September 5, 2009 8:20:00 PM
Jan Swoope - email@example.com
Given his druthers, Southern Cruisers Car Club member Jimmy Terry of West Point would probably spend all his days bringing old cars back to life, transforming them inside and out into the powerful, gleaming machines they once were.
"I''ve been a hot rodder all my life," declares the 18-wheeler mechanic who last year completed rebuilding a 1969 Rally Sport/Super Sport Camaro. "One of the most beautiful sounds I''ve ever heard is a good high performance engine. I just love to fire it up and listen to it -- I could sleep to that every night."
That visceral appreciation of great automobiles is shared by car club enthusiasts across the region and will be on colorful display Saturday, Sept. 12, at the East Bank of the John C. Stennis Lock and Dam in Columbus.
A day filled with an estimated 200 vintage vehicles -- classics, street rods, roadsters, muscle cars, trucks, tuners and motorcycles -- as well as family-friendly races, a poker walk, raffle, money tree, door prizes, cake walk and an Elvis impersonator, is Southern Cruisers'' way of sharing a good-natured fanaticism.
"It''s a good, clean hobby," said Terry, the owner of Terry''s Garage. "The people you meet are wonderful; you can walk up to anybody at the car show that''s got a car there and say, ''I''d like to talk to you about your car,'' and they''ll light up like a light bulb."
The racing on tap won''t set any land records, but will be good for the funny bone. Wheeled commode races, with plungers for oars, and valve cover races for younger fans are popular. And King of the Hill bragging rights will be up for grabs in the gravity drag races for cars between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Terry explained, "You''re in neutral, nothing running. You set up there on the hill, and we have a red light. When the light turns green, you let off your brakes." The overall winner receives cash and races the 2008 winner for the King of the Hill trophy and Gravity Hall of Fame kudos.
An Elvis impersonator entertains at 12:30 p.m. Valve races, commode races and games will be held from 10 a.m.-noon. "And we have the best hamburgers in the world," added Terry, citing just one more reason to bring the family out.
Cars are the stars
The crowning glory of Cruisin'' the River will be the cars themselves. Lovingly cared for, restored or soon-to-be-restored, they will line the parking areas. Registration is $25 per car, truck or motorcycle Sept. 12 from 8 a.m.-noon. A second vehicle is only $15.
"You just park it, raise the hood, brag on it and that''s it," laughed Terry. Prizes will be presented near 3:30 p.m., after a live auction at 3 p.m., said Gwen Rainwater of Southern Cruisers. Awards include Best Overall in multiple categories, Corps of Engineers'' Choice, Southern Cruisers'' Choice, Hardluck trophy and sponsors'' trophies.
Many fans, like Terry, enjoy a good engine''s music, as well as a sleek look.
"These cars nowadays, you might say, don''t trip my trigger," he said. "I love the looks of the new Mustang and new Camaro, but when you walk behind it, to me they sound like a weasel. These new cars produce a lot of horse power, but they can''t give you that performance sound the old motors can give you; our motors sit there and do what we call a thump."
A helping hand
Southern Cruisers Car Club, which meets monthly, has been supporting local charities since 1990. Proceeds from this year''s show will benefit Camp Rising Sun, Outdoors Without Limits, the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District''s Council on Aging and area nursing homes.
For more information about the Cruisin'' the River Pride and Joy show, contact Carl Ulmer at 662-574-2678, Jim Hamer at 662-323-4540, or Jimmy Terry at 662-494-6086. To learn more about the Southern Cruisers, visit www.southerncruisersms.com.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.