If magazines had been based in the South, Memphis would have been the equivalent of Southern California. While Garlits gets all the East Coast love, Memphis was the “Traction Capitol of the South,” and that’s largely due to the efforts of the Memphis Rodders car club. They began in the 1950s as a group of car-loving high schoolers who brought drag racing into legitimacy within their community.
Starting with an air strip at a military base 80 miles away, the club and its members eventually evolved into building Lakeland drag strip that cultivated a culture and industry for the southeast. From these humble beginnings sprang some of the fastest cars in the country and numerous companies like COMP Cams, RHS, TCI Automotive, Godman High Performance, Coleman-Taylor Transmissions and more.
Each year for more than two decades, a group of volunteers pays respect to the Memphis Rodders while helping to raise money for the Shriners’ noble cause of helping burn victims. This year’s festivities included a catered BBQ dinner, seating among a fine collection of local street and race cars, and a silent auction. The highlight of the evening was a very special video presentation of the club’s earliest members recounting the club’s origins, sharing stories, educating the crowd on how and why the Memphis Rodders came to be. For the grand finale, they rolled several of the drag cars outside and fired them up on fat loads of nitro.
From a group of friends came a legacy that changed the course of Memphis history. Circulating through the crowd was a collection of the area’s legends and heros. The annual event is open to anyone who wants to attend, and all proceeds go to their charity. See their Memphis Rodders Reunion Facebook page for more information and enjoy the photos.