Erwin’s Autorama gets ready to rev up starting on Friday

Brad Hicks • Jun 5, 2012 at 8:48 AM

ERWIN — Tennessee’s longest-running consecutive car show continues to roll along, as the 52nd annual Southeastern Autorama will take place at the Unicoi County High School track Friday and Saturday.

Gates will be open from 8 a.m.-10 p.m. both days, and organizers hope the event will offer plenty of vehicles for car enthusiasts to enjoy with everything from early Model A’s to modern vehicles, and also includes muscle cars, hot rods, trucks and motorcycles.

“It’s a good family event,” Southeastern Autorama club member Mike McIntosh said. “It’s not only a car show, it’s kind of like a reunion. A lot of these people, you only see them once a year.”

The Southeastern Autorama car show got its start in 1960 after Conrad Beam, who was the owner of the Big Hat Grill, discussed ways to draw folks into town with fellow antique car enthusiast Jim Hobbs. More than five decades later, the show is still going strong and McIntosh said its longevity is a source of pride for Southeastern Autorama club members.

“We’re honored to be the oldest consecutive show in the state of Tennessee, and it wouldn’t be that way if it wasn’t for the people who were sponsoring us,” McIntosh said. “We’ve got some great sponsors. I thank all the people in the past who have come to our show, the people that have entered, the spectators, and especially the sponsors. If it wasn’t for them, we couldn’t donate this money that we raise back to the school system. It just couldn’t be done.”

McIntosh said the club attempts to raise money for the Unicoi County school system. This past year, the club gave two $500 scholarships to high school students and previously paid for the lights surrounding the high school’s track, McIntosh said.

This year’s show is being dedicated to the memory of the late Raymond Bailey, who was a Southeastern Autorama club member. McIntosh said Bailey was working to restore a Model A at the time of his passing, and his family intends to have this car at the show.

Those wishing to have vehicles displayed at the show may register their vehicles up to the 10 a.m. deadline Saturday. The cost for registering vehicles in the show is $15, and the first 150 people to register vehicles will receive dash plaques. Awards will be given in various vehicles classes, as judged by the Southeastern Autorama club, and the winner of Best of Show will receive a $100 prize. Door prizes will also be awarded Friday for those registering vehicles, McIntosh said.

The event will also feature a car corral and swap meet for those wishing to sell vehicles and automotive parts. It will also feature live music, with the Makeshift Band taking the stage Friday at 7:30 p.m., and Tim White and the V.W. Boys performing at 7 p.m. Saturday.

The admission fee for spectators is $5 for adults, $3 for children ages 6-12 and free for children less than age 6.

McIntosh said it’s almost time for organizers to look at how they can keep the event going even longer.

“As soon as this car show’s over, we start working on the next year’s,” McIntosh said.

For more information on the event, call Kenny Loveless at 434-2156, Charlie Ervin at 743-7573, Gaylon Foster at 743-4995 or McIntosh at 743-5085.

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