Wally at the Wheel: Symposium on Feb 24

by Jim Amidon

January 27, 2012

Alumni, faculty, and staff of Wabash College will take an in-depth look at the evolution of the automobile in Wally at the Wheel: A Liberal Arts Symposium on the Automobile on Friday, February 24. This marks the third straight year that alumni are partnering with faculty and staff to present a day of colloquies followed by a festive dinner.

“Wally at the Wheel, this year's Alumni Faculty Symposium, could be our best yet,” said Tom Runge ’71, Interim Dean for College Advancement. “The presentations and the car exhibitions are perfect examples of the liberal arts — all over the map. Want to talk Detroit meltdown?  GM’s strong rise? Classic Cars? Electric cars? Muscle cars? Demolition derby? We'll have it all… and more!”

The topic of this year’s symposium, the automobile, will be covered from every turn on the track. Faculty will present talks on the physics of car crashes to the economic impact of the federal government’s bailout of the auto industry. Alumni are taking part, too, with talks on the environmental impact of cars and the convenience they provide and what it’s like to compete in demolition derbies.

All of the colloquium talks will take place in Hays Hall beginning at 1:00 p.m. Friday. All are free and open to the public.

One of the highlights of this year’s symposium is the Wally at the Wheel Car Show in Knowling Fieldhouse. Jim Davlin ’85, who recently took the wheel as treasurer of General Motors, will give the after dinner keynote speech. He’s also bringing a couple of GM’s finest cars — a 1955 Bel Air Convertible and a 2012 Camaro ZL1 with a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 that cranks out 580 horsepower. Other cars in the show range from a 1947 Willy’s jeep to a 1965 Corvair Monza to a 1971 Dodge Challenger. Ray Knight ’69 will display a 1951 Porsche Sauter Roadster — the only one of its kind ever built — and he will tell the remarkable story of the car and its restoration.

“One can easily argue the vehicle industry ‘drives’ society’s future — not only in economic terms, but in how we interact with each other, our environment, materials, technology, etc.,” said Greg Estell ’85, one of the organizers of this year’s event. “The effects are apparent far beyond what and how people drive — they go to the very structure of organizations, best management and manufacturing practices, how we organize our society to be productive and generate wealth (hence a livable world) at every strata. Challenges abound on those fronts, and the liberal arts helps prepare one to grasp and address them.”

RSVPs are required for the reception, car show, and dinner. Cost for the dinner is $25 per person. For more information or to sign up, contact Heather Bazzani in the Alumni Office (bazzanih@wabash.edu or 765-361-6360).

“Wally at the Wheel will be another fun and educational day for the Wabash family,” said alumni organizer Jon Pactor ’71. “The first topic was baseball, then it was food, and now it is the car.  Regardless of the topic, the goal of each symposium is for alumni, faculty and staff to strengthen the ties among us in a fun and educational way within the context of the liberal arts.  I encourage everyone to attend, learn, and enjoy.”

A schedule of the presentations follows, as well as a tentative list of the cars that will be exhibited in the Wally at the Wheel Car Show.

1:00 p.m. — Welcoming Remarks

1:05 p.m. — Ray Knight ’69: Magnificent Obsession: Restoring Porsche’s Sauter Roadster

2:00 p.m. — Michael Bricker ’04: Strip Malls, Escalades, and the Consequences of Convenience

2:00 p.m. — Ryan Daming ’02: Booger Eater to Wrecking Ball: How I Became a Demolition Derby Winner

2:45 p.m. — Dr. Richard Bowen: Tune Up, Tune In: Pop Music on the Road

2:45 p.m. — Dr. Martin Madsen: A Crash Course in the Physics of Collisions

3:30 p.m. — Dr. Preston Bost: Traffic Safety: Designing Roads for the Human Mind

3:30 p.m. — Dr. Jennifer Abbott: Auto Ads and the Tools of Persuasion

4:15 p.m. — Dr. Tracey Salisbury: Sittin’ Sidewayz: The History and Influence of the Automobile in Rap Music and Hip Hop Culture

