By John Keilly
While a Papal Conclave to elect a pope is a rare event, each year the Past Presidents of SEM/ PCA gather to name a deserving person Enthusiast of the Year. Evidently this happens in someplace other than the Sistine Chapel, which is unavailable . . . just like that jet that Michael refers to on page 3! With considerably less pomp and circumstance, they make their selection. Instead of sending white smoke up some ceremonial chimney, they make their announcement at the Holiday Party.
This year, their choice was my good friend, P4 Managing Editor Michael Cohen. No one was happier than me to see Michael so honored. He is an enthusiastic and tireless worker. Each month he leads the process of organizing the issue, writing and editing articles and photos. As our mutual friend Roger DeLiso at Copyrite Printing says, “Of course most of the editor’s time is spent not on editing or writing, but chasing content!” Michael gives chase with enthusiasm, skill and persuasive charm. No one wants to disappoint him!
In retrospect, Michael and I were destined to work together. We both grew up on the east coast and were both bitten by the sports car bug at an early age. Porsche was racing at nearby tracks like Lime Rock in CT, Watkins Glen in NY and Mosport Park in Canada. If you were really lucky, you saw – and heard – those iconic 917Ks in the early days of “flying close to the road.”
Michael was (and remains) smarter than me. His first sports cars were British . . . a Triumph TR3A and an MGB. With electrics by the Prince of Darkness, Joseph Lucas, yes, these cars had a well deserved reputation for problems. Still, they were a better choice than my 1971 Fiat 124 Sport Spyder. Confession: It was as close as I could get (afford) to the Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce that Dustin Hoffman drove in one of the iconic movies of our youth, The Graduate. “Plastics,” anyone?
My Fiat was “completely consumed” at only 35,000 miles, so in 1974 I switched to Detroit Iron for the next 30 years. During my time at Ford most of the cars I drove had the sex appeal of a washing machine. The bean counters held sway . . . and it showed. But at least they ran, reliably, which was all too often beyond the pale of that 124.
Meanwhile, Michael also spent time working in Detroit, first for Ford, then AMC. Later he switched from the “factory” side of the business to the retail side, managing several new car dealerships. However, after his experience with British car “quality” he had the good sense to acquire a 1990 Mazda Miata followed by three Porsches. He joined SEMPCA in 1998.
I first “noticed” Michael via the excellent stories he submitted for the P4. When he subsequently indicated an interest in becoming involved in the magazine, I leaped at the opportunity. We have been friends and colleagues ever since and the magazine has become better because of Michael’s influence and work. He took on the daunting task of moving it to the current larger format. That had been only a “pipe dream” since 2007, but until Michael came along, there was never enough time to make it happen. He continues to look at the P4 with a critical eye and to make improvements small and large. His lovely wife Janice regularly helps with the editing of our work, as does my wife Catherine.
Michael was a natural and unanimous choice for the Board when an unanticipated vacancy occurred. He has since been re-elected several times.
Not content to limit himself to the reporting side, Michael has been a frequent volunteer at our DE events and at the Club Race. Perhaps because of our east coast/ sports car upbringing, we both enjoy that opportunity to get close to “serious” Porsche race cars. He has also served on the Club Race, Membership and Election Committees. Michael regularly attends Club events and has helped to run several of them, most recently the General Membership Meeting.
The Past Presidents are a tremendous asset to our Club. Their experience, advice and counsel and their ongoing involvement in many ways makes SEM/ PCA better, stronger and better run. They have done us all a great service by naming Michael Cohen 2013 Enthusiast of the Year. Congratulations my friend! You are a great asset to the Club.