In the early days, it was a dozen or so guys hanging around parking lots and driveways, talking about cars.
Today, the Newmarket Car Club is one of the longest running car clubs in York Region — it’s celebrating its 45th anniversary Aug. 17 — with strong ties and deep roots in the community.
Brothers John and Dan Arnold, club president and founding member respectively, are excited about the club’s upcoming year of events, including the Newmarket Car Club Crazy Car Show Aug. 24.
When the club originally formed in 1974, Dan said its 16 members would hang out informally at member’s homes or in the parking lot where Giant Tiger is currently located, talking and fantasizing about cars.
“It’s a dream,” said Dan, when asked how he would describe the club. “We’re an escape…a place to go.”
The club — an official not-for-profit organization now — is a place for hobby and friendship for its current 30 members, the youngest aged 19 and oldest is 80.
More than a place to talk about the mechanics of cars, the club is a brotherhood, almost like a fraternity.
The club’s customized crest can be found on the backs of each member’s shirts and jackets, worn proudly when they are out and about town.
John recalled a former member who passed away in December telling his wife before he died to ask all his fellow car club members wear their car club jackets to the funeral service.
Dan also noted that four members of the club who have passed away have been buried in their car club jackets.
“So, to me, that’s dedication to a club,” said John.
“You become a part of a family with us guys.”
The club is well known for giving back to the community, with its various fundraising events throughout the year, as well as their sponsorship of a local hockey team.
“What are we here for? We’re in the community, right?” said Dan about his dedication to giving back to the town.
The club’s mission is to give car enthusiasts an outlet for their passion. The members organize car shows locally, and are often invited by other clubs in Ontario to join their shows and events.
Dan added they have a great relationship with other car clubs and have built a reputation of being a very friendly and down-to-earth organization.
Sometimes, there are misconceptions about the car club, mainly that it is “a cruise club”.
Cruise club members spend most of their time riding their cars, whereas the Newmarket Car Club is more about showing cars and hosting events. Newmarket does have a cruise club, as well.
Another misconception is that people think they have to own a hot-rod to be a member. But Dan said even if you don’t own a classic car, anyone with an appreciation for the history and mechanics of cars is welcome to join.
Besides the local shows and fundraising events, the club gets together every other week for two hours at the Royal Canadian Legion in Newmarket, where the members have a chance to bring up new ideas for events and discuss their cars.
“You only get out of the club what you put into it,” said John.
He encourages all members to get involved, attend meetings and volunteer to be part of the event planning committee.
For the future, John’s goal is to raise the current membership of 30 to 100.
To be a member, you must be at least 18 years old, but junior memberships are available for the children of adult members.
John is very passionate about his 1971 GMC 2500 Series car that he rides around and brings to shows.
“There are only 7,000 left in the world,” he explained.
Dan loves his 1970 Nova in dark blue.
“It changes colour in the light and at night it turns black,” he explained.
The brothers believe it is their friendly and welcoming demeanor that has allowed the club to stay active for so long. They are humble yet proud of the club’s work over the years.
“We’re proud of our crest. We’re proud of our family. We’re all brothers (and sisters) in that club. It’s a brotherhood,” said John.
“We never forgot where we came from.”
John says he is honoured to be the club’s president, as you must be voted by the members to hold the title. But he added he doesn’t let his title get to his head.
“When we’re in a meeting or out in public, I’m not looked at as a president, I’m just a member,” said John.
“And that’s what makes it so cool,” he added.
The club has good rapport with many other car clubs in Ontario and will often travel to shows across Ontario to support fellow car enthusiasts.
Dan said in the next few years, he hopes to host a large event of all the local car clubs in Ontario at Burl’s Creek just outside of Barrie.
“I’ve always wanted to have one. That’s my goal,” he said.
The club’s next event takes place Saturday, Aug. 24 at Fairy Lake Park at Water Street and Main Street in Newmarket. The rain date is Saturday, Sept. 7.
This is the sixth year for the Newmarket Car Club Crazy Car Show, which will feature classic and exotic cars and is free to the public. If you want to be an exhibitor, the entry fee is $10. This is a family-friendly event and everyone is welcome to attend.
For more information, call John Arnold at 289-231-5233 or check out the Newmarket Car Club’s Facebook page.