Hundreds show off vintage, modern cars at Plains Car Show
Published 2:16 pm Thursday, April 19, 2018
By Ken Gustafson
PLAINS — Hundreds of car collectors, car buffs and enthusiasts from all over the Southeast came to Plains on Saturday, April 13, to show off their vintage vehicles and take part in the 11th annual Plains Car Show.
It was a beautiful, sunny day for people to come and admire all of the cars from the ‘30s, ‘40s, ‘50s and even some more modern cars.
It was a chance for the owners of these cars to show how well they have maintained their vehicles.
Bobby Salter, owner of Plains Peanuts, a store located on the main street in downtown Plains, started the event 11 years ago.
“It brings in people. It brings in revenue. It brings in everybody. It has gotten better and better every year, Salter said. “It’s just a good, clean fun car show. We don’t have any drinking going on. We don’t allow that. It’s a family atmosphere. The kids can come out and play. Everybody has a good time.”
It was a time of fun and fellowship had by all. One of the bands playing was the Lonesome Road Bluegrass Band.
Several organizations and businesses sponsored the event. Ruth Sanders is executive director of the Plains Better Home Town Program, one of the organizations running the event.
“ … Bobby Salter handled it for years,” Sanders said. “Then the Better Home Town and the Friends of Jimmy Carter National Historic Site took it over, along with Plains Peanuts. The three of us are sponsoring it. We’re trying to make it grow and do other things. We have the car people here today. We’ve got yard sale
people out here, so we’re trying to build it up.”
The owners of the vintage cars brought them in from all over the Southeast: From Seneca, S.C., to Smith’s Station, Ala., they brought their cars to Plains to show the judges how well the cars have been kept inside and out.
Normally, former President Jimmy Carter is there, looks at all the cars, and recommends his favorite. The
winner gets a trophy signifying that his car was President Carter’s favorite. Unfortunately, Carter was not able to make it to the event. There were other trophies awarded. The Judge’s Choice trophy for the best car, a Judge’s Choice trophy for the best street rod, a Judge’s Choice trophy for the best truck, the Mayor’s Choice trophy, the Plains Inn’s Choice trophy, the Police Chief’s Choice trophy, and the Plains Better Home
Town’s Choice trophy. Trophies were also given out to 65 Best of Show and 21 Best of Show Awards for cars, trucks, street rods and motorcycles, plus a club participation award.
Ellen Harris was event coordinator.
“ … We’ve always had such good success with the people coming out. We appreciate everybody coming. I’m not sure how many cars we have, but it looks like the streets are loaded,” Harris said.
Kim Fuller is director of the Friends of Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, one of the event sponsors.
“I think it’s a way to bring the community together,” Fuller said. “You see all of the people who are out there. You don’t realize until a car show comes to town how many people are really car buffs. We’ve got
people from all over the place here today: from Columbus to Albany to Warmer Robins … just all over the place. The train will come in later, bringing more people in.” Fuller was referring to a passenger train called SAM Shortline, which would come from Cordele into Plains later in the day bringing more visitors.
Even though the former president was not there, a trophy signifying President Jimmy Carter’s choice was still awarded. Erwin Gendreau of Tallahassee, Fla., was the recipient of the Jimmy Carter’s Choice Trophy for the look of his 1930 Ford Sport Coupe.
“I’m very pleased to win the Jimmy Carter’s Choice Award,” Gendreau said. “I was very excited. I wanted to meet Jimmy Carter badly; maybe next year.”
The Mayor’s Choice Award went to Jack Delaigle for the presentation of his 1935 Cadillac. The Plains Better Home Town’s Choice Award went to Jack Popham for the look of his 1932 Dodge. The Friends of the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site’s Choice Award went to Leslie Kinney for the presentation of his 1965 GTO. The Police Chief’s Choice Award went to Robert Wooldridge for his 1967 Camaro RS. The Bobby Salter’s Choice Award went to Mike Laffiter for the look of his 1962 International Pick-Up Truck. Frank Johnson of Donalsonville won the Plains City Council’s Choice Award for his presentation of his 1937 Ford Coupe. The Judge’s Choice Award for cars went to David Aten for the look of his 1968 Chevy Impala. Finally, the Judge’s Choice Award for Street Rods went to Buddy Hollomon for the presentation of his 1938 Chevy Sedan
There were many Best of Show in Class awards given out. Randall Barwick of Albany won a Best of Show in Class award. Barwick’s car was a 1957 Ford Fair lane 500 Club Victoria.
