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