana-type and circuit speed stages

                       - Low-speed skill, precision and novelty stages

                       - Navigational stages/observation. rally

                       - Know your MX-5 questions

                       - Concours?

           ii) Display by Mazda Australia - background & development of the MX-5 etc.

           iii) Displays of accessories, styling and performance equipment, wheels and tyres, by Mazda Australia dealers, specialist suppliers

           iv> Social Events        - Barbecue

                                               - Festival dinner

                                               - Presentation of awards for competitions

                                               - Informal Get-togethers

The venue for this ovens to be rotated between Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia (+ Tasmania and Western Australia?)

2. Production of a regular (Quarterly?) Mazda Australia newsletter for clubs to post out with their own newsletter. This could contain:

           - general Mazda news

           - MX-5 sales and general information (Australian & worldwide)

           - future Mx-5 plans and changes

           - any MX-5 competition successes

           - details of My-5 clubs worldwide

           - detaris or all Australian state clubs - memberships & activities

           - any other relevant information not readily available to individual MX-5 owners.

3. Joint MX-5 Clubs/Mazda Australia initiative on non-specific club merchandise e.g. MX-5 wine glasses, posters, where economies of scale can be achieved.

4. Discussion of methods and strategies for publicity and recruiting of members. Also, effective ways to retain members!

5. Regular Clubs/Mazda Australia communication at committee level-policy, planning coordination.




And so to 1993 and a new, enlarged Committee. David Verna took over the President's role with Loch Stewart as VP. David Paratz was Treasurer and his wife, Gail the General Secretary. John Cartwright took up the Regalia position with Tony DiVincenzo as Club Captain and Robin Messenger as the Social Secretary. There were, for the first time, ten other general Committee members with such notables as John Kirk and Gary Ballinger as full members of the Club.


You will note that, according to the accounts for January 1993, the Club membership had risen to 60, so quick mathematics will show vou that the Committee of fifteen managed forty-five other members - a never-to-be repeated ratio! Of interest at that second AGM was a report from the outgoing President about the hold-up to the creation of the Club as an incorporated body. The sticking point concerned other MX car owners (the MX-6ers) wanting to be members and the existing members determined to make it an MX-5 Club exclusively. Total funds were shown as $4,502 in the auditor's report.


During 1993, the Brisbane Courier Mail ran this article about the longest-serving member:


Open Road - Age is no barrier 


There was still usually only one Run each month, including an economy Trial (March), Run to Jondaryan Woolshed (May) and an overnight to Stanthorpe for a Winery Tour (July) but the newsletter editor DiVincenzo comments that there are plenty of 'unplanned' get-togethers, usually organised by phone and usually begun by Loch Stewart. In February, 1993, there were 40 paid-up members with a plea from the Treasurer for the other twenty to get money to him.


A defining moment nationally happened when the State Presidents met in Daylesford, Victoria on 6 March 1993 under the guidance of Mazda (Aust)and agreed to form a National MX-5 Committee. President David Verna represented Queensland and the event was called by Mazda's Sue Ransom. The Mazda MX-5 Club of Australia was created. Each State would host an annual national meeting, with South Australia nominating to undertake the first in 1994. Here is the full outcome of that momentous occasion:


National Mazda MX-5 Meeting 1993 


If you've read it all, you'll be wondering: "What happened?" because there is, currently, no National MX-5 Club, nor any sign of its existence except the (now) biennial NatMeets. So much planning, so little outcome.


By now, the Queensland Club had begun negotiations with the Queensland Department of Justice, although aspects of the Club Rules were still under discussion. For instance, under s. 3 "Powers" sub-section 23 read: "To transact any lawful business in aid of the Commonwealth of Australia in the prosecution of any war in which the Commonwealth of Australia is engaged."


The way was open for the Club to create a private army. Curiously, this disappeared from the final set of Rules, adopted in 1997.


