Thursday, June 19, 2008
Hot Rodders buzz town en route to Kentucky
By SUE WATSON
About 55 vintage hot rods and street cars and 120 enthusiasts, from as far away as England, brightened Holly Springs’ streets last week. They were on their way to the National Hot Rod Association’s annual reunion in Bowling Green, Ky., held last weekend.
The out-of-towners from Texas, Iowa, Indiana, Tennessee and parts elsewhere were the guests of George Poteet Sr. at his farm and museum in Holly Springs.
Visitors enjoyed great barbecued chicken, ribs, butts, sausage and bologna, baked beans and potato salad prepared by Mike Lyons and Jack Mills with the Main Street Riders Club in Memphis. Lyon is president of club and was assisted by Mike “Psycho” Fiser, Cindy and Spencer Lyon, Tommy Carlock and Brandon Lane.
Members of the Marshall Academy cheerleading team provided assistance to guests.
A notable visitor was Dave Lane with Fast Lane Rod Shop, Donahue, Iowa, who built the 1932 Ford Sedan Delivery, owned by Poteet.
Poteet said the Sedan is thought of as the “bare bones” forerunner of the sport utility vehicle, and was used to deliver goods to businesses and stores in its heyday.
Captain Jack Landree also had a 1932 Ford that has been in his family four generations.
His jalopy, as they were known before World War II ended, was raced on Main Street in Memphis in the 1940s, he said.
His great-grandfather, “Captain Jack” Landree, owned a livery stable back in the horse and carriage days in 1905 in Memphis.
“People started bringing in their horseless carriages for him to work on, so before World War I, he was already racing Model Ts,” Landree said.
Howard A. Landree, his grandfather, on returning from World War I, joined the business operated by Landree’s uncle and “Captain Jack” around 1946 to 1948, right after World War II, during the revival of the hot rod.
The jalopies were not called hot rods until the 1950s, Landree said.
“Organized drag racing began at Halls, Tenn., about that time,” he said.
The hot rod he owns today was raced at Halls between 1948 and 1962. Then it was parked in 1964 awaiting its new owner.
Landree said he was promised the car at age 13, provided “I got it running again. Little did I know I would be 39, before I got it done,” he said
Two other Tennessee men were among the many admiring the street cars and hot rods at Poteet’s “reunion.”
A teal ’33 Ford caught the interest of Joey Harris, a hot rod shop owner from Henderson, and Mike Ragan, of Selmer, who makes leather upholstery for old cars.
“You have to work on everybody else’s before your own,” Harris said with a grin. “I buy too much is what my wife says.
“She told me, ‘You don’t make any money if you never sell none of ’em.’ ”
Roger Cirelli, of Burleson, Texas, made his first tour of Poteet’s farm and planned to make the Bowling Green hot rod reunion this year.
He marveled at the 1932 Ford Sedan Delivery with David Waring of Memphis, as they sat on the front portico at Poteet’s museum.
“Last year was my first time to go on a road tour,” Cirelli said. “I told myself, I’m not getting any younger, and if I am ever going, I need to go now.”
Cirelli was amazed at Poteet’s 1932 Ford which he had seen both unbuilt and built in Hot Rod Magazine. Not expecting to see the Sedan, he remarked at how much more beautiful the Sedan looks than it did in the magazine.
Waring, also retired, sat in the shade trying to do nothing for a while, something he’s having to practice now he has time on his hands.
Tours are the best place to meet new friends, he said.
“A person should meet at least 20 best friends on every road trip.”
Dave Lane, who built Poteet’s 1932 Sedan was one person with whom everyone wanted to talk cars with.
It took Lane two years and three months, full-time, to build the Sedan Delivery for Poteet.
He took the body and four fenders and built the car from that.
Lane said Poteet is known as the “Rod Father” throughout the country.
“He has done more for street riders than any man in the trade,” Lane said. “He knows these old cars. He’s moved this sport so far.”
Born in Itawamba County and raised on a farm, Poteet met his future business partner Frank Swords at Itawamba Community College. The two built companies to make and/or distribute water filtration devices, air filtration devices, nutritional products under the Juice Plus trademark, and personal security alarms.
An aficionado of racing for years, Poteet has been inducted into several halls of fame, including Darry Starbirds’ 13th Hall of Fame and the 2001 National Rod and Custom Hall of Fame.
Hot Rod enthusiasts enjoy the nostalgia and comaraderie that comes with drag cars, street rods, and the customs associated with the historic and contemporary hot rod eras.
Adventure and the thrill of pushing the limits of performance and effiency of the automobile is a part of the pioneering spirit that racers experience as they strive to make a vehicle do all it can do.
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