Oklahoma Region's First Twenty Years

Category: Region History
Published on Monday, 07 November 2011 23:31
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The article below was originally written by Bud Berg and published in the Apri, 1962 Gazette.  Bill Butler updated the article in 1968 when Oklahoma Region celebrated its 20th year.

CLUB HISTORY-1948 Through 1968

There are so many stories about the early activities in the Oklahoma Region that it is much like “Sam’s Almanac”, it’s hard to separate fiction and fact. The Oklahoma Region came into being in 1948 when Ray Utter of Shawnee, Oklahoma, heard about an eastern automobile club known as the Sports Car Club of America. Ray, having a very deep interest in cars, had a large collection of antique cars and one of the few sports cars then in the southwest, wrote the SCCA and in due course of time became a member. He was authorized to form the Oklahoma Region. Being the only member, he elected himself Regional Executive. Talk about rigged elections! The geography assigned to the Oklahoma Region included not only Oklahoma but Colorado, New Mexico, and portions of Texas and Arkansas as well..
This situation, one member and half the southwest, continued till early in 1950 when Dr. D.S. Harris of Yukon, the proud owner of a Crosley Hotshot, drove to Oklahoma City to get Paul Chapman to go to Shawnee to see Ray Utter’s collection of cars. They went in Paul’s MG TC. And when Ray Utter saw this he went to work. Membership in the Oklahoma Region Tripled. When Harris and Chapman returned to Oklahoma City, they called Pete Young and the Region gained another member. Not a bad percentage increase in membership for one day.

The Oklahoma Region SCCA was incorporated under the laws of Oklahoma in 1954 and the official and legal name became “The Oklahoma Region, Sports Car Club of America, Incorporated.” Pete Young was the Regional Executive at the time. From time to time a person comes along with an unusual amount of ability, enthusiasm, personality and a willingness to work. Such a person was A.W. ‘Bud’ Berg. Bud became a member of the Region in 1954 and from the records it appears this was one of the turning points in the Region from the standpoint of activities and membership growth.

Bud served the Region and the Club in many capacities, eventually being among the first to be designated as an ‘Executive Chief Steward.’ He also contributed to the design of the original Oklahoma Region emblem. Our current emblem was adopted in 1962 and the new design by Bill Roberts carried on the original concept in a more durable form.

During the next few years the ‘Picnic Rally’ came in. Everyone brought picnic food and beverages and somewhere along the route all contestants and workers spread their lunches together. There was also the Gimmick Rallye and Gymkhana. These events were designed to produce a more social atmosphere and still provide a basis of competition. I am not campaigning, merely relating, for these activities did accomplish the desired result.

Another type of ‘thing’ that was popular was a ‘Caravan Tour.’ No timetable or check points, only an agreed route through a pretty part of the state. Sometimes, just a Sunday trip and other times a weekend trip. Some would camp out and others would ‘rough it’ in a motel nearby. David Dooley’s comments at our March business meeting on sleeping bags reminded me of this.

Tommy Allen was and is quite an entreprenuer, coming up with such goodies on a rallye where, at the last minute a worker comes by and with black show-card paint and obliterates your odometer, leaving only the indicated speed visible around the edge. On one rallye an average speed was shown at 5.0 mph. On questioning by contestants, Tommy replied, “I doubt if you can drive this leg that fast.” He was right. That leg was 0.2 miles long and you were in reverse, crossing an earthen dam about three feet wider than your car. Since this was the end of the rallye and a group of ladies from a local church served a beautiful fried chicken dinner, in a nice shaded private picnic area, Tommy came out with no bruises. Good strategy.

This series would not be complete without mention of the “Rallye Sallye” group. This was the ladies’ auxiliary of the Oklahoma Region and was organized in December, 1958 for the purpose of promoting social activities and supporting Regional activities by working any type of event. The girls really worked, too. In February, 1959, they put on a “Tacky Party” at “The Hut” in Jones, Oklahoma. Mercedes Allen won a prize for the tackiest woman and Art Ainsworth won the men’s prize. Incidentally, the total expense for the party , food, decorations, hall rent, and prizes was $47.69. Thirty people attended and it was a real party with everyone pitching in on the work. The girls planned four parties a year.

