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The Three Two's Car Club

“History of the 3-Twos Car Club”
(By Jeff Grates and Charlie Johnson)


In the mid-fifties, car clubs were becoming a way of life.  This was simply a group of guys with a common interest in cars.  The 3-Twos consisted of guys from Vocational High, Roosevelt High, Washburn High, and also South High.  Club members were Al Lee (1950 Olds), George Hoffman (1956 Ford), Kurt Strong (1957 Ford), John “Jerry” Johnson (50 Chev), Ken Olson (48 Merc), Ron Smith (51 Chev), Jeff Grates (1950 Olds), Larry Grates (1939 Olds), and Charlie Johnson (1951 Ford).

The 3-Twos carried cards with them, and when the opportunity to help someone out occurred, they were also given one of these cards.  The statement on the top of these cards read:  “You have been assisted by a member of the 3-Twos, an organized auto enthusiast club”.  The card also had the 3-twos logo of a manifold with three two barrel carburetors on it.  Across the bottom of the card it stated:  “Be Wreckless, Not Reckless”.


Jeff Grates still has the original patch from the back of the club jackets.  A few years ago, several of the club charter members had new jackets made.  They were replicas of the originals, with the same logo embroidered on the jackets.  Jeff Grates also still has a club plaque on the back of his 1947 Pontiac – bringing a lot of memories. 


The 3-Twos also rebuilt a dragster which the club raced.  Prior to having the dragster, it was called the “Nautilus”.  When it was first owned by us, we re-powered it with a 331 CI DeSoto engine. Originally, it ran in C gas dragster class.  It was then converted to run in C fuel dragster class.   It wasn’t the fastest by any means – but lots of fun.  The dragster was in the 1965 GSTA Rod & Custom Spectacular.  What great times! 


Club meetings were held in various places, starting in Jeff Grate’s parent’s house on 42nd Ave. South in Minneapolis.  Later they met at the old 3rd Police Pct. Located on 27th & Lake Street in Minneapolis.  As the members got married, the meetings changed back to homes of the members on a rotation basis.  Finally, the 3-Two’s ended up at Charlie Johnson’s house for their meetings so they could work on the dragster and other projects.


The club grew over the years and in 1962, it became part of the Gopher State Timing Association (GSTA).  The 3-Twos members have held several offices / positions in GSTA such as President, Vice-President, Points Committee Chair, and Queen Judge. 


Both in1965 and 1966 the 3-Twos built parade floats which displayed the GSTA dragster and the GSTA queen and her court.  The 1965 entry was awarded the “Governors Award” in the Minneapolis Aquatennial parade – quite the honor!


“Road Runs” were also popular “way-back-when” and the 3-Twos were active in them as well – both participating and hosting.  One of the funniest experiences recalled was when a clue was used that said: “Look to the sky, the green light will always be there”.  The clue referred to the Sears & Roebuck Store on Chicago & Lake in Minneapolis.  For some reason on that particular night, though, the light was not on.  The Sears Security folks were contacted and they finally got it turned back on..  Oh yes, more “fun memories from the good old days”!


Over the years, 3-Twos members spent many great weekends racing at Minnesota Dragways and Twin City Speedway.  Then when Brainerd International Racetrack opened, we also gave it a whirl there.  Some of the participants involved were:  George Hoffman (1956 blue 2-dr. Ford called “Crossfire” because when he raced, he removed the crossover pipe on the exhaust manifold.).  Al Lee had a great 1950 Olds 40dr. which had a built V-8.  Many a surprised competitor was beaten by that Olds!  Charlie Johnson (1951 Ford, 1947 Ford pick-up “G Gas”, and a 1965 Comet convertible “H” stock.  Many other members raced in classes from “B” stock to “Modified Production”.  In 1967, Charlie Johnson’s wife Sharon won the “Powder Puff” race at Minnesota Dragways.  This was a special event held on Mother’s Day.  Two weeks later she gave birth to their first son and made the front page of the human interest section of the Star & Tribune newspaper.  Now that is a keeper! (boththe son & the article - which is still shared!


As more members got married and had children, the “family” drag racing trend became less of a priority.  We are now in the third generation of GSTA members and focus more on the GSTA events and car shows.


The 3-Twos motto remains the same since the beginning:  “Be Wreckless, Not Reckless”.

Charlie's Impala

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