news-category: Homecoming

Local Car Club Participates in Gardner-Webb Homecoming Parade for Seventh Year

Members of the Broad River European Club Provide Rides for Class Representatives

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Members of the Broad River European Motor Club have two passions: sports cars and community service. Since 2016, club members have graciously provided several sports cars each year for the Homecoming parade at Gardner-Webb University. The vintage cars carry class representatives from the Homecoming Court.

This year’s parade is Saturday, Oct. 28, at noon before Gardner-Webb plays UT Martin at 1:30 p.m. See the full Homecoming schedule, here.

The partnership started with Jack Weller, a club member, who was also a doctoral student at Gardner-Webb at that time. Micah Martin, the director of GWU’s Center for Personal and Professional Development, saw Weller driving his ’59 Triumph in a local Christmas parade. Later, he asked Weller if he thought the club members would be willing to help out with the homecoming parade.

When Weller brought the request to the club members, they responded positively. Their only request: no high heels to protect the leather seats.

“For close to 10 years now Jack and his classic car-loving community has provided convertibles for our homecoming court parade, adding a touch of class and prestige to our celebration,” Martin praised. “They really have found a way to do what they love in service to others.”

Weller agreed that the event is a fun opportunity to show off the vintage cars and see the reactions from the students and the crowd. “What started out as doing a favor has become a tradition,” Weller said. “The car club sees it as an opportunity to support the community and Gardner-Webb.”

Jack Weller in his ’59 Triumph

Since the car club began helping Gardner-Webb with the Homecoming Parade, another relationship has grown between some of the GWU student-athletes and Weller, who is the past board president of the Cleveland County Boys & Girls Club. In particular, the men’s and women’s basketball teams began volunteering at the Boys & Girls Club location at Springmore Elementary. The players and coaches run drills with the children, then read books with them and help with homework.

The Broad River European Motor Club started in 2008. The club’s beginning stemmed from a chance gathering of several British and European car enthusiasts in 2006 at Reborn Auto Shop in Shelby, N.C. When word got out that a ’59 all-original Triumph, owned by Weller, was coming to the shop, people showed up with their cameras. “The car was preserved and they knew anything they took a picture of would be a record of how the car looked when it came off the assembly line,” Weller explained.

The car belonged to his brother-in-law, who died in 1982. “He bought the car brand new in 1959 after he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and had spent three years in Korea,” Weller shared.

When his niece Maj Britt was born, she was colicky and rides in the Triumph would soothe her to sleep. Weller’s sister and brother-in-law ended up recording the sound of the car changing gears on a reel-to-reel tape recorder and played the tape for Maj Britt to fall asleep in her crib.

When her father died in 1982, Maj Britt didn’t want her mother to sell the car or have it restored, because she said when she sat in the seat, it was like her dad was there. “Maj Britt died in 2005, and in a letter to her mother she said, ‘Sell the car to uncle Jack, so he can learn to relax,’” Weller related. “I’ve got something that should be in a museum. It’s still original—42,000 miles—64 years old.”

The Broad River European Motor Club has about 60 members, all with stories to share about their cars. Among them, there are other connections to Gardner-Webb. Kent Bridges drives a 1953 MG. His son, Reid, is a GWU alumnus. Alan Roebuck owns a ’63 Austin Healey. His brother was the late Mike Roebuck, who was an athletics administrator at Gardner-Webb.

The group’s main fundraiser each year is a car show with the proceeds going to support the Boys and Girls Club and North Shelby’s Teddy Bear and Friends, which provides money to take the seniors to the beach for a week.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at Gardner-Webb.edu.

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