Have you ever gone to a car show not knowing anything about it and being happily surprised to find out it was much more than you ever expected? If so, then you know this feeling well, because that’s exactly what happened to us at the Ardmore Car Show. Here’s how it went down when we stumbled upon this gem of a show.
A few weeks ago we received a call from one of our faithful readers to ask if we were going to be down in Ardmore. Our first question was, “Where the heck is Ardmore”? He simply replied, “Ardmore, Tennessee of course.” So we asked why would we want to be in Ardmore, Tennessee what could possibly be down there? That’s when he went on to tell us there’s a car show there that we absolutely had to see to believe. He mentioned, “It’s a show that will have over 1,000 custom cars and classics,” so without hesitation, we loaded up the car and headed down the road towards Ardmore, Tennessee.
We do have to admit as we were driving down the road we were wondering if this show would really be as big as what we had been told? After all Ardmore is a town with a population of just under 1,500 people that basically straddles the Tennessee, Alabama border and it’s location somewhat baffled us being only a few miles off I-65 South right at the state line.
Walking through the gate and paying the minimal $5 spectator fee to enter, we look around to see a couple baseball fields and a wooded park area completely full of hot rods from just about every era you can imagine. There were individuals, families and kids just hanging out relaxing in the shade and walking around to check out what this year’s show had to offer.
We knew at that moment that we definitely made a good decision to take the drive. As we start rolling into Ardmore and check the GPS to be sure we are going in the right direction, we start seeing a few hot rods headed the same way. After we turn a corner only a few blocks from John Barnes Park we realized just how big this “little” car show was. Spectator cars were parked everywhere, and we mean everywhere. We’re talking some of them were parked in people’s lawns, lined up against the side of the road and the parking lot was overflowing.
In our astonishment of what we were seeing here in this little southern town, we thought it was very important for us to find out who was behind all this hot rodding fun. So we started making our way towards the live music we heard playing, thinking that must be where the “head honchos” of this shindig would be. Of course it took us almost an hour just to get to the other side of the park mainly because we couldn’t help but stop to drool over every car and look them over in utter amazement.
These cars weren’t just your average backwoods hot rods; these were in-line with some of the best we have seen across the nation. We found out this show is open to anyone who has a hot rod of any year, make or model. This is somewhat of a pleasant change from the year limited shows. It gave us an opportunity to get a wide glance at everything from the early 1900′s to the new muscle as is the case with the Roush Mustangs.
We found many straight forward stock vehicles that looked as if they just rolled off the showroom floor, complete with the original window stickers. And for those that dig some mild to wild mods, there were plenty of those as well. No matter what your taste or what mood you might be in, it was here for you to enjoy.
Once we finally made it to the officials tent, we wanted to find out more about this gem of a car show. We were introduced to Tony Graviet, Sandy Hardiman, and Randy Willoughby. They are the top officials of the Ardmore Quarterback Club and organizers of this show. We asked Tony, the President of the club, what exactly does the club do here in Ardmore and what is this show all about?
Tony said, “The Ardmore Quarterback Club is an organization that raises money to help give back to the kids of the community. The only fund raiser we have throughout the year is this show with all the proceeds going to help with facilities improvement, buying new sports equipment, fields and we also give 3 scholarships to the Youth League. Over the past 10 years we have been able to raise over $750,000 to the kids in the area.” All we could say at that point is ‘Wow!” Now we were even more grateful for that call that led us here.
After the first few years Tony turned the reigns over to Sandy and Rodney to help take the show to the next level. Sandy told us how they we’re able to grow so large, “We picked a radius and started going to every car show we could find. We would hand out flyers, shake hands and made friends (what a concept). Every year we would go a little further out.”
As we were talking, we were noticing all the kids and families having such a great time. Rodney told us, “There is always something going on here and things for the kids to do. We have cars from 1905 to 2012, so there really is something for everybody.” Rodney went on to tell us this year they were very pleased that they were able to attract over 1,400 cars from across the South to come out and help support the cause.
As the mid-afternoon came, we noticed people start moving their way towards the stage where the talented band “Section 8″ had been playing earlier. So just as cattle do, we started moving with the herd in the same direction. The reason, we latter learned, was because there was about to be a few big drawings and raffles. These guys weren’t just giving away a couple gift certificates for a local restaurant, no way. Just the cash prizes alone are astonishing.
Brad Stovall Body Shop gave away $1,500 for 1st, $1,000 for 2nd and $500 for 3rd on the cars, but that was just the beginning. Their main corporate sponsor, Snap-On, donated a $4,300 rolling tool box to one lucky ticket holder and for the grand prize the Quarterback Club gave away a 1967 Chrysler Imperial two door which was one of only 15 built with rear air conditioning.
We talked to the winner of this classic Imperial, Galon Ross, who told us he drove his 1966 Ford Galaxie all the way from Jupiter, Florida to attend this show. He has been to this show three times and actually is thinking of retiring in the area. “This show compares to any big show you will ever got to,” he said. After seeing the look in his eyes and all the people here, we have to say that he is absolutely right. This was much more than a car show, this was people helping the kids of today and tomorrow achieve their dreams.