Tributes from the Automobile Enthusiast Community

In Memoriam:  Art Pilla, #12

From: Bob Weeman 

Date: October 10, 2015 

Subject: Art

It is with a heavy heart that I write this, reminiscing about my first meeting with Art, must have been 1994 at Bridgehampton racetrack.  Being a novice trackie, and in my typical fashion, on a 3 day event at the Bridge I got the starting time wrong for the Sunday session.  With that, my assigned instructor was already out so they made an announcement on the loud speaker, asking if anyone would volunteer – and Art stepped up to the plate.  If you knew anything about the Bridge there wasn’t much margin for error, with sand on both sides of the track, which would cause the car to roll.  So prior to Art, my instructor was drilling into my head to tap the brakes at the end of the straight to set up for the downhill right-hander.

So first time out with Art, at the end of the straight (doing approximately 130 mph) he said, “Keep your foot in it and DON’T lift!”  I was never so scared and exhilarated at the same time.  Then, going into the Light Bulb, he saw the line I was taught, grabbed the wheel with this left hand and said, “This is the line you want.”  I was in awe and to this day he still gives me the inspiration to be a true gentleman racer.

Coincidentally, 20 years later, I befriended Stephan & Astrid at Summit Point racetrack, and developed a camarderie and friendship, and also came to know that Art was Astrid’s dad.  Since then, I had the opportunity to be in his company several times and came to know that we have several things in common including the sciences, orthodontics, and mutual friends.

Art will be missed and will always be a role model to me in how to enjoy life, in the fast lane!

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I am so sorry to hear about Art, he will be missed. I was always happy to see him at events and he always had time to stop and talk. Stephan was my first instructor and I was his first student. We would joke about how since I am an instructor now, Stephan is a Grand Instructor and Art the Great-Grand Instructor-in-law…. I am thinking about you guys….

Best Regards

Ken

(cayman_ken)

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July 28, 2015

Hi Art:

I was your student in the yellow run group 3 years ago and was driving an 08 Red Cayman # 163. While we were out on the course and you giving me some pointers, we had a silver Audi show up in our mirrors. You quickly told me to give him a point-by and get rid of him. When the Audi passed us we were both taken back by the fact that it was a station wagon. You then instructed me to catch the Audi as we could not be passed by a wagon. We both had a good laugh. As a note, the Audi was driven by an instructor, Ken Casterline.

As you predicted, I have moved from the yellow run group to white and  now driving a SP2 944 Cup. Instructors like you have made a difference in my driving; thanks so much.

Get well and hope to see you at a DE soon. Our prayers are with you.

Best regards

Don Doherty

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July 27, 2015

Ho Astrid- Ford Shaw. We have met a few times. Tough times for you. Please ask your Dad if he remembers being the “Velvet Hammer” for me, especially at Bridgehampton. (Code word for straightening out some idiot driver). Also does he remember bailing me out at Bridgehampton by taking over a couple (wife only spoke french) and I knew Art did. as she had “wandered” off the flagging station and needed to understand that that was a bit unsafe as cars were on the track. Art took the couple for the event, spoke a lot of french and they really enjoyed themselves. Another Bridgehampton story. So Art passes me (with a signal of course) in his 935. I look over and as his rear wheels were very big and very sticky, he is proceeding to peel the asphalt off the track. Way cool, but what was even cooler was that I tuck in behind him, he downshifts and the FLAMES roll over my hood following the slipstream. I did enjoy watching him have to give many passing signals when he had to drive his Dave White prepared 944. Left arm got quite a work out. Only time many of us got a chance to pass him. My wife Mona says she and your Dad started in the same run group and used to chase each other around, until Art got faster (technique) and way more horsepower. I enjoyed racing with your Dad. Remember fondly the Double 50 at the Glen. 50 years of the Glen and 50 years of Porsche. I get put in the same group as your Dad, because I guess my RS just made the cutoff or they did not know where to stick me. Anyway, we have 935’s, 908’s 962’s, 917’s etc. Blew my doors off, most fun I ever had being out with the big boys. I have a great picture that Dom Miliano took of your Dad and I standing outside our cars in the staging area just before we are to go out. Your Dad was always there for me when I was a Chief Instructor running a track event. Always helping out, taking that “left behind student”. Please send my best.

