PILOT MOUNTAIN — There just seems to be something about summer afternoons and classic cars — the sound of a rumbling muscle car engine and the beat of a good band belting out tunes as evening falls — that seems to call us all.
Perhaps that’s what there seems to be a never-ending list of hot rod shows and classic car cruise-ins, none more popular or well known in these parts of the state than the monthly gathering in Pilot Mountain.
Clear skies and slightly cooler temperatures proved to be the perfect combination for the most recent such gathering, last Saturday’s Hot Nights and Hot Cars Cruise-in. Despite the fact such events have become almost a regular occurrence, the shows don’t seem to be waning in popularity. One primary organizer of Pilot Mountain’s latest referred to the crowd as “easily one of the largest turnouts we’ve seen.”
Main Street was filled well before noon but classic vehicles continued to show up throughout the day. Those on hand didn’t seem to mind the congestion as a relaxed but festive atmosphere was reflected along the street and in the packed shops.
Depot Street filled early as evening approached, with fans seeking to get close to enjoy the upcoming live beach music concert. And featured performers The Extraordinaires did not disappoint.
“They lived up to their name,” noted primary organizer Jerry Venable of the sponsoring Mount Pilot Now group. “They played constant music in a variety of styles, and that’s what people seem to like. They had a great light show and plenty of energy. The bandstand area was jam-packed. It was quite a show.”
But for all the positives, Venable noted, the highlight of the day was still the crowd.
“It was amazing to get to walk around and talk to people,” he said. “We had a lot of first-time visitors and some folks from far away, including Richmond and Hollywood, Florida. They acted like they couldn’t believe what they were seeing. They’d heard about this, but they had to see it for themselves. They kept talking about how nice the people are. We’ve had a lot of good cruise-ins, but people really seemed to enjoy this one.”
Venable placed a conservative estimate of the classic vehicles on hand at “probably over 800.”
“There were people coming and going throughout,” he noted. “There were a lot of people.”
After Saturday’s success, plans are already being made for next month. After Angus Tucker’s 1940 Ford was named as the August Advance Auto Parts Classic Ride of the Month, Venable said the group will be looking for a classic Chrysler to be recognized in September.
The featured band for the Sept. 2 cruise-in will be the Blackwater Rhythm and Blues Band from Clarkton.
“And we may continue to do some little things,” Venable said, “but we don’t want to change much. We’ve learned what people like and what they want to see, and that’s what we’ll have.”
Those itching to take in another such show don’t have to wait for September, though. The Mayberry Cool Cars & Rods Cruise-In monthly series will have the streets lined in Mount Airy a week from Saturday. As is the case with most such events, this one will feature vintage cars, music, concessions for sale, along with downtown shopping opportunities, a 50/50 drawing and door prizes.
For more information on that event, contact the Downtown Business Association at DBA@mountairydowntown.org or call the Visitor Center at (336) 786-6116.