Club History

The Finger Lakes Section of the MBCA was chartered in Illinois on December 17, 1972. The founding directors were Norman Schlegel Jr., Walter Levine, Craig Mitchell and William Miller. These four individuals went on to become the first officers with Norman as President. During the first decade, the club flourished with many events including Concours d’Elegance, picnics, rallies, meet & greets, wine and cheese and film parties. The local MB dealers furnished films and speakers on upcoming enhancements to new models.

As the club grew beyond the 1970’s the Finger Lakes Section became widespread throughout the western half of New York. The cities of Buffalo and Rochester were the hubs with a Section Director-East and a Section Director-West. Members were from Buffalo south to Dunkirk and Fredonia and north to the Canadian border with some members from Ontario included. Rochester area membership encircled Syracuse in the eastern part of the Finger Lakes and south to the Pennsylvania state line.

The following events in the 1980’s were popular: The Annual Treffen (fun gymkhana), annual picnic and concours d’elegance, and the Herbst and Fruehling rally (the challenging routes gave drivers starting from either Buffalo or Rochester to cross in opposite directions along the course before meeting southwest of Batavia). Enthusiastic members represented the Finger Lakes Section at National events including the first Starfest in 1988, Gemutlichkeit for many years and a wide variety of other Section’s regional events. The first Northeast Regional Event was May 19-21, 1989 in Cooperstown, NY

As the Buffalo area membership grew into the Buffalo Section and gained dominance in the western counties, Finger Lakes appealed to MB owners residing in the central NY counties and has gained many new members in the Syracuse and Southern Tier areas. Although the greatest percentage of members reside in the greater Rochester area, the Section is surely growing East and South.

In 2008 the Section hosted the Spring MBCA National Meeting at the Inn on the Lake in Canandaigua. Planned by then President Peter Van Denberg, it was a week of meetings, dinners, and tours for attending family members and was a great success. The club was honored to be host and to be able to meet and speak with our National Officers and Representatives.

A website (FLMBCA.org) was launched in September, 2011 and updated and enlarged in August 2012 as fingerlakesmbca.org. Well received by the membership, many of whom submitted their special MB stories and photos for inclusion, the site continues to grow with Section news, advertising, technical information and event photos. A well received facebook page was also launched (facebook.com/fingerlakesmbca). The newsletter, TRI STAR, was reestablished in January 2012 after an absence of several years. Mailed to all members, advertisers and the National staff it features member written recaps of the past quarter’s events, National news, a buy-sell column, photos, the current list of upcoming events and, most importantly, ads from our sponsors.

Surrounding Sections are always welcome to join in any of the activities. An internet survey conducted in early 2011 indicated that FLMBCA members enjoy touring and driving events, car shows, and technical opportunities. In addition, SCCA
has invited us to join them in their SOLO autocross events and their rallies and we are always welcomed at the Buffalo Section events as we invite any of the other surrounding Sections to enjoy our activities.

Due to the huge area our Section covers monthly meetings are held on a “as needed” basis in Rochester and Syracuse to appeal to members East and West. Events and activities are planned in both locations and we encourage our outlying members to join us at every opportunity. The annual meeting, held in November, is the Section’s officer and board election. The coming year’s calendar is started with the interests of the group and everyone is encouraged to plan and run an event appealing to the rest of the members.