Shoreline Antique Auto Connection Presents:
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"Common Gear Heroes of Antique Volkswagening"
(this page last updated 3/9, 4/19/2018, 3/20/2019)

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: The information provided electronically, on paper, or otherwise is strictly for entertainment purposes only with no guarantees of any type, expressed or implied. Participation in any activity is strictly voluntary and done at one's own risk. The Shoreline Antique Auto Connection web site and it's author expressly disclaim all responsibility for any & all damages or claims, however caused. Observe all safety precautions when engaging in any activities with antique or modern automobiles. Obtain proper coverage from qualified insurance professionals for any type of activities, auto-related or otherwise, in which you may wish to engage.

IMPORTANT UPDATES AS OF 3/20/2019: We are currently soliciting nominations for a 2019 "Hero of Antique Volkswagening." We have already made contact with the The Common Gear Discussion Group and there are some wheels starting turn there for a possible 2019 honoree. We are still going to try to keep this to ONE HONOREE this year (see the 4/19/2018 updates directly below), unless there are extraordinary circumstances. Thanks for your interest!

IMPORTANT UPDATES AS OF 4/19/2018: As of today, we we have not received any nominations for the 2018 award. Obviously this is well past our published 3/31/2018 deadline for receipt of nominations, but we are willing to consider nominations of any good candidates still for a 2018 Heroes award (although we may limit this to just one honoree for this year). Thanks for your consideration.

IMPORTANT UPDATES AS OF 1/16/2016: Since 1999, the Common Gear Heroes of Antique Volkswagening program has been spotlighting and honoring many very-worthwhile-to-recognize people in the antique VW hobby. Due to many factors, some well beyond our control, we have relocated what we feel is a very-worthwhile-to-save web page to the auspices of  the Shoreline Antique Auto Connection web site. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your indulgence and understanding. We also wish to recognize and provide a working link to The Common Gear Discussion Group, which is a seasoned group of thoughtful individuals from within the old-VW hobby who, over the years, have provided important and valuable input to the Common Gear Heroes annual process--for which we are most appreciative--and we do hope that tradition can also continue. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact The Webmaster. Thanks and Happy Volkswagening!

Quick Navigational Links for this page:
Year 2017 Program Overall Press Release  (last update 5/21/2017)
Year 2017 Program - Photo of the "Heroes" award plaques  (last update 5/21/2017)
Year 2017 Program - Copy of the actual letters of nomination for this year's "Heroes" award honorees  (last update 5/21/2017)
Original "Heroes Of Antique Volkswagening" Program Concept Statement & Current Program Status  (last update 3/20/2019)
"Hall of Fame" - List of previous "Heroes of Antique Volkswagening" honorees  (last update 5/21/2017)
A message to the forces of cynicism and negativity (last update 6/9/2013)
A very nice message from Vintage VW Club of America President Michael Epstein (last update 5/23/2017)

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May 2017

The Common Gear Antique Volkswagen Society is happy to announce this year’s “Heroes of Antique Volkswagening” honorees. We are very pleased to recognize this year two people who, in different ways, are carrying on the spirit of the old, original Volkswagen, each really making a positive difference within the old-VW hobby world.

