Area Street Rod Club Shares Love Of Vehicles, Community Outreach
By Ken Owen
Special to The Pilot
What brings together people with varied backgrounds and a wide range of ages from geographies spanning coast-to-coast? Answer: Their love of cars and a desire to indulge that love affair while making the community a better place.
In this case, it's the love of older American-made vehicles by members of the Sandhills Classic Street Rod Association (SCSRA). Formed in the mid-'70s, the club comprises some 70 active members throughout Moore County.
What is a street rod? It begins as a "stock" vehicle (in the case of SCSRA, this means American-made and more than 35 years old) and is limited in design only by the desire, imagination and pocketbook of its owner. It can range from "basically stock" to "radically modified," which is what makes the car hobby so interesting and diverse. Unlike the "100-point restorations" of the high-dollar Concours d'Elegance events, where vehicles are restored to the exact way they came from the factory), street rods can follow a variety of forms and are designed to be enjoyed and driven by their owners.
This love of cars often begins at a young age and can continue well beyond the years of retirement. Some car owners are motivated by the potential profit derived from restoring, modifying and selling a vehicle, even to the extent of making it a business. Most owners, however, consider their car or truck a labor of love and try not to focus on the money invested. It's still a hobby; and like many hobbies, it can take on a life of its own.
My wife, Anita Owen, and I are SCSRA members. We moved to North Carolina three years ago from San Diego, bringing with us our long interest and involvement in the street rod car culture. An ordained minister, I served for 26 years as the president of a national ministry that provides chaplains to more than 2,000 motorsports events every year, and for 20 of those years I served as the official chaplain for the National Hot Rod Association, the world's premier sanctioning body for the explosive sport of professional drag racing. Anita and I own a highly restored and modified 1959 Chevrolet sedan and look forward to attending a number of car shows and cruise-in events throughout the Sandhills area.
Each year, SCSRA hosts its Benefit Classic Car and Truck Show in conjunction with the annual Carthage Buggy Festival. The car show attracts more than 100 cars/trucks with participants from locations throughout North and South Carolina. The activities of the Buggy Festival - as well as class competition for Best Chevy, Ford, Mopar, Truck (et. al) of the show - make an enjoyable day for the participants.
SCSRA also hosts a Fall Car Show and schedules a monthly Cruise-In on the third Friday of each month (April through October) at Ledo Pizza in Southern Pines.
Cruise-Ins are casual gatherings of car/truck/motorcycle enthusiasts who share their love for their vehicles with others. These events draw hundreds of spectators from the community, which may spawn future involvement in the hobby. All proceeds from these events - as well as two cash raffles in conjunction with the two annual car shows - go to local charities. This year's chosen charities are the Carthage Food Pantry and Food Bank in Vass, Wheels to Work and Moore Coalition for Human Services. Since their inception, SCSRA has raised more than $75,000 for a variety of local charities.
SCSRA members participate in other community activities such as Christmas parades in Southern Pines, Aberdeen and Carthage. About 20 members brought their cars in support of the Southern Pines Police Department-sponsored "National Night Out" last August. Members travel each year to Pinelake Nursing Home in Carthage to wrap Christmas gifts for the elderly and also participate in the Tara Plantation (assisted living and Alzheimer's care unit in Carthage) community outreach and appreciation day.
The club also hosted the New Year's Day destination party for the annual caravan hosted by Cruisin' Carolina Magazine, a caravan which originated in Charlotte, with participants from all over the Carolinas.
Members are drawn to the club by their love of custom vehicles as well as the opportunity to assist in various community projects. The Moore County Board of Commissioners presented its 2011 Governor's Volunteer Service Awards to five individuals, one of whom was SCSRA-member John Calhoun. Calhoun oversees the transportation committee as Family Promise's transportation chairman. Their purpose is to restore used vehicles, which are then donated to low-income workers who need wheels for work.
"I consistently tell people I meet that I'm amazed at the number of beautiful cars that are in our area and truly admire the amount of work that goes into the creation and maintenance of each one," says Bert Higgins, an SCSRA member and retired banker from Connecticut.
SCSRA members are proud of the opportunities they have had to assist local charities and community organizations. These charities are obviously appreciative of the club's desire to lend a hand, as -evidenced by comments from various recipients. Rebecca Ainslie from the Cancer Care Fund, a 2011 charity -recipient, commented, "Our sincere thanks for the donation that will help our local cancer patients. We love that it is raised in such a fun way with wonderful people."
The Rev. Joseph Batluck, president and executive director of Sandhills Teen Challenge, said in a letter to SCSRA, "Because of partners in ministry like you and generous gifts such as yours, we are able to continue to help more men overcome addiction."
Monthly meetings are held at the Lunch Box That Rocks restaurant on Morganton Road in Southern Pines on the first Monday of each month at 7 p.m. Each meeting begins with prayer, and members bring canned goods for the Carthage Food Pantry. Anyone with an interest in American-made cars and trucks is encouraged to attend.
You also can learn more about the organization at www.sandhillsclassicstreetrods.com.
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