MOPARS Unlimited

Seattle Chapter

Our Colorful History

by Bill Bynum

IN THE BEGINNING, a group of MoPar Motorheads wanted to have a MoPar Club in Seattle. They held a meeting at the Lake Union Dry-dock Company conference room and agreed to form a club. The group, led by Brian Boyett, included: Ted Coombs; Ray Guardiano; Bruce Herbig; the Neiderstadt brothers, Wade, Mark, and David; Gary and Carla Raymond and Pete Holbrook.

Paula Neiderstadt sewed up some triangular, white felt antenna pennants which were lettered "MOPAR" with a red magic marker. The members put the pennants on their antennas and cruised Alki Beach, First South in Burien, Lake City and Golden Gardens. The antenna pennants were a hit. Other car clubs copied the idea.

In 1981, the "MOPAR GUYS", as the club was known, decided to have an all-MoPar show at Lake Sammamish State Park. Advertising for the show consisted of a hand-lettered Xeroxed flyer placed on selected MoPar windshields. It was the father of "Spring Roundup". In 1982, the club rented Bremerton Raceway and sponsored the first all-MoPar drags. As the club treasury was somewhat short, Brian Boyett and Pat Blais put up the money for the event.

In 1983, the club began a newsletter with Carla Raymond as the first editor. Later that year, Ted Coombs drafted bylaws which were adapted on March 22 nd and the club became MoPar Muscle Club International (MMCI), Seattle Chapter. Ted Coombs became the first President. Then in July 1983, Ted wrote to the International Director and Membership Director of MMCI and charged them with "improper performance of their duties". Not all of the Seattle Chapter members agreed with Ted and he resigned as President shortly thereafter. Vice President Ray Guardiano took over as President.

By October of 1983 the club roster reflected 34 families as members. After a few more months with little support from MMCI, the Seattle Chapter Board of Directors voted to dissolve the chapter. In March 1984, the club treasury was split between Children’s Orthopedic Hospital and the March of Dimes per the bylaws.

Despite the MMCI problem, the 1984 all-MoPar show at Lake Sammamish State Park was held as scheduled. About this time, Brian Boyett ex-regional director for MMCI, invited some former MMCI members to meet at his home. At that meeting, the group decided to form a Seattle Chapter of MoPars Unlimited, a Spokane club. The Spokane club agreed to allow the Seattle group to form a Seattle Chapter of MoPars Unlimited. Following Pat Blais’ advice, the group adopted the bylaws which Ted Coombs had drafted for MMCI and incorporated the club as MoPars Unlimited, Seattle Chapter. Along with the name, the Seattle Chapter adopted the Superbird logo which we still use. Brian Boyett was the first president of MoPars Unlimited, Seattle Chapter. Brian remembers Pat Blais, Ray Guardiano, Bruce Herbig, Bud Lanctot, Wade Neiderstadt, and Gary Raymond as being other charter members.

Keith Erxleben recalls that, in the mid eighties, the club was smaller and did not have enough money to pay the expenses for the Spring Roundup. The club officers usually fronted the money to pay for the show with the hope of being reimbursed from registration fees and the sale of event T-shirts. The club was not allowed to have club stores or a raffle at Lake Sammamish State Park. The event T-shirts were a very simple -- black lettering on a white T-shirt- and even selling those was skirting the law. Usually enough were sold to pay back the officers who fronted the money. However, this was not the case when the club held a "hot" drag race at Renegade Raceway on the Yakima Indian Reservation in 1984. Ray Guardiano remembers that the track temperature got to 113 degrees and the track surface became too soft for racing. The Indians refused to refund the money for the track rental. Brian Boyett remembers that he, Bob Kropp, Gary Boller, and Jim Harris were out of pocket for the cost of the event.

In the late ‘80s, the club began to have a second show, "MoPars Past & Present" in September. The 1987 event was held at the brand new Dwayne Lane Chrysler Plymouth Site in South Everett. It drew 254 cars and was covered by the Cruizin’ Northwest TV show hosted by Dick Paige which aired on Saturday mornings. The show’s motto was, "If you’re not cruizin’, you’re losin"!

By 1990, Spring Roundup was beginning to outgrow the Lake Sammamish State Park venue. That year the event drew 280 MoPars from points as distant as Hayden Lake, Idaho, and 150 Mile House, B.C. MoPar Magazine wrote a four-page article on the show. Bob Kropp was Show Director that year and Ray Guardiano was President.

In the early ‘90s the club was struggling because it did not have a good place to hold the monthly meeting. Mike Ramirez was able to get Shakey’s Pizza on Aurora to reserve a meeting room one evening a month. Membership began to grow again.

In 1991, Spring Roundup returned to Lake Sammamish State Park for a final run. One highlight of that show was Jim Morgan’s General Lee ’69 Charger from the Dukes of Hazard TV series. It sat on the flatbed that delivered it from Warner Brothers Studios in California. That year club membership approached 200 and Paul Van Court was elected President. Paul also served as Show Director for the 1992 Spring Roundup and took it up to a new level. He separated the show budget from the club budget, moved the show to the Bellevue Community College, and brought in a caterer for food service.

The club continued to meet at Shakey’s until mid 1992. I remember the May ‘92 meeting at Shakey’s. I walked into the meeting room, sat down, looked around and didn’t see anyone I recognized. About that time I realized that the guy speaking was talking about skydiving. It seems that Shakey’s had scheduled the skydivers and MoPars Unlimited for the same room at the same time. The staff soon made other arrangements and the July 1992 meeting was held at Alfy’s Pizza in Lynnwood.

May 2 nd and 3 rd, 1998, marked the first All-MoPar Weekend with Saturday drag racing at Bremerton Raceway followed by the Spring Roundup car show at Bellevue Community College on Sunday. Show Director Ken Imthurn conceived the two-day event and worked for years to make it happen. Eastside Chrysler Jeep became the corporate sponsor for both events that year.

In November of 1998, MoPars Unlimited, Seattle Chapter went online at http://www.moparsunlimited.com with a Website designed by Jeremy Bartlett, our first Webmaster.

I am indebted to Ray Guardiano, our unofficial historian and curator, who endured two interviews to share some early club history with me. I also want to thank Keith Erxleben, Brian Boyett, Bob Kropp, Michael Jenkins, and Jim Morgan for sharing their memories.

©2022 by Dave Oz