Interview: Two countries, one journey, one thought.
Interview with Prof. Rasto Ovin, President of Porsche klub Slovenija and General Director of the Porsche Parade Europe 2016
Prof. Rasto Ovin, first of all, congratulations on a successful parade! No doubt you are happy and satisfied?
Prof. Rasto Ovin: Yes, definitely. Much of it turned out better than we had hoped. The weather forecasts were not particularly good. We were really lucky. We were also fortunate with our participants, who had to show a bit of tolerance at times. What you need: good weather, cheerful participants and a willingness to make allowances. And of course our common Porsche spirit.
You do have a very good team.
Prof. Rasto Ovin: Nenad Đurovic, President of the Porsche Club Croatia, who was acting as a co-director of the Parade and I are particularly proud of our team. Porsche klub Slovenija has 95 Club members, 30 of whom were directly involved in organising the Parade. Apart from our vice President Andrej Malgaj, acting as operation manager, his daughter Katarina, secretary general of the Parade and Gregor Vidmar, director of logistic, also other members took on important roles and duties. It’s one thing to have an idea and to plan everything; it’s another to keep everything running and put it into practice – that is the real challenge. Many of our members have leadership positions or have their own companies, and are used to taking on responsibility and putting their knowledge into practice. That’s why all of this was possible. But their incredible enthusiasm about the project, for the Parade – that was really crucial.
Four hundred people took part – the Parade was very popular. Many participants wanted to get to know Slovenia and Croatia better. That must have pleased you, no doubt!
Prof. Rasto Ovin: We were very happy to see so many people from the Porsche scene. In addition to Dr. Wolfgang Porsche, Prof. Claudia Hübner, Hans-Peter Porsche and the Community Management, many Presidents of the European Clubs were there. There is a very high concentration of Club personalities. This support to our Parade particularly pleased us in the Slovenian and Croatian Club.
How did you come up with the idea of holding a parade in two countries and to organize it with two Clubs?
Prof. Rasto Ovin: The idea originally came from Porsche Club Croatia’s President Nenad Đurovic, who is an experienced motorsport enthusiast. He had urged us to hold a big event for a while. On an endurance trip organized by him, we started discussing how to plan a big trip within a European framework. And the main European event is the Parade Europe. Porsche klub Slovenija is well structured and organized Club and we found it feasible to take over such an event. The idea soon received enough support by the members and after this encouragement we said: Let‘s get started.
After the idea was born in 2012, we first organized a trial parade in 2013. No-one had done this before. We were able to gather experience, and Karl Steiner from Porsche Club Graz, Austria, supported us from the start, providing us with incredible help based on his experience with the Vienna Parade. Erwin Pfeiffer, the event manager from the German umbrella association, also always was at hand. The trial parade Alpe-Adria-Tour gave us the experience we needed for the Porsche Parade Europe. This also helped us to see in which constellation we work together best. But you need enthusiasm too. We actually held two parades. But of course we benefited from our experience.
And at this point, we would like to express our heartfelt thanks to the Porsche Community Management with Sandra Siegloch and Claudia Schäffner. They were at our side right from the beginning. And we shouldn’t forget our sponsors. Among others we are especially proud that two top Slovenian actors supported the Parade: the Slovenia Tourist Board and the petrol company Petrol helped us here. In Croatia it was the biggest retail store company Agrokor. This is very important for us, and our Porsche Clubs and makes us proud.
Did you try something new in the Parade?
Prof. Rasto Ovin: Yes, we brought in our ideas and wishes, and our Croatian friends proposed their own. We merged the ideas of two countries into one parade. But we also wanted to bring in other innovations: the extensive driving, changing locations. All of this is new. Of course, this a challenge for the participants, who have to check in and out twice. All of us were aware of this. On the morning of the departure in Bled we were happy to see that Porsche Club members are huge motorsport enthusiasts. The line-up was at 8am. At 9:45am, the journey to Rovinj began. Everybody was ready with shiny clean cars and in their assigned spaces. I cannot begin to fathom how they pulled this off. Most impressive. We had the police block the streets of Bled for 30 minutes. We thought this would be how much time everyone would need to leave the promenade. After 9 minutes and 30 seconds, we had all left Bled. We literally flew out of the town! Unbelievable! My team and I intended to incorporate challenges into the parade. Why do we drive Porsche? Because we love a challenge. But the parade in Bled actually surprised us.
There were a lot of new things to discover and experience...
Prof. Rasto Ovin: We did a trekking tour for the first time. This was especially well received. The tour went past the most beautiful photo subjects, visitors could ride with a gondola and climb up to the castle. A sporty undertaking, which required people to almost climb. This was especially popular among the women. And also a new product for the parades.
Another important feature in the programme was the taxi drive on the nearby airfield: young people from Bled were invited to take part. You should have seen their eyes shine! This was something I am really proud of. We must show young people what is doable and offer them prospects. This also has to do with social acceptance: experiencing Porsche in a very familiar way. We were also young once and used to dream about Porsche. We come here with our cars here and everything centres around us for a few days. And then young people can see for themselves: I can go to the Parade and take part, I sat in a Porsche, I was a part of this big event. This has been a traditional mission of the Porsche klubat was our mission.
Another new feature was that we split into groups to take part in the road tour. This was another innovation. We offered the regular trip from Postojna to Rovinj as well as an endurance run along the original country roads. Some participants, such as our Austrian friends, took the endurance road book and tackled the endurance drive on their own initiative. We wanted to offer participants a parade with options. This was very important to us, even if some risk of time sequencing was involved. On the whole, everything went well, especially when you consider how many participants had registered.
What gave the Parade its character was the joie de vivre, the relaxed atmosphere. Even in teams.
Prof. Rasto Ovin: Which is how it should be. Of course Nenad Đurovic, Andrej Malgaj and I – were a little jittery behind the scenes. We could not manage to implement everything on site and during the Parade as we had planned. That’s simply par for the course. However, it is important that the whole team worked like clockwork. And with a smile. Our members enjoyed the international community no end. Which is perhaps where this feeling of being relaxed came from. It is the joy of the Porsche Club community.
Did the Parade extend the framework of the European parades?
Prof. Rasto Ovin: The binding element was the core of the Parade. Two countries, one journey, one thought. And we want to underline something else together with our friends from the Croatian Club – the European nature of the Europe Parades. The enthusiasm for Porsche is always the same, whether in Lithuania, Spain, Slovenia or in southern Italy. The political boundaries fall away. Slovenia alone is a small country, but when two countries come together – especially two with such great geographical differences – they tell a European story. And we hope that we have told a new story to Club members. We hope that we have made a start.
Prof. Rasto Ovin, thank you for speaking with us and once again a very big compliment for an incredibly great Porsche Parade Europe 2016!
Prof. Rasto Ovin: Thanks, we did it and we are really happy about that. But we are already looking forward to the Dutch edition of the Porsche Parade Europe in Amsterdam in 2018. Until then: „Drive safely, my friends, and keep the Porsche spirit!“