"Heroes of Antique Volkswagening"
 (this page last updated 5/17/2015)

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Year 2015 Program Overall Press Release  (last update 5/17/2015)
Year 2015 Program - Photo of the "Heroes" award plaque  (last update 5/17/2015)
Year 2015 Program - Copy of the actual letters of nomination for this year's "Heroes" award honoree  (last update 5/17/2015)
Original "Heroes Of Antique Volkswagening" Program Concept Statement & Current Program Status  (last update 4/8/2015)
"Hall of Fame" - List of previous "Heroes of Antique Volkswagening" honorees  (last update 5/17/2015)
A message to the forces of cynicism and negativity (last update 6/9/2013)

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May 2015

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.

This year’s “Heroes” honoree is Roland Metz of New York. Roland was raised in a VW family, and his reverence for the marque, its history & culture, and everything about it continues to shine through with his amazing hobby spirit, knowledge, and willingness to share. Roland has never sought the limelight, but his behind-the-scenes enthusiasm, and strong spirit of participation over the many years he's been active in the hobby has gained him friends and fans in the old VW hobby across the country, and around the world. There are few, if any, questions about old VWs and VW history that Roland doesn't know the answer to, but what truly sets him apart is his graciousness and willingness to share. It would be hard to find a candidate more deserving of "Heroes" recognition than Roland Metz.

The official public announcement of this year’s honorees, as it has always been, is timed to coincide with Michigan Vintage Volkswagen Club’s “28th Annual Vintage Volkswagen Festival,” May 17th, 2015, 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: Vince Vespe, Bill Silvestri, and Fred Stedtler. We also thank Lynn Anderson for her ongoing spirit and support for this program.

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Year 2015 Program - Photo of the "Heroes" award plaque

HEROPlaqueFor2015-RolandMetz.jpg (285787 bytes)

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Year 2015 Program - copies of the actual letters of nomination for this year's "Heroes" award honorees


Vince Vespe wrote:

The most likely candidate, the go-to guy for information about VW's and the one we all rely on for show info. and trends in the hobby, is: ROLAND METZ.

He deserves recognition and prominence amongst those who are foremost in contributing the this splendid hobby.

Roland is a fine individual who is filled with information which has helped countless enthusiasts.

He is ever vigilant of VW trends and attends our club meetings of the Lower Hudson Valley VW Association on a regular basis, wherein we all look to him for answers to our relevant questions. 



 Bill Silvestri wrote:

Roland Metz is a true Hero of Antique Volkswagening in my mind.   I have known Roland for a good 25 years and besides being a good friend, he has been a major source of my enthusiasm, a true mentor, and a living-breathing encyclopedia of VW facts, technical data and in-depth history. 

We’ve traveled long distances together in our antique VWs and it is comforting to have him on the road, usually leading the way with his pedal to the metal!  

He is generous, always a gentleman and very thoughtful in all that he does. I wholeheartedly support his being added to the distinguished list of VW heroes and I am honored to know him!   



Fred Stedler wrote:

I have been involved in the antique Volkswagen hobby since 1998. In that time I have been impressed with knowledge and sincere, caring attitude that Roland imparts to all VW hobbyists. His passionate interest in these cars is positively infectious.

His ability to share his passion and knowledge is boundless.

His skills as a photographer and chronicler of VW events is very impressive and most of all he is a very nice person, willing to discuss VWs with both experts and novices with equal enthusiasm.

His long association with the VW hobby in all it's aspects uniquely qualifies him for this award. Good luck,Roland!  

Fred Stedtler


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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 4/8/2015)

2015 NOMINATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED!... March 31, 2015 was the last day for your getting in your 2015 Heroes nominations--and thank you so much to everyone who participated for this round!... Now's also 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 2016 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, 2016, AND NO LATER THAN MARCH 31, 2016. Thank you!

Please 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 2016 "Heroes" nominations = March 31, 2016

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

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A message to the forces of cynicism and negativity

"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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