 The “Heroes” award program was originated in 1999 to help recognize those United States-based people within the antique Volkswagen hobby world who have especially given of themselves to help other hobbyists, often with little to no personal gain or attention (we realize that people around the world do great things in our hobby, but this program recognizes people specifically in our United States old-VW hobby). The inaugural recipient in ’99 was talented Michigan-based antique VW restorer Dave Crompton. There were two recipients for Y2K: Pennsylvania’s tireless antique VW hobby advocate Jim Siegfried, and New Hampshire’s intrepid antique VW road warrior Bill Collins. The three 2001 honorees were California’s “world class” enthusiast/author/entrepreneur Rich Kimball, Connecticut’s unsung long-time workhorse event organizer Chuck Pisconski, and Missouri's super-enthusiastic event participant/organizer/”do-er” Bill Bowman. Our two honorees for 2002 were Michigan’s “positive guiding light” Bob Case, and California’s amazing Golden Gate Chapter (VVWCA) head man Rick Spohn. In 2003 we gave a much-deserved spotlight to that long-unsung, low-key, behind-the-scenes “doer,” Nebraska’s Matt Joy. 2004 saw recognition of Wisconsin-based master-restorer of drivable classic VWs Connie Holcomb, and California’s long-time vintage VW hobby enthusiast/organizer/promoter Jan Peters. In 2005 the “Heroes” spotlight shone on MA resident and dedicated vintage VW hobby leader Peter Cook, and Iowa’s “ironman” vintage VW behind-the-scenes-doer-of-all-things Howard Query. In 2006, the “First Family of Air-Cooled VW Performance,” the groundbreaking and truly legendary Berg Family, from California, were most deservedly honored. In 2007, our honorees were Arizona’s “godfather” of VW toy, memorabilia, and goodwill Jerry Jess, and VW restoration parts pioneer Tony Moore of CA’s Wolfsburg West. For 2008, the extraordinary (and extraordinarily loved) couple from California, Erich and Wendy Kircher were recognized for their contributions to the hobby and to humanity. In 2009, the AZ-based internet impresario Everett Barnes of “TheSamba” fame was honored for his significant contributions to advancing the state of the (old VW hobby) art. In 2010, “The Godfather of the Antique VW Hobby,” Terry Shuler from PA was honored with well-deserved “Hero” recognition. In 2011, the CVA’s Jeremy Clayton was recognized for his tireless decade of contributions to the Northeastern old-VW hobby. In 2012, CA-based businessman/enthusiast Scott Dempster, and the “mega-enthusiast duo” Mark Merrill and Ray Schubert, also from CA, were recognized for all their generous and significant contributions to the hobby. In 2013, two tireless behind-the-scenes workers within the hobby who “make good things happen” in truly selfless ways were honored, Brian O’Kelly from CA and Tom Janiszewski from Illinois. The state of New York is home to our two 2014 honorees, Bob LaPorte the expert "hobby angel" to so many of his fellow enthusiasts, and Chris Vallone who has truly raised the bar in the field of antique VW restoration with his "Classic VW Bugs" company. Another New Yorker was our 2015 honoree, the super-enthusiast, historian, and friend to so many, Roland Metz. In 2016, the unbelievable “salvage” & “reinvigorating” work that Kansas’ Mike Epstein singlehandedly accomplished for the VVWCA was recognized in support of his “Hero” recognition, and Rhode Island’s super-talented top-shelf auto restorer Tim Scheller had a plethora of his fans contribute beyond-glowing reviews of his work and contributions to the old VW hobby.

This year’s “Heroes” honorees are Eric Goodman of California and, with a special recognition, Connecticut’s Chuck Pisconski (a previous 2001 Heroes honoree). A “world within a world” of old VW enthusiasm is that of the VW Type 181 “Thing” enthusiasts. Eric Goodman is a one-man powerhouse of VW Thing enthusiasm who has worked to build a super-comprehensive database for the use of and to help connect the international VW Thing community, sometimes battling some frustrating issues along the way. The very high esteem in which he’s held by Thing enthusiasts is very evident, and it’s obvious that he’s as deserving of “Hero” status, as anyone who’s ever been honored in the 19 years this program has been in existence… It would be hard not to recognize this year, in a special way, all that the amazing Chuck Pisconski has done, mostly with little to no recognition or personal gain, for the old VW hobby. Although “everyone” in the old-VW hobby world knows Chuck, it is also well-known what he is not one to seek the spotlight, and instead prefers to be a quiet driving force for getting positive things done, both within the old-VW world, and within the general community, where he has raised amazing amounts of funds for worthy charities in the process. When he announced his retirement from organizing his two super-popular summertime VW shows, via an announcement on a popular online old-VW discussion forum, in January of this year, and recounted his years of accomplishments within a brief paragraph, he unleashed a tidal wave of recognition among the old-VW hobby world, and we merely wanted to help say Thank You to Chuck with a Special Recognition award.

