Meet the Founders
By Jerry Hamilton
Congratulations to the Southeastern GTO Association for over 20 years of service. The club has seen a ton of fine cars, many national GTOAA winners, and has even had a GTOAA president come from within its ranks. Some clubs come and go, but the people of the SEGTOA have made this club one that has had sticking power. Here is the story of the beginning of the club.
I had just finished the frame off restoration of my 65 in the middle of 1985. I had attended the POCI Nationals in Atlanta. I had been a member of the Atlanta chapter of the POCI, but never very active. It seemed that the Nationals that year seemed to do that chapter in. I had developed a friendship with a fellow GTO owner who lived in South Georgia by the name of Chuck McDanell. Along with our wives Monica and Diane, we were attending a classic car auction over Labor Day weekend in Macon of 1985 and began discussing starting a club for GTOs in the Southeast. Naturally, Atlanta was chosen as the hub for the club and since there were no clubs in the Southeast at all at the time, we thought we could pull from all over the region.
We decided first to send out a poll to all current members of the GTOAA and POCI in Georgia and surrounding states just to see what results we would get. We got around 40 replies to the survey. We set up an organizational meeting at the old McNamara Pontiac (now closed). To the best of my memory, we had around 20 or so folks attending. A lot of ideas were tossed around that day, including deciding to make this club for all 'Performance Pontiacs'. I think around 12 or so members actually signed up that day. Stan Rarden, Year One, Nash Gussman, The Coles, Dennis Donohue, are among the ones that I remember off hand. If I have slightly anyone I apologize!The very next day I was at a classic car auction in downtown and I met Bob and Edie Mohally. We began talking and the new club came up and the rest is history. Bob and Edie have been mainstays in the club every since.
We had discussed a having a show or getting involved with a show shortly after our beginning. I approached Bruce Kile about helping the Buick Club with their annual BOP show since I had been attending their show for several years. Bruce advised me that they already had everything in place for the 1986 show, but why didn't we consider taking the 87 show by ourselves and then alternating the show. That is how our involvement with the BOP show came into being. Then the Olds club came along, and we began alternating every 3 years. When the Musclecar Nationals came to the Atlanta Dragway in 1988, we had a massive club turnout. We even had Jim Wangers come in and do seminars at the host hotel.
These were exciting times to be a GTO enthusiast. The cars were reasonably cheap and you could still find just about any part you needed to restore them. You didn't worry so much about driving them that some one was going to crash into you. But despite all of the great times and great cars; what I cherish most is the great friendships and great people I have met of the past twenty 20 years! All brought together by one great car. The Great One!
Thanks to Dennis Donohue for saving the copies of the letters and receipt!
Feb 15, 2006