The Eliminators of West Rod Club
The Eliminators was a car club established in West, Texas in 1960. Founded by six passionate hot rodders, the club was dedicated to the world of rods and customs. With a motto of "Dedicated to Safety," the club played a significant role in the local car culture of the early 1960s.
- 1 History
- 2 Cruising the Drive-Ins: The Heartbeat of the Scene
- 3 Collaboration and Ingenuity: The Clubhouse as a Creative Hub
- 4 Racing and Rivalries: Tracks and Competition
- 5 Joe Smith: The Local Flathead Guru
- 6 Influences and Inspirations: Magazines and Beyond
- 7 The Challenge of Speed: Sourcing and Customizing
- 8 Legacy and Memories
- 9 Members
- 10 Club Cars
- 11 References
In the heart of Central Texas during the 1950s, a vibrant culture of hot rodding thrived. Among its most enthusiastic participants were the members of the Eliminators of West Rod Club. It all began in the small town of West where a shared passion for cars and speed brought together a group of young enthusiasts between the ages of 18 and 22. They formed the Eliminators, a club that quickly became known for its members' ingenuity and camaraderie. In a time when hot rodding was more than a hobby, it was a lifestyle, the Eliminators were at the forefront, setting trends and breaking barriers. In the same year of its formation, the club received sanctioning from the National Hot Rod Association.
Cruising the Drive-Ins: The Heartbeat of the Scene
The club's activities revolved around the local drive-in hamburger joints in West and Waco. These places were more than just eateries; they were social hubs where bonds were formed and rivalries were friendly. The drive-ins of Waco, just a short 16-mile trip away, were particularly popular, buzzing with the energy of young hot rodders showing off their latest mods.
Collaboration and Ingenuity: The Clubhouse as a Creative Hub
The club's primary meeting and workshop space was located in a building in downtown West. This structure, characterized by its corrugated metal walls and a unique concrete floor that sloped with the surrounding terrain, still stood in 2023. Despite its rudimentary appearance, it was a haven for the members. Within its walls, numerous engine modifications, automotive improvements, and custom body and paint jobs were undertaken.
Racing and Rivalries: Tracks and Competition
Racing was a significant part of the club's identity. While some members raced at the local drag strip in Waco on Sunday afternoons, others, as George mentioned, ventured to the NHRA-sanctioned track in Caddo Mills. "It was operated by the Millwinders club out of Dallas. Serious racing there," Jezek told Sondre Kvipt of Kustomrama in December of 2023. Although they didn't race there, the seriousness and skill witnessed at Caddo Mills inspired the Eliminators. The club also had a connection with the Rebels, a Waco-based club consisting of like-aged guys, fostering a sense of community among the hot rodders of the region. "Understand we were in or just out of High School so funds and resources were limited. The older guys in Waco had some nice stuff but we didn't associate with them very much. Waco was a popular "dirt track" town and featured racing every summer weekend on a quarter mile dirt track."
Joe Smith: The Local Flathead Guru
One member who stood out was Joe Smith. Known for his mastery over the flathead Ford engine, Joe raced a flathead-powered car with great success. His reputation extended far beyond West, making him a local legend and an inspiration within the Eliminators.
Influences and Inspirations: Magazines and Beyond
The club's style and approach were heavily influenced by hot rod magazines and the cars seen at events like Caddo Mills, "both on the track, in the pits or in the parking lot," Jezek recalled. These publications were not just magazines; they were windows to a broader world of hot rodding, full of new ideas and possibilities. Several club members participated in regional indoor car shows organized by the International Show Car Association, which was in its early stages. One of the club's cars, George Jezek's 1949 Chevrolet, even gained recognition by being featured in multiple custom car magazines, marking a notable achievement for its time.
The Challenge of Speed: Sourcing and Customizing
Acquiring parts was a challenge, as George pointed out. With limited options, members often turned to mail order or scavenged local wrecking yards. Trips to Custom Automotive in Dallas, a 70-mile journey, were adventures in themselves, underscoring the dedication and resourcefulness of these young hot rodders.
Legacy and Memories
The Eliminators Rod Club had a relatively short lifespan, disbanding in 1962. The primary reason for its dissolution was the departure of its members for various reasons, including college, military service, and work commitments. As George Jezek reminisced, "It was a good time to be a hot rodder. We enjoyed this hobby, and a couple of us remain friends to this day." His testimonials offer a glimpse into the joy and excitement of that era, a time when cars were more than machines – they were a canvas for creativity and a means to forge lasting bonds.
- George Jezek
- Charles Andrle
- Joe Smith
- Danny Schonerstedt
- Jack Willenborg
- Wesley Filer
- John Girard
- John Holland
- Billy Silaff
- Morris Faulk
- Bernard Gerik
- Glenn Lightfoot
- Joe Smith's 1934 Ford Four-Door Sedan
- George Jezek's 1949 Chevrolet 2-Door Sedan - The Candy Cart
- John Holland's 1950 Ford Convertible
- Joe Smith's 1951 Ford
- Danny Schonerstedt's 1955 Chevrolet
- Jack Willenborg's 1956 Ford
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