A Brief History…
It all started one cold night in November, 1947, when 8 young men from Carlsbad, CA came together over coffee at the APEX cafe. It was there that they transformed their dreams of forming a roadster and custom car club into a reality. That evening the Oilers were born and their first president, Jim Nelson, lead the charge. These young men had one common bond; speed! In just a few short months, the membership grew and in mid-1948, Nelson’s passion for racing brought the Oilers members and the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) together. Nelson’s friend and SCTA founder, Wally Parks, announced his plans to form the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), in 1949. Nelson stepped up to help and became one of their earlier technical inspectors. The Oilers became heavily involved, forming the San Diego Timimg Association (SDTA) and hosted some of the first NHRA drag racing events as Paradise Mesa. Jim Nelson and his partner, Dode Martin, formed the world famous Dragmasters company. Considered by many to be the inventors of the modern dragster, many of which still campaign today.
Fast forward to 2008, when a group of young traditional hot rod enthusiasts found a copy of Robert Genat’s book, “The Birth of Hot Rodding, The Story of the Dry Lakes Era.” Rich with stories and color-Kodachrome photographs taken by WWII photographer and founding Oilers member, Don Cox. A new infatuation of automotive history and car club culture was ignited. Tired of boring jacket clubs and parking lot car shows, this new generation of men set out to create a car club/motorcycle club with meaning. After reaching out to Robert Genat, the soon-to-be Oilers were put in touch with the one and only, Jim Nelson, the Oilers founder. During a private meeting in Nelson’s home, the group heard stories first hand as Nelson relived the good ole days. The laughs and tears rolled faster than Nelson’s nitro fueled 1929 Ford roadster on a dry lake bed. An instant bond was formed and Nelson, with no hesitation, passed the torch on, opening a new chapter in the Oilers history.
A new brotherhood was formed, with a total of 10 hand-picked members spanning from coast to coast with a promise to carry on the legacy that began that early November night. Their collection of automobiles is impressive, to say the least, and their determination to bring back racing as it once was is unwaivering. The Oilers have always shared a common ground; to build machines for speed, endurance and beauty, keeping a time honored sport of competition alive! Living up to the promise made to Nelson, the Oilers’ legacy has continued with true authenticity and pride.
Oilers Car Club founder Jim Nelson at El Mirage in 1950
Founder Jim Nelson’s 1929 roadster on 1932 rails. Notice the lack of front brakes as this car was strictly for competition. This car also displays the “Masters Auto Supply” logo that would later be seen on the Dragmasters famous Dode Martin/Jim Nelson Dragliner Special.
Aprox. 1949 Oilers club members planning their next build.
Allen Christopherson behind the drivers seat and front passenger is Bob Telford. In the back seat on the left is Melford Robbins, in the center is Red Lewis and on the right is Jim Nelson. Melford Robbins’ red 1940 Ford Kustom is seen in the background. Photo taken at the “bug barn”, a chicken shed behind Jim Nelson’s house.
Oilers member “Dago” Cantarini’s sister in law
Dolores Proctor mugging for the camera with the Oilers guys at Jim Nelson’s house. Dolores never smoked and she thought this picture was a riot. Oilers member Melford Robbins’ red 1940 Ford Kustom is seen in the background on the right.
New batch of photos discovered!
Oiler Melford Robbins 1940 Ford Kustom from front (seen previously from rear in color photos) had removable Carson style top. Roadster is Oiler Banning “Dago” Cantarini’s roadster, a narrowed 1927 “T” on and Essex frame powered by a Stroked Mercury engine with Offy heads and manifold and Pounden mag.