GRAND ROD RUN – The Heartland of America: Pigeon Forge, TN Attracts Over 5,000 Classics! By Shaun Smith
Thursday morning 10:37 a.m. I’m in a cargo van headed toward one of the old car hobby’s hottest spots in the country—Pigeon Forge, TN. A truck hauler pulls off the road at a stop light. Among the gems onboard include a ’57 Chevy, a ’70 Cuda, and a ’64 ½ Mustang. A corvette from the 70′s whizzes by and fades away into the distance as the smoke begins to rise from the Great Smokies in the distance. Candy shops and comedy barns and all sorts of what seem like foreign shops, line the highway as I pass through yet another stop light. This stretch of 20-plus miles appears to be some other world. A ’69 Roadrunner zooms past me, as the driver honks and burns rubber. Now, I’m at another stop light halfway to my destination as a beefed-up Chevy Impala burns out and disappears far ahead. Now, I know I have entered the Candy-Land World of Classic Cars and a haven that is pulling me in closer, one stop light at a time.
The Grand Run , which is hosted at the Grand Resort in Pigeon Forge, attracts thousands of classic cars and trucks from all over the country. It’s early on Wednesday and the show doesn’t yet start until Friday, but enthusiasts started pouring into this attraction town last weekend. This is big, and it’s going to be a world of fun.
As I pull into The Grand Resort Hotel parking lot, a drag car shaped like a bullet grabs my attention. Not too far away I spot two corvettes from the 50′s that sparkle in the sunshine. I notice a Camaro Pace car and an Edsel—talk about variety. Now, I know I’m in the right place!
A little while ago I ran into our good friends from Camaro Central out of Lexington, KY. Shawn Green, Camaro Central’s owner, informs me that they are bringing in four huge truck loads of parts to the show. They also are taking several loads to Carlisle this weekend. Centrals’ Manager, Ben Tucker (a.k.a. “Darth Vader”–because he has literally sold parts all over the universe) was on hand to give their company the “rocket-power” they needed for this show. The very-well-known Camaro Parts Supplier carries a very large line of products, from sheet metal and moldings to weather strips and convertible tops. You can order a free catalog by calling 800-990-1969 or visit www.CamaroCentral.com
It’s now Thurs., Apr. 19 and my alarm clock, which was set for 6:33 a.m. goes off. I jump out of bed like a little kid at Christmas to open the curtains and peek outside. From the fifth floor balcony, there are classic cars and street rods as far as the eye can see. Welcome to the heartland of America, I thought to myself.
After setting up the Auto Round-Up booth, I decide to head downtown to take some pictures. “The Strip,” as it’s called, is a 10-plus mile stretch of pure fun. Everything you can imagine is here. I pass go kart racing, three putt-putt golf courses (including one with a giant octopus), fast wedding chapels, an Elvis museum, candy stores, an arcade or two, and a bumper cars rink. Every hotel in town must be sold out and their parking lots are jam-packed with cars, creating an image of the past. I walk further down the sidewalk. The further I walk, the farther back in time I travel.
It’s no wonder old car hobbyists come down for a week-long vacation. With a million things to do, and only a few days to do it in, you can actually come to Pigeon Forge more than once and experience a totally different atmosphere every single time around.
Finally, I come to the Happy Days Diner, located at 2785 Parkway, and decide to get some lunch. The 50′s-style diner is equipped with a lot of James Dean memorabilia, classic car signs, and a jukebox. They have catchy phrases for all of their food, including a “Cadillac Cheeseburger” and a “Betty Boop Banana Split.” And, best of all, it’s all very reasonably priced, especially when the service comes with a smile.
Day one of the show kicks off with a bang. There are cars everywhere. I notice hotels in my vicinity opening up their grass fields to let more classics in. It’s crazy—Pigeon Forge is flooded with these antiques, and they’re still rolling in.
Jim Hasty of Hasty’s Car Country pays me a visit. His car lot features quality cars. He’s out promoting his newly-launched car show—the 3rd Annual Southwest Ohio’s Premier Car & Truck Show. It will be held on Jul. 21-22 in Franklin, OH. For more information on this great show, or to see Hasty’s cars, visit www.HastysCarCountry.com
The next day, I get a chance to venture out some more. “The Strip” is lined with parking lots full of classic cars and trucks for sale. This has to be one of the largest car corrals around this part of the country, I thought. All day long, people witness and enjoy the spectacular magic of cars cruising up and down the strip.
The show is becoming quite a success. With over 320 cars registered, 115 vendors setup, and 5,000 spectators pouring into the gates, the Grand Run, has once again proved to be a successful outing.
I have a sit down with Corvette Expo owner Byron Cooper, who runs the Grand Run, to discuss the tremendous success of the show. Byron has done a wonderful job organizing and planning out the Corvette Expo and Grand Run shows for a quarter-century now. He is an enthusiast that has brought a lot of hobbyists together over the years. “The 25th annual show is quite a milestone,” Cooper says. “In the beginning,” Cooper explained, “there were no cars on the strip—now there are thousands!” “This is a great family-oriented event that is growing every year.”
Cooper has been out promoting his next project: The Horsepower And Hot Rods Show. “We are combining the Muscle Car Show and the Corvette Expo into one large event and moving it to the new Sevierville Events Center in Sevierville, TN.” This show promises to bring in ultimate hi-performance cars and is expected to draw in over 10,000 spectators and hundreds of classics on Oct. 19-20. There will also be an auction, swap meet and a sales corral—so mark this one on your calendar. If you would like more information on this event, please call 865-687-3976.
Well, before I even knew it, the show was ending. Just as it had begun, it was ending and the fun was over. It was time to pack up, and cruise off into the sunset for most of these folks. However, I was headed north to Dave & Ed’s Swap Meet in Canfield, OH. You can read about this show in the next issue of Auto Round-Up!
The shows held by MCS Promotions and Corvette Expo in this part of the country are the best. You get your money’s worth and the people are so much fun. If you would like more information on these events, please visit www.CorvetteExpo.com or call 865-687-3976.
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