Monday, November 26, 2012
More Historical Substance on the Trotters
The Trotters Hot Rod Club
Several years ago, as I was perusing through the stacks of my local library, I found a brief history of a car club from Middletown, Ohio. What struck me about its contents, however, was a photo taken of a dragster that was built by an African-American car club from Columbus, Ohio known as the Trotters. I found a few photos of the Trotter’s cars on the Web, and I posted them on my blog, but nothing else. Lately, however, two of the members of the Trotters contacted me and gave me their stories of the club and their role in the membership.
The Club began around 1952 with 5 members and one car, a 1932 Ford 2 door sedan powered with a Chrysler hemi. During the early 1950s these 5 friends, including George Wingo, from the Dayton area, and Larry Williams, approached the Pipers Car Club from the East side of Columbus, but were rebuffed from joining. So the Trotters emerged as a primarily African American, but also interracial club that built, owned, and maintained a show and go trophy winning B dragster, and a screaming 34 3 window coupe. Their cars and members were featured in Hot Rod Magazine and Ebony, but their very success ultimately led to their end.
The Trotters organized an annual custom car show in Columbus, appropriately named Trott-A-Rama, that proved to be a tremendous financial success. So much so, that the true car guys in the club were purged by a group not nearly as obsessed with racing machines. Charles Bryant, his brother, and Larry Williams were all removed from the club, a fatal move in the long run. And what happened to the B rail dragster? Apparently one night, after being left behind before a race, maintenance chief Bill Richardson, out of anger or frustration, took a torch to the frame of the dragster and cut it in two, thus ending the Trotter’s presence on Midwest and national drag events in 1966.
Only five members of the Trotters are still alive, the rest having gone “through the pearly gates.” During the Golden Age of the 1950s and early 1960s there were many hot rod clubs active from coast to coast, and like the Trotters their members are now either getting up there or deceased. With their passing we are losing historical accounts of great value. If you were once a member of one of these clubs, or know someone who was a member, please get your recollections down on paper, as they are a valuable part of auto history.