“The car you see here is all original,” Barwick said. “This car had a total rebuild in 1997. They entered it into a car show soon after that. It was a national car show, and this car here won first place in that show. Since then, it has been more or less put up and treated like a little baby. It’s never seen the rain or air condition until I got it. It was shown off a lot in atriums and different places around businesses, and I got the car and I said to myself, ‘The car was not made to be put up and treated like it was a queen or something. It’s made to be driven and shown off to people at shows and driven around on Sunday afternoons.’ That’s my idea of a car.”
Another car collector in town to show off his vehicle was Frank Johnson of Donalsonville who brought his 1937 Ford Coupe to the Plains Car Show. According to Johnson, he started collecting cars 10 years ago.
“I’ve only owned this car about two months,” Johnson said. “I’ve been wanting to purchase it for about five years. I sold my ‘62 Corvette and bought this one. This car has got a little over 8,000 miles on it.” Johnson went on to say that the car is a convertible and that the top does come off.
Another car collector in town was Steve Cripps, a resident of Alpharetta. Cripps brought his 1987 Citroen 2CV to the show.
“It’s a Citroen, which is a French car,” Cripps said. “It’s one of two built. It was built in 1987, even though it doesn’t seem like it, but it is. It was designed in 1939. It hasn’t changed much. It was made into a station wagon.”
Cripps went on to say that the French made seven million Citroen 2CVs, but that the car he had was one of two made into a station wagon. “The roof rolls back like a regular car, and the seats are original,” Cripps said.
There were not only car collectors there, but students learning about how to build automotive technology as well. Americus-Sumter High School’s automotive class was there building a 350 Chevy engine small block. The team was made up of senior Cameron Mathis, junior Jonathan Marin, sophomore Haila Taylor and senior Rayshawn Lester.
“When I was in 10th grade, I joined Mr. Mohl’s automotive class,” Mathis said. “He told me that he has an organization called Skills USA, and that engine build team was involved in Skills USA. I thought it would be something pretty interesting to try. This is my second year of doing, and I love it.”
The class instructor, Fredrick Mohl, explained that, like in sports, high school automotive teams also compete in local, regional and even national competitions.
“I’ve been teaching the automotive class at Americus-Sumter High School for 10 years now,” Mohl said. “We’ve been the engine build for about five. We’ve had a couple of teams come through for the last few years. Most of the kids that are on the team, this is their second year. We do have some students that are in their first year, but most of them are returning from last year.”
Mohl said they currently have two teams.
“We have basically a five-man team and two alternates,” Mohl said. “Right now, we have six females and six males on the combined team, so we’ve got a pretty good mixture of co-ed.” Mohl said that in competition, it’s a five-man team, and the team has to tear a 350 Chevy block all the way down to nothing but the block, the crank shaft and the cam shaft and put it all back together. “All the internal workings have to come out, and then they have to put them all back in,” Mohl said. “They have to use the correct sequence of bolts and so forth, and then they have to torque everything down to specification.”
Mohl said that at the car show, his students were doing a demonstration, but that they are involved in competitions.
“Back on March 30, we had a competition in North Carolina,” Mohl said. “We are going to another one in Atlanta at the Atlanta Motor Speedway on April 28. One team has already qualified to go to the national competition, which is going to be held at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas. We’re trying to make 2-for-2 to see if our second team will qualify. We’ll be going out there in late October or early November.” Mohl said the students breaking down the 350 Chevy engine at the Plains Car Show was actually a compilation of both teams. He said that some of the girls on the team couldn’t make it to the demonstration because they had prom that night.
In addition to old vintage cars, collectors brought in some more modern vehicles as well. One of those collectors was James Crooms of Milledgeville, a retired postal worker for 34 years, who brought in a 2002 Jeep Wrangler to present to the judges.
