Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Why have a club at all?

Why do we join a club?

I am the daughter of a true motorhead! A man who loved automobiles! He knew them better than I know horses or computers. Cars were his life, his job and his passion!!

My father was a member of many clubs, his love of racing cars started before I was born and continued until his death in a street legal roadster. He was a dirt track superstock racer with a full sponsorship from Montgomery Wards in Chico, CA, our hometown. As a member of the North Valley Racing Association, he helped make dirt tracks safer, he was a volunteer emergency crewman. The NVRA orange van lived at our house for years, full of all kinds of emergency equipment used on the Stock Car dirt tracks. As a club member, he was active in and loved every part of the racing scene! From the hobby stock to the super modifieds, they were all part of the racing family!

My father was also a member of the Kaiser-Fraser Club. A small but well organized group with members all across the country. They had “meets” that members attended with their restored Kaiser-Fraser cars. The “meets” were always well attended, upwards of 100+ of these rare collectable cars would be brought from all corners of the US and compete for top honors in such categories as “Most Original”, “Peoples Choice”, “Rarest Model” and all sorts of other categories! One of my favorite classes was Original/Modified…..sort of the improvement class, with modifications of anything mechanical that improved upon the failures of the original creation, like rust prevention, engine improvement, braking improvement and all sorts of cool creative gearhead items! Dad’s cars were always “original” in presentation, not always the original color and sometimes body parts came from other scavenged cars found in wrecking yards across the west (more adventures!). But all the club members knew where their cars fit into the categories and appreciated each and every other member’s efforts at restoring and showing off their particular side of this wonderful old and historic part of American memorabilia!

How have these past experience influenced me? Well, as part of a club, we each bring our own special view and expertise to the group! I grew up with a broad appreciation of “all original” and “super modified”! Club members who were friends of my father would talk for hours on the merits of “all original miles”, “max horsepower potential”, “heritage faults”, “improved manufacturer defects”. Each person appreciated other member’s abilities and love for the car. I liken this to my need for being part of a group that adores all the aspects of the Appaloosa Horse in all its various forms! A group that comes together under a defined set of criteria and uses said criteria to preserve and celebrate the original as well as enjoy the improvements made to modernize!

But as in any organization, there are basic ground rules. We don’t like putting a big Chevy engine into a ’65 Mustang…..most of the Ford folks call that bastardization! A purist just cannot fathom wrecking something to that extent! Oh, improve the suspension and braking, but leave the basic vehicle original.

This is what is happening to our beloved Appaloosa Horse. There are members who have for years painstakingly bred true to the intent of the club founders, and there are those who have gone more modern by infusing traits from other acceptable breeds. But the purists always believed in their hearts that those modern breeders cared about improving upon the Appaloosa, not making it into a Chevy when in fact it was really a Ford. The original ideal that the major portion of the membership fell in love with is a very, very scarce commodity in this modern day. The rules of the club most of us Appaloosa lovers belong to seem to be up for constant interpretation and not for the betterment or the preservation of the Appaloosa Horse.

If bending and breaking of rules was acceptable, then we would have anarchy in our society. But we HAVE RULES and when those rules are broken, people ask WHY?

Why is it OK to interpret a rule to the detriment of it’s intent??? Why is it OK to make excuses for those who do break the rules? Why be part of a club at all, when the club does not celebrate ALL portions of its members?

If society says running a red light is an offense against the rules, then if you get caught doing so, should you not get a ticket?? If a club has rules about how a horse can be bred and you break those rules, should you be allowed to register that horse?

A club is only as strong as it’s membership. When the membership decides to look the other way, then the club begins to decline.

The Kaiser-Fraser automobiles are still out there, but they are extremely rare. The Appaloosa Horse deserves faithful and loving protection from the very club created in 1938 to do so!