REBELS Auto Club Member Stan Dinges, along with about 8 other “kids” in the same age group started a car club called the Road Runners in 1957. Stan worked at Hanks’s Auto after Dick Wells left to go to work at Speedway in 1958. Stan mentioned that record-keeping and memories are a bitch after 50 years (a problem many of us can relate to) so he got together with Bruce Kennedy because Bruce had copies of the car shows held at the Fairgrounds in Lincoln.
The first official car show (‘official’ meaning that was held indoors and you had to pay admission to get in) was in 1960 in the new Coliseum at the State Fair Grounds. It was put on by William “Bill” Baker. Baker was the promoter that did car shows at the Omaha Auditorium. Stan Dinges, Dick Wells, Jerry Hahn, and one other person tried to get Baker to put on a show in Lincoln. The LTA (Lincoln Timing Association) was formed by then, and all of the Car Clubs in Lincoln helped to get the show started. One of the big concerns was the sawdust floor in the building. The Fairgrounds people guaranteed that dust would be at a minimum because of a fireproof dust-resistant spray that they would apply.
The Road Runners Car Club was formed because the group ‘wanted to be involved in something new.’ The Rebels and the Eccentrics Car Clubs were already established so the Road Runners did their own thing and in the next four or five years some 10 more clubs were established.
Stan said that the rules for the Rebels car Club membership were not always followed or not remembered right (what else is new). Membership requirements and the original members of the Rebels did not always match up. For example, in 1955 you had to be 16 have a driver’s license and have 3 modifications on your car. If that was the case, then a couple of the Members would have been 14 or 15 years old! One Member never even owned a car. Maybe that is why they called themselves ‘Rebels!’ Plus, President Dick Wells never owned a car until 1959. Dick drove his Mom’s 1950 something Plymouth. In 1959 after getting a contract with Wally Peterson of Hot Rod Magazine, Wells bought his first car, a 1959 Plymouth Fury. Wells started up the first recognized chapter of the NHRA in Lincoln. Stan says 'recognized,' because prior to that there was a gentleman called 'Chili Bowl' that claimed to be the official NHRA rep in Lincoln. When Wells started as NHR Rep there were other titles for assistants called Region and Area Reps. Stan Dinges was a area Rep along with Jerry Hahn who was a Regional rep.
As best as Stan and Bruce can remember, the first car show at the Fairgrounds that won for best display was the Rebels from Omaha for their ‘Doll House.’ The second year the Road Runners won by for their Island Display. The following year, the show was moved to the Expo Building.
The first organized show involving LTA members was started by Dick Wells in the hopes of putting up a united effort to the city of Lincoln to support a drag strip. The only strip in Lincoln at the time was the Shondos Hobby Club, sponsored by the Air Base. It was headed up by Major Kirby who was into cars and backed the drags as part of the base hobby club activities for airbase personal. The Major had a Corvette but but also had a black Pontiac. The Major was not always able to race his cars, so he had Jim O’Malley, a Rebels Car Club Member, and also an Air Force member, race his Corvette for him.
The only other drag strip was at the end of West O at the Milford - Seward dead end. The strip was a half-mile west on the dirt part of O street and was in a farmer's flat field and of course, was dirt. In 1957 on opening day, Stan Dinges won first place in B stock in his 1957 Chevrolet. Once the LTA was formed, the complete Association helped run the track with the Shondos for at least one year.
Stan was not a Rebels Car Club Member at the time, and just wanted to offer up a little more history of these, the best of times. Rebels Car Club members that were also in the Road Runners, were Doug Weber, Bruce Kennedy, Rod Phelps, Jerry Hutchison, and Stan Dinges.
During those years of car clubs, Stan also ran around with or knew at least half of the original Rebels from activities - especially those held late at night out on South 56 street, and also from his working at Hank’s Auto. They always had good times together, even though they did get blamed for the burning of the LTA clubhouse on West A (but, Stan said that is a whole other story).
The photo below is from the drags at the Air Base in 1959. Dick Wells is leaning against the car, and Stu Kirkbride is far left. This was Dick Well’s first car.