History of the Northern Knights Car Club

The story of a car club and its beginnings must start with why and how a number of individuals came together as a group.  The most obvious answer to why is that they share a common interest in automobiles.  The more interesting part is how.

Many people have an interest, to one degree or another, in cars but in the late 70’s three in particular, with a passion for old cars, were destined to meet.

Jim Thorne, then the business manager for school district 309, was working on a 1934 Ford Pickup.  Mike Johnson, then the manager of the Park Rapids Pamida store, had a 1927 Model T Roadster.  Bob Helgren, a teacher with school district 309, was finishing a 1936 Ford Coupe.

The meeting of these three individuals and the friendship that developed caused others to share their enthusiasm and talents.  Before long, a group was gathering weekly at the Dixie Drive In to look at and “talk cars.”

With the help of the Toppers car club of Fargo, the existence of car enthusiasts in the Park Rapids area became known over a much larger area.  The Toppers organized a Rod Run in the summer of 1981 and again in 1982 around the Park Rapids area.  A “Rod Run” is a gathering of “rodders,” by invitation, to spend a weekend together talking about, looking at and driving their cars while enjoying the sights and activities in the area.

Excited and encouraged by the success of the Rod Runs, the Park Rapids group decided to organize a club and did so on July 4th, 1982 with 14 charter member (families).  The membership has grown to more than 50 member (families) and covers a large area that includes Walker, Nimrod, Wadena, Perham, New York Mills, Osakis and Lake Park.

Rod Runs have been held every year since the club was organized and many new friends and experiences have resulted.  The Rod Run participants continue to return because of the warm welcome and fun times they have enjoyed due to the hospitality of the Northern Knights car club, the city of Park Rapids and the people of Hubbard County.

Car Club Historians:
Bob Helgren & Mike Johnson