“I’ve been driving Jeeps for about 40 years. I’ve still got three,” Crooms said. “I’ve got a ‘94 Wrangler and I’ve got a 2000 Sahara Wrangler.”
Joe Hatfield, a native of Marietta, was also in town to present his red 1932 Ford V8. It was Henry Ford’s first V8 model he had made. Hatfield is the great-grandson of Devil Anse Hatfield, the patriarch of the Hatfield family and a key figure in the Hatfield-McCoy family feud.
“It’s a 1932 Ford two-door sedan,” Hatfield said. “It’s been chopped five inches on the windshield. It’s been channeled over the frame three inches. It’s been sectioned four inches. There’s been a foot taken out of it. I put 62,000 miles on it in six years driving to car shows. When I got out of high school in 1959, I started then. I had a 1940 Packerd convertible with a four-bit motor in it.” Hatfield said he’s probably won about 50 awards at car shows.
The Plains Car Show brought many people not only from other parts of Georgia, but out of state as well. Steve Brooks came to Plains from Luverne, Alabama, some 60 miles from Montgomery. Brooks brought his 1989 Chevrolet CK 1500.
“I’ve been collecting cars for about 12 years now,” Brooks said. “This is a recent restoration. I just got it back from the paint shop. I actually traded a boat for it, but I had to restore it. I also have a ‘78 El Camino, and I’m into Harleys, too. I’ve got a really nice Harley.”
Brooks said that he probably goes to about seven or eight shows a year, most of them in Alabama.
Jack Aldridge, a native of Catula, brought his maroon-colored International Truck to Plains.
“I’ve been collecting cars for 50 years, but I’ve had this truck since 1991,” Aldridge said. “It’s a 1938, and it was made by International. In 1938, International was the third largest pickup truck manufacturer in the United States. They still make tractors, but it’s owned by Volvo now. Prior to 1972, it was an individual brand. They continued to make pickup trucks until 1972.” anymore.
Jerry and Nancy Steinmann came from Seneca, S.C., to present to the judges their 2014 CT Stingray Corvette. They’ve been collecting cars for about 25 to 30 years.
“We’ve been collecting cars since probably about 1970,” Nancy said. “We have an El Camino and we also have a 2010 Camaro, a 2003 Silverado and a 2014 Stingray and they’re all SS vehicles. We come to Plains every year. This is our ninth show out of 11.”
Nancy, an admirer of President Jimmy Carter, does all kinds of displays honoring the former president.
“I have all kinds of memorabilia that has to do with his military career, as well as his presidential career. I will be donating those items for his foundation. The Plains Council has asked if I would do that and they will sell those items for his foundation charity work.”
In the back of the Steinmann’s Stingray Corvette were all manner of memorabilia dedicated to Jimmy Carter: a picture of the submarine he served on, medals, buttons, Carter’s wedding picture, even a Jimmy Carter doll that talks. All of this will be donated to Carter’s charitable work.
There were many other cars, both old and modern, represented at the Plains Car Show. Another such vintage car was owned by Craig Hamilton of Camilla, a 1937 Chevy Business Coupe.
At about 4 p.m., the awards were handed out. Erwin Gendreau won the Jimmy Carter’s Choice award for his 1930 Ford Sports Coupe. Buddy Hollomon won the Judge’s Choice award for Street Rods for the look of his 1938 Chevrolet Street Rod. There were several other awards given out for Best of Show in Class. Randall Barwick of Albany won Best of Show in Class for the look of his 1957 Ford Fair Lane 500 Club Victoria. Joe Hatfield also won a Best of Show in Class award for his bright-red 1932 Ford V8. Jerry and Nancy Steinmann also came away with a Best of Show in Class award for the presentation of their 2014 C7 Stingray Corvette. Logan Birdsong of Valdosta won Best of Show in Class for the presentation of his 1990 Buick Reatta. Those were just some of the several car owners who received awards based on the presentation of their vehicles.
According to the organizers of the event, there will be another car show in Plains on Saturday, Nov. 10 in conjunction with Veterans Day. It will be another opportunity for car collectors and owners to bring their cars to Plains to show to visitors and townspeople alike how well they have maintained their vehicles, both vintage and modern.