Spark Plugs Auto Club

Upcoming Events: July 17, 2016 - 2016 Spark Plugs Car Show & Swap Meet
Atchison Park, New Hudson, MI - 58000 Grand River Ave 9:00 - 2:00, Swap Meet 8:00 - 2:00

Spark-Plugs Auto Club History
1955 – 2015

The Spark-Plugs Auto Club, a member of the Michigan Hot Rod Association, was started by a small group of young men at 8:00pm, March 3, 1955 at the kitchen table of Norm Smiths’ mother’s home in South Lyon Michigan. Norm Smith is still an active member and attends club functions on a regular basis. The club had 12 members in attendance at the first meeting. Their names were:

1. Dick Thorne
2. Gary Treganowan
3. Bill Wiseman
4. Carl Peeve
5. Art Budnik
6. Dewey Holland
7. Arnold Byers
8. Jim Walker
9. Leon Short
10. Norman Smith
11. Bill Newman
12. Doug Foreman

The secretary at the first meeting was none other than Norm Smith and the “original” minutes that were taken in a “Spiral” notebook are still on hand in the club archives at the clubhouse. Many names were considered for the club including High Winders, Road Rangers, Rod and Customs, Flying Lyons, Flying Wheels, and Generators. The Spark-Plugs was, as we now know, the decision they reached.

Shortly after the club was formed they joined the M.H.R.A. and started conducting their meetings in an “old style” auto repair service in South Lyon. (Scotty & Fritz’s Garage) Joe Scott felt the young men needed a place to meet and develop their interest for cars.

The First Twenty Years 1955-1975

During the years from 1955 through 1975 the club flourished and participated in many activities including reliability runs, poker runs, winter ice runs, car shows, picnics and vehicle safety Inspections. Trophies from these events, dating back to 1956, are kept at the clubhouse and some were on display at Autorama in the Spark-Plug display.

The club members helped build the M.H.R.A. Drag strip and some members participated in drag racing events. Richard Thorne, Gary Treganowan, George Haus, Norm Smith, and Bob Parrot ran cars at various drag strips in addition to the M.H.R.A. strip including Ubly, Detroit Dragway, Milan, and Mansfield Ohio.

In April 1970 the club undertook a project to build their own club car. This turned out to be a hot rod in the form of a ’23 “T” Bucket. This project was worked on by many of the members during its construction and at times was stored in a chicken coop. The car was completed in June 1974 at what was then the clubhouse that was located at 7 Mile and Pontiac Trail. (By this time the club had moved from the original Scotty and Fritz Garage)

The car was a brown metallic sporting a 289 Ford engine with Tri-power and a “Gary Benway” interior and top. The approximate investment in the car was about $4,500. After completion the maiden voyage was to the NSRA Street Rod Nationals in St. Paul Minnesota. Tom Snell and Jeff Eckert drove the car. Subsequently many members enjoyed touring in this car both locally and out of state to various rod runs.

This yellow gem belongs to Norm Smith, who is celebrating
50 years with the club at the upcoming Autorama.

A portion of the Spark-Plugs display at the 50th Autorama

The Next Twenty Years 1975-1995

The next 20 years from 1975 to 1995 saw many of the same activities described above continue and some new ones emerge.The “clubhouse”
for meetings and activities was moved to Jack McLeod’s shop further North on Pontiac Trail toward 8 mile road.

Other events during that time period included a club rebuild project on member Chuck Rupp’s ’32 Ford coupe, much community involvement with events such as Community Chest Christmas basket deliveries, High School Scholarship fund, Pumpkin Fest parade, and the South Lyon Car Show. The ’32 coupe project brought members closer together and allowed everyone to pitch in with their particular expertise toward a common goal. The South Lyon Car Show hosted fund raising activities that helped both the Spark-Plugs and the Cowtown Cruisers donate $25,000 to the High School scholarship fund through the years.

The “clubhouse” moved to member Paul Peter’s barn located in Lyon Township in 1990 where it remains to this day. A picture of this clubhouse along with Norm Smiths 1948 Ford sedan is on the Spark-Plugs Web page located on the M.H.R.A. Web site.

The Next Ten Years 1995 – 2005

In 1995 the club celebrated its 40th anniversary and was thrilled at winning Best Club Display at Autorama. In addition to winning that award 10 members won individual awards.

Camping has been enjoyed by many of the members through the years and the club still hosts an annual outing at Haas Lake Campground
in Lyon Township each year.

1998 ended a twenty-year “run” of the South Lyon Car Show, which was sponsored, by the Spark-Plugs and the Cowtown Cruisers collectively for 19 of the 20 years. As mentioned earlier this show generated funds for many local charities and the High School scholarship fund.

The club was proud to participate in the 50th M.H.R.A. Autorama in 2002 and took that opportunity to rebuild the club ”T”. This was a body off, full tilt, project that included mechanical rebuilding of all aspects of the car, a new paint job, and a new two-tone interior. The body color selected was a very bright orange with the interior being a light and dark blue. This project was very successful.

Many Spark-Plugs have worked along with other M.H.R.A. members to make the Autorama show at Cobo Hall a success through the years with the greatest effort from the Spark-Plugs being from member Joe McAuliffe. Thanks to Joe for his years of dedication.

