Our Stories / November 23, 2023

In Memoriam – Phil Alspach – 1937 -2023

Phil Alspach (follow that link to Phil’s Facebook profile) was a huge contributor to both the SCCA and the Ohio Valley Region. Phil’s SCCA membership dates back to the 1950’s and Phil was very involved in leading our region and volunteering in so many ways. Here are some excerpts of so many kind words from some of Phil’s friends.

From Rusty Bell:
We lost the Ohio Valley Region of the SCCA patriarch today – Phil Alspach.
Phil welcomed me into the SCCA at an autocross at Powell Speedway when I approached him with a permission slip from my mom(I was 16 and a junior member in 1977)
He was welcoming and one of the reasons I am involved in racing 55 years later.
Godspeed Phil
From Kirsten Dell:
I just learned that Philip Paul Alspach passed away around 3:00 today, November 22, 2023. He was at home with Hospice.
I met Phil back in 1985, the year I joined the Ohio Valley Region of the Sports Car Club of America. I cared a lot about Phil, and even though we knew this was coming, I am taken aback by how hard this is hitting me.
Phil could be a royal pain in the ass. He could be a hothead. He could be ridiculously sure he was always right, but gracious if he learned otherwise. He was a hard person to get to know, but if you were his friend, you could argue, fight, disagree, and he NEVER held a grudge. Once something was out in the air, it was gone forever.
As somebody who spent a LOT of time working in the administrative end of OVR, including two years as Regional Executive, several years as registrar, and as editor of The Observers Stand (those positions were held at the same time, BTW!!!), I can say with absolute certainty that most people have absolutely no clue how much Phil Alspach did for the Region, for the general membership, and for the Club, in general — not even those who served on the Board.
There was no better steward of the Region’s funds. He protected the Region’s money as if it were his own, and believe you me, that man squeezed pennies so hard, Lincoln screamed. But, he helped recover funds we lost when we tried another treasurer, and he protected and built the treasury back up to levels where we didn’t have to worry about funding our events.
He wasn’t the best writer, BUT he made sure he talked to everybody at autocrosses and road races. His Race Trips From Hell always made mention of every single OVR member in attendance and even included a few tidbits about their races.
For most of the years I knew Phil, every vacation he took had to coincide with a race or Solo II Nationals, or the Runoffs. His figure lumbering up and down pit lane was a familiar and comforting sight.
The last ten or so years of his life, he started taking trips, alone, to see this amazing country of ours. He always put together a video of his Trips and shared those DVDs with his closest friends. I was so thrilled when he started taking vacations that had nothing to do with racing.
I don’t know how many races he chaired, or how many conventions he attended (where he definitely let his opinions be known, and he ALWAYS advocated for the grassroots competitors).
He loved music and videos, and had an obscene collection of both. We shared a fondness for The Alan Parsons Project, and he’d always tell me when Wal*Mart had music and video sales.
This Thanksgiving is going to be tough, for sure For several years, Phil, Jude Summers, Rusty Bell, and I were fixtures at Donna Tonkin’s Thanksgiving dinners, along with a cast of others who made the trip from time to time. This year, there will be no hard boiled eggs, or laughter, or turkey in Donna’s kitchen.
Thanksgiving will be different this year, but I will remember to be thankful for the friends who have passed through my life and shared their hugs and love with me, and those friends who still hang around (thank you, and bless you).
Phil, I’ll miss you, Old Fart. But I promise, you will always have a piece of my heart. ❤️. Enjoy your Race Trips From Heaven.
From Rich Grunenwald:
I just read posts from Rusty Bell and Kirsten Dell that Phil Alspach passed away this afternoon around 3:00 pm. He was very ill for quite some time, but this is still very hard news to take.
As many of us know, Phil was foundational in building OVR SCCA and the national autocross program into what it is today. He was a vigilant steward of finances for OVR, and while we didn’t always agree, Phil always had the best interests of the club at hand.
Phil’s list of accomplishments in autocross and road racing both locally and nationally are many, and I am sure will be brought out in time.
But frankly, I am bit at a loss for words as a piece of the racing world is gone.
From David Wyatt:
Phil Alspach passed today. It wasn’t unexpected and it came at end of a long wrestling match with cancer.  Saturday I took him his mail and he shook my hand and told me he didn’t think he’d see me again.  He was right.
Phil raced cars for over 50 years.  We won a lot of races, and lost a lot more.  Which he would freely admit.  He loved racing and volunteered to do everything he could.
When Ohio State goes up against Michigan Saturday Phil’s chair will be empty   But he will be there anyway and Jude’s cat Chico will be waiting for him.  And we will drink a toast to our friend who has taken the final checkered flag.
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