The Beaufort Classic Car Club was established in 1998. Colonel Fred Krum was head of the Marine Corps Family Services during that time and was one of the founding fathers, along with a young Marine drill sergeant. He wanted to promote better relationships between the active military and the private citizens of Beaufort. The Club began meeting on the first Tuesday of the month on Parris Island at the automotive hobby shop. After the meeting, the group members had full use of the facilities.
Unfortunately, September 11, 2001, affected the meetings as the base no longer allowed access to civilians. Only the active duty Marines assigned to Parris Island were allowed access, so the members knew they had to change direction. The Club began meeting off base and continued meeting the first Tuesday over the next 20 years.
Current President Rick Larson became involved in the car club on and off from the early days. He became a member and participated in Club events. In 2018, Rick attended a meeting to see why his dues check was returned by the post office. He was shocked to hear that, due to overwhelming apathy, no one wanted to be officers in the Club, and it was being disbanded. Rick knew he wanted the Club to remain active, and he and fellow member, Dwayne Pingston, showed interest in taking over the car club. They were elected co-presidents and took office in 2019.
In 2020, Rick ran again as president and has been in the position ever since.
The Beaufort Classic Car Club holds many activities outside of their Tuesday meeting. One of their main events is their Cruise-Ins. In the beginning, the Club met on the first Friday of the month at Sonic on Robert Smalls Highway near the old Walmart. They have since switched locations and now meet the first Friday of the month at Grayco Home and Hardware on Lady’s Island. They also meet at Cars ‘n Coffee on the 4th Saturday, sponsored by Phoenix Flooring at 14 Savannah Highway in Shell Point, where members can bring their vintage automobiles to put on display. As stated directly on their website, “For the purpose of Club business, these vintages are defined as being of twenty or more years of age, or if a kit or replica, purporting to be of twenty years or more of age.” The Cruise-Ins are open to the public at no charge.
Visitors are allowed to vote for their favorite car or truck with awards being presented at the end. The most warranted award goes to the “Award for Excellence,” and a custom car plate is presented to the winners.
But it is important for Club members to also give back to the community. Rick Larson talks about one of their favorite events of the year. “We participate in the Toys for Tots program each year and will fully participate again this Christmas. We had a lot of success last year. We were grateful that we surpassed our goal by filling a toy box to overflow in just under two weeks. Our goal is to do better this year.”
The Club will also volunteer around the Lowcountry. “We’ve helped out with Friends of Caroline, Port Royal OVA, Zonta Club of Beaufort, and others,” says Rick. “We’ve done everything from helping run the gates at the Beaufort Water Festival to assembling furniture to hauling trash cans.“ The Club is also committed to raising funds throughout the year for local charities, such as Thumbs Up, Extra Mile Club of the Lowcountry, Zonta Club of Beaufort, and the Alzheimer’s Foundation to name just a few. The list varies annually depending on where the funds are needed the most. Rick continues, “We are also working on starting a scholarship and mentoring program to help students who want to work in the automotive or mechanical trades.”
The Beaufort Classic Car Club continues to grow with a current membership of more than one hundred people, including six Lifetime members. These men and women of Beaufort come together for their love of classic cars. Owners and those interested enjoy a common bond. The Club strives to create a family environment through the ownership, maintenance, and driving of classic and antique vehicles, but it is their community outreach that is truly helping them expand and grow. When asked what Rick’s favorite thing is about being a part of the Club, his response is quick: “That’s easy, the people.”