In the winter of 1954 in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, eight young hot-rodders assembled and formed a hot rod club which was called the TAPPET TICKERS HOT ROD CLUB.  A year later the club became an official sanctioned club of the Michigan Hot Rod Association (MHRA). Club members were eager to participate in the construction of the MHRA Drag Strip that was planned for the grand opening in May of 1957.

Many Tappet Tickers club members were frequent competitors at the MHRA strip in the late 1950s. Bill Haboush and Dick and the late Bob Forton placed in the top 20 in 1957, with Haboush winning the strip points championship that year.  Haboush and Paul Curtis competed in the World Series of drag racing in 1956, in Lawrenceville, Illinois.  Haboush, Forton, Bill Large, Dave Lyall, Paul Vibbert, Gordon Reilly, and Jerry Noice participated in the World Series of drag racing at Cordova, Illinois in 1957.

In 1956, a club member, Frank Miller showed his custom Chevy at the 4th Autorama at the Michigan State Fairgrounds.  Later, in 1958 four members’ cars were displayed at the 6th annual Autorama. Among those cars were the Forton brothers Model “A” Coupe, Haboush’s flat-head powered “Screaming Demon” Dragster, Curtis’ Olds Powered 1949 Plymouth 4-Door Sedan, and Al Maynard’s ’32 Ford 5-window coupe.

The club hosted a first-of-its-kind lawn show at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial in 1957 and again in 1958, with three more in 1970, 1971 and 1972.

In 1964 the Tappet Tickers officially changed its name to the Competition Specialists Auto Club (CSAC), and every year since 1965 has had the distinction of having at least one member on the MHRA Board of Directors, with a high of four members on the board in 1970-1971.  There are currently (2009) two members on the board.

For more than 10 consecutive years in the 1960’s & 70’s, club members attended the National Hot Rod Association’s National Drag Races in Detroit and Indianapolis in support of club member racers: Dick Forton, the late Vern Tratechaud, Frank Pryg, Ken Neal, Maynard, Haboush, Max Lunsford, Curtis, Sam Gianino, Large, Charlie Garber and Jim Gilbert, Sr. During those years club members won various classes and held both elapsed time and top speed records.  Haboush and Lunsford also ran the first automatic transmission dragster at a National event in 1965.  We could always depend on “Mother Forton”, the resident club cook, to feed everyone steaks and corn on the cob along with plenty of liquid refreshment.

In 1965, Haboush and Lunsford won first place for full bodied dragster, and Forton and Garber took second place for altered comp. roadster with their “Polish Circus” race car at Autorama.

CSAC participated in a road test of the 1966 Fairlane GT for Car Craft Magazine at Ford Motor Company’s Dearborn, Michigan test track.

As a new MHRA Director in 1967, Paul Curtis initiated the first of eight Pre-War Rod Runs. He and other club members were the nucleus of the MHRA Rod Tour committees for the next four years.  

In 1969, CSAC members, Haboush and Forton attended the first Street Rod Nationals event in Madison, Wisconsin.

Another distinction is the club’s continued participation in the Detroit Autorama. Many members have worked on the Autorama staff, with the late Lee Lasky serving as chairman for nine years, Forton for 34 years and Maynard, one year. Also serving as co-chairman were Gilbert Sr., five years; Haboush, three years; Maynard, three years; and Bob Reynolds, two years.

Another milestone in the CSAC history was the first year for MHRA Rod Repair Shop.  Nine club members participated on the repairs committee that year.  They worked out of the back of a van loaded with borrowed tools at the 1972 NSRA Street Rod Nationals in Detroit.  They provided much needed free repair services for those participants that had traveled several miles from home in their street rods and had experienced some type of failure.
The winter of 1972-1973 saw the construction of the first Rod Repair Shop trailer, built at Forton’s Mower Service in St. Clair Shores.  CSAC members Forton, Large, Reynolds, Gilbert, Sr., Curtis, Garber and Charlie Rose were involved in building the first MHRA “Rod Repair Shop Trailer.”   The repair shop made its official debut at the 1973 NSRA event in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Club members have worked as part of the Rod Repair crew for the past 38 years, with member Large serving 35 years
The club was responsible for the establishment of The State Fair Swap Meet in 1975.  It was the first Hot Rod Parts Swap Meet in the Detroit area and it continued for the following 23 years. 

The MHRA Inter-Club Demo Derby was the brain-child of the club.  The club proceeded to win the event with Gilbert, Sr. as the driver for three of the five years it was held.  The CSAC Chrysler Imperial Demo Car was so nicely built and painted that it appeared in the Detroit Autorama before its destruction the following summer at the Mount Clemens Race Track. 

Club members attended, as a group, the 40th anniversary of the Bonneville Speed Week in 1988 and then again in 1998 for the 50th anniversary.

In 2001, after a few years absence from the swap meet scene, CSAC produced the “Motor City Motorsports Expo” (McME), the first of its kind Automotive Hobbyist Trade Show in the Detroit area.

The club continues to grow and currently has 22 active members.


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