A hot rod show called Autorama is held annually in the dead of winter, a fantastic interlude from the cold. Although I could not attend this year, past events were really fun with lots of customized cars to get you thinking about summer’s Woodward Dream Cruise documented in these previous blogposts Thanks to the internet, photos of the Autorama hot rods on display at the show were readily available, as shown on this link to 100 of the best wild rides.
My personal favorite was this 1952 Ford Crestline Victoria because it reminded me of the cars driven by members of the Road Hawks hot rod club in Ft. Loramie during the 1950’s. Their trademark was a Road Hawk plate like the one shown below attached to the bottom of the rear license plate. All the Road Hawk cars were low riders like the ’52 Ford so the Road Hawk plate would scrape the pavement and sparks would fly especially at night.
The Gaier brothers were the coolest Road Hawks, as they all looked and acted somewhat rebellious, while also having the fast cars to match since their dad Gus and his brother Chub owned Gaier’s Garage in Ft. Loramie, now Gaier’s Chrysler Dodge Jeep dealership and long-time Fish Report sponsor.
One of the brothers, Gus, Jr. passed away recently and his obituary included this appropriate reference to the Club:
"August was a member of St. Michael Catholic Church, the Fort Loramie Athletic Boosters, Newport Sportsman's Club, Shelby County Crappie Club and the infamous Road Hawks. Jr. "Old Bluegill" was an avid fisherman and league bowler. He also enjoyed Redskin basketball and baseball, especially when his grandchildren were playing”.
Junior’s wife, Carol, still had his old Road Hawk’s jacket, as modeled in this photo by her grandson. Here’s a list of the Road Hawks members that Junior’s younger brother, Rich recalls, plus one more not on the list, Urban Boeke, as he lived on a farm just down the road from us.
Dad would get really upset when young Urb sped down Friemering Road where our farms were located going about 80mph with the exhaust cut-out emitting a deep roar heading into the curve approaching SR705.
The Road Hawks drove cars that had been lowered, chopped and customized with fender skirts, decals and a racy paint job. This baby epitomized the hot rods at the time:
My love for cars began at a young age as described in this previous blogpost and was reinforced in first grade because a neighbor Joe and I had a little car game we played while riding the school bus each morning. We would sit in the back seat of the bus and play by identifying various cars along the bus route, writing down their make, model and license number in a little notebook we kept. Car owners in Ft. Loramie at the time had license plates that all ended in “VP”. Out-of-area plates gained extra points; so did out-of state tags, but the first to spy a car with a Road Hawk plate automatically won the game that day.
Eventually the Road Hawks evolved into the Ft. Loramie Racing Team, which was located in the small building formerly Tony’s Body Shop if I recall, on SR66 just south of Al’s Place in Ft. Loramie pictured below that today is of all things a day care center! Back in the day, the Club had a great bar in the lower level, for sure long gone before becoming a daycare center.
|Marvin Smith in Car #1 driving for the Ft. Loramie Racing Team|
In 1991, several of the offspring from the Loramie Racing Team/RoadHawks formed Redskin Motorsports located west of Ft. Loramie on the site of the former Busse slaughterhouse, memories of which are documented in this previous blogpost.
The team won a championship back in 2016 as documented in this SDN article. No doubt that Road Hawk heritage helped with their success along the way.
In memory of the Road Hawks, I’d like to dedicate one of my favorite songs entitled “Hot Rod Heart” by John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival fame. Enjoy!
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