Sir Stirling Moss
Mr Steve Rademeyer
1st President 1985 –
Mr Ettienne Geel
Mrs Ria Geel
Mr Graham van Heerden
Past President 2006 – 2010
I joined the Mercedes-Benz Club of South Africa in 1998.
I soon realised that there was a void in the Western Cape as far as club activities went. Having spoken to some like-minded people, the late Theo Espost and myself started the process of establishing a chapter of the club in Cape Town.
(Although an attempt was made some years prior to our initiative to get the club off the ground in the Western Cape, it never materialised.)It was quite a battle to raise enough interested, but eventually we managed to convince a group of about 8 members to attend a monthly gathering of tyre kicking and general banter. Soon our membership started an upward trend. I was officially elected the first chairman of the Western Cape region of the club.I made a point of investigating the way other clubs functioned nationally, and soon realised that we needed drastic changes to our constitution to allow for a healthy growth of the club on a regionalised basis. During discussions with some of the founding members of the club at the time, some pressure followed and I made myself available for election to the national committee. Several our members from the Western Cape made the long journey to Johannesburg to attend the AGM at Modderfontein. I was duly elected President during the proceedings.
What followed was a period of transformation of the club. I took it upon myself to rewrite the constitution, allowing for full recognition of the regions and committee positions for the regional chairmen. The club was to be seen as a national body, but decentralised with autonomous control for the regions. This was met to some degree by scepticism from some stalwarts in the club, but thankfully the new model proved to work well. Today the club is definitely not seen as centralised. Regardless of a member’s geographical position, chances are he can get involved with club activities on a local level.At one stage, our club membership stood at about 5000! I soon realised that about 90% of members joined solely for the very attractive insurance scheme available through the club at the time. We decided to drop this service, as our core business was everything but short-term insurance. As a result, we lost many members, but they were never going to contribute anything to the club anyway.
During my tenure, I managed to get the then Daimler-Chrysler much more involved with the club, and of course some serious arm wrestling followed for funding to boot! The Benz Lens was the first project, getting a facelift and professional layout and design. After a few editors threw in the towel, I took it upon myself to take this task on as well. I must say I enjoyed editing the Benz Lens very much, but it was quite time consuming in combination with the other club tasks.
With the help of corporate funding we managed to transform the national gathering from a low budget get together, to a standard which stood us proud. The annual general meeting was moved to coincide with the gathering, so that enabled us to combine business and pleasure for a few days every year. This model worked well, and the national gatherings have been well attended since.
I represented our club at the international presidents meeting of the Mercedes-Benz International Clubs annual conference in Germany. This interaction with the leaders of other clubs proved invaluable to me, and many ideas for our local club emanated from this.
Looking back on 20 years of involvement with the Club, I must say that I feel proud of what it has become. I thank every member who has made a contribution however small, helping to establish and maintain the club as a fantastic environment for Mercedes-Benz enthusiasts.
A special thanks to Steve Rademeyer who had the vision to establish the club during politically unstable times.
Mr Dirk van der Westhuizen
Past President 2010 -2016
It has always been of interest to me, how one’s path in life is signposted in a manner that defies logic and yet, reveals the whereabouts of the very things we search for. Having found that which we seek, it then leads us on to discover a related component, the need for which we are normally totally unaware of!
I had been searching for many years to find a Ponton. My dream was always a 1957 Black 220s – reality delivered a ’57 Maroon 190. (I settled for 1 out of 3… 1957 was the year of my birth!)
I was introduced to the Mercedes-Benz Club in August 2006, and joined a few days later. I took part in all of the remaining Western Cape Region outings on that year’s calendar and got to hear about the AGM and National Gathering that was scheduled for Bloemfontein in 2007.
There was no question – I attended – I was hooked….. What a blast!!!
2008 was soon a reality and our Eastern Cape Region beckoned us from far and wide. It was a wonderful AGM and a very well attended National Gathering. I was very proud to be elected to the position of Secretary of the National Committee and delighted to meet the many members in attendance, who form the ‘heart and muscle’ of the Club.
I was elected President in 2010 at the Northern Region AGM and my first official function took place at Gerotek where I became very aware of the depth of what is called the ‘deep end’…!
A phone call alerted me to the fact that a massive accident had occurred during the ‘Straight Line Braking’ event, being held at the Gerotek facility. It involved 3 cars, two cars of which, were seriously damaged.
Four weeks later I received the resignation of the Chairman of the Northern Region and a further lesson in Deep End Dilemma Management. This was thankfully resolved with the generous help of the ever willing Steve Rademeyer who stepped in as Acting Chairman until new elections were held at the end of the year.
After that, I found my way into the groove of committee life with all the regular ups and downs and before I knew it my tenure of six years as President had drawn to a close. It was a very eventful time in my life and I was privileged to meet incredible members and make wonderful friends – I also learnt an enormous amount about people in general and Clubs in particular.
To the Office Bearers who give up a great deal of family time and finances to attend meetings and events, to ordinary members who arrange outings and get-togethers that are just amazing… Thank you!
Dirk van der Westhuizen