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Erwin's Autorama ready for 54th run

June 5th, 2014 1:27 pm by Brad Hicks

Erwin's Autorama ready for 54th run

ERWIN — For more than half a century, Erwin has been a destination for automobile enthusiasts wanting to show off or take a look at vintage and custom cars, and that tradition will continue this weekend.

The 54th annual Southeastern Autorama car show will be held Saturday at the Unicoi County HIgh School track. Gates will open at 7 a.m., and the show will run until approximately 5:30 p.m. Admission is $5 and free for children 12 years old and younger if accompanied by an adult.

The Southeastern Autorama started in 1960 when Conrad Beam, the owner of the Big Hat Grill, discussed with fellow antique car enthusiast Jim Hobbs ways to draw people into Erwin. Since then, the event show has gone on to become Tennessee’s longest-running consecutive car show, and Bailey said very few shows in the nation rival the autorama’s longevity.

“It’s a family-oriented event,” Southeastern Autorama Club President Joey Bailey said. “I went to my first one when I was probably just a few months old, and there’s a lot of people in the community that are the same way. It’s a generational thing. You’ll find young people, old people and everything in between.”

The same thing can be said of the cars that will be on display at Saturday’s open car show. Vehicles on display will include everything from early Model A’s, muscle cars, hot rods, motorcycles and street rods to more unusual vehicles such as Jeep trucks, with displayed automobiles ranging from the 1920s to modern vehicles.

“We pretty much run the gamut from A to Z,” Bailey said.

Bailey said awards will be given out by the Southeastern Autorama Club about 5:30 p.m. They will include the Top 40 Autorama picks, given to the 40 cars liked the most by members of the club. There will also be around 15 “best of” awards given out, including awards for best GM, best Ford, best interior, best paint job, best engine, and the show’s top award, best of show.

Bailey said those wishing to have their vehicles entered for judging may do so on the day of the show. He said registration will begin when gates open at 7 a.m. and continue to around 1 p.m. The entry fee for the judged show is $15.

This year’s show is dedicated to Curtis Cooper, who was the club’s vice president when he died at the age of 47 on May 22.

“He had only been with us in the club for probably two or three years, but he had won the Member of the Year award for the past two years in a row,” Bailey said. “He was a very valuable member to us.”

And, although this year’s show has not yet taken place, Bailey said clug members are already looking at ways to get the event rolling along in the future.

“We start planning for it more than a year in advance,” Bailey said. “As a matter of fact, at our last meeting we were already talking about things we can do next year, so we think it’s a big thing. Our numbers have been down in recent years, but we’re trying our best to do things and to get feedback from participants to make the show better as we go along.”

Unicoi County High School is located at 700 S. Mohawk Drive. For more information on the autorama, call Bailey at 388-8441. 

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