A whole lot of history rolled down Main Street in Mount Airy Friday as the North Carolina Regional Horseless Carriage Club came to town.
The Mount Airy return of the group featuring pre-1927 automobiles was the 61st road tour.
“Mount Airy is happy to have the group back to visit,” said Chamber of Commerce Director of Tourism and Marketing Jessica Roberts. “It’s a win-win situation with our citizens enjoying seeing their cars while club members visit our restaurants and shops. They’ve been in Surry County since Monday seeing all we have to offer.”
Downtown Business Association President Phil Marsh appeared pleased with the results of the tour.
“I cannot tell this group how much I appreciate them coming to town to visit us,” said Marsh. “It’s great for them to be here and help our downtown businesses spread the word about how friendly our town is.”
Club member Tom Hubbard agreed with Marsh.
“It’s fun to get out and see the countryside,” said the 15-year veteran of the club. He explained that the horseless carriage organization is world-wide. Members scout routes that the club travels in its yearly road tours. He said that he and his companions had a good time traveling on many of the back roads in Surry County this week.
“I just love it when people in this area come out to see us. It’s like someone warns them. They stand out in their yards or along the road and wave to us. That’s really something,” commented Hubbard. “I especially like it when we blow the old-time horns and see the smiles on children’s faces. It’s like Santa Claus is coming.”
Hubbard drove a 1923 Model T Touring car this year. The efforts to restore the car began in 1970 for him when he purchased the vehicle’s rusty frame. Hubbard was 20 years old at the time. He went on to say that in 1987 he saw a completely restored car that was the same make and model as the frame he was restoring.
“I got my ruler and pencil out and started measuring wooden parts,” said Hubbard, who said he is now working on restoring a 1915 roadster. He said he earned notice in 1989 when he drove a horseless carriage from Front Royal, Va., to Cherokee.
Spokesperson Trish White was very pleased with the response to the tour, even though Tuesday was a rough day.
“We had to have six cars towed back on Tuesday,” said White. “We got all but two back up and running. We have out run the rain showers all week. I gave out umbrellas at the start and I told them that’s the best insurance against rain I had.”
White said the club was in the area in 2009 and stayed at the Hampton Inn near Shelton Vineyards in Dobson.
“The Sheltons were so kind to us. They had the meeting room set up and everything,” said White. She said that Jeff Stager catered for the club this year and the club enjoyed the cuisine. White also said Hampton Manager Curtis Largen has been invaluable in helping the club. She reported that Tuesday the club was treated to homemade ice cream and Thursday club members were able to enjoy fellowship and watermelon.
“We’re not a car club really,” said White. “We’re a family.”
White’s husband, Brian, participated in this tour with his daughter and granddaughter making three generations represented in the event. She added that this year the tour was mostly composed of grandparents and grandchildren.