As we are approaching the fifth year of our AHRF membership program, we are reflecting back on its launch and all of the wonderful support we have received from all of you who have joined in to help Save Hot Rod History. It is a cause that we have believed in for over 20 years now, but until we watched those new membership sign-ups come in on day one, we didn’t have a feel for the level of enthusiasm that existed. Fortunately for us and for the work that we do, hundreds of hot rod history fans showed up during those first few days, and we continue to be inspired by the support so many have shown. As long as you’re there, we’ll be here documenting these great stories and recording the first-hand accounts that lock in the evidence of how important this movement has been to our country and culture.
All that said, this looking back to the beginning stuff has brought up the question,” Who was first?” Someone always has to be first, right? Who was the very first person to sign up as a supporting member of the AHRF? We certainly have one heck of a collection of folks in the first ten sign-ups, that’s for sure. We’re proud to say many familiar and legendary names in the world of hot rodding signed up the moment it was possible; Jesse Belond Smith, Jon Ruvio, Dave Overholt, Lucky Burton, Zach Suhr, Mike Detwiler, and the great hot rod preservationist, Bruce Meyer, were all AHRF members in good standing within (literally) minutes of our membership launch. Yes, we were (and continue to be) pretty blown away by that.
But, again, who was first?
Well… the answer is… France-based hot rodder Baptiste Racine! That’s right, somehow Baptiste was able to sneak in right under the noses of all our homeland hot rod friends and snag that #1 position. Not sure if he set an alarm or was able to digitally schedule a button-click to happen within the first second of our system going live, but he pulled it off. Not only that, Baptiste, while living far away from the birthplace of hot rodding, was also able to build himself a picture and period-perfect roadster that would be the envy of any hot rodder anywhere, on any continent, and in any country. I guess when you are bitten by the hot rod bug, it doesn’t matter where you are or what your challenges might be, you get it done… and Baptiste has definitely proven that. But don’t take our word for it. You can check out some photos of Baptiste and his wonderful France-based roadster and imagine the reactions he must get when driving it in traffic surrounded by Renaults, Citroens, and maybe even the occasional Bugatti! No doubt we are all spoiled to live in the States and be able to source parts locally or from friends. It is a luxury that Baptiste probably doesn’t have on our same level. This definitely speaks to his determination and love of hot rodding and is something we should all be inspired by… even if we are a little jealous of that #1 AHRF Membership tag!
Thank you, Baptiste, for signing up, starting it all, and being a (#1!) supporting member of the American Hot Rod Foundation.