It doesn't matter if you have been around cars for a short period or a great deal of time-all of us have, are, or will be exposed to car clubs. Even if you aren't the joining type you still know about car clubs, have friends who are members, or have on occasional thought about belonging to one yourself.
For starters, my very first exposure to my editorial life at STREET RODDER brought me into contact with the Roadster Roundup event in Solvang, California, back in 1971. It was here I was exposed to the likes of the L.A. Roadsters, the Bay Area Roadsters, and other car clubs. While the cars proved to be as different as their owner's personalities the one tethering fact was undeniable-the car club experience allowed each of them to enjoy their hobby to the fullest.
If it weren't for car clubs I dare say there would be far fewer worthy events to enjoy. The car club mentality of working toward a greater good comes from the membership and that makes all of these events, indoor and outdoor, come to fruition. Arguably one of the greatest indoor events is the Detroit Autorama (57th year) and, if it weren't for the likes of the Michigan Hot Rod Association (in collaboration with the Championship Auto Show Inc.), it wouldn't exist. If it weren't for numerous car clubs that give of their time and talents events like the National Street Rod Association's Nationals (39th year) held annually in Louisville, Kentucky, it wouldn't have enjoyed its streak which began in the early '70s. And then there are events like the L.A. Roadsters Father's Day Show and Swap Meet (50th year) held each June, which has gained national prominence and draws rodders from around the country and the world. Another mid-summer gala is the Back to the '50s event (42nd year) produced by the Minnesota Street Rod Association, which draws approximately 10,000 cars of mixed genres for a thoroughly enjoyable event. Without the likes of these and hundreds of other car clubs, events would cease to exist but more importantly the friendships, often forged for life, would no longer be. That would be the greater loss.
Truth be told, any of us could do without our cars. Granted, there would be a void we would attempt to fill in some other fashion but, the fact is, life goes on. However, try and deal with life having no friends and that is a matter with little or no upside. An experience even for someone as cantankerous as me would not want to experience.
Ironically I have spent the majority of my rodding life outside of a car club but I can say that the best times I have experienced have been, and hopefully will be, with fellow car club members. In each instance it was the fellowship of experiencing the fun with cars that has kept me close to both the members of past car clubs, and is the strong bind I have with the members of my current car club.
Just this past weekend we had our yearly voluntary safety inspection. The truth be told, it was just an excuse for us to get together and do something else with our cars, enjoy each others company, and maybe find out a thing or two that might need some attention on our hot rods. (Mine could use a fresh set of kingpins). I am a member of the California Roadsters and fellow club member Jerry Kugel of Kugel Komponents offered up his expertise and shop for the club inspection. As near as I could tell, Jerry did all the work while the rest of us talked cars, the financial mess the state of California is wallowing in, and how come our cars are so dirty. Well, mostly mine-turns out hot rods can do a lot of things, but wash and wax itself isn't one of them.
I have attended the L.A. Roadsters, my former club's, 50th anniversary, and will be attending the 50th anniversary of the Bay Area Roadsters to meet up with old friends once again. The cars are great but I believe I also do this because of the friendships which started many decades ago but have easily withstood the test of time. Let me close by saying, "A job well done" to all the car clubs out there. Without them our hobby would be worse for the loss.
(Editor's note: I wrote this editorial on Memorial Day and would like to dedicate my humble attempt at a moment's worth of entertainment to all those who have worn or are wearing the uniform of the day. I thank you for allowing me to sleep peacefully, to awake refreshed and with renewed excitement knowing that I am doing what I wish to do and my family is safe. The only enemy I faced on this day is a magazine deadline, and I will survive this "battle" because I rest knowing all have pledged some and some have pledged all to not rest. BB)