Again, the Newsletter was headed "Team Miata" and the work of Loch Stewart dominated in each issue. He searched out restaurants, set up Runs, organised phone hook-ups and generally pushed the members into activity. He and his wife, Cleone, managed to fit in a research? trip to the Philippines and Hong Kong during April. John Kirk - another strong supporter of the Club - organised the Brass Monkey Winery Tour" in July and in a hand-written addition to the Newsletter, finishes with this p.s. "If you didn't bring your Winter woolies, STIFF! You were warned." The location was Stanthorpe.


And finally. Loch Stewart has a hand-written note in the November/December Issue headed "Emergency- Urgent" notifying members of the Christmas Party the following Sunday, 5 December. The evening included a flamenco dancer and live music. There is no record of attendance at the Santorini Restaurant.


By the end of the second full year of existence, the Club had over 60 members, a developing set of operating Rules, affiliation with the Marque Sports Car Club for Track - and off-track - activities and a very active social and touring life. It also had a Committee of fifteen, including a Club Captain, a Vice-President and a Social Secretary amongst the office bearers. The Calendar for the months June - December included:

a Night Run (Fri June 25); Stanthorpe Brass Monkey in July; a picnic Run (Aug 15); participation in the MG Club's IronMan weekend; a Concours d'elegance (Sept 19); a Hill-Climb competition (Oct 24); Gliding day at Kingaroy (Nov 14) and two Christmas Parties (Marque Nov 26 and Club (Dec 5). That's only the second half of 1993 - a very dynamic year.


At the AGM in October. David Verna continued on as the Club President with a stripped-down Committee of five Office Bearers (including Loch Stewart as VP), Gail and David Paratz as Secretary and Treasurer and Mark Horsburgh as the Club Captain. Two current holders of Life membership first joined the new Committee: David Lydon and the very active Henri van Roden. Club funds, as presented at the AGM were $5870, up from $4502 at the 1992 AGM


And so to 1994 and the first NatMeet.


The calendar again shows the breadth of interests that the Club catered for: an EFl tech night (8 Feb); a cable ski and boy BBQ (13 Feb); a Run to Toowoomba and a Marque Sports Car Grass Motorkhana in March; NatMeet (April 1-4); a Golf day (April 10); an Economy Run, McLean's Bridge, Currumbin Run; the Lakeside Supersprints; a Go-Kart day, the Stanthorpe (version 2) Brass Monkey weekend and a Dinner-Dance in August. As if that wasn't enough, between August and December there were four Runs (Boreen point, Little Yabba Creek and two MSCC-sponsored Night Runs), MSCC-managed IronMan and Concours 'Elegance events, a Driver Training day, an Indoor Bowls Challenge, the AGM and the Christmas Party.


All this with a total membership of around 70 people. In his farewell address at the end of 1994, outgoing President David Verna said: "My main goal, when I joined the Committee three years ago was to lift the MotorSport profile within the Club." A re-read of the 1994 Calendar certainly confirms his success in that ambition.


Two Queensland cars - four people - attended the inaugural NatMeet. We were represented by President David Lydon and his wife, Eleanor as well as the ubiquitous Vice President, Loch Stewart and his wife, Cleone. David's report in the July issue of the "Team Miata" newsletter showed how well the event was managed, how enjoyable it all was and how much of wine-growing South Australia was included in the four days. David reported that over 60 cars attended and from this extract from SA President Grant George's letter to other State Presidents, we can get an idea of where they came from:



At the March 1993 combined meeting of Mazda MX-5 Club presidents it was agreed that due to the hosting state's workload, other participating states would donate the trophies. It is with your sanction that we procure these locally for ease of supply, packaging, engraving etc. We have an excellent relationship with a nationally recognised trophy house whose workmanship is unsurpassed. The cost of trophies will be borne by funds raised by our donors and suppliers. We guarantee the lucky recipients will not be disappointed.



A reminder that outstanding monies (be it the initially agreed state club contribution or individual entry fees) are due in full by the payable date of February (st, 1994. Subject to the income generated from the raffle, we aim to offer individual refunds at the time of registration on Good Friday. Rest assured, if we are able to do so beforehand, we certainly will.



