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50th Autorama ready to roll

For the Southeastern Autorama, it’s been a long ride.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Autorama, the oldest and longest continuous car show in Tennessee. The annual Erwin event will be held Friday and Saturday, June 11 and 12, at the Unicoi County High School track.
Activities begin at 9 a.m. and last until 10 p.m. both Friday and Saturday. Spectators pay $5 for adults and $2 for ages 6 to 11 years old. No admission is charged those under 6 years old.
The expected 150 to 200 car owners can display their cars for a $15 entry fee, which includes the opportunity to win a variety of prizes and titles.
“There will be 40 to 50 classes of cars,” said Kenny Loveless, the president of the Autorama. “For each class there will be first, second and third prize. Plus, 12 speciality awards and the top prize, Best of the Show, wins a 16-inch crystal cup and $200 cash.”
Replicas of Tony Kanaan’s 7-Eleven car and Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari F1 car will be featured at the show, through Garland Tire of Erwin and Bridgestone/Firestone. New to the family-oriented event will be an Indy race simulator for guests to experience what the Indy Car Series feels like.
“There will be real old cars, trucks and motorcycles, from early 1900s all the way up to 2000s,” said Mike McIntosh, a longtime Autorama member.
A parade of the showcased vehicles begins at 1 p.m. Saturday through the streets of downtown.
Live bluegrass music starts at 7 p.m. both nights. The Skinner Family will perform Friday and The Adam Larkey Band will perform Saturday. Fun Time Inflatables will bring two large rides to entertain the children.
Charter members have organized as many photos, articles, show shirts and hats as they could find to showcase years that led them to their golden anniversary. They also converted video shot on 16mm film to DVD for guests to watch a previous year’s show.
“I like getting to see a lot of people you haven’t seen in a long time,” McIntosh said. “It’s like a family reunion. Plus, getting to talk about your cars.”
Jim Hobbs, one of the founders of Autorama, will be in attendance for Saturday’s show.
“He’ll be coming from Newport Beach (Va.) to be honored with a plaque,” Loveless said.
For more on the Autorama, see the special 16-page supplement included in this week’s issue of The Erwin Record.