For over a century, motorists have bonded over their enthusiasm towards a variety of automobiles-whether you are the “classic car” type collecting rare and unique vehicles from around the world, or the niche year, make, and model eccentric showcasing your one-of-a-kind beauty every chance you get. Somewhere, there is a group of other like-minded individuals dedicated to the vehicles they know and love.
Ever since the early 1900s, race fans surrounding the land-speed record breakers in Daytona have been bringing cars, drivers, and manufacturers together in way that has built a unique and highly respected subculture in societies across the nation.
The infamous “whiskey runners” once used their souped up stock cars to evade police attempting to spoil their bootlegging missions. With the repeal of prohibition, dozens of stock cars were left with no contraband to transport and bored drivers turned to joy racing. The sport quickly became an American pastime, drawing endorsers and manufacturing companies into an entire new world of car lovers. The clubs that spun out of this evolving fad sped us into the unique car clubs that span the country today.
Here in SWLA, we have a number of niche groups who have developed bylaws and written mission statements branding their identity as a club. Much like the low-rider and hot rod clubs of the late 1960s, these groups are no longer solely focused on racing; rather, they have branched into signature clubs geared towards, a particular type of vehicle, brand, or special interest.
One particular club in the Lake Area is making a lot of noise in the automotive community. Seven Slot Society of SWLA, a unique Jeep club founded by Jared Chandler and Russ Conrad, has quickly become a household name for many local Jeep owners. Popping up on bumpers, back windshields, and T-shirts, Seven Slot Society made it their mission to never discriminate against the automotive or aesthetic prowess of its members’ vehicles.
“As the name reads, if it has seven slots, and is from SWLA, then it is more than welcome to join the society,” Chandler says. Established on the idea of diversity, the society’s structure and bylaws were assembled with influences from both Chandler and Conrad’s automotive and club backgrounds. Quickly developing a brand and a logo, the two kicked things into overdrive and started recruiting, showering jeeps across the city with a dual-sided business card that not only gained attention from potential members, but also promoted the level of professionalism the society wished to project.
Generating over 30 members in its first four meetings Chandler and Conrad revved the club into an overnight success. “We went in expecting nothing,” Conrad explains. “I knew that it was a strong possibility that Jared and I could be the only two people to show up on that first night, but we had to start somewhere.”
With a solid member count and a wide network of support, they assigned their first two board members. Paul Theriot and Collin Winkles were two of the first members to sign up and have been involved in developing the club in every way they can ever since.
Combining their resources and efforts, the board turned their ambitions and drive towards the community. On December 13, the society held its very first charity event, the “Jingle Jeep Drive.” Donating toys and games to Brennan’s Blessings in Westlake, displayed a level of philanthropy that caught the eyes of big-name local sponsors.
“You know, it’s our mission to root everything we do as locally oriented as possible, but we had such a great turn-out to our first couple of meetings that we filled up every venue we visited,” Conrad says. “We needed a place to meet were we could still support the community, but not overwhelm our supporters. That’s when Hurricane Off-Road stepped in.”
Offering their location for the society to hold their monthly meetings was just what the club needed for their gatherings to be consistent and effective. Mobile DJ service and professional sound and lighting company Deep South Productions also reached out to the society to bring everyone together and help fuel their already rapid growth. Joining forces, they participated in the 2015 Lake Charles Mardi Gras Children’s Parade, adding to the largest turnout of floats and attendees ever.
Despite all of their recent exposure on air, in print, or even just driving around, the club maintains a mild and humble nature. Supporting locals over other box companies is a core part of the society’s foundation. Socializing at local restaurants and bars after their monthly meetings, they use their strength in numbers to drive sales at welcoming establishments such as Mr. Gatti’s Pizza, Botsky’s Premium Hot Dogs, and Putter’s Driving Range & Deli.
“Having the entire club eating, drinking, and enjoying themselves at my business over some other corporate place is incredible,” says Putter’s owner, Andy Gregor. “The members are polite, fun, and to have them promote us as a member of their group is just amazing.”
The club’s overall efforts and visions have truly proven to be a philosophy we as a community should all ride with. Thank you Seven Slot Society of SWLA for “JEEPing” it Local!