The Most Recent Ten years 2005 - 2014

The Spark-Plugs Auto Club, a member of the Michigan Hot Rod Association, celebrated their 50th anniversary during the set up at the 2005 Autorama. At 8:00 pm Thursday night March 3, 2005 the Spark-Plugs conducted their historic event in their display on the show floor.

The display was spectacular. It was 38 feet wide and 200 feet in length. It was meant to depict the clubs history with a “period” 50’s service station at one end, cars displayed as if in a small town used car lot in the center, and a “Barn” scene at the other end to represent the clubhouse the club has held meetings in from 1990 through 2013.

At ten minutes before 8pm “Wings”, the official DJ for the show, made an announcement that the Spark-Plugs would be conducting their event and those who were interested could stop by the display. Many guests were in attendance both inside and outside our display.

President Mike Foreman treated the crowd to a brief history and biography of the club. Roll call was then taken of our current membership. Minutes were read from the first meeting March 3, 1955. Roll call from the original minutes were read and three original members were in attendance, Norm Smith, Doug Foreman, and Jim Walker.

An awards ceremony then took place starting out with two special awards for outstanding work towards this years Autorama that were presented by Paul Peters, Show Chairman. One to Matt Bednarski, and one to Bob Briggs. Without the work from these two guys they said they would not have made it! This was followed by seniority awards for all members. Patches were distributed to those up to 30 years seniority. Those between 30 and 50 years received special certificates. Awards were also handed out to our honorary members. The final presentation was a gold ring that was given to Norm Smith by president Mike Foreman. After the presentation Norm took the opportunity to reflect on his years with the Sparkplugs and thanked everyone in attendance for coming.

The Spark-Plugs were one of two M.H.R.A. feature clubs at the 2005 Autorama. The Spark-Plugs proudly accepted the award for Best Club display and congratulate the Millwinders for their second place award, and Mopar Muscle for their third place award. Norm Smith won the inaugural Lokar Performance “Driven Award” for a car driven “all the time” for many years. Congrats to Norm.

The Spark-Plugs would also like to thank all those who Stopped by their display and had such kind comments on the clubs tribute to 50 years of hot rodding and good fellowship that was depicted in a “Then and Now” display capturing the clubs history starting in 1955 with historic memorabilia and members cars.

From 2003 to the present the Spark-Plugs have held an annual Car Show / Swap meet. These shows and swap meets have been attended and enjoyed by many other clubs and enthusiasts. In addition to having fun shows, funds were raised and donated to several charities including Lyon Community Chest, Active Faith, Paws for the Cause, Operation Injured Soldier, and Breast Cancer Research.

Other annual Spark-Plugs events consisted of an annual Campout Weekend at Haas Lake, a Fall Color Tour hosted by Theresa and Paul Behling, and our annual Christmas basket delivery we do in conjunction with Lyon Community Chest. In the city of South Lyon, which is the home town of the club, we have attended as a club the annual Memorial Day Parade as well as the annual Pumpkin fest Parade.

Theresa and Paul Behling also provide a Hospitality Trailer for our club and guests at the annual
Goodguys show in Columbus, Ohio.

We certainly can’t overlook the Michigan Hot Rod Association events that the Spark-Plugs
attend proudly on an annual basis. These would include:

The Detroit Autorama

The Michigan Hot Rod Association Dinner Banquet

The Michigan Hot Rod Association Summer Picnic.

The Current Membership Roster Includes Active and Lifetime Members.

The Current Officers are as follows:

President: Shannon Doud-Velfling

Vice President: Mark Zellman

Treasurer: Victor Miller

Secretary: Chris Shevlin

Board Members: Harvey Miller, Steve Griffith, and Kris Marinelli

MHRA Rep.: Paul Peters

Alt. MHRA Rep.: Jeff Beling

The Current Members are as follows:

Chris Anderson, Harvey Miller, John Ballentine, Vic Miller, Gary Bedard, Jack McLeod, Paul Behling, Paul Oswalt, Jeff Bieling, Mike Myer, Nathan Briggs, Paul Peters, Bob Briggs, Jeff Peterson, Bob Callsen, Joe Pieragostini, Shannon Doud, Ray Pokerwinski, Rob Delaney, Rich Pokerwinski, Bruce Douglass, Bobby Ragusso, Dave Douglass, Royce Ramsey,Charles Drury, Chris Shevlin, Ed Eno, Bob Smith, Mark Evans, Blaine Smith, Mike Foreman, Bill Smith, Steve Griffith, Norm Smith, Jesse Grimm, Mike Teno. Gary Grudziecki, Keith Tscherrit, Roy Klann, Chris Velfling, Jerry Krol, Jack Wagner, Scott Landis, Larry Webb, Phil Lewis, Mark Zellman, Jim Lynch, Kris Marinelli, Ken Mercer

Lifetime Members:

Paul Behling, Gary Bedard, Bruce Douglass, Dave Douglass, Ed Eno, Mike Foreman, Joe McAuliffe, Jack McLeod, Paul Peters, Bill Smith, Blaine Smith, Craig Smith, Norm Smith, Tom Snell, Keith Tschirret, Ned Watson

Respectfully submitted by Paul Peters, Spark-Plugs MHRA Club Representative.