Entries received to date are as follows:

Western Australia (6)

Queensland (2)

New South Wales (9)

Victoria (7)

South Australia (20)

Total: Forty Four (44)

We are hopeful that our invitations extended to international MX-5 Clubs may attract a response.



Due to the logistics of running the events proposed for Easter Sunday, it has been necessary to delete the motorkhana from our events menu. This should not deter the sporting enthusiasts as the full day on Easter Monday is packed with motorsport events at Mallala circuit.



The National Yearbook, to be published for release at Natmeet, is about to commence production. We require your input to ensure that it is truly representative of all clubs throughout Australia. Enclosed with this letter is an advertisement soliciting articles and photographs from your members. Could you please publish it in your next club newsletter or mail-out. We will also require a bromide of your official club logo including colours for reproduction in the yearbook.



We have much pleasure in advising you of the major donation to our historic event. Mazda Australia Pty. Limited has kindly contributed two thousand five hundred dollars.($2500.00). On behalf of all Mazda MX-5 Club members I have formally extended our sincere thanks to Mike Quist. National Public Relations Manager - Mazda Australia, la Digby; State Manager Mazda S.A. and Sue Ransom, our founding organiser. 'This will no doubt contribute to the success of our inaugural national meeting."


Back in Queensland, things unfolded in three different directions.

Direction one: Consider President David's message in the October edition of the now-re-branded Club newsletter, the "Rag-Top Review". He says, in part: "It has come to my attention that there is some ill-feeling in the Club. Some members have received a phone call from a fellow-member regarding a "Business Opportunity." David finishes with an apology and an assurance that it will not recur. He notes: "This is .. a social club .. People shouldn't feel that they have joined a mailing list."


Direction two. During November's AGM, Club member Alex Molocznyk advised ... "that CAMS does NOT recognise the MX-5 as a marque car." Thus the umbrella insurance protection which members believed that membership of the Marque Sports car Club offered them had never existed. Further enquiries were to be made in 1995 to settle this problem.


Direction three: Together with its name change in October, the Club newsletter became a magazine with an emphasis on sports reports and reminders of up-coming activities. After the AGM it also acquired both an Editor (President David Verna) and a Newsletter Publisher (Murray Fortescue). It is a fact, too, that without Loch Stewart's continuing and entertaining support, the newsletter/magazine would have been very small. His topics

ranged annually between performance improvement, good restaurant guides, travel reports and general advice about enjoying the MX-5.


After two very busy years as President, David Verna stepped into the Editor's role and Henri van Roden accepted the Presidency. The role of Vice President disappeared and it is interesting and instructive to note that up to and including the 1994 AGM, nominations for Office bearers and general Committee members came from those present at the AGM and people were elected to fill specific roles at that meeting. How times change.


From there to 1995


With a 37 event calendar planned for the year, Henri van Roden's first message as President bears some attention because it still has meaning:


"A major concern I have with the running of events is the poor early response we receive from the membership. Your committee cannot possibly run an event successfully if we are not aware of who is coming along and as most venues have to be booked well in advance this can lead to the embarrassing situation of cancellation This occurred last year with the planned Dinner Dance. I know this problem is not exclusive to this club but it is indeed a problem. I see no reason why committee should spend so much time in phoning members to coerce them in to coming along.

The Cherrabah weekend is a case in point. We have already paid a deposit of $500 to the venue and we need to confirm numbers by 4th February otherwise the deposit can be lost and the deposit is your money. Yet we have received little response apart from committee members.”


Included in those 37 events were monthly 'Club nights', held in various spots such as Fulcrum Suspension's workshop (Jun 19) and coffee places all over the city. These were the initiative of President Henri and were tested during the second half of 95.


Now catch up on the original day as told five years on:




by (who else? )Loch Stewart


Let's take a walk down Memory Lane, back to the beginning of the club five years ago. Ed.


