Do You Know Your Roamin’ Angels History?
Roamin Angels began in the 1960s. Like so many teenagers in the early ’60s, the future Roamin’ Angels were into hopping up their cars and drag-racing in the Grass Valley area. Long before Hollywood came up with the phrase, they felt “the need, the need for speed.”
The stories of near misses with death in souped-up cars could make a book. Spare time was spent changing the engines, transmissions or rear ends of the teenagers’ cars to eke out a few more mph or to race those cars to see the results of their efforts.
In those days of more lax traffic law enforcement and no police radar, future Angels were able to get away with a lot more than they [would be able to] now. Still, getting a local drag strip would have been far better than street racing. They were inspired by the book—”Hot Rod” by Henry Gregor Felson—to form a car club to see if they could get the city fathers to convert an old airstrip into a drag strip.
The idea they had was to ban street racing by members of the club and to help people stranded on the road. Cards would be printed to give to those they assisted so that they might know who had helped them. Then, of course, the city fathers would realize what a great group they were and fund a drag strip where they could legally race. In light of that, they needed a name to reflect their purpose.
The name ‘Hell’s Angels’ not only was taken, but also projected the wrong image. Roamin’ Angels was finally chosen, reflecting the roaming nature of its members and that they acted as angels for those in road distress.
Whether this misspelling of either Roman or roaming was intentional or not has been lost in the mist of time. Nonetheless, about 50 high school-aged car lovers became the first Roamin Angels in 1962. [Note: Lanny Netz, the club’s first president, is still a club member.]
As the years passed, no drag strip was ever given to the Angels. Members went to’Nam, got married, had children, moved away and some had died. The Roamin’ Angels car club seemed doomed to die as the other two car clubs from the area had done.
But cars were in the blood of some of the members, a condition that couldn’t be cured. Around 1980, two of the original members started meeting at a local coffee shop to talk about cars. Soon a couple more of the old Angels joined them. Then car fanatics who had never been Angels in the ’60s started dropping in. The Roamin’ Angels were back on the streets.
Since then, the group has continued to grow. They now hold their weekly meetings at the Breakfast Club (in the Fowler Center, Grass Valley, next to Albertsons) [now meetings are held at Humpty Dumpty]to have enough room to accommodate the present members and expansion. It was a wise move, because now, 40 years later, they have over 180 members sporting over 500 classic cars and hot rods. They have become the largest car club in Northern California. On any Friday, at 6:30 in the morning, you might find over 25 members and other car enthusiasts gathered at the Breakfast Club [now Humpty Dumpty, upstairs] to eat, talk about cars, and just have fun.
Now you know…the rest of the story.
Originally penned by Ron Cherry. Original card from Lanny Netz’s archives of club ‘stuff’.