The fine mist that swirls through the narrow streets in the villages of northern Italy just before dawn is known as strada fantasma, literally translated "street ghosts." The Kansas City chapter selected Strada Fantasma as its proud name on our charter in l976. Since that time our goal has been to carry the 'spirit' of Alfa through the streets of Kansas City.
Strada Fantasma is a medium-sized chapter with 40+ members, and some spouses who may not be official members but are equally involved in club activities.
Three bordering chapters - St. Louis, Tulsa, and Omaha - were a part of Strada Fantasma before forming their own clubs. Throughout the Midwest expansion of A.R.O.C., Kansas City's membership has remained steady. Since 1978, Strada Fantasma has hosted an annual fall weekend of Alfa activities in the Missouri and Arkansas Ozark mountains. Participants come from Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska, Texas, Mississippi, Ohio and Iowa to enjoy the gimmick rally, autocross, concours, banquet and awards brunch.
Jim Mavec, a salesman for International Auto Sport, was the person who got Kansas City Alfa owners together for the first meeting. He just thought we'd enjoy knowing each other. We met at a restaurant in the River Quay area, had a great time, and set up another meeting. Within a few months we formed a loose organization, and planned our first drive -- on the back roads to Leavenworth. Soon Monte Shauffler joined our group. Monte knew a lot of people in AROC and he suggested that we get the paperwork done to affiliate as a chapter. We were happy to have found someone who knew the procedure.
So one fine afternoon in July of 1976 we all drove to Lexington, Missouri and as we sat there in the civil war battlefield park we made our own history by signing our application for the charter. It was several months before we received the actual charter. We were quite a happy bunch. I don't remember how many or who signed the paperwork. There were probably 12 to 15 or so. I know we did, Earl and Dixie Payne did, and Monte Shauffler. Monte was the one who came up with the name Strada Fantasma. He was also our first president.
Other names that come to mind but may not necessarily have been charter members are Bill and Margaret Coupland, Jim and Sandy Mallon, Wayne Beveridge, Bob Szymula, and Ed and Barbara Kinney. The Fitzgerald's came along pretty early, and of course John Justus, Russ Neely, and Diana Justus joined right after we met them at the Aspen convention. I remember that Dixie Payne went to the dealer's and made a list of folks to contact. We added several members from the St. Louis area -- Russ and Charlene Stanton, and Mike and Susan Houser. Russ was living in Iowa at the time and he found us some more members in Iowa and the Omaha area. Then he moved to Oklahoma and recruited more there. David and Eileen Simmons came along about this time.
Within a couple of years we planned our first overnight trip to the Ozarks, and from then on it was an annual event. In the early years we began our gimmick rally in Kansas City, and rallied all the way to Branson, then later to Eureka Springs. Among the rallies were "Murder on the Alfa Express", "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" and "Trivial Pursuit". Then came the gas shortage and we switched the theme to economy runs. There was the "Tanka Fullio" and the "Econoblast".
When the St. Louis and Tulsa chapters were formed, their participation in the Eureka Springs event grew, and we decided to schedule the rally after we all arrived in Eureka Springs so everyone could participate. The Oklahoma group was big on autocross, so that became their major contribution. Then St. Louis came up with their April "Spring Fling", giving us another overnight event.
Those are just the major things; there are many others --- the trips to the races at Hallet and Wentzville and Topeka; the trip to Omaha (the Corn Cob Caper) and another one to Rulo, Nebraska (the Catfish Caper), the 'tulip' rallies down at Harrisonville, and of course, many, many conventions.
Strada Fantasma History by Janita Anderson,
one of our founding members