In the fall of 1955, 30 young men gathered to form an auto club, which they named the Rebels Car Club of Lincoln, NE. The membership increased to better than 70 in a few weeks. Today, the REBELS Auto Club is one of the most active clubs in operation.
The original objective of the Rebels Car Club was to promote safe driving and the true meaning of hot rodding. In the desire to promote safer, more courteous driving, the club worked on many city projects, assisting the Lincoln Safety Council with their annual "Citywide Circle of Safety Vehicle Safety Check".
Back in the day, there were rules! You had to be at least 16, have a valid drivers license and own a car with at least 3 modifications. Dues were $.50 a month, and you had to be current to run the drag strip at the old airport out on Highway 77.
For more on the history of the 'Original' Rebels Car Club, see 'How It All Started', which is the last article on this Page..
In April 1960, the Rebels Car Club received national recognition in Hot Rod Magazine as they were featured as the "Club of the Month" – which, in those days, was an outstanding achievement.
In 2008, writers Richard Parks and Jack Stewart wrote an article in HotRodHotLine, which at the time, was considered the 'Worlds Largest Online Rodding Magazine.' The article was about Dick Wells, one of the original founders of the Rebels Car Club.
In addition, Dick Wells himself wrote an article in 'Rod Action' Magazine in December of 1972, outlining how the Rebels Car Club began.
Download and read BOTH articles below:
The Photo to the left is from the April 1960 issue of Hot Rod Magazine . All Members of the 'Original Rebels Car Club were not in this photo. However the ones that are in the photo, are as follows:
(Left to Right)
Marvin Jacobs, Ron Wright, Woody Walters, Andy Anderson, Lefty Hildreth, Mike Kelley
(Left to Right)
Ron Bonebright, LarryWentink, Lonnie ???, Wayne Kreps, Barry Strube, Harvey Hutton
(Left to Right)
Larry Converse, Jerry Graft, Tom Durbel, Gary Bropst, Ron Hack, ‘Pewee’ (Jerry) Filbert, Robby Worster
Original Rebels Auto Club Members (Alphabetical):
Gary Barger, Marty Bassett, Greg Bischof, Jon Bischof, Ron Bonebright,
Norbert (Whitey) Hildreth, Palmer Hildreth, Chuck Hughes, Harvey Hutton,
Mike Kelly, Harold Kurtzer,
Norm LeGrande, Wayne Loos,
Jim Schmitz, Don Shea, Ted Schultz, Larry Sitner, Ernie Sturzenegar,
Woody Walters, Bill Wertz. Jim Westcott, Bob Worster, Tom Worster,
The Club began adding Members at the end of 1955 and into 1956. The group photo above is from the April 1960 Hot Rod Magazine. Some of the original charter members are not in that photo and others joined later.
A few of the Original Members NOT in the photo are, Joe Chisholm (who had a 1946 Ford Convertible) and Ron Eley (with a 1949 Ford). Both were SEHS class of 1957. Club President Dick Wells was with Hank's Auto Store and then went on to Speedway Motors as a Salesman. Dick had a 1957 Plymouth Fury.
Woody Walters was another original member and owned the ‘General Lee Dragster’ that was used as the Club mascot. The story behind the General Lee, was that originally, Speedy Bill Smith (of Speedway Motors) got it out West somewhere, maybe California. It held the World’s Record in the quarter-mile in the Flat Head class for a few weeks at 148 MPH. Dick Wells, the first President of the Rebels Car Club, worked for Bill at the time and talked Bill into selling it to the Rebels. It became the GENERAL LEE. 10 members of the Rebels agreed to pitch in $10 a month to pay Speedy Bill monthly for the Dragster. After a while, the monthly $10 were not coming in, so Dick said to the ten, “If any of you want to take over and pay off General Lee, it will be yours.” No one stepped up at first, because the Rebels still owed Bill for about half of the dragster.
Woody Walters then sold his 33 Ford 2 door sedan (which was Joyce Smith's car before that) to Lefty Hildreth, a club member, and paid off Speedy Bill to become the owner of General Lee. After about 4 years of playing with it, Woody sold it to a member of the Air Force Base car club, the Shondos. Out on the South West corner of West O Street in Emerald, NE was a big barn looking building that was a service station at one time. It had closed many years before and the Shondos rented it. It had a lot of street rods and custom cars in it and that was where General Lee was stored.