4:15 p.m. — Shawn Miller ’81: Speed City –Indiana’s Pivotal Role in Automotive Development

5:00 p.m. — Dr. Joyce Burnette: The Ins and Outs of the Auto Bailout

5:00 p.m. — Chris Bryan ’95: I Think I Understand: My Family History with Jeep

6:00 p.m. —  Wally at the Wheel Car Show, Reception, and Dinner (RSVP Required, $25 per person)

8:00 p.m. — Jim Davlin ’85: Visionaries Wanted: Reshaping the Auto Industry for a Sustainable Future


Tentative Lineup: Wally at the Wheel Car Show

Car — Owner/Provider

1947 Willy’s CJ2A Jeep — Chris Bryant ’95

1967 Dodge Wagon — Ryan Daming ’02

2012 Camaro ZL1 — General Motors/Jim Davlin ’85

1955 Bel Air Convertible — General Motors/Jim Davlin ’85

2012 Chevy Volt — General Motors/Jim Davlin ’85

1971 Dodge Challenger — Brad Johnson ’71

1951 Porsche “Sauter Roadster" — Ray Knight ’69

1941 Cadillac Series 62 Coupe — Shawn Miller ’81

1959 Lancia Flaminia GT — Shawn Miller ’81

1929 Ford Model A — John Horner ’59

1959 Ford Edsel — John Horner ’59

1964 Studebaker — John Horner ’59

1965 Chevrolet Corvair — John Horner ’59

1969 Volkswagen Beetle — John Horner ’59

1980 Volkswagen Rabbit Cabriolet — Eric Rowland ’86

1946 Hudson Super 6 — Jim Ayers ’63


Wally at the Wheel Colloquium Abstracts:

Ray Knight ’69 — Restoring Porsche’s “Sauter Roadster”

Ray Knight used the breadth of his liberal arts education when he started the restoration of a one-of-a-kind car, the 1951 Porsche Sauter Roadster. Not only did he face a nearly impossible task on the restoration front, there was almost no history recorded of the racecar built at about the same time as Porsche’s 1951 series of America Roadsters. With rear-hinged “suicide doors” and a nifty 1500-cc engine that cranked out 52 horsepower, the Sauter could do 185 kph. Over time, Knight discovered the car’s unique history (published in Porsche Panorama in February, 1987), and he did the impossible: he rebuilt the car from scratch — devoting some 3,800 hours to the project. The car raced in Europe for a year in 1952, another two years in America (after undergoing some design changes), and was retired in 1954. When Knight found the car, it had a blown engine, been in a barn fire, and sat outside in the weather from 1958 until Knight rescued it in 1982. Enjoy Ray’s account of rebuilding one of the most mysterious cars ever built.

Michael Bricker ’04, Visiting Assistant Professor of Art — Strip Malls, Escalades, and the Consequences of Convenience

Michael Bricker is a designer, filmmaker, and social entrepreneur, working in both Indianapolis and Austin. Most recently, he has worked as the production designer for feature films Computer Chess and Natural Selection (winner of SXSW Grant Jury Prize). In addition to his film work, he serves as the Chief Innovator for People for Urban Progress, an Indianapolis-based innovation center and do-tank. PUP is known for the salvage and repurposing of both the RCA/Hoosier Dome roof fabric and the arena seats from Bush Stadium. Michael earned his Masters in Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin. He currently also serves as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Art at Wabash College.

Ryan Daming ’02 — Booger Eater to Wrecking Ball: How I Became a Demolition Derby Winner

 Ryan Daming was a political science and music double major and is a class agent. He graduated from Indiana University School of Law Indianapolis in 2006. He is the Chief Operating Officer of Daming Excavating, a company that works on new homes in the Indianapolis metro area.  He has restored two classic cars and has competed in approximately 30 demolition derbies, including events in the RCA Dome and Lucas Oil Stadium. His dedicated cheering section includes his wife, Jamie, and three daughters, Grace, Madeline, and Lily.

