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Have a Hot Rod Club

Have a Hot Rod Club

Hot Rods and Racing Cars #37
October 1958

Have a Hot Rod Club Have a Hot Rod Club
The creation and growth of a successful Hot Rod Club is not a matter that can be left to the element of chance. It requires a lot of hard work, intelligent planning, and the ability to benefit by the mistakes of others. In my rather long lifetime I have belonged to a variety of clubs and organizations. Some I have seen full of life and vitality at the start. Then comes the gradual downhill slip. Finally they fade out. Others have become well established and members can proudly say that they have a harmony and friendship that is rare. In fact there are some clubs which have a large waiting list of applicants.

We will say that you and your friends have been talking about the formation of a Hot Rod Club. This means that you all have a common interest. But it does not mean that the extent of this interest is the same. Frank may enjoy drag racing. Bill likes to do what he calls "tinkering" around the car. Jim can actually design ideas on his drawing board. Ted likes to take Jim's ideas and see if he can actually carry them out. Mike wants to learn a lot of the newer development in fuels. Dave enjoys rebuilding cars.

Now that means that your club when formed must be wide enough to accommodate the activities of all these people. Therefore in your charter you should state the breadth of your activities. You must also look into the future. So that you should also state that your activities may be expanded as new conditions arise. This of course will have to follow parliamentary procedure.

Your charter provides for the election of officers; their powers; the formation of committees, also the procedure to change the constitution and by-laws. I suggest that you contact some other local Hot Rod Clubs and ask for permission to look at a copy of their charters. It will give you some ideas you may have neglected in your original consideration.

Your membership qualification is really the foundation that can make or break any Hot Rod Club. You fellows must all be together. One member who doesn't "belong" can upset everything. You should have a probationary period for new members. Six months is a fair time in which you can learn a lot about a person. Recently one club to which I belong had to amend their membership requirements. Now they even visit the applicant's home: check on his business reference; and give his past record a thorough examination.

One word of warning: We found that a member who has in his mind to make money through the club by sales to the members is in the long run not the most desirable type of person to have. You may differ with us in this respect. But we submit that when a fellow weighs what he does in a club by how much he can make from you, then the essence of real friendship is missing. I can use the word friendship in its correct meaning. There are some clubs where you can meet as acquaintances. But in a Hot Rod Club you are closer together.

Should there be an age span in your club? This is up to you to decide. You might feel that members between 18 and 26 are welcome, or even older members. You will also have to decide whether you want female members. Also what to do when the girl friends of the boys want to come to some of the events. In one club to which I belong we had a royal fight about the problem of whether or not to have women members. In another club we have an unofficial women's auxiliary. And in still another club, it never became an issue.

If some of your members have a background that will help the club in other matters, so much the better. Thus in one club we have two attorneys. They are members of the legal committee and look into all such problems that may arise. One man is an insurance expert and his knowledge has been very handy to us. One man is a member of the State Police and we learn a lot from him.

Where should you meet? This depends upon two factors. First, how much money you have in the treasury. Second, what are the activities you plan to do at the start. With sufficient money you can rent quarters at the beginning. Now if you want to keep cars in the place, then an old garage or warehouse is your best bet. On the other hand, the fellows may do a lot of work in their own home garages. You may actually meet in a large room for one meeting and have other meetings in the different garages of your members. Your fire department and police department, if you live in a small community, may be able to give you good suggestions along this line.

If most of you happen to attend the same educational institution, the head of it may be able to provide quarters for your club. But under no condition whatsoever go into debt to make a show or splash. The amount of membership dues may be an important factor in keeping out good people who happen to have a thin bankroll. In one club we lost a swell member because he had to meet expenses for the baby. We tried to figure out a plan to keep him, but he had Pride.

Good publicity is a wonderful thing for a Hot Rod Club. So try your best to have at least one member who is handy with a camera. He can take pictures of the club's activities. These with a short news item can be sent in to your local newspaper. Go visit the editor of the newspaper. He may agree to print a weekly item about your club.

Cooperation in all road safety campaigns is also good publicity for the Hot Rod Club. It is a good idea to install into the mind of the public that the Hot Rod driver is a careful driver and one who obeys the laws of the community.

Contacts with the local police department and the State Police are important. They may be able to inform the club of an abandoned road strip that can be used for test purposes or as a drag strip. In such matters it is good to have your legal committee check up on laws and restrictions as they may affect the activities of your club in any given community.

Certain volunteer work may also be done by the members of your Hot Rod Club. The local Red Cross Chapter may need good drivers for some of their vehicles. The volunteer fire department may also have openings. The parents' Association may be able to use drivers when they take children out for a picnic.

Should you have a bulletin or newspaper of your own? It requires a lot of work. But it does give the members a chance to see themselves "in print." Some can do research about automobiles of the past. Another may do odd items about the different uses to which automobile parts can be put. A how-to-fix it column will always go over big. You can mimeograph the edition; do it with offset; or get a printer to give you a special rate on a large number of copies.

At least once a year you should stage an "exhibition" of the work of the various members. Of course the big attraction will be the cars themselves. Here's where that fellow with the camera will come in handy. He can show shots "before" and "during," then the public will get a good idea of what it really takes to change a car. Every member should be encouraged to contribute something. Even if he only makes little models for his amusement of cars of the future.

Hobbies connected with cars are very encouraging. You might like the idea of the fellow who only wanted to buy the oldest junked cars, then spent a lot of time rebuilding them and turning them into cars that were unique. Or the fellow who wanted to find the solution to the perfect camping car with all the accessories. I guess each club generally has the "inventor." Though who knows what brain storm he may create for his car.

Checking up on the new cars put out by the auto companies will produce a lot of "shop talk." Complete studies of a car can be made to see what new innovations have been made and how they check out with the claims made for them. You always want to find out what is new about any model or car put on the market.

Get a good name for your club. Maybe you will have to spend a lot of time thinking about it. Or it may come to you while you are dreaming. "The Cold Hot Rods," "The Tinkertown Hot Rods," or "The Slowfast Hot Rods," may or may not suit you. You can also design an emblem to be worn by your members. Or a sticker they can put on their cars.

I have always maintained that the Hot Rod Club is not only fundamentally sound but also necessary. It gives a chance for the human being to be an individualist. He wants the car that is a little different. With ingenuity and work he creates it. So may our Hot Rod Clubs flourish. Hurry up and start yours!


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