Thread: i'm in VA too
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Old 06-14-2004, 02:15 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Warrenton, Virginia
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By Tim Tepas

One of the greatest advantages of being involved with custom vehicles is meeting fun and interesting people. When groups of people culminate at a gathering like a 3 day event, everyone seems to relax and become better aquatinted. Although the sharing of knowledge and new trends is a great benefit, having a good time is much more worthwhile.

After being involved in the mini truck scene for over 15 years, I look back in retrospect at the many clubs I have been involved with and the people who have crossed my path. Beginning back in the early eighties, my life in the world of custom trucks started like most young people. I acquired a new truck with the help of my parents and drove it awhile as simple transportation. Even though custom cars and trucks werenít as prevalent back then as they are today, cool lowered cruisers were still rolling on the streets now and then. When I had the opportunity to see these cool rides up close, I knew that I wanted to build one of them.

After working hard at minimum wage jobs and saving my money, my custom GMC S-15 was finally taking shape, but there was something missing. I needed friends who were into the same hobby. My search for other vehicle enthusiasts ended when I was approached by a group of guys and girls that were forming a truck club called "Uptown Minis." The concept of a truck club was simple. A group of friends who like building custom trucks gets together each week to hang out at a pizza shop and talk about trucks. It sounded like fun, so I joined.

Since that time in 1984, I have been involved with several clubs. I have been a member, officer and founder of car & truck clubs and an officer on two occasions of a prominent mini truck council. Over the years I have seen people come and go in the sport, but I have never had as much enthusiasm for the direction customizing is going as I do today. I encourage those people not associated with a club to find a group of people who enjoy their hobby. If you do not know of a club in your area, search the many club listing found on most club websites. Find a club in your area and attend one of their meetings to gain more information about the type of people involved with the club and the activities they enjoy. Perhaps you can find a good, well established club to join. But if after you have searched you still canít find a club that interests you in your town, perhaps it may benefit you to start a club of your own.

Every day, a new club is formed. Many clubs are organized by a group of friends that have no intent other than slapping a club logo on their vehicle and cruising the boulevard. Without much thought and even less enthusiasm by club members, these types of clubs donít last more than a couple of months. But with a sense of direction and solid goals, many of these temporary clubs would last much longer.

If you are forming a new club, here are some guidelines to help you build a club that will be around for many years-

1) Chose an unparalleled name. The club name is the single most influential factor that you will be judged by. The name should reflect your club in a positive way. Research your name by searching club listings to see if a name you have chosen has already used. Do not use profanity or phrases that could offend another group of people. The more professional the name, the easier time you may have in hosting a show later on, or fewer problems you may have with the police. But by no means should your name be stale. Have fun in choosing a name and involve all members interested in forming the club in the decision making process.

2) Create a set of rules called by-laws. By-laws are a form of constitution that will be used to govern the club. They can be as simple as a few lines scribbled on a piece of notebook paper or as detailed as dozens of typed pages of text. How involved your by-laws are is completely up to you. Some important issues that should be addressed in the by-laws are requirements for membership, the process in joining, the place & time of meetings, club logos, officers, dues, rules & punishment and club participation in events.

3) Requirements for membership should spell out exactly what type of people and vehicles you want in the club. If your target is only people 21 years and older or race-ready sport compact cars, make sure you specify it in the club requirements. Considerations for membership should include the type of vehicles you are looking for including mini trucks, full-size trucks, compact cars, full-size cars, 4X4ís, hot rods, vans, etc. Minimum modifications should be addressed, such as altered suspensions, custom wheels, custom paint or whatever the club feels is appropriate. It may also behoove you to point out that all members be required to have current proof of insurance and registration in their vehicle at all times. I can recall 3 incidents where two or more club members got in an accident with each other during a trip and current insurance became a big concern.

4) The process to join the club is completely up to you. I have seen some clubs just ask the members informally, "What do you think of Joe?" and if everyone likes him, heís then a member of the club. Others are more strict. For these clubs, a minimum amount of meetings & club events must be attended before the club will be put to a vote. The petitioning member leaves the room and the club will have a secret ballot to decide Joeís fate. And still other clubs get pretty bizarre by having petitioning members turn around 3 times to let the club see their "assets" before the vote, while others arrange a special road rally where the petitioning member must spend up to 3 hours driving around the city solving clues to find out where the final destination is located. If the petitioning member reaches the final destination successfully, a party is then held in their honor and the petitioning member goes through a ritual indoctrination to become a full member. Whatever method you choose, outline the details in the by-laws and stick to it for each new petitioning member.

