By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal
FULTON – Mom Tiffany Cook clapped her hands over 4-year-old Kyleigh’s ears to lessen the roar of two more racers speeding from the starting line at Fulton Raceway on Saturday.
The Cook family of Fulton – which includes father Jamie and son Eli, 6 – spent the day at the annual racing event sponsored by Alan “Hutch” and Amy Hutcheson of North Mississippi Cruisers Car Club.
“This is the first time my husband and I have been out here since we were kids, and it’s our kids’ first time,” Tiffany Cook said. “They love it.”
The track brings back fond memories for Jamie Cook, who as a child used to wet down the track for the “burnout.” Now they’re at the track to root for his uncle, Jamie Timms of Fulton, in his1990 green Chevy pickup.
They were among dozens of families and hundreds of drivers and spectators for the day of racing, with proceeds benefiting the Tupelo Police Athletic League.
The stereotypical 1960s muscle cars like Pontiac GTO and Ford Mustang, with their high-performance V8 engines, weren’t the only racers in the colorful field. Entries from just about every era of American motor sports – 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s until now – tested their prowess on the one-eighth-mile track.
“We usually have about 90 to 100 cars, about 90 today,” Hutcheson said. “It’s a real good day of fun, and everybody says they can’t wait until next year.”
The Hutchesons started the event about 10 years ago as an event for their own club with about 20 to 30 cars, charging $10 to run a car – no admission charge for spectators – and giving the proceeds to charity.
Each year the event grew as they invited other clubs, and now they draw participants from about a 150-mile radius, Hutcheson said.
Hot-rodding gets in the blood, Hutcheson said, and he was running a Ford pick-up in his races.
“I used to race a ’67 Mustang for 16 years, now it’s a truck,” he said.
Another spectator who has racing in his blood, but who watches the drag strip races for nostalgia’s sake is George Poteet.
An Itawamba County native, Poteet, 65, now a Memphis businessman, makes the trip to Fulton each year to participate in the day of races.
“I’m a 1966 graduate of Mantachie High School and raced in Fulton from age 15,” Poteet said. “Now I just race the time trials, but it makes a pleasant day getting in my ‘57 Chevy (El Camino) and driving down here.”
In 2011, Poteet set the world land speed record at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah at 462 mph in his specially built vehicle. Last year he set a new land speed record in the Speed Demon D Blown Fuel Streamliner with a two-run average of 426 mph, according to the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper.
With four consecutive years of fastest times, Poteet will head back to the 2013 meet in August.
“These cars are a culture. For some people, it’s their life,” Poteet said, speaking of the hot rod racing he was enjoying Saturday.
Besides the love of speed, Hutcheson said his greatest joy in the event is what they’re able to the PAL kids.
“We raise an average of $700 to $900 per year, and I really like that for the kids, getting them off the streets,” Hutcheson said.