After taking a winter break, the “Hot Nights and Hot Cars” cruise-in series will be returning to downtown Pilot Mountain on Saturday, filling the area with classic music, cars and crowds.
Beginning with Saturday’s event, cruise-ins will be featured on the first Saturday afternoon and evening of each month through October.
Announced hours are 3-9:30 p.m. but, because of the events’ popularity, downtown streets usually begin to fill by noon. Classic and spectator vehicles continue to make their way into town throughout the afternoon, cruising Main Street or parking to allow owners to experience the event while sitting or strolling. Multiple parking areas are designated for spectators while specific lots are reserved for classic vehicles.
This year’s events will again feature a diverse array of beach music bands. Scheduled bands in order of appearance are The Holiday Band, The Entertainers, Gary Lowder and Smokin’ Hot, The Extraordinaires, Blackwater Rhythm and Blues Band and North Tower. Scheduled start time for all concerts is 5:30.
Groups will be featured on the Depot Street or “Gasoline Alley” stage, with its checkerboard dance floor open to all. Lawn chairs are encouraged for listening comfort.
“We’re pleased to be starting the summer with Mike Taylor and The Holiday Band,” noted Jerry Venable, chairman of Mount Pilot Now organization which sponsors the cruise-in series. “It’s been a number of years since they’ve been here and we’re looking forward to having them back. They’re one of the most experienced bands out there and they always put on a good show.”
For many, the day will be all about the cars. Owners of antique, classic, street rod, pro street and muscle cars will again be invited to bring their vehicles downtown.
To ease parking congestion for spectators, a courtesy park and ride shuttle bus service will again be offered with stops at specified downtown locations every 20-25 minutes from 3-10 p.m. A bus will be carrying attendees from the two Key Street PART park-and-ride lots to the downtown area and returning them to their cars. The #1 lot is located behind PNC Bank while the #2 lot is beside Surrey Bank & Trust.
New commemorative event t-shirts will be available beginning Saturday, along with a limited supply of 2017 shirts.
New food truck vendors have been added for the season, including stations for ice cream and barbecue.
Mock Beroth Tire, a longtime cruise-in participant, is planning a September return with its Bigfoot Monster Truck. While unconfirmed, Venable hinted at other additions and special appearances for auto enthusiasts throughout the season.
Also making a return will be Race Car Friday Night, scheduled for Oct. 5. The evening will feature an assortment of race cars of all types parked along Main Street, often accompanied by owners and drivers. Shuttle service will not be available for that event.
Other returning features will include the naming of a Classic Ride of the Month” and a 50/50 cash drawing. A select local vineyard will serve wine at each event, with wine to be consumed only in designated areas.
“We’re expecting some good weather for Saturday and we hope to see that continue throughout the season,” Venable said. “We saw a lot of rain last year and that hurts us.”
“This is still drawing in folks from all over the area, including lots of new people. We’ve already gotten a lot of calls about this year. People are looking forward to it and we’re expecting some good turnouts.”