Automobile Club of Southern California was founded
December 13, 1900 in
Angeles as one of the nation's first motor clubs dedicated
to improving roads, proposing traffic laws and improvement of
overall driving conditions.
Club was an early advocate for the construction of the Ridge Route, the first highway through the
Tehachapi Mountains and San Gabriel
Mountains, which directly linked Los Angeles to Bakersfield and the Central Valley.
The completion of
the Ridge Route literally saved the State of California from being
split into two separate states at the mountains.
Starting around 1910, the Auto Club sent teams of cartographers
to survey the state's roads for
the production of maps and to create a uniform signing system. The
Auto Club posted thousands of porcelain-on-steel traffic signs
throughout the state and
continued to do so until the State of California took over the task
in the mid-1950s. The signs were produced by a local company that
manufactured porcelain-on-steel bathtubs. A few of these signs
remain in service today, though they are extremely rare.
The 1920s also saw the construction of the Auto Club's main office
on the corner of Figueroa Street
Adams Boulevard. Designed by architect Sumner P. Hunt
built in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, the building now
serves as the Los Angeles district office. The club's
headquarters are still in Los Angeles but its administrative
offices are in Costa Mesa.
From 1934 through 1941 the building's courtyard served as the site
of the Auto Club's annual "Outing Show," which promoted motor
vacations and camping. These events were halted after the start of
the war and were never revived. During the course of the war, the
Auto Club played a leadership role in scrap rubber and metal drives
and printed numerous posters for the war effort, including the
"Give Them a Lift" campaign, which encouraged motorists to give
rides to hitchhiking servicemen.
Today, the Automobile Club of Southern California's affiliated
insurance company, one of California's largest insurers, provides
coverage for homes, recreational vehicles and watercraft as well as
cars and trucks. It is the largest affiliate of the American Automobile
or "AAA." The Auto Club is still a membership
organization, and free services to members include maps, travel
planning, emergency roadside service, and DMV services. Members
also receive Westways,
a bi-monthly magazine devoted to
travel and automotive subjects. District offices stretch from Chula
Vista, near the international border with Mexico, to the
small town of Bishop, in California's eastern Sierra
AAA Expansion Program
In 1995, the Auto Club began an expansion program that involved the
purchase of or affiliation with several other AAA motor clubs
across the country. To date, these include AAA Hawaii, AAA New
Mexico, AAA Texas, AAA Northern New England (serving New Hampshire,
Vermont, and Maine),AAA Missouri (serving Louisiana, Arkansas,
Mississippi, Missouri, and portions of Illinois and Indiana), and
Other affiliated programs
From Central California northward, the California State
, now called AAA Northern California,
provides services to ACSC members who travel north.AAA Northern
California and ACSC are both members of the AAA federation of motor
clubs. While membership is not interchangeable among AAA clubs,
each club provides certain services to all AAA members on a
reciprocal basis, notably roadside assistance.
In recent years, the Auto Club has returned to its roots with
involvement in auto racing, sponsoring the annual Auto Club 500 NASCAR
race (Fontana) and NHRA
Auto Club Finals (Pomona). The tracks where both events are held
(Auto Club Speedway and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, respectively),
along with a drag strip in Bakersfield (Auto Club Famoso Raceway),
all have naming rights held by the Auto Club.
The Auto Club also sponsors the Top Fuel
team, John Force Racing, and its
driver Robert Hight.
The Auto Club sponsors driver Sam Hornish Jr. in the Penske Racing
No. 77 Dodge at selected races on the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.
[www.acsc-signs.blogspot.com] - ACSC traffic sign photos