What a wonderful day this was. 55 gleaming MX-5's and 130 gleaming people! The Mazda marquees were erected, the Mazda flags fluttering proudly in the breeze even though one was upside down, much to Sue Ransom's distress. Arrivals were greeted by the newly-minted well scrubbed Mazda organising committee and soon everyone was relaxed and chatting together like old friends. Membership literature, name tags and Mazda visors were handed out - all numbered for later lucky door prizes. Then we gathered in the auditorium for a welcoming address by Paul McNeill, State Manager for Mazda (Qld). Paul discussed the aims of the Club, welcomed everyone, then bade us to: "Out and eat" Marquees provided welcome shade. Steaks, sausages, salads and sweets provided welcome internal padding. The only disappointment on my part was to see that my wife and I were the only ones with foresight enough to bring a lovely, cold bottle of champagne. (These people will definitely have to be educated into the pleasures and mysteries of cheap, cold champagne on a hot day).


After lunch we staggered back into the auditorium where Paul introduced all the shy and blushing committee members with suitable comments on their backgrounds (or at least those things that could be said in public). Our President, Colin Jones, then addressed the multitude on the virtues of Club Membership, followed by the fashion parade, organised by our lovely Sue Ransom, from head office. All were suitably impressed by the range of clothing, although Paul (the commentator) seemed to have a fixation on logos attached (or was it tattooed?) on left breasts! (Makes you wonder, doesn't it?)


The fashion parade was followed by the lucky door prizes, drawn by Paul, with each winner able to choose their own prize from the table. I was lucky to have my age - 60 (well, give or take a few years) as my lucky number so I scored a very much appreciated desk calculator. I will leave this at the phone and will no longer have to remove my shoes to add past 10.


Next followed a great video on the MX-5 race at the Macau Grand Prix. All the top drivers featured, with old and new masters at their game - and what a race they made. The audience enjoyed every minute and so did the drivers, judging from their remarks on the video.


So ended a great day. My sincere thanks must go to Paul McNeill, Joan Tuite and Sue Ransom for all their planning on our behalf and to the worthy members of the committee who manned the registration table throughout the very hot day. Thanks especially to Mazda who must sincerely have the best P.R. (with genuine service) team of any car manufacturer anywhere.


Here's a remark from Loch Stewart, writing about improving the performance of the MX-5 about kits and about exhausts:

“..Victoria, ..are using the dreaded noise level meter to add to the millions of dollars in revenue raised by speed cameras. If (Jeff) Kennett keeps this up he will find out why Labor lost the last election." History shows that the Kennett government was voted out of office at the next election and that he became a one-term Premier. Prophet as well as brilliant engineer, that's Loch Stewart.


Suzanne O'Connell wrote about a Breakfast Run to Mt. Coot-tha which, because she came from the Gold Coast, began at 3 am. This highlighted the issue of Chapters rather than just a Brisbane-centered Club although Suzanne said that " .. it was very enjoyable" so the Club repeated the Breakfast Run many times in the following years.


After the Anzac Day BBQ, the committee decided to join a number of other Brisbane-based car clubs in renting a clubhouse at the Belmont Shooting range. The premises are owned by the Veteran Car association of Qld and President Henri booked the committee room for the first Monday in each month and the general auditorium for members' nights on the third Mondays. The goal was to bring in guest speakers, technical support, shared

video or photo moments as well as to have a weekend each year for a dinner-dance or other extended activities. In his Christmas message later in the year, though, the President commented: "Unfortunately member nights have been very poorly attended despite having interesting speakers lined up and we decided to forego renewal of the lease."


Then there was the first inter-state Easter get-together with MX-5 owners from New South Wales, the forerunner of the hugely-popular 'NotMeet' series. This one went to Coffs Harbour under the direction of Henri and Maureen van Roden and consisted of seven MX-5s and a 'ring-in', a total of fifteen people. Apart from Loch Stewart's puncture on the return trip and the revelation that he did not see any point in carrying a spare, the Meet was extremely successful, as it has continued to be. Using the 'Run Flat' 80kph max tyre, Loch was heard, over the popular CB radio, to say: "I've just been passed by a bloody Barina! I'll never live that down."


