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Porsches and ponies Classic tailgating in Rothsville
LAURIE KNOWLES CALLANAN Record Express Correspondent
, Staff Writer
Ten shimmering beauties glinted in the sun, ranging from a red 1961 Porsche Cabriolet to a silver 2008 Cayman S.
Even the opening of the match between Lancaster Polo Club and Brandywine’s Livin’ the Vision Club got the classic car treatment, with Porsche owner John Hilbish accompanying announcer Bob LeMin in throwing out the first ball, along with his trusty red Porsche by his side.
Sunday was picture perfect for the annual Porsche Cup at the Warwick Township polo field in Rothsville. And for the first time in weeks, no rain threatened to ruin the day.
In the end, the Brandywine team took home the coveted cup, with a score of 12 to 6. But no matter, it was a fun day for everyone, from polo players to their ponies, members and guests, and even the canine crowd, which seemed to enjoy watching the action.
Hilbish arrived ready to tailgate in his signal red 1961 Porsche convertible. A traditional wicker picnic basket was filled with goodies that included wine glasses, bread and cheese. The convertible was one of two owned by the Porsche aficionado, and the spiffy vehicle chosen for the opening ceremony was a clear stand-out with its shiny red exterior and real wood steering wheel.
"A Porsche is a classic sports car that is still very drivable," said Hilbish.
Another Porsche owner, and member of the Porsche Club, Paul Rouse reported that driving a Porsche was a sure-fire remedy for any kind of stress. His red 2008 Boxster is one of his prized possessions.
"When you’re driving a Porsche, you can’t help but feel happy," said Rouse, who noted that the Central Pennsylvania club meets regularly at the Leiderkranz and members share their passion for the cars.
The field across from the polo grounds looked like a rainbow of Porsches in red, green, silver, white, black, gray, burgundy and even a violet taupe shade.
Rudy DeLaurentis brought his black 1976 Porsche 912 E, which he had purchased from a Texas car dealer. The model with a sunroof was one of last Porsches with an air-cooled engine. It is so energy-efficient, noted DeLaurentis, running at 38 miles per gallon.
Ray Laub’s white 1995 Porsche 911 Carrerra is one of several he has owned over the past 40 years.
"It’s a true handling and driving experience. When you drive a Porsche, you feel like you are one with the car," he explained.
These owners were justifiably proud of their prized possessions. The German car company that is world renowned as the maker of high performance classic sports cars was founded by Ferdinand Porsche and his son Ferdinand in 1948, with just 200 workers. The father had been an engineer with Daimler-Benz, established an independent design and engineering firm in 1931 and designed the Volkswagen Beetle. His son was was instrumental in designing the first Porsche 356 sports car.
Next came the legendary Porsche 911 with its the rear engine. In the next decades, the Porsche lineage included the 1967 911 S, the 1974 911 Turbo, the 1983 911 Cabriolet and the first all-wheel drive 911 Carrera 4 in 1990. Porsche introduced a series of front-engine models in the 1970s, starting with the four-cylinder 924, the 928, the sophisticated 944 and 944 Turbo, and the 968. Porsche focused on the development of the rear-engine 911 and mid-engine Boxster.
Eric Brubaker’s silver Cayman S came from Chicago. It is the second Porsche that Brubaker has owned and he likes knowing that he will "run out of real estate before running out of throttle."
It was Brubaker’s first time at the polo matches in Rothsville and he was enjoying the day with fellow owners and polo fans.
"I’m looking forward to learning more about polo," said Brubaker as he sat with friends and watched the action.
As announcer Bob LeMin Jr. noted, a polo match consists of three or four players on each team, playing six chukkers, or periods, that last seven and a half minutes. The horses and players take a break in between each chukker, changing horses, then take a longer half-time break after the third chukker.
The game is played on a field with goal posts on each end. The players try to hit the ball between the posts to score one point.
"This is the tricky part," said LeMin, explaining that after each goal, the teams switch and aim for the goal at the opposite end of the field.
Two mounted umpires accompany the players to make calls. The whistle is blown to indicate a foul, which stops the clock. Most of the time fouls relate to blocking or entering the path of the player with the ball.
"It’s all about safety for the horses and the players," said LeMin.
At one point a horse balked at the end of the field near the goal. The rider was able to dismount safely, while the horse bucked a little, and was then calmed before the rider remounted and play continued.
In between the chukkers, the fans go out on the field and stomp down on any divots that have been caused by the horses. In England, Queen Elizabeth II has been known to help out with divot-stomping at polo matches. At Rothsville, divot-stompers were accompanied by a few dogs and children releasing energy and throwing Frisbees and balls.
Tailgating is also part of the polo experience, with fans bringing picnics that include everything from wine and cheese to sandwiches, chips, dips and salsa. Some families placed their spreads on the tailgates of SUVs and pickup trucks, while others brought blankets, chairs and tables for their feasts. There is also a concession stand next to the Chukker Club selling hot dogs, BBQ sandwiches, snacks and beverages.
The Lancaster Polo Club was started 73 years ago by Lancaster County cattle dealers who were challenged to a polo game by a team from York New Salem. The four bought mallets and helmets, enlisted the coaching services of Charles Little and practiced at the old Lancaster Fairgrounds. They won that first match and the Lancaster Polo Club was born.
For many years, they played at a field that is now Overlook Golf Course. When one of the four, Ben Forney, built a field on his farm in Rothsville in 1956, they had a new place to play. Forney was so dedicated to the sport of polo that he played well into his 80s and was featured in Sports Illustrated as America’s oldest active polo player. When Forney died in 1988 at age 84, part of his farm was sold. The polo field remained and several years ago, Warwick Township renovated the fields to keep Forney’s legacy alive.
The next match of the season will be on July 22, followed by matches on Aug. 5, 12 and 19. On Aug. 26 the season highlight Taste of Britain MG Cup will be held. After that, matches are set for Sept. 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 and Oct. 7 for the Forney Cup/Patron Appreciation Day.
These Sunday matches start at 2:30 p.m., with gates opening at 1 p.m. Admission is $5 per person, or $15 per carload, with children under 12 free.
To find out more about Lancaster Polo, check the club’s Facebook page.
More POLO, page A16