 The official public announcement of this year’s honorees, as it has always been, is timed to coincide with Michigan Vintage Volkswagen Club’s “29th Annual Vintage Volkswagen Festival,” May 21st, 2017, at Ypsilanti, MI. The MVVC Festival has traditionally been the venue for the announcement of the annual “Heroes” honorees, ever since noted MI-based restorer Dave Crompton received the inaugural honor in a ceremonial presentation at the 1999 event. The Common Gear Antique Volkswagen Society wishes to thank all those who participated in this year’s “Heroes” award process, including this year’s esteemed nominators: Jeff Gilelland, Heather Molenda, and Ronald Domeck. We also thank Lynn Anderson for her ongoing spirit and support for this program.

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Year 2017 Program - Photo of the "Heroes" award plaques

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Year 2017 Program - copies of the actual letters of nomination for this year's "Heroes" award honorees


Jeff Gilleland (VW Thing-Type 181 Registry VP, wrote:

"…Eric Goodman has been fanning the flame pretty hard for the Thing folks... … This week he held off a lawsuit for name infringement on the use of the word Treffen… He has been working internationally to gather and organize a meaningful database of all Things still alive and working, developing the Thing community…Jeff Gilleland, Sunnyvale, CA…”


Heather Molenda ( wrote:

“…Hello, I wanted to pass on some praise for Eric Goodman. I'm a new type 181 owner, and thus have lots of questions. I found the Facebook group People who drive VW Things by chance, and I'm sure glad I did. Eric was the very first person who made contact with me on the site, and has continued to be a great resource for facts, and everyday questions. He has made a group of less than 800 when I joined, to almost 2500 members. Eric has also worked tirelessly making the Thing Registry come back to life, and bringing like-minded people together. Eric also introduced me via the site to a great resource for everything Thing I need (parts and advice) that I'm sure I wouldn't have ever found. I know these things about Eric I have stated are only a drop in the bucket compared to the ocean of things he has done. I do hope they are helpful in getting a picture of this wonderful, helping, and in my case, patient man…Sincerely, Heather Molenda…”


Ronald Domeck (Promoter of Things East and Kubel Treffen East, wrote:

 “…I have heard of an award for outstanding people in the VW world. Eric Goodman would be a very good one for this for what he has done with the Thing register. He has brought it back. I have been involved with the Things for 25 years and have seen this group go up and down but never this far up… Thank You, Ron Domeck, Promoter of Things East and Kubel Treffen East. I have also restored 21 Things and 5 for The Thing Shop…”



The source is a thread on a discussion form entitled “Litchfield and Terryville NO MORE” (actual address of the thread: 

 “…After many years of running VW shows, I have decided to pack it in and retire. There will not be a Litchfield Bug In nor a Terryville Bug A Fair any more. Over the years I have run 28 Litchfield shows and 25 Terryville shows and feel pretty good about raising close to a half million dollars for local charities. These charities included the Torrington Soup Kitchen, the MDA, Susan B Anthony Project, Camp Mohawk, American Heart Association, NCAP, the Terryville Lions Club and the Bronc Callahan Community Fund. Much of this was possible from some good friends such as Tom Matulis, Dan Climan and Chris Knox. Thank you guys for the help. Also thank you to Gene Langan of Langan Auto Group for the support and sponsorship. For the first time in 28 years, I will have a choice on what to do for Fathers Day. Probably attend the closest VW show. Thank all of you for supporting our shows over the years… Chuck Pisconski...”


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Original "Heroes Of Antique Volkswagening" Program Concept Statement & Current Program Status

We like to think we have a unique program wherein we like to receive nominations of United States-based people from within the Antique Volkswagen hobby world who may have especially given of themselves to help other hobbyists, to possibly consider for one of our "Heroes" awards. We know they're out there--the person who goes out of their way to help with someone else's project, who selflessly devotes their time and energy at events, who performs some other valuable service within the Antique Volkswagen hobby, with little to no personal gain or attention.

