In July of 1973, after a run to Lodi, CA, several street rodders led by Tom Sterkel of San Bernardino and Craig Lake and John Pickel from San Diego decided to form a regional club with few rules and would have a family-oriented atmosphere. This concept soon evolved into three dependent chapters based in Pomona, San Diego and San Bernardino. Tom started the San Bernardino Chapter, while Craig and John started the Chapter in San Diego. The name was taken from an early 1969 TV movie by the same name staring Pat O’Brien and Walter Brennan. The name was originally meant to fit the cars and the loose association this club is known for. The name would eventually say as much about its members, as its members cars.
In Southern California, the street rod scene originally consisted of a few well-organized clubs such as the 1940’s Fords, the early Fords, the Prowlers and many like the Lone Wolves. Most activities were organized around club sponsored events: however, if you were not a member of the particular club that was hosting the event, you wouldn’t be allowed to participate. This problem was also compounded by the strict membership enrollment requirements for each club. The majority of the established clubs rules ranged from approval of your car, entering of events, and excessive high club dues.
Many of the independent minded rodders like Sterkel didn’t feel like following these regulations, but still wanted to participate in group activities that acknowledged their cars and included all followers of the hobby. From this desire, the Over the Hill Gang was born. Sterkel was also the first person to be inducted into the group’s Street Rod Hall of Fame. When he passed away in 1985, the San Bernardino Chapter had fewer than 40 members. Sterkel couldn’t have imagined how big his Gang would become in the future. The two original Chapters (San Bernardino and San Diego) each have membership in excess of 200 each. The Gang now has approximately 35 chapters and three based in Canada.
The original plaques had the letters SCSRA on them. It stood for Southern California Street Rod Association. The original logo was drawn by the club founder, John Pickle, and represented two cars owned by Paul “Kip” Dunne. Today, you will see members at events everywhere in their yellow shirts.