By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – More than 600 classic cars filled the BancorpSouth Arena parking lot Friday afternoon as participants in the Blue Suede Cruise rolled into town.
Gene Shaw, who claims to be the oldest active Elvis impersonator, drove his 1934 Ford Three-Window Coupe, The Spirit of Elvis, from Monroe, La.
When showing off the coupe, Shaw likes to start in the rear where an airbrush image of Elvis adorns the trunk.
“Elvis has always been my idol and I’ve always wanted an Elvis car,” said Shaw, who has been building and restoring cars for five years now.
The car has Elvis’ logo stitched into the upholstery and a picture of him painted into the firewall under the hood.
Shaw said he has been to Tupelo many times but this is his first trip for the Blue Suede Cruise.
Rick Kelley drove his black 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air from Corinth to participate.
“I do the scenic tour around Tupelo, cruise around and see the sights,” Kelley said. “It’s a real nice show and I come every year.”
The Bel Air isn’t Kelley’s only restoration, simply the car he chose today.
“I’ve got a ’68 Chevy Impala SS, ’69 Ford Fairlane 500 station wagon, ’64 Falcon Ranchero and an ’84 Vette,” Kelley said. “I just enjoy old cars.”
Scott Hendrix of Tupelo and his daughter brought plenty of old cars and trucks to show off Friday morning, including a Ford truck from the 1920s.
“This is a 1928 Ford Model A Roadster pickup,” Hendrix said. “It’s restored all original. I bought it the day my daughter was born and we restored it the first year of her life and have enjoyed it ever since.”
His 8-year-old daughter set up a lemonade stand between her dad’s Model A and 1955 Thunderbird.
Hendrix started working on cars with his dad when he was 6 years old. “My dad bought our first Model A and I gave my piggy bank to own the back seat,” he said. “That same year he bought these two Thunderbirds. We expanded the day my daughter was born and I kind of went crazy since. I lost my father in 2008, and now I do it in his honor.”
Hendrix has, in addition to the Model A and Thunderbird, a 1956 Thunderbird, 1946 Ford Convertible Super Deluxe, 1969 Corvette and 1978 Corvette.
Carol Palmer of the Tupelo Convention and Visitor’s Bureau said they expect more than 700 cars to be registered by lunchtime today.
On Tap Today
• 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Registration, Bancorp-
• 8:30 a.m. – Drivers line up at Malco Theater
on North Gloster Street and parade through downtown.
• 5:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. – Live entertainment
at BancorpSouth Arena.