It’s amazing to think that what began as informal, Wednesday night pizza group has blossomed into a full-fledged media organization that holds its monthly meetings at the Phoenix Art Museum and now even has its own (dare I say) global website.
PAPA has come a long way from pizza at Nello’s restaurant in Ahwatukee, that part of Phoenix tucked in behind the south side of South Mountain.
Actually, those Wednesday night pizza dinners started long before I arrived in Phoenix. Auto writer Nina (Padgett) Russin and automotive spy photographer Brenda Priddy both lived in Ahwatukee, and every Wednesday night they would get together, with their families, for pizza. Usually, they were joined by Bob Golfen, the auto writer for The Arizona Republic.
When I came to Phoenix in December, 1999, and bought my house in the far western “Ahwatukee foothills,” I was invited to join the Wednesday night get together.
One Wednesday, we got to talking about the automotive press associations in other major cities – the Automotive Press Association I belonged to in Detroit, the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) in Chicago, where Nina used to work, and the Motor Press Guild in Los Angeles. I wondered if there were other automotive journalists in Phoenix and Nina, Brenda and Bob each came up with a few names. The idea of a Phoenix automotive press association was germinated.
The idea really took root in the fall of 2000 at the Los Angeles auto show, when the Phoenix branch of one of the press fleet vehicle delivery services pledged its help get things organized. Early in the new year – 2001 — we had our first official meeting of the Phoenix Automotive Press Association (PAPA). We gathered at the historic San Marcos resort near downtown Chandler to hear our first speaker, champion auto racer turned driving school manager Bob Bondurant.
Since that meeting, our membership has grown, we’ve heard from college professors and auto company executives, from designers and racers, and lately we’ve had panel discussions on important issues ranging from alternative fuels to classic car collecting.
And now, as you know, we even have a website.
By Larry Edsall
Phoenix Automotive Press Association