BRISTOL — Beginning today, hundreds of antique cars will roll into Bristol for a three-day event celebrating the early history of the automobile.
Everything from classic cars to hot rods will be on display during the Southeastern National Fall Meet hosted by the Appalachian Region of the Antique Automobile Club of America at the Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend.
It’s an event local car enthusiast Tina Cook, who is originally from Spain, hopes will bring quite the crowd to the area for something she said is much more than your average car show.
“We encourage anyone in the Tri-Cities to join us. We encourage everyone to look in the garages and bring their cars, because you never know, you might have a jewel,” she said.
The meet is in honor of Cook’s husband, William Lynnwood Cook, who began the local chapter of the AACA after moving to Bristol in the 1970s. He died in 1991 after operating a printing business in Bristol for many years. Cook said he was one of the very first members of the AACA, and he spent much of his life collecting antique cars, some of which were featured in the films “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and “Seven Days in May.”
“When he died, the club kind of slowed down a little bit, because he was very much the center of it,” she said.
Cook said the meet is a kind of resurrection for the both the club and her. She said the meet is sure to feature some of the most beautiful cars ever made.
With more than 400 cars from all over the country registered for the event, Cook said attendees will be able to get a lesson in the history of the automobile.
“The automobile gives us freedom. With most transportation — boats, trains, airplanes — you have to go off with a purpose, but the automobile gives us the choice to get up out of bed at 3 o’clock in the morning and go anywhere you want to. Nothing gives you as much freedom as the automobile,” she said.
Every kind of car is welcome, even if you don’t think it’s worthy to be parked next to a restored Rolls-Royce.
Registration for the meet begins today and events at the speedway kick off Friday. In addition to the speedway events, a cruise-in will be held Friday evening in downtown Bristol.
General admission is free, however, there is a $30 fee for vehicle registration. There are separate fees for the meet’s various banquets and tours of BMS.
For a detailed schedule and pricing information, visit www.appalachianregionaaca.org or www.aaca.org.