Anything that had to be done, the girls were ready. The Region Race flags were shot so the girls got together with their sewing machines at Nola Joseph’s house and made a complete set of flags- Chief Steward, Starter, Corner Crews- the whole bit.

The girls held their separate meetings for about one year and decided they could accomplish more by sitting in on the regular business meetings. They were not supposed to have a voice in the Region’s affairs--- but--- you can see now how that went, bless their hearts.

 With the girls sitting in on regular meetings, it was decided to abandon the “Rallye Sal- lye” organization but carry on the activities from the Region’s treasury. The female of the species is tough to outsmart.

 Some of the charter members were Mercedes Allen, Mary Berg, Mary “the nut” Henderson, Sue Herndon, Margaret Lewis, and Mary Elizabeth Vahlberg. Mary Berg moved to Dallas, “the nut” to Lawton, and Sue Herndon to Houston.

Now that the “Spouse” can be a member at half price, we have lots of gals and the Region has prospered by it in many ways.

Detailed records of the first rally sponsored by the Oklahoma Region have long since disappeared; however, it was in 1950 and there were five, possibly six, cars entered. This being the first rally, the participants were very serious about it and insisted the timers be very accurate as the scoring was to be to THE NEAREST MINUTE.

The most famous rally of that era was the “Red Pegasso Rally” which wasn’t a rally at all but a hoax. It seems that during the summer of 1952, “Doc” Harris, the R.E., was informed the Oklahoma Region was to participate in a national rally by manning a check point. A group of workers were selected and drilled and trained to perfection. The day of the check point operation, “Doc” received a wire from Rally Headquarters that since there were no entries from this far west this part of the route was canceled. Quite a group had gathered early at the Boyer Courts and a pretty good party was in progress and to hold the bunch together, “Doe” bribed Western Union to send a dummy telegram: “3:30 Pd., Amarillo, Texas, 5:30 - Secretary, Oklahoma Region SCCA, Boyer Courts, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. ETA Oklahoma Checkpoint 9:00 p.m. in a red Pegasso”, signed Phil Hill. This wire was delivered to John Spurgin and when the announcement was made, every sports car buff in the country was notified. When the appointed arrival time was long passed, “Doc” made up some flimsy excuse and ducked out with his wife. Some of the members decided they would never see a real live Pegasso or Phil Hill either but the end result was a real good party anyway. Sometime later the truth came out when “Doc” confessed in a cowardly manner by a letter to the editor of Sports Car.

Paul Chapman, the holder of the first competition license in Oklahoma, No. 567, tells of the first race put on by the Oklahoma Region. It was held at Goldsby, an emergency airstrip south of Norman in 1952 and was won by a Texan named Carroll Shelby driving his first race and in a borrowed MG.

Doing some research on our membership, we found the oldest (in membership) member to be C.S. Trosper, a life member, joined March 26, 1951. C.S. now lives in Colorado Springs.

Other older, currently active members are:

Wiley Hunt, January 24, 1955

Tommy Allen, April 9, 1956

Rick Kelly a life member, July 24, 1956

Jerry Henderson, now in Lawton, February 18,1957

Joan C. Kenney, now in Michigan, April 26, 1957

Dick Workman, April 11,1958

Bob Vahlberg, September 2, 1958

Bill Butler, June 22, 1959

C. A. Leslie, Jr,Sept. 3, 1959.

The Following Is A List Of Our Regional Executives

1950—51 — John Ray Utter
1952—53 — Dr. D. S. Harris
1954 — Pete Young
1955 — Bob Hecker
1956 — Louie Carrol
1957—58 — Bud Berg
1959 — Ray Herndon
1960 — Bob Vahlberg
1961 — Dick Workman
1962 — Bill Butler
1963 — David Wood
1964 — Bill Watson
1965 — George England
1966—67 — Dan Craig
1968 — Glenn Leonard