Now's the time to think, and perhaps also write about that person, and then, during the nomination solicitation period (see below in CURRENT PROGRAM STATUS section), send the information to The Common Gear Team (e-mail: It doesn't have to be a long write-up, but should, in addition to briefly describing their accomplishment(s), include a few specifics about where the person's from, club affiliation (if applicable), and (important) how to contact them should the need arise (and also to be able to ask their permission to publish their name when it's time to announce the honoree(s)/present them their award, if applicable). Later in the year we announce one or more "Heroes of Antique Volkswagening" award honorees, and announce the awards "far & wide," via press releases to the major print & electronic VW hobby publications (including, of course, HERE).

CURRENT PROGRAM STATUS (important update 3/20/2019)

2018 NOMINATIONS ARE NOW BEING ACCEPTED!... March 31, 2019 will be the last day for your getting in your 2019 Heroes nominations--and thank you so much to everyone who participated for the 2017 round!... Now's the time for you to put on your thinking cap and come up with a good letter of nomination for whoever you think might be a good nominee for the 2019 award. Please see the "Press Release" section from this past year's program, to see what kind of candiate we are looking for with this award--the phrase "selfless contribution to the hobby" is especially important to our way of thinking (there are plenty of media-savvy "stars" out there already--that's not who we're looking for). Please check the "Letters of Nomination" section of this page, to see how others have been "written up" to put them into consideration for this past year's award. Please submit your letter of nomination to NO EARLIER THAN JANUARY 1, 2019, AND NO LATER THAN MARCH 31, 2019. Thank you!

Please also try to include information about how to get in touch with your nominee, should we wish to get in touch with him or her--thank you.

Please keep in mind that we wish to keep nominees to those based within the United States. We reserve the right to accept, or not accept any nomination, for any reason, and the decision of the Common Gear Antique Volkswagen Society is final.

To Repeat: The deadline for our receipt of 2019 "Heroes" nominations = March 31, 2019

As always, our target event for the annual Official Announcement of the "Heroes of Antique Volkswagening Award" is the Annual Michigan Vintage Volkswagen Club Vintage Festival. Please do check out everything else that our good friends at the Michigan Vintage VW Club are up to at their online home:

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"Hall of Fame" - List of previous "Heroes of Antique Volkswagening" honorees

1999 - Dave Crompton
2000 - Jim Siegfried & Bill Collins
2001 - Rich Kimball, Chuck Pisconski, & Bill Bowman
2002 - Bob Case & Rick Spohn
2003 - Matt Joy
2004 - Connie Holcomb & Jan Peters
2005 - Peter Cook & Howard Query
2006 - The Berg Family
2007 - Jerry Jess & Tony Moore
2008 - Erich & Wendy Kircher
2009 - Everett Barnes
2010 - Terry Shuler
2011 - Jeremy Clayton
2012 - Scott Dempster, Mark Merrill, & Ray Schubert
2013 - Brian O'Kelly & Tom Janiszewski
2014 - Bob LaPorte & Chris Vallone
2015 - Roland Metz
2016 - Michael Epstein and Tim Scheller

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A message to the forces of cynicism and negativity (this was originally posted 6/9/2013, but the message remains as true and as strong as ever...)

"Just letting you know. Time to say something..."

I know there are people who view this program as something with some sort of "other" political purpose beyond what is visible on the surface. I am here to tell you that it is nothing more than what you see--an attempt to give some recognition to the people who work in a positive direction to make our old VW hobby more enjoyable.

I am 53 years old now, and it's way past the point where I worry about stuff like "anonymous messages" and what-not. I do the best I can, and just try to keep pushing forward, every day.

I have some advice for you, whoever you are: Why not try to focus on the positive in the world? Negative energy will just eat you up in the long run--I guarantee it.

I have struggles in my life, just as I'm sure that you have struggles in your life. My struggles are very real to me, just as I'm sure yours are to you. But try not to let them cast a shadow on stuff that's supposed to be all about fun and fellowship, like the old VW hobby.

My two cents to you, brother, for whatever it's worth.


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A very nice message from Vintage VW Club of America President Michael Epstein (this was originally posted 5/23/2017; those who know me know I'm not about blowing my own horn, but Mike was very gracious to write it and asked me to reprint it; thank you very much Mike)

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