In With the Old, Out With the New
The photo above shows off the latest essential mod to any boondocking rig, a vintage brass plaque to a motor club. I’ve had it laying around for decades, with the plans to do something with it someday. I assume I picked it up at a garage sale, of which I am a recovering addict. The lack of space to put stuff really helps with that. It has three holes in it for mounting, so some stout copper wire did the job on the Mighty Furd’s grill. I think if I lived in a metro area, I wouldn’t expect it to still be there after a few months, so we’ll see how long it lasts out where I go. I don’t happen to use Triple-A as my Roadgoing Adventure insurance, so this is purely a decorative item as far as the Furdster is concerned.
In this day of cheap window stickers and clubs that exist mainly to generate income and profits, such badges as this serve to remind me that automobile clubs originated to help members with the myriad of problems that presented themselves to motorists at the turn of the last century, and to advocate for road use rights and better roads. Club memberss went on weekend tour events and put up road signage at their own expense. Badges like this were mounted proudly, because they signified that the vehicle’s owner was involved, not merely dabbling in a trendy movement by wearing a T-shirt with brand advertising on it.
The AAA is popularly known today merely for offering emergency road services. It began in 1902 when nine clubs with 1,500 members banded together, and in that same year officiated the Vanderbilt Cup international automobile race in Long Island, New York. It also sanctioned the Indianapolis 500 as well as numerous racing championships. It withdrew from racing in 1955 however, after a disastrous crash at the Le Mans race at Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France. It has dabbled in sponsoring a NASCAR racing team from 2006-2009, and that’s about it as far as I’m aware. It now consists of 42 individual clubs with a total of 58 million members, and its national headquarters are now in Florida. It has lobbied and run safety programs from the start, some of my less-favorites being their efforts to support:
- Virginia’s now-repealed traffic citation tax because of its revenue generation potential, since it added very hefty fees to minor traffic violations.
- The federal 55 mph speed limit.
- Opposing a 70 mph speed limit on Illinois rural freeways even though the roads can safely accommodate that speed.
- Supporting red light cameras.
- Lobbied in favor of speed cameras in Maryland in 2002, several years before they were actually authorized. Provisionally supporting the expansion of speed cameras in Maryland in 2009, and opposing the repeal of speed cameras in Maryland in 2013.
- Lobbied in favor of authorizing speed cameras in Indiana.
- Supporting an increase in the federal gas tax, and supporting gas tax increases at the state level such as in Virginia in 2012.
- Proposing the creation of a Vehicle miles traveled tax in Idaho.
At any rate, though I have no idea of the age of the badge I have, it does in history pre-date the official incorporation of the Ford Motor Company by one year.
There’s still an Auto Club Road south of Minneapolis. It dates back a LONG way.