Tuesday, October 27, 2015

2015 Hazzard Run from Nashville to Gatlinburg

Who would have guessed that moving to Tennessee would bring me this close to a TV show that I used to watch as a kid in the ‘80s. But it seems like there’s a little Dukes of Hazzard influence all over the place here. Why, just last weekend I took my family to the annual Hazzard Run. Sure, I loved watching the Dukes of Hazzard. But I never owned a General Lee, or a Rosco P. Coltrane police car, or a Daisy Duke Roadrunner. These folks are serious about this. But that’s alright by me. My son and I still enjoy watching this silly, simple show today. And it might be a little nerdy, but we have fun seeing the cars and stars of this little slice of pop culture as they make their rounds of the Nashville area.

Ben Jones, the actor who played the lovable mechanic Cooter Davenport on the Dukes of Hazzard TV show, has a whole network of “Cooter’s Place” tourist attractions throughout the south. There’s one in Nashville. There’s also one in Gatlinburg, Tenn. The Hazzard Run connects the two. The owners of these cars leave from the Nashville store and drive in a big convoy to scenic Gatlinburg. This year, Sonny Shroyer, the actor who played Deputy Enos Straight, was in Gatlinburg to sign autographs one they got there.

There was a little star power at the Nashville location as well. In the show, car chases would occasionally work their ways into Chickisaw County, where the Duke Boys would run into the county’s temperamental Sheriff Little. Don Pedro Colley was the man behind the angry scowl. In the show, he would usually lose his temper and tear the fenders off of his trademark green-and-white patrol car. For at least the second year-in-a-row, Colley was at the Hazzard Run, green-and-white police car and all. In real life, he’s just a big old friendly guy. He’ll just stand around and talk about sports or weather or whatever else you want to bring up. He comes down to the Hazzard Run from his home in Oregon. And you get the distinct impression that he’s here because he wants to be, not because he’s obligated to be here.

On the show, all the General Lees looked more-or-less the same. They were all ’69 Dodge Chargers, or at least they were all made to look like ‘69s. They all had nice, shiny orange paint. They all had saddle colored interiors. But in the replica world, General Lees come in all shapes and sizes. You might see a ’68 or ’70 Charger with the treatment. New-style Chargers and Dodge Challengers are fair game. I’ve seen pickups, Smart cars, and even Chevettes wearing the “01” on the doors. Someone actually had a Subaru General Lee at this event. But when they all get together like this, no one seems to care what kind of car your General Lee is made from. They all get along.

One of the more interesting cars was this grizzly old beast. You might get the impression that it was found on the Warner Brothers backlot sometime after the show ended. The owner assures us that it was not used on the show, however. It was built in the 1980s while the show was still on the air, so at least there’s that tie-in. I would probably be a little leery about driving this particular car all the way from Nashville to Gatlinburg. But the guy who brought this car was a character himself. He didn’t seem too worried about it, though. That’s probably a good way to be, because he’ll have a good time no matter what happens.

I took several pictures of all the TV-themed cars from the Nashville portion of this year’s Hazzard Run. I’m also including some previously un-shared photos from Cooter’s Place in Gatlinburg that I took when we visited there earlier this summer. There’s no question that everyone was there to have a fun time. I know we did. See all the pictures in the slideshow below, or click this link for a nicer version.