GNX Presentation at BPG

gbsean

Active Member
This past August the BPG held a presentation at our National Event at National Trail Raceway in Hebron OH to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the 1987 GNX and Grand National and other models from 1987. This event was held in conjunction with our Big Boat Bash. For the past 4 years the BPG has tried to come up with an event theme to go along with our Racing program and this seemed a perfect fit. This would be the first time that I was to organize an event like this and really did not know where to start.

I knew from owning a Grand National that a website existed GNXREGISTRY.ORG so I contacted Doug Nigro who runs that site and asked if he would be interested in putting on a presentation. He said sure and that he would also promote it on his web site.

I then knew from visiting various Buick Turbo websites that Turbobuick.com had a GNX forum and I reached out to Rick Hunt who after reading all his threads worked at ASC and owns the X-RAY which is a white GNX that he built. It is what a GNX would look like if you took an X-Ray. I reached out to him via private message to see if he would be interested in attending and he said sure and that he would bring along some never to be seen parts.

My next step was to get someone from McLaren on board. I had no contacts so I did a search on the internet found a website and fax # as I could not get thru to anyone on the switchboard and just stated sending an introduction letter and event flier every other day for about 3 weeks. It turns out that Wiley McCoy, past president of McLaren, had contacted Lou Infante to ask if he would respond. After an e-mail from Lou Infante, he told me that Wiley I then got an e-mail from Lou Infante who told me that someone contacted him and that could he please contact me so I stopped sending the fliers. Lou explained to me that in 1986-7, He was a vice president at McLaren responsible for the business interface with ASC and was the McLaren program director on the GNX program. From the time the model was conceived at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway until the final car was delivered, he led the McLaren product development and production support efforts on the program He also owns what is plated as Car000 which is the final prototype vehicle and is the one that was used in the production plant as a 'master" vehicle for quality purposes. This car has been mostly in storage until recently and now has about 1100 miles on it. He has shown it at private shows and it has been on display at the Woodward Dream Cruise a couple of times. He then goes on to explain that the GNX Project was special to him and that he would be more than happy to attend the event.

So I know have all the players in position and sent a group e-mail to everyone explaining what I would like done. The discussions should not be too technical but about the development phase and stories behind the production. Everything was falling into place.

I had also known of this film maker Andrew Filippone Jnr who was making a documentary on the Grand National and Anthony Rose and myself reached out to him to see if he would be interested in premiering the movie at our event. He declined and said it was not ready to be shown just yet. I continued to promote the event on the Buick websites and a few months go by and Andrew contact me via Face Book and says how would I like to premier the 1st 20 mins of the movie…as if I was going to say no.. I said sure…and he says “but you cannot say anything yet” until the press release goes out. So for the next 2 weeks I had to bite my tongue I let on that something special was going to happen but that was it.

The press release went out stating that the premier would be at the BPG event in August. All the Blog sites carried it as well as the large Automotive Websites and I promoted on the Buick Boards. A few more e-mails went out and it was decided that the movie would be shown at the end of the presentation on Saturday.

The Event arrives and I have had a chance to talk to Rick on Thursday night and Then Doug showed up on Friday as well as Lou. We had 6 GNX’s show up on Saturday plus Ricks X-Ray Lou’s GNX000 and Brad Conley’s 1986 GNX prototype that was used to promote the Buick Brand in posters. Wayne Sherman then approached me and asked if he could participate and I said fine. Andrew showed up and checks out the set up and my projector and gives it the ok. Saturday morning rolls around and I feel it is too bright in the room so off to Tractor Supply to get 2 large tarps to block the sun from the screen…perfect.

The presentation was scheduled for 1pm Saturday and they stated to arrive at 12:15pm to make sure they had a good seat. 1 pm roll around and We start the show. I give a brief speech on how this presentation came and thank everyone for attending.

Doug Nigro step up and introduces himself and gives a brief history on how he became involved with Buicks and the GNX and then gives a power point presentation on some of the fact and figures about the GNX which was well received and very informative.

Lou Infante gave his presentation offering information that I had never heard and dispelling some of the myths such as where the 547 # came up from. It was interesting on how GM worked back then and that GM would give ASC/Mclaren a challenge and then they just got it done. An interesting fact is that the Grand Nationals were delivered with no badges avert any damage removing them. Lou also explained the reason why the louvers were required. The challenge of how companies like ASC/McLaren could do a program like the GNX in 16 months vs. about 3 years in the GM system were also discussed. Lou also brought along Dean Battermann who led build and production quality activities for McLaren in the GNX program Dean presented a brief discussion on the durability vehicles and production process involved with the program

Rick Hunt joined at the end of the program for a quick question and answer session, and Rick discussed how fit issues were resolved during production. Rick Hunt then ran a 8 min CBS news video of inside the ASC plant and we even got to see him as a young man. Rick presented some “master parts” such as the pan rod bar and the louver box as well as the “master parts” printout that included every GM part # that was added to the GNX.

Wayne Sherman then presented a few fact and figures in reference to the GNX and it was then time for the Movie

Filippone's movie about the Buick Grand National, entitled Black Air, is scheduled for release on the exact day of the 25th anniversary of the very last Grand National rolling off the Buick assembly line back in 1987. It is more of a car story, as told by owners and the people who built them, and not a dry, narrated documentary film. The reaction to the BPG preview screening was overwhelmingly positive - the way the introduction unfolded blew just about everyone away. The vintage footage later on gave most of the viewer’s goose bumps and some of us tough gear heads were quite moved at the life Filippone gave to these black cars, even though he himself is admittedly not a car guy (yet!). After the preview, Andrew took the microphone and discussed how the project got off the ground and a bit about his travels across the U.S. to put together the stories and footage. He acknowledged his earliest supporters, Doug Nigro and Dennis Kirban back in 2009, then his visits to Richard Clark, Rick Hunt, and the others as the film started to come together. Then the audience requested a second screening! It is clear that Black Air will be a big hit with the Buick community once it gets released - and we can't wait.
 

gnX405

Active Member
You did an excellent job Sean!
I think I speak for many when I say 'We appreciate the hard work that you put in, which made the event a success!'
 

GNXRegistry

Preserving the Provenance
Sean,

Excellent job! A great big thanks goes out to you and your team for giving us the opportunity to be a part of this important milestone event. You pulled together a great meet and we were successful because of your organizational skills and ability to promote and make this all a reality.

People are still raving about the Buick Bash and how smoothly things went for the entire weekend, including the 25th Anniversary Celebration, thanks directly to your skilled dedication to all things Buick!

Thanks again,
Doug
 
Filippone is admittedly not a car guy (yet!).

He said he's been taken for many rides in the TR's, and likes them, but he has no desire to own one.
I asked him if he ever got a chance to actually drive one.
He said no.
That's when I told him:
Well, THAT is why you don't have a desire to own one!
-- If you did, you would!

I can't believe no one even offered Andrew the chance to drive the black beast!?!? :confused:

.
 
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