What a way to get started!

A full house of 54 members and guests attended the first SAMA luncheon of the year, hosted by Buick at the Soyka Restaurant near Miamiís Design District on February 29.

Extra tables even were set up to handle the crowd. No empty seats at this event!

Representing GM were Araba Dowell and Katie Maltais, who has been at her new job for only a month but already is up on the product, and, from the Axis Agency, Stephanie Camargo and Melissa Galarza.

Stephen Poulos, who is the Global Chief Engineer, eAssist and Battery Electric Propulsion, was the program presenter, and though the new Regal GS, Verano, and Lacrosse were just outside, his talk was concentrated on GMís eAssist system, currently a standard feature on the LaCrosse and soon-to-be available on other Buick models.

Essentially, eAssist uses a familiar lithium-ion battery system to provide improved fuel efficiency, up to 20 percent on the highway and 32 percent in the city over previous models, giving the 2012 LaCrosse mileage ratings of 36 mpg highway and 25 mpg city.

It also provides a boost of up to 15 horsepower at launch, during grade climbing, and entering a freeway on-ramp.

Though it is technically a hybrid gas-electric system, Buick is not billing it as a typical hybrid so as not to confuse buyers. This is a milder version of a hybrid that we have become familiar with.

In place of the usual alternator, GM has put a belt-driven electric motor linked to the lithium-ion battery underneath the backseat. The system cuts off fuel flow during deceleration, helping improve mileage, and immediately restores it when the accelerator is pressed again.

The system also is activated and provides a bit of extra boost on moderate or steep grades. When the vehicle is stopped at an intersection, for instance, the motor-generator continues spinning along with the engine to provide immediate power at takeoff.

Itís an interesting concept that addresses a what is becoming a critical need -- better fuel mileage -- with todayís rising fuel prices.

During her presentation, Katie Maltais noted Buickís growth with its impressive new model lineup. In 2011, retail sales were up 15 percent and Buick was outselling competitors like Audi, Acura, Infiniti, and Lincoln.

Before the luncheon, President Jaime Florez conducted the brief business session, welcoming all.

Treasurer and Membership Chairman Marcello Serrato reported the finances in good shape for the start of the year and reminds those who havenít paid their dues to do so now.

He also welcomed three new members, Benjamin Greene of Dupont Registry, John Kucek of Speedsportlife.com, and Lance Joseph.

Paul Borden, who is working with Marcello on plans for the second edition of Topless in Miami, announced that one of the activities for this year will be a welcoming party for members the night before the judging.

Dick Kelley has agreed for Toyota to sponsor the party, which, weather permitting, will be scheduled for the patio area between the beach and the hotel building at the Ritz-Carlton.

Mercedes-Benz will sponsor the Awards Dinner and Reception, and GM will provide the lunches during the busy day of judging.

The date has not been firmed up yet, but we are looking at an early-to-mid May time frame.

More details will be forthcoming.

We want to thank Buick and GM for sponsoring our initial luncheon for 2012 and are looking forward to working with the company on future events. GM and its various brands have been a strong supporter of all SAMA events since the beginning five years ago.

The date and site for the March luncheon have not been set, so watch your email for further details! Donít dally. We have been filling up rather quickly and you donít want to be left out.

Click here to view larger images.

Photos by Pepe Delfino


Stephen Poulos, Araba Dowell, and Angelo Serrato

Pepe Forte and Luis Fernandez

Stephanie Camargo and Araba Dowell

Pepe Delfino, Joe Willard, Marcello Serrato, Pepe Forte, and Ron Beasley

Pepe Delfino and Pepe Forte

Angelica Willard and Stephen Poulos

Daniel Alvarez and Angelo Serrato


Marissa Osborn and Johnny Bond

Diego Cichero, Jaime Florez, and Marcello Serrato

Daniel Alvarez, Daniel Romagnoli, and Luis Fernandez

Tony Serrato and Johnny Bond

Angelica and Joe Willard


Woodie Lesesne, Tony Lesesne, and Araba Dowell



Paul Borden

Ed Williamson and Stephen Poulos

John Kiskinis

Katie Maltais

Stephen Poulos

Giulianna Levin, Gaby Delfino, Johnny Bond, and Thelma Urbina


Pepe Forte, Luis Fernandez, Maria Ravani, Ady Coutinho, Giulianna Levin, and Gaby Delfino

Melissa Galarza, Tony Serrato, and Angelica Willard

Marcello Serrato and Pepe Forte



Phillippe Daix and Pepe Forte

Angelo Serrato and Jaime Florez

Ron Beasley and Paul Borden

Maria Ravani and Martha Lucia Gomez

Emerito Pujol, Ray Mummary, Ron Beasley, and Paul Borden

Pepe Forte, Diego Cichero, and Katie Maltais

Arturo Duran, Phillippe Daix, and Marcello Serrato

Tony Lesesne and Marcello Serrato

Rick Green, Tony Lesesne, Ron Beasley, Paul Borden, and Phillippe Daix

Johnny Bond and Jaime Florez

Ed Williamson and Stephen Poulos



Tony Lesesne

Ariel Garcia-Linares, Martha Lucia Gomez, and Pepe Forte