Straight Eights Car Club
by Greg Carloss
In our experience, the car enthusiast community is a welcoming one. Still, it can be hard to find a club to call home, especially for those of us with eclectic taste. Well this week our “Over the Edge” guy Greg Carloss attends a car show that celebrates the inclusiveness and diversity of America’s car culture.
GREG CARLOSS: As a cool September breeze blows on a quiet morning in Bethany Beach, Delaware, a rare car backs into an empty space next to another rare car. Then another. And another, until the whole street transforms into the automotive equivalent of a smorgasbord.
This is the annual Beach Ball for one of the Mid-Atlantic’s most unique car clubs.
Joining a car club is a great way to socialize with your local automotive community and while some value exclusivity, the Straight Eights chapter of the Lambda Car Club is all about inclusivity.
BILL TEANEY: So, the Straight Eights Car Club, we are one of 32 chapters under our national parent organization, which is Lambda Car Club. We fall in this region and the club was created in 1982, so actually this is our 40th anniversary, which is pretty awesome.
GREG CARLOSS: Lambda is the country’s largest collector car club for the LGBTQ community and their allies. The Beach Ball serves as the yearly invitational for the D.C.-based Straight Eights chapter.
BILL TEANEY: It really started off about 30 years ago as just really this kind of beach weekend getaway, but then the guys then also started incorporating it with their classic cars so then it just kinda grew and evolved over the years and here we are fast forward 30 years later and today we have 80 cars and 135 registrants just for this Beach Ball Getaway Weekend.
GREG CARLOSS: While a trip to the beach is barely a half-day’s jaunt for most members, some drove across the country to be here.
JOHN NORTHUP: You get a lot of bugs in 2600 miles
We just love a road trip and being from Utah we thought come out here, see the coast, meet some folks that we don’t run into ordinarily and just enjoy the weather, which happens to be really nice right now.
We drove a 1987 Cadillac Allante, which was the first year for the Allante.
GREG CARLOSS: A lot of car shows you go to, you end up seeing the same cars over and over again, but this show is different. Here, the selection of cars is as diverse as the people that drive them.
Walk down the street and look left, there’s a restored 1926 Chrysler Phaeton next to a modified Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Look right, there’s a Rambler Marlin.
And over here there’s a…wait a second…I know that Edsel.
BILL TEANEY: We have categories; we have a voting ballot today if you notice all the placards on the dashes of the cars. We’re gonna have an awards banquet tonight, which we do every year. And we have about 20 categories. We try to include everybody. Give them a shot at, you know, winning something.
GREG CARLOSS: Which is good news for cars like the often-overlooked PT Cruiser.
But while trophies are nice, this show is clearly about more than winning awards.
RUSS PRECHTL: Russ Prechtl, I have a 1966 Dodge Charger. Bought this one about a year ago. I’ve always had one in my family. My dad and I picked up one brand new in 1966 and had one or the other of those for many, many years.
I’m here with my daughter Sky. We do this together. We go to a lot of these events together and I’m teaching Sky about the car. The art of a 1960’s muscle car.
JIM BYERS: It’s a great opportunity to socialize with a friendly group of people who enjoy all sorts of cars. You know, sometimes in certain car clubs you can feel a little uncomfortable if you don’t have the hot car, if you don’t have the whatever and you don’t even have to own a vintage car for our club. I mean it’s really all about the enjoyment of vehicles in general.
GREG CARLOSS: The Straight Eights serve as an important reminder that when it comes to cars or anything in life, be proud of your individuality and embrace that of others.