During the Datsun Club's Lakeside sprints on April 8, President Henri set a PB fastest time of 1:19:02. Below him was Suzanne O'Connell in 1:29:58. However, ABOVE Henri's best were Brett Straughn (1:7:05); Peter Wilson (1:10:38); Mike Ovens (1:11:70); John Allen (1:12:56); Greg McHugh (1 :13:00); Alex Molocznyk (1:13:36); Jeff Rowse (1:13:72); David Kent (1:14:59); Robert Free (1:15:24) and Steve Kovacs (1:16:18). Twenty years later, Henri's lap times have improved, History will show.


The July RTR contained this, perhaps as the outcome of the President's message of October 1994:


MX-5 Car Club of Queensland

Classified Directory


"It is an accepted fact of "selling" techniques that most purchasers deal with people they know and trust and/or have confidence in.

Within the Club we have people we trust and have confidence in - perhaps to the point of having trusted them with our lives at 170+ kph around Lakeside raceway.

Why not trust those same people with your next purchase? ...

(final two paras) If you are interested in listing your business in our proposed Directory, please complete the attached form and return the same to the Club Secretary. This is an added service to our members and no charge is envisaged.

Please be honest and concise in your comments.


In his August editorial, David Verna wrote: "... we have started an MX-5 Club archive. So far this consists of copies of all the newsletters to date, posters, photos, magazines, books, road tests, brochures, T shirts and videos." That archive may still (2017) exist and if any reader can point to it, contact the current President using the Club website.


In the same RTR, Loch Stewart advertised for members interested in going to the second NatMeet, NatMeet 96 in Canberra. at that time, four cars were planning to attend. In the next (September) edition of the RTR, a two-page letter was reprinted from the National President of the Mazda MX-5 Clubs of Australia, urging Queensland members to attend the Canberra NatMeet. The person signing that letter was a NSW member. we in Queensland know him by his name, not his (then) title, our Honorary Life Member, Peter Simpson.


One highlight in September was a Club outing on the 'Lady Nelson' out of Mooloolaba Wharf, a champagne lunch, choppy seas and a very long drive from Brisbane to get to the wharf. Again, President Henri van Roden organised this 'now for something completely different' day, although his wife, Maureen, was not well, together with Loch Stewart and few others. But the day was hailed as a success.


In 1995, "Autoweek" journalist, Leon Mandel, had this to say about Miata drivers, as reported in the November 1995 RT. Still rings true, twenty + years later.


You are what you drive


Leon Mandel, of Autoweek fame, wrote an editorial on the behaviour of various drivers of various cars. Aside from the predictable swipes at Grand Cherokee owners ("suburban women" aggressive as Championship Wrestlers), the minivan crowd ("bumblers" distracted by toddlers, cautious to a fault), Mustang drivers (frustrated" go cart racers), he has kind words for Miata owners:


"... The inherent liveliness and agility of Miatas somehow multiplies the very same virtues in their owners. Especially in good weather, Miata drivers are of sunny disposition. They are gracious. They are obliging. They are almost always so busy having a wonderful time, it's impossible to frustrate them... " We find his observations to be true, in our experience. Thanks for the compliments. Mr Mandel.


During the November AGM, President Henri van Roden (re-elected on the night) noted that the members had had the opportunity to take part in 27 very varied and different activities, including the 22 cars and their owners + partners who returned to the Club's inauguration site, the Kooralbyn Valley Lodge, in November to celebrate the five year anniversary. At that AGM, five office-bearers (van Roden; Fisher; Lydon; McHugh and Verna) and nine Committee members were elected for the 1995-96 Club year.


The Auditor's Report showed that the Club had retained profits of $1416, compared with the retained profits of the year before, 1994, of $3595


And so the first five years of the Club ended.


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