Words and Photos by Anthony Gambino
The shiny traces of oil on concrete from a leaking gasket. The fumes of leaded gasoline. The scream of burning rubber! It’s a gear head’s symphony of sight, sound and smell!
Once a year a mile strip of New York City — usually in Brooklyn under the BQE overpass, if the police haven’t issued a clampdown — is claimed by the Rumblers Car Club for their annual meet, greet, drink, award ceremony, burn out, get rowdy, make friends, stomp enemies, car show. It was during this hot rod throw-down that we met up with the crew and sat down with Willie Gee, one of the National Presidents of the Rumblers Car Club.
When, why and how did the Rumblers start? The Rumblers Car Club was founded in 1996 by Roger Miret, (Singer of Agnostic Front) and Paul “Squirm” Sabert in NYC. They both had a passion for cars and bikes and true friendships through music and all things mechanical. That friendship and passion turned into the idea of having a brotherhood of gearheads with like interests. With Roger touring around the world and meeting people in the car and music scene, he was able to grow the club into a worldwide thing.
When did you become a member and what was your trajectory to becoming the National President? I became a member in 1997. It started with being a close friend of Roger’s in the bike scene. I have been a lifelong gearhead, just like my father, so it was a natural fit for me. I became the National President of the club in 2011, along with my close friend, Mike Busateri, who became a member in 2004 and Co-President with me in 2011. Roger had a couple of young children at the time and was very busy with his career. So Mike and I flew to his home in Arizona, forced Roger (who is Cuban) to feed us a homemade Cuban meal along with his signature Flan, and we made the switch to Mike and I running the club…all on a full stomach.
Mike and I work well together and Roger saw that. We think the same, but different, if you know what I mean. We basically can run balances and checks on decisions and we get along well enough where compromise happens if needed. We both run the club not only in the US., but we are always working with our European officers and members.
Best thing about being a Rumbler? The brotherhood. We can go pretty much anywhere and have a brother there to hang with. The cars. We all ultimately share a passion for hot rods and customs. The arts. We all share similar passions for music, tattoos, art, etc.
Worst thing about being the President? I wouldn’t say there’s anything bad about being the top guy, but it can get busy at times with lots going on. It’s nice to have two of us running the club, so I don’t have to do everything.
Are there any “outlaw” car clubs? Not that I’m aware of. I think we’ve had that reputation in the past, you know, like a club not to mess with, but overall, we aren’t looking for trouble and are friendly with all car clubs.
How many chapters of the Rumblers now exist and where? New York City, Cleveland, Phoenix, LA, Albuquerque, Nomads (US, Canada and Mexico). Europe: Milan, Rome, Luxembourg, Hamburg, Berlin, Nomads: (Japan, Kiev).
How does one become considered to join the Rumblers? The first step is usually hanging around us, coming to car shows, music events etc. to find out if the potential is there for a mutual fit into the club. Then you would move to prospect status for a period of time and then membership. Obviously, there is a requirement to have a traditional-style hot rod or custom pre-1963. We have other rules that we follow that you have to hang around with us to find out.
When you’re not with your CC brothers, where are you and who are you with? You can find me at my Bronx corner bodega in the back having a beer and bullshitting with my neighborhood guys...lol! When I’m not at work, I’m usually spending time with my kids, Tyler, Brandon and Madison or with family.
Three songs that would be included on a Rumblers movie soundtrack? “RFFR” by Roger Miret and the Disasters, “Tough Guy” by Madball, “Loyalty” by Slaine.
What car do you drive? I have a 1930 Ford Model Asedan hot rod with a 425 Buick Nailhead, custom paint etc. and a 1950 Ford Custom, chopped, nosed, decked with shaved handles.