Dr. Richard Bowen, Assistant Professor of Music and Director of the Glee Club — Tune up, Tune In: Pop Music on the Road

The 1950s, '60s, and '70s bore witness to extraordinary changes in American society. Among the prime causes of these changes were our twin love affairs with American muscle cars and their music machines. In this presentation, we take a closer look at the changing landscape of the "popular portable music" industry: the songs, the sentiments, and the technology. Richard Bowen grew up in a small town in south-central Pennsylvania. At the tender age of 19, he was smitten by his first four-wheeled love, a sky-blue 1962 Sunbeam Alpine. She was, however, a high-maintenance consort, who required regular confirmations of his devotion. The final straw was the new engine, which not only cooled the relationship but "broke the bank." Fortunately, Richard recovered from this misfortune and cultivated subsequent automotive relationships, including: a 1950 Chevy (which drank a quart of oil every 20 miles); a 1969 Fiat 850; a 1961 Borgward; and a 1940 Cadillac 60S. Richard teaches in the Wabash Music Department and directs the Glee Club.

Martin Madsen, Assistant Professor of Physics — A Crash Course in the Physics of Collisions

We have been crashing cars since their invention over 100 years ago. Incredibly, it took us almost 80 years to finally apply physics principles to automotive safety. I will introduce the key ideas from physics that have dramatically reduced the number of fatalities in car crashes both on the road and the racetrack. Finally, I will talk about your best strategies to avoid a crash and reduce the likelihood of severe injury in the event of a crash.

Preston Bost, Associate Professor of Psychology — Traffic Safety: Designing Roads for the Human Mind

According to the World Health Organization, road traffic injuries were the ninth leading cause of death worldwide in 2004, and are projected to rise to the fifth leading cause of death by the year 2030. How can we make driving less dangerous? Traditional methods involve restraining risky behavior via traffic signals, warnings, and enforcement. The psychological discipline of human factors, however, emphasizes not simply external rules but control from within: design elements, grounded in a scientific understanding of the mind, that naturally evoke proper action. Through a look at the work of Dutch traffic engineer Hans Monderman, I will examine the potential for increasing traffic safety by designing roads that appeal to the processes of human cognition and social interaction.

Dr. Jennifer Abbott — Auto Ads and the Tools of Persuasion

Spend a few minutes watching television or flipping through a magazine, and you're likely to see an auto advertisement. In a 30-second commercial or a single image, advertisers communicate volumes about their product through selectively chosen words and images. In this interactive presentation, we will identify several of the persuasive tools they frequently use. 

Dr. Tracey Salisbury, Assistant Professor of History — Sittin’ Sidewayz: The History and Influence of the Automobile in Rap Music & Hip Hop Culture

From the founding days of the influential musical genre, rap music, the importance and celebration of the automobile has become a multi-faceted symbol within the hip-hop culture and the urban community. The passion for the automobile in rap music and hip-hop culture spawned not only a new descriptive language about cars, but also a new industry driven by the interests and desires of rap artists and their fans. This presentation will examine the historical rise of the automobile in rap music and hip-hop culture and how this relationship has not only influenced and impacted the auto industry, but American society and culture at large.

Shawn Miller ’81 — Speed City: Indiana’s Pivotal Role in Automotive Development

Shawn Miller is an avid car collector who will discuss Indiana's history in the development of the automobile. In the early days of the automobile, Indiana was a literal epi-center of the industry. Miller will walk us through that history and talk about his own passion for cars.

Dr. Joyce Burnette, Associate Professor of Economics — The Ins and Outs of the Auto Bailout

In 2008-09 the US economy experienced a severe recession. Sales of automobiles fell, and US automakers faced bankruptcy. Should the government have bailed out GM and Chrysler, or should it have let them fail? This presentation will present both the case for a bailout and the case against bailout, and will evaluate the path chosen by the government.

Chris Bryan ’95 — I Think I Understand

Chris Bryan was a religion major at Wabash and a founding member of the Greater Cincinnati Association of Wabash Men. Since May of 1995 he has worked for W.T. Bryan and Associates, Inc., a manufacturers representative firm in Cincinnati, OH, and he is Vice President of Operations. “Chris says, “There are only a few years of my life that I cannot remember having a Jeep in our family — and the stories that go with them!”


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