By Tiffany Merlo Phelps
Bert Rasmussen first wanted to own a Corvette when he was a child and watched the television show “Route 66.”
“I never wanted anything else,” said Rasmussen, who with his wife Wylie has three daughters, one son and 11 grandchildren.
It didn’t happen right away, but eventually he purchased a C6, a C7 (2015) and now a 2021 C8. In fact, his wife picked out his first Corvette in 2007. Now Rasmussen has recently established the Ponte Vedra Beach Corvette Club, looking to bring together other Corvette enthusiasts.
Other than owning a Corvette, there are no requirements or dues to join the club, and that is a priority for Rasmussen, a Jacksonville lawyer. So far, there are eight members.
“I want it to be something fun, to go on drives and maybe meet for lunch or coffee. That’s my vision,” he said, adding that he is working to find a sponsor. “We are also interested in using this as a way to have fundraisers for different causes.”
One cause that is close to his heart is ALS because a close friend has the disease and attended the Ponte Vedra Beach Corvette Club’s First Drive in Rasmussen’s Corvette.
The club took its “First Drive” on July 24, meeting at the Sawgrass Village Shopping Center parking lot and driving to Angel’s Dining Car in Palatka. In late August, they met at the same parking lot and then drove to the “Caffeine and Octane Jacksonville” car show at The Avenues Mall. The next get together will be on Sept. 11, also a “Caffeine and Octane” car show, and all are welcome.
Rasmussen said he has enjoyed getting to know new folks from all walks of life through the club.
“These are super fun cars and super fun people. It just puts a smile on your face,” he said. “The common denominator is our love of cars.”
Rasmussen also shares his passion for cars with his 14-year-old grandson, Waylan.
“He recently turned 14, and he is my car buddy,” said Rasmussen. “We go to shows and auctions together whenever possible.”
Club member Adrien Marsoni, a former chef from France and current builder/developer, also loves meeting a variety of people with a similar passion for cars. Prior to living in Ponte Vedra Beach, Marsoni lived in Washington, D.C., for 15 years, running Marsoni Home Restoration.
“I would like the club to be more ‘performance’ oriented than ‘cruise ride.’ It would be nice to organize track and autocross (a timed competition in which drivers navigate one at a time through a defined course) days,” said Marsoni, who owns a 2008 C6 Z06.
Marsoni, who has been racing cars and motorcycles for about 10 years, said he always loved American cars. Once he tried a Corvette, he was sold.
“Usually, the car or bike has a weakness — lack of power, stability, cornering speed. Those domains require constant improvements. When I tried my instructor friend’s C6 Z06, I could not believe that there was a Corvette out of the box that came with incredible power, speed, handling and braking.”
Marsoni is an amateur track racer at the Florida International Rally & Motorsport Park in Starke, racing around five times a year. He looks forward to racing even more once he gets his local construction company, Mistral Design+Build, up and running this fall.
“It is a rush of adrenaline, freedom and respect for the car,” he said. “I love going as fast as possible and driving faster than my peers.”
Rasmussen said he is open to all members’ ideas and wants the club to be a group effort where there isn’t one person necessarily in charge. And all ideas are welcome as the club hopefully expands its goals and mission. Whether it is a leisurely ride, a fundraiser or a trip to the track, there is something for everyone, Rasmussen said.
For more information on the Ponte Vedra Beach Corvette Club call Bert Rasmussen at (904) 422-5411.
Photo courtesy Tiffany Merlo Phelps
|Adrien Marsoni and Bert Rasmussen look at the engine of Rasmussen’s 2021 C8.