The building caught fire and there was no Fire Department within miles, so it all burned up. There was nothing but scrap left of the General and so many other hot rods. It was sad to see the pile of ashes and steel frames and bodies.
The Rebels Car Club used the confederate flag back then, but it was never meant to be anything other than representing the Club name, just as it does today. The flag was suspended on two side poles at car shows and displayed behind the General Lee Dragster with a big red-colored shag rug in front and underneath. The Rebels trophies were lined up on the rug in front of the General.
At car shows, they put the 2 D & D Maple Brothers white 32 Ford coupes on each side of the General Lee. Those 3 cars formed the end of the club display and spectators coming down the middle aisle had to turn left or right. On each side of the spectator aisles, the rest of the Rebel's cars were lined up, side by side on both sides! The Rebels won BEST CLUB DISPLAY at nearly all of the car shows they attended.
The ‘Original Rebels’ didn’t have their own car shows right away. In 1958 they hired an Omaha promoter by the name of Bill Baker, to run their first show. The show was very successful, but most of the money ended up with Baker. Woody Walters was the Club car show manager and worked hand in hand with Baker. After the first show, Woody showed the Club how the Rebels could run their own car shows and keep all of the money, which the Club still does to this day!
Using funds from their shows, the Rebels started building the Club Model T Pick Up. It was registered as a 1925, but many different years of parts went into it. Woody Walters painted it white and it was also parked at the end of the Rebel's ‘walk display’ at shows.
By this time, the Club had also started the Lincoln Timing Association along with other Lincoln auto clubs and with a lot of help from the ‘Shondos.’ The Shondos were a car club at the Lincoln Air Force Base made up of Air Force guys, many with very high rankings (Shondo means to ‘turn around for the good’). The Rebels were the first to start ‘organized’ drag racing, which was done on a very smooth airstrip used to land B52’s and F4’s.
Each year the Club would have a ‘Miss Rebel’ contest with the Betty Bon Modeling School in Lincoln. The winner got to go with the Rebels to the car shows that year. That worked well for the Rebels and the winner because she would win gifts at the shows. The Rebels ‘Miss Rebel’ nearly always became ‘Miss Auto Show’ no matter where they traveled to a show. The other clubs would typically pick a wife or girlfriend of a Club Member. The Rebels did not want to get into ‘Who had the prettiest wife or girlfriend,’ and that helped keep peace within the Club family.
The Rebels then rented a garage that was also used as a Meeting place. During the winter months, they almost froze, due to the poor heating in the garage.
Then, Member's wives started having babies (now what caused that?) and the guys needed money to support their new families. Many Members quit paying dues, and the Club finally got too far behind to keep things going. They could no longer pay rent on the garage, and in about 1965 or 1966, the Club was pretty much over.
A few Members hung out some after that, but it was more about friendship than a Club. Club Member Andy Anderson stored the T Pick Up, flag, trophies, and whatever else the club had accumulated.
THE REBELS ARE BACK!The Club ‘started up’ again in about 1996 under the new name of 'REBELS Auto Club.' Instead of renting a garage-like before, they met at different eating spots once a month in Lincoln, a tradition that continues to this day.
Woody Walters tells about coming back to one of the new Meetings and sitting quietly with a large paper sack at a new (to him) REBEL'S meeting about 2001. This particular Meeting was held in the lower level of Eddie’s Steak House on the North/West corner of 48th and O. At the end of the meeting the President asked, "Is there any more business before we adjourn?"
Woody stood up and asked, ”Who is in charge of REBEL’s clothing because I have a complaint?” Woody then reached into the paper sack and pulled out his old Gray Wool Rebels 3/4 coat (like the one hanging in the Museum of American Speed). Woody said, “This Rebel's coat has shrunk; you see it won’t go around me anymore when I try to put it on!
”Well, the place broke up with laughter and Stu Kirkbride, one of about 6 or so original Rebels Car Club members that had joined the new REBELS Auto Club, proceeded to introduce Woody to the other Members.
Some of the new REBELS were also members of other Lincoln car clubs back then, just as they are today.