5) Place & time of meetings can be difficult to establish. Depending on the work and school schedules of members, not everyone will be able to attend all the meetings. Pick a time and day of week that most members will be free from obligations. Meetings can be held anytime, but they are normally held weekly, monthly, or bimonthly. Set the day of week & time and donít alter it. Most members will remember the date and time if it becomes a regular routine. For a meeting place, try and find one that is centrally located. This may be almost anywhere, including a fast food restaurant, car wash, drive-in movie, coffee shop, park or a club memberís house. Consider that the meeting location will be used year-round and that weather may have an effect on an outdoor locale. Many restaurant owners are happy to facilitate a club who regularly eats at the restaurant, but eating pizza every Wednesday night gets old pretty quick. Considerations for size of the meeting room, parking area and noise level should also be considered before choosing a location to meet. Anticipate the growth of your club and plan for itís future.

6) Club logos should be designed for easy reading and are typically made of vinyl, paint or metal. A vinyl logo is first designed on a computer and cut out on a plotter before being affixed to the front or back window of a vehicle. These logos are inexpensive to make and easy to apply. The drawback is that you are limited to less intricate designs than other forms of logos. Painted logos are applied to a vehicle by a custom painter. Painters vary in prices, however a painted logo is more expensive than vinyl and can cost as much as several hundred dollars depending on the size and detail of the design. The advantage to painted logos is they can be customized to reflect the taste of the owner of the vehicle with the use of special colors and designs. The paint is usually more brilliant than vinyl, but without proper care, the paint has a tendency to chip off of windows. Metal plates can be designed to be placed on the rear deck of a car or the tailgate of a truck and are visible through the rear windows. Metal plates can be removed and located to a side window opening for display during cruising, or held up at a function like an award ceremony. Plates vary in price depending on intricate designs, but once the mold is made, dozens can be mass produced and kept for new members joining the club in the future. The logo is sometimes hard to see in certain lighting, and artisans who make the plates can be difficult to find in remote areas.

7) Officers are used to better organize a club. The number of officers needed will depend on the size and formality of a club. Some clubs are so informal that they do not use any officers, while others have a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Historian and numerous Sergeant at Arms. Choose which positions would best serve your interests and have the club host regular elections to vote for officers. Naturally, a club with 10 members shouldnít have 8 officers. A title without any power is worthless. Conversely, a club with 60 members canít be organized if no leaders are in place. Get input from everyone, and add positions as they become needed.

8) Dues are used to pay for club operating costs. Although not every club uses dues to pay for expenses, it is often a good idea. Costs such as a club banner, T-shirts, photocopies, a club newsletter or a club event can be paid out of dues collected from members. Typical charges range from $2 to $10 per month for each member. A system of monthly or yearly collection by an appointed Treasurer or President should be put in place, and penalties assessed for members not paying their dues in a timely manner. All rules governing dues should be spelled out completely in the club by-laws for each member to know what is expected of them. The club may wish to keep the club funds in a bank account. Two trustworthy officers should be placed on the account. All too often a club Treasurer has been found with a new set of custom wheels while the club account has been left empty. Keep a close watch of monthly treasury reports and verify money transactions.

9) Rules & punishment are pretty basic. The actions most detrimental to the club should be addressed in the by-laws. Actions such as drunk driving, using drugs, spinning tires, missing meetings or events and so forth should be listed with punishments for each. These actions can be punished by a reprimand, probation, a monetary fine, or expulsion from the club. A Sergeant at Arms (or several) can enforce club rules and keep track of offenses.

10) Participation in events is key to meeting other enthusiasts and making a name for your club. Itís important to have as many of your club members participate in other car & truck clubís events to be well thought of. Search out shows and functions that most club members find interesting and plan to attend. Larger events, such as a 3 day truck run, may even be considered a "mandatory" event for all club members with few excuses for not attending accepted. Beware of making too many events mandatory, though, as this may make club members tire of a full calendar of functions.

11) Hosting an event may be a long term goal of the club. Events can range from scavenger hunts and road rallies to one day car shows and 3 day events. Allow the club to grow and let members become comfortable with each other before attempting such a feat. Your club should have a well established reputation in the community to attract the most participants to your event, and be sure to have enough members in the club to successfully host it. Include everyone in the planning of your event and cover all the bases prior to setting the wheels in motion.

Although there are many facets to organizing a successful car and truck club, these basic steps should help you get started. These ideas are by no means the only way to set up and run a club. Many clubs, large & small, have been run successfully by using different approaches. When in doubt, use your best judgment. We hope you find these steps useful is starting a new club or improving your already developed club. Feel free to e-mail us at for more information and tips that have allowed Modern Movement, Inc. to flourish and overcome many of the pitfalls other clubs have succumbed to.
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