In early February 1996, a group of middle aged hot rodders were hanging out at Jimmy Deer's Martinez Gold jewelry shop on Washington Road. It was right next to the Sonic Drive-In. We would meet there on Friday evening and bring our cars. Most of the group had been drag racers in their earlier years, and there were many stories to tell of races won and lost.In the course this bench racing, it was discussed that the only car club in the CSRA at the time was the Dixie Wheels. Some of us had been members, but had left for various reasons.
Jimmy Deer, with a custom red Lamborghini, Fritz Good with a red Chev II Prostreet sedan, Gary Feenstra with a yellow 36 Master Deluxe street rod, Ed Meigs with a blown Chevy ElCamino and Wayne Buxton with a red blown Chevy ElCamino, were the initial group. The group, after much discussion, decided to form a car club that would have no meetings, no dues, only an initial charge of $10 to join, with the promise of lots of fun. We would have cruise-ins right next door at Chuck Mason's Klassic Connection Used Speed Equipment shop. Each person put up $25 and the very next day Fritz, Ed, Gary and Wayne all went up to Greenville, SC to a big indoor car show. Poor Jimmy Deer had to work, so it was discussed who would be the very first president of the club we were forming. Since Jimmy was absent from our trip, he was elected to be the first president and treasurer.
Joyce Feenstra gave us the name Road Angels and drew up the very first T-shirt design. We finally settled on the CSRA Road Angels and by March 1st the club was officially in business with $125 to start. Right next to the Sonic was a small shop that sold used speed equipment, Klassic Connection, owned by Chuck Mason, and he was our first new member. We parked our cars in front of his shop and set out our lawn chairs and the first cruise-in was on, big time. Right next door was Kathy's T, who printed up some shirts with our logo on the front and a flamed 55 Chevy on the back. We wore them proudly to the weekly cruise-ins and car shows. They remain collector items now!
Soon the small, kick-back, no rules, just fun, car club of 6 members attracted the attention of other local automotive enthusiasts. Jan and Genie Holley were next to join and many more couples would follow. The cruise-ins soon outgrew Klassic Connection's parking area, and we asked Sonic Drive-In if they would like us to put on a cruise-in at their drive-in and they agreed to sponsor us. Guys joined to have fun with their cars and their wives and girlfriends came along to socialize. The club hit the big time with 120 or more cars per cruise-in, but parking was becoming difficult.
Ticket raffles helped raise money for the club, with some of the original "ticket ladies", such as Frances Griffin and Joanne Friar kicking off a successful way to bolster the club's treasury. The money went to defray newsletter mailing costs with the increasing membership rolls. Early members were David Brinkman, Ron Paleschic, Randy Griffin, Bob Atkins, Robbie Atkins, Buddy Robinson, Coy Bullock, Eddie Friar, David Junod, Johnny Stratton, Jimmy Ousley, Tony Grubbs, Gerry Hall, Mike Thomas, Keith Merton, E.R. Hughes, George Thompson, Stan Maciaszek, Ron Myers, Tom Rennison, Jim Drake, Charles Baxley, Pete Reynolds, John Sorrells, Gene Baker, Jim Ball, Kent Spruill, B.J. Hill, Cecil Hogan and Corbet Williamson. Some members are still on board, while others have moved on. There were many more, but there were too many to list. Sorry! Past Presidents included Jimmy Deer, Ron Paleschic, Jan Holley, Sammy Cain, Gerry Hall, Joanne Friar, Mike Buxton and now Craig Butler. Some served multiple years. No club could be successful without the women of the club that have worked so hard to make the club successful. Ladies like Genie Holley, Pat Williamson, Eleanor Myers, Frances Griffin, Rose Buxton, Joanne Friar, and Joyce Feenstra, Kathy Rhodes and Gloria Butler
With the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA) covering both sides of the Savannah River we drew car lovers from Thomson, Ga. all the way to Aiken, SC. The Road Angels grew fast, topping out at 315 members. The club put on twice yearly car shows at Hooters, plus cruise-ins at the Sno-Cap in North Augusta. As new car clubs spun off, we partnered with the Corvettes and Mustangs to ensure that our car shows were successful. The club members took their cars to many big regional shows and won many individual and participation awards at shows such as Super Chevy Atlanta, Super Chevy Rockingham, Cruising the Coast Biloxi, Myrtle Beach Run to the Sun and Daytona's Turkey Run, just to name a few. The Road Angels produced the last big indoor car show held at the Augusta Civic Center called "The Massive Motor Expo" with over 13,000 people in attendance and featured cars from all the car clubs in the CSRA. We also supported many local clubs by attending their car shows.
The club lost three members early on to the Lord and club's Man and Woman of the Year award was established to honor their memory. The Frances Griffin Memorial Trophy is given to an outstanding woman in the club each year, and the Robert Atkins Memorial Trophy goes to an outstanding guy each year. Cecil Hogan, our third member, now has a car show named in his honor in Thomson, GA.
The club held meetings in many places, but the most memorable place was Tres Bons, a BBQ place, that was on Reynolds Street in Augusta, GA. Additionally the club has gone to Bobby's BBQ, Dukes BBQ, Red Lobster, Dyes Fish Camp, Fire Mountain Buffet, Golden Corral, China Garden Buffet, Sconyers BBQ, T,s Restaurant, Hickory Knob State Park and Old Buckarooo's backyard.
The club always tried to make everyone feel welcomed; many members have served as Vice President and Secretary and Treasurer. The club has continued to grow and do charitable work through our contributions to many different charities with over $50,000 being given away over 13 years. New members can get involved by talking to the old members and volunteering to assist at car shows and club events.
Well, what have we done lately that was of importance? We have continued to support our charities. We continue to publish a CSRA Road Angels newsletter for our members to inform and enlighten them on information and locations of automotive events in the local and surrounding four state area. For the last 6 years, the club has successfully staged the First Friday Car Show in downtown Augusta, GA. from April to October, and we support the Wounded Warriors Fisher House fund by staging the Thunder over Augusta Car Show. Our annual Road Angels Car Show held the first Saturday in November each year, drew 173 cars to the Stein Mart Shopping Center where Hooters welcomed us with open arms. The club receives many requests to support fund raising projects in the CSRA. we continue to hold a meeting once a month at different locations in the CSRA.
It is hard to compress 13 years into a few paragraphs, but the Road Angels continue to roll on and on. Our club leaders President: Jan Holley; Vice-President Georgia: Bobby Burnley; Vice-President South Carolina: Cindy Shea; Secretary and Treasurer: Genie Holley; provide splendid leadership with tremendous support from a cast of loyal members, many of whom have many years of service. Our members are our friends and we look forward to seeing them at the monthly meetings. It would be impossible to list the important people in the club today and in the past, but needless to say ya'll made the Road Angels the club that it is today.
To summarize the clubs position, with new members coming and old members falling by the wayside, the spirit of the original founders' lives on to this day. We continue to have fun with our cars, we do charitable work through our donations and we still enjoy each other's company.
I'm proud to be a member of the CSRA Road Angels Car Club!
Wayne "OLD BUCKAROOO" Buxton, an original founder