Tupelo Blue Suede Cruise opens Friday

If you go to the 2009 Tupelo Blue Suede Cruise, remember the color of Don Kelley’s 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air is coral, not pink.
“That was an original factory color. That’s why I kept it that color,” said Kelley, 65, of Chesterville. “I get a lot of ribbing about it being pink, but that doesn’t bother me any.”
Classic car guys and gals have respect for coral and any other color, as long as it’s on a vehicle that’s 25 years old or older.
“You get to see all different kinds of cars at the Blue Suede Cruise,” Kelley said. “There’s not one you can think of that you won’t see.”
More than 500 cars registered for the 2008 event, and founder Allen McDaniel has spent the year trying to drum up more entries for 2009. He’s also curator of the Tupelo Automobile Museum, where he spreads word about the event.
“If I have an opportunity to talk to them while they’re here,” McDaniel said, “I say, ‘You need to come back.’”

Kick-off
Officially, the Tupelo Blue Suede Cruise is a three-day event. Unofficially, there are four days.
At dusk on Thursday at the museum, there will be a free showing of a movie. The agreement that allows McDaniel to show the movie prevents him from naming it or advertising it.
“It will be an Elvis Presley movie,” he said, “and cars will be in it. I can say that.”
Registration for the cruise will begin Friday morning. It’s $45 to register a car, but it’s free to stroll through the BancorpSouth Arena parking lot and enjoy the sights and sounds.
“It’s just great to be around car people and see the cars,” said Joe Bailey, 70, of Saltillo. “I’ve been to all of them.”
Cars and drivers will tour Tupelo for a poker run that includes Ballard Park, the Natchez Trace Visitors Center, and the Elvis Presley Birthplace.
At 5:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Phil Dirt and the Dozers will perform a variety of “cruisin’” music.
“If you like old cars and like good music from the ‘50s and ‘60s and you just enjoy being around car people,“ McDaniel said, “then you definitely don’t want to miss the Tupelo Blue Suede Cruise.”

– What: Tupelo Blue Suede Cruise
– Where: BancorpSouth Arena, Tupelo
– Cost: Free to attend; $45 to register a vehicle
– Info: bluesc.com or (662) 842-4242

Blue Suede Cruise schedule of events
– Thursday
• 7 p.m. – Drive-in movie at the Tupelo Automobile Museum

– Friday
• 9 a.m.-5 p.m. – Registration
• 11 a.m.-1 p.m. – Block party/show and shine
• 1-9 p.m. – Car corral, swap meet open
• 2-4 p.m. – Poker run open
• 5:30 p.m. – Phil Dirt and the Dozers

– Saturday
• 8 a.m.-1 p.m. – Registration
• 8:30 a.m. – Parade through downtown Tupelo
• 9 a.m.-5 p.m. – Car corral, swap meet open
• 10 a.m.-4 p.m. – Cruise and poker sites open
• 10 a.m.-6 p.m. – Classic car auction and show, $3
• Noon – Bill Brooks’ Elvis tribute
• 5:30 p.m. – Phil Dirt and the Dozers’ Beach Boys show

– Sunday
• 8 a.m. – Main site opens
• 8:45 a.m. – The Landmarks
• 10 a.m. – Winners announced

M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal