While wandering the fields of the Lonestar Round Up I came upon Dennis O’Brien (O’Brien Truckers) and we got on the subject of car club plaques. Dennis has 12,000 patterns and has made literally thousands of these plaques—some for clubs, some for individuals, and some to replace longtime lost identifiers. When it comes to cast aluminum vintage parts our go-to guy is Dennis. He made our Deadliners Car Club plaque (Kim Brizio made our jackets), which is for magazine guys who no club will have—so we started our own. It’s actually a pretty good club; no meetings, no officers, most of us don’t get along, and if given the opportunity we would pluck the coil wire out of the other guy’s distributor—and then sell it back to him! (The best thing I ever did was place a cut-down Dixie cup painted black into the intake snout of an air cleaner. It took several air cleaner on/air cleaner off procedures before a certain editor finally looked inside. That was a good one.)
For starters, it got me thinking about all those old car clubs that came before. I have been a member of the L.A. Roadsters (it was Magoo’s fault) and currently the California Roadsters (I was hoisted onto them by Don Prieto). Early on I was an associate member of the Vintiques of Pomona (longtime hot rodder and SoCal pinstriper Ron Foreman brought me in). I have never come across a car club that wasn’t fun and am always amazed at the talent in residence. It did get me thinking about the car clubs that came before in the areas that I grew up, live, and work.
I spent my early years in Garden Grove, California, and then went to high school and college in Anaheim and Fullerton, currently working in Irvine, and residing in Newport Beach. I haven’t seen much in the way of car clubs in any of these towns and you would think I would be aware of this. I must admit I am probably the worst member a club could have. Every time the group wants to go on a run I am usually out of town. I spend more time at rod runs the vast majority of my club members have only heard about and will never attend. When they want to get up on Saturday morning at 0-dark-30 I’m comatose and out for the count until at least 10 a.m. (Those wee hours cranking out late editorials is tough on an old guy! Besides you too would need copious amounts of rest if you had to deal with Senior Editor Ron Ceridono on a daily basis. He did, however, wrangle up the artwork, or stole most of it, for our Deadliners plaque.) When I am at a club function I generally eat most of the doughnuts, never have enough money with me, usually can’t find my keys, and when I do I usually get lost; most of the time the guys just leave me in the parking lot and take off.
I digress, what about the car clubs that came before? First I went to Dennis’ site (info below) and found that he has access to 12,000 patterns. I would have never guessed that there were that many car clubs—turns out there was or is a lot more. Another website that I found fascinating is hosted by Bill Junge, called Car Club Plaques—well, what did you expect? Take the time to peruse and you will find it fascinating. It is worldwide in its scope and there are literally thousands to view. This is still only the tip of the proverbial iceberg as there are countless rodders who have collections, some numbering into the thousands. There are plaques on display for instance at the Museum of American Speed (Speedway Motors) with almost 200 on view and another 1,000-plus stored away in the archives. There is the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum and they have many vintage car club plaques on display. Then there are private collectors, such as Stan Chersky of SoCal who has 4,000-plus plaques, and another SoCal rodder, Vic Cunnyngham, with his collection that specializes in mostly the San Gabriel Valley area and his alma mater Baldwin Park High School.
In my hometown of Garden Grove I found the Archons, Yellow Jackets, Monarchs, and Vikings hot rod car clubs. In my school towns of Anaheim and Fullerton there were actually quite a few. In Anaheim I found the Hangers, Pacers, Road Wolves, Road Runners, Satan’s Chauffeurs, Street Sweepers (I liked that one since I was a “street sweeper” when I worked at Disneyland), Idlers, and Townsmen. The city of Fullerton yielded the Agitators, Prowlers, Rockers, Idlers, Innocents, Judges, Strollers, Shafter’s, Pioneers, and Prowlers hot rod car clubs. (I await your input and should you think this would make a fun story stay tuned for the November issue of SRP (Street Rodder Premium) where we will get into vintage car club plaques.) A neighboring town, Costa Mesa, where the Goodguys holds an annual event, had two old-time hot rod car clubs in the Exiles and Piston Pushers but what surprised me the most was the one and only car club that I found in my hometown of Newport—the S.O.B.’s. You gotta admire the name, but just to be clear it stands for the Sons of the Beaches, and I like that. Reminds me that hot rods and surfin’ have always been a winning combination.