2014 Memphis Rodders Reunion Re-cap

After a one year hiatus, the Memphis Rodders Reunion roared back into the spotlight on November 20th, with lots of good times for all attendees. MC Lin Neal (above) gives the audience an overview of Jerry Pike’s slick 55 Chevy that was among the display cars on hand.

Over 300 guests settled into the Al-Chymia Shriner’s Temple on Shelby Oaks Drive, and found themselves mingling with some of the Memphis areas most well respected hot rodders, and racers spanning a time frame of over six decades.


A special treat was watching professional comedian ‘Herbie’ McCandless introduce his father Herb “Mr. 4-speed” McCandless to the reunion attendees. Herb then delivered a heartfelt and personal acknowledgment to the Memphis Rodders and the influence they had on his early drag racing exploits. Herb would go on to become a pioneer of Pro Stock drag racing driving for the legendary Sox & Martin racing team, and also spearheaded his own drag racing efforts throughout the 70’s. Herb became a respected Chrysler engine specialist based out of Burlington North Carolina, but has never forgotten his Memphis roots.

Herb’s stories were priceless. You had to be there. If you weren’t you missed some good story telling. Many thanks to Herb for the insight of how things used to be.

John Callies brought his super slick Che’Pon coupe to the reunion as a display car. The details on this car are endless, and many a jaw had to be picked up off the floor after giving it a thurough inspection. John’s car is a 1940 Chevrolet coupe powered by an aluminum Pontiac Pro Stock racing engine, and showcases John’s multi faceted fabrication skills throughout. A brief film showcasing John’s personal history as the former Head of Pontiac Motorsports, and the construction details of Che’Pon was shown to the attendees as part of the evening’s program.

Motorcycles are always a part of the reunion, and this year was no exception. A particularly compelling story was the saga of David Lloyd and his 1919 Harley Davidson. David entered the ‘Coast-to-Coast’ Cannonball Motorcycle Endurance Run from Daytona Florida, to Tacoma Washington, and finished in 6th place, only to have the bike stolen in Washington, and then recovered, before landing on the stage at the Rodders Reunion.

Among the display cars was Cleve Stewart’s 1969 SS/AH Plymouth Barracuda. This 426 Hemi powered race car is a shinning example of Chrysler’s performance efforts from the original factory-backed muscle car era.


A new drag racing trend was showcased at this year’s reunion. The X275 radial 1/8th mile class is making waves across the country. Two such cars were displayed at this year’s reunion, and the featured technology was stunning. Steve Hopkins showed us his turbocharged, LS powered 1998 Camaro, and Walt Wilhelm displayed his 1999 Mustang powered by a naturally aspirated Steve Schmidt big block Chevy. These cars are restricted to 275/60/15 radial tires, or if naturally aspirated, a 28.0” X 10.5” slick. The heads-up, wheel standing action captures everyone’s attention, and provides close, exciting racing competition everywhere it is contested.


Traditional street driven hot rods were represented by Bruce Gustafson’s immaculate 1969 Camaro, and Ernie Sutherland’s beautiful 1932 Ford 3-window coupe. Both cars are exquisitely prepared and feature the finest in automotive workmanship. Many thanks to Bruce and Ernie for sharing their cars with the reunion attendees.

In the historically significant department, we were privileged to see Larry Chamber’s “Chomper” 1957 Chevrolet displayed with full compliment of yesteryear memorabilia. Larry bought this car new, and spent many years racing it in NHRA’s stock eliminator wars. Larry was a Memphis Rodder, and this car and it’s owner have many stories to tell.


For many years, the Memphis Rodder’s Reunion has received considerable support from two of the areas oldest car clubs. The Memphis Classic Chevy Club, and the Memphis Street Rods both presented sizable checks during the reunion and significantly enhanced the contribution the Al-Chymia Shriner’s Burn Transportation Fund. Danny Ford (MCCC) and Mike Lyon (MSR) donated the checks as Larry Nolan accepts the funds on behalf on the Memphis Rodders Reunion. After we pay the bills and do some math, the total donation amount will be reported on this site, so stay tuned for a future posting.

Reunion attendees were also treated to some historically important reminiscing from long-time Memphis Rodders member Marshall Robilio via a video interview. Marshall became a Memphis Rodder during the club’s first few months of existence, and he is a wealth of information about early hot rodding and drag racing. He is also an avid motorcyclist, and is full of enthusiasm for his life-long passions. The video interview gave every reunion attendee an opportunity to hear Marshall’s thoughts regarding his journey through hot rodding and motorcycling without distraction. We’ll likely provide more video interviews at future reunions as a regular part of the evening’s program.

Stay tuned for a donation update, and be advised that plans are already underway for another reunion next year, so keep the Thursday before Thanksgiving open for some hot rod camaraderie!