Regards, Ford

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July 25, 2015

Astrid,

So sorry to hear about your Dad.

He is an exceptional person and fun to be around.

He is also a very good driver and age does not seemed to slow him down very much.

I think I was his first DE instructor that took place many years ago at Watkins Glen.

We were having a great time with improvement taking place every lap.

I think it was in the  latter part of the second day when his exuberance overcame his talent and we spun in the off camber, knocking the muffler off and damaged it to the point where we could not install it again.

Art, not being the guy who would give up having such a good time, immediately called Tony Henderson and asked him to bring another muffler to the Glen.

Well Tony did as asked, and of course Art took him out to dinner that night.

Early the next morning Tony got to the track and installed the muffler.

I don’t think we even missed one run session.

The smile on Art’s face was from ear to ear and he was thoroughly “hooked”.

I guess that was the beginning of a “very slippery slope”, because soon after he was buying race cars and off driving in IMSA races.

He never lost his enthuism for NNJR DE’s as evidenced by his continued participation.

He must have inspired you as well and it is a pleasure knowing you and your Dad.

Take care of him and I hope he returns to good health.

Sincerly

Dick Fell

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From: Dyke Hensen

July 27, 2015

Way back in the late 80’s when I was just beginning with the Porsche Club, the green and yellow students would wait till the end of the day and stand by the fencing to watch the “Red Run Group” go out and put down some times.  At the time your Dad was driving a monster 935 I believe.  We would wait for Art, Dick Howe and all the other  REALLY FAST drivers to put down some times. 

A big group of us students would be hanging out buy the rusty old fences with our stop watches clicking away as all these really fast guys flew by.    I remember one time in particular while at Bridge Hampton standing on the at the crest of the long uphill straight on the bridge at the end of the straight.   We were all waiting for the  “crazy” red run group drivers to  fly under the bridge and then dive down the hill taking the “kink” of turn one with no brakes!  We all looked at each other in awe and said “I don’t think they hit the brakes!”  I remember thinking,  someday I’m going to be able to do that.

Your dad is fast and fearless on the racetrack, but the difference between your father and the rest of the “really fast guys” is that he is really the defination of the  “Gentleman Racer”.  He can tell you about his line or show up with, a jack, a tire gage, a 19mm socket or anything needed to help out and always under thatt Englis Ascot Cap  there has been a beaming smile, infectious laugh, and even bigger personality.  How we loved those days at the Bridge hearing the stories of Sebring and all the other “exotic” race tracks your dad had raced on.  Everybody wanted to sit a the  table where he was holding court.

I loved seeing both of you at the track the last couple of years.  I remember asking Art “is that your new Turbo?”, and he was so proud when he said “no, that’s my daughter’s.”   

Now, nearly 30 years later, as a PCA chief instructor, I can only hope to half of the influence your father has had for some many of us.  My “ride” is always open when you get him back to an event. 

So, please, please tell him if anybody can beat whatever he is dealing with, it is him.  You can tell him Dyke said “Art, Don’t Lift”.  He’ll understand, something he told me many, many years ago. 


From:  Mike Carr, Chief Instructor, Porsche Club of America – Northern New Jersey Region

As an NNJR-PCA chief instructor, whenever anyone asked for a recommendation for an instructor, whether it was a beginner or an experienced driver, I always thought of Art first. He got along with everyone. Astrid knows this story, but Art and I had a running joke between us whenever I was chief of the event and Art’s student went off the track and had to come into the pits to explain what happened. As soon as I saw Art was in the car I would say, “Not you again!”, totally horrifying his student. I must admit this happened very rarely. It got to the point that he was grinning before the car even got to me in the pits. Thanks Art, for the laughs and the good times and everything else.

 


 

Thank you to everyone who wrote a few words to share.

Please feel free to add your tribute below!

Or, email your stories to:  APillaResearchFoundation@gmail.com

 

©2016 ARTHUR A PILLA RESEARCH FOUNDATION, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Pilla and Porsches

Dr. Pilla’s History of Road Racing

From as early as I can remember, automobiles were a part of our family.

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First memory of automobiles – slot cars!

I remember slot cars.  I remember a Midnight Blue Mustang.  I remember my father’s story of driving from Paris to Holland each weekend to see our mother, Hilda, in his Black VW Beetle.   It’s not surprising to me at all that Dr. Arthur A. Pilla, a passionate man of Science, was also a passionate man of all things Porsche.

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Porsches became a passion for Dr. Pilla upon his return to the U.S. after living and working abroad in Paris, France in the 60’s.  (Fun fact:  French President Charles de Gaulle, then President of the 5th Republic of France, once visited an American Ph.D. student in Paris working in his government laboratories researching fuel cells.  As the story goes, de Gaulle shook my father’s hand, thanked him for his work, and carried on with his tour.  My father always remarked how very tall Charles de Gaulle was, which was always hard for me to believe since my father was already 6 feet tall!)

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Dr. Pilla bought his first Porsche, a 1979 white 930 turbo, in the early 1980’s and joined the Porsche Club of America’s (PCA) Northern New Jersey Region in 1982.   His enthusiasm for the sport quickly led him through the ranks to instructor and to start racing.    He was always an enthusiastic instructor on the track- teaching hundreds of D.E. students the art of driving smooth (and fast) around a racetrack.  In this tribute page, former students and fellow instructors and racers can share their memories of driving with Art Pilla, #12.

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This John Fitzpatrick 935 was Dr. Pilla’s pride and joy for many years.  He raced in HSR Vintage races and the Double Fifty (50/50) at Watkins Glen.   During the Double Fifty, he battled with the Bob Akin Coca-Cola car- earning a 2nd place podium spot.

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Dr. Pilla is show here on the left, celebrating his 2nd place Podium win in the 935 at the Double 50 at Watkins Glen, August 28-30, 1998.

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EXCELLENCE magazine’s writeup about the Double Fifty at Watkins Glen (50 years of the Glen and 50 years of Porsche):  Double 50 Excellence Dec 1998   (Art Pilla pictured on page 107 and 108!)

©2016 ARTHUR A PILLA RESEARCH FOUNDATION ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Tributes from the Scientific Community

My experiences with Arthur Pilla

I first met Arthur in the 70’s when he came down to the University of Kentucky to discuss his theories with Dr. Stephen Smith, professor in the Department of Anatomy. I was a graduate student working with Smith and listened to many of these conversations that discussed the basic mechanisms underlying how electric and electromagnetic fields exerted their biological effects.

He was intrigued by the topic of my thesis since I was working on nerve cells, not on bone or cartilage as he was. I was examining the effects of DC fields generated by invasive electrodes on the growth of neurons. He suggested a more clinical approach using low level pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) generated by a device from ElectroBiology Inc that he was instrumental in developing since those fields were non-invasive.

Once I did that, he was very excited to see how neurons responded and made many more visits to Lexington with more suggestions. Our collaborations continued and expanded so that we graduated to using PEMF on injured rats. More recently we chose to work on a different, but quite common clinical problem, called peripheral neuropathy.

Arthur’s goal throughout his professional life was to optimize non-invasive electromagnetic fields for curing clinical problems, and to determine the basic mechanisms involved . Even though he is no longer with us, I think he would be pleased to know that his unique ideas are still discussed and that present and future scientists will continue to develop them and test their validity. I know that I represent many colleagues and friends who will miss this dynamic person professionally and personally, and will honor him as an outstanding member of the bioelectromagnetics community.

Submitted by Betty F. Sisken, Emeritus Professor, 

University of Kentucky

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I knew your father very well thought the Bioelectromagnetics Society. He was always so enthusiastic and although we never collaborated on a publication we did know each other’s work quite well. Once when my mother was in terrible pain from osteoarthritis he sent me one of his devices to treat her. On another occasion he had two abstracts to present at the BEMS meeting but he could not attend as his wife was very ill and he asked me to present them for him which I was delighted to do. He was always so vibrant and full of life it is hard for me to realize he has passed. You have lost someone very special and our research field has lost someone who has made major contributions. He will be missed by many.

Dr. Frank Prato, Lawson Health Research Inst.

Nuc. Med. Dept.

St. Joseph’s Health Centre

London, Ont. N6A 4V2

Imaging Program Leader and Assistant Scientific Director, Lawson Health Research Institute,  Professor, Departments of Medical Imaging, Medical BioPhysics and Physics     University of Western Ontario                

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My sincere regrets that I cannot make it to this tribute to a great scientist / researcher and pioneer.  While I never met Arthur, I heard a lot about him from Dr. Berish Strauch, and applaud his work in the field of PEMF.

Hoping to be a contributing factor in making PEMF a staple in the field of medicine.

Best in the tribute.

Sincerely ,

Chris Ubinger

Assoc. Director Corporate Relations,

University of Pittsburgh

O – (412)624-8132

C – (412)807-1028

“Vision is not seeing things as they are, but as they will be “

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In only 6th grade,  Aaraj wrote the following essay in honor of Dr. Pilla:

Since the age of 9, I have been participating in FIRST Lego League, an international robotics competition which gives a new research topic every year based on a real world challenge. In 4th grade, focusing on the potential of biomedical engineering to benefit Alzheimer’s patients, our team developed solutions to help seniors cope with the disease symptoms. 

Two years later, when tasked with solving a problem faced by seniors, we chose to extend our research. I found myself in the midst of purple flowers, banners, and balloons at an Alzheimer’s walk in Reston. It was pouring, chilly, and getting dark. I was determined not to turn back. “Race to the Cure,” the walk had been branded. But I did not want this disease to claim another host.

It was this moment when our team realized the truth of the phrase, “prevention is better than a cure.” It was also around this time when we first came into contact with Dr. Arthur Pilla, professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia University. He was well­ known for his scientific research. While researching potential causes for Alzheimer’s, one which stood out was inflammation of the brain causing plaques and tangles. Struggling to understand the language of scientific studies on the Internet, we reached out to several professors researching inflammation. However, none were able to provide both the time and patience to explain such a complex topic to a group of 6th graders. Except Dr. Pilla.

Our first communication began with an e­mail exchange, in which Dr. Pilla explained the relationship between inflammation and Alzheimer’s in a comprehendible way. During a visit to  northern Virginia, Dr. Pilla graciously found the time to meet with our team, and introduced us to a new upcoming technology called Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields (PEMF), which have signals between radio and microwaves in the electromagnetic spectrum. He explained how PEMF can reduce inflammation at the cellular level in humans. This application could be used to prevent or delay Alzheimer’s. It was not an easy process for us to understand at the young age of 12. And yet, Dr. Pilla’s patience at no point wavered. Even after explaining the same concept for the fifth time, a smile remained on his face, displaying his joy for sharing his knowledge with us.

Every meeting with Dr. Pilla felt like a meeting with the president or a famous celebrity and we waited eagerly for it. Dr. Pilla had become our role model. He supported us every step throughout our research journey, even going so far as to drive down from his home state to attend our regional tournament in northern Virginia and then the state tournament in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Just his presence was encouraging and inspiring enough. Now, 6 years after my first year of robotics, I mentor local FLL teams. Recently, a student asked me who influenced me the most during my FLL journey. I did not have to hesitate even for a second to come up with an answer. It was the mentor who I strive to be, Dr. Pilla.

­­- Aaraj V., 6th grade elementary school student