Delta River Cruisin'

This entry isn't so much history, as it is a current event. The Delta River Cruisin' event in Tunica MS is a pretty cool deal, that annually draws about 1,000 cars through model year 1979. It's hosted by the
Memphis Street Rods who have been at this hot rodding stuff as a group since 1968. They were in on the ground floor during the creation of the National Street Rod Association, and this long time affiliation is part of why the NSRA still calls Memphis home. The fact that this group was born in the time frame when the Memphis Rodders pretty well called it quits, makes them the heir apparent to local hot rod history. While the Memphis Rodders were focused on competition at the track, the Memphis Street Rods are all about putting them back on the streets. It's not lost on most that many rodders who go back a few years find this long standing club a comfortable fit.

I arrived on a Saturday this year, and noted what looked like the largest crowd of hot rods, muscle cars, and customs, I'd ever seen at
Sam's Town Casino. I don't know the total car count but I'm pretty sure it was healthy. I was a little concerned that the event might suffer due to the bi-weekly hurricane which was simultaneously pounding Texas. 'Ike' had left lots of damage, freaky local weather, and spiraling gasoline prices in it's wake. All potentially detrimental to a hot rod gathering. However, the crowd was still robust, and I kind of wonder if Tunica had not become a refuge for some who wished to escape the wrath of 'Ike' and keep the hot rod out of harms way. When I entered the show field (an over packed but really large parking lot) the first thing I noticed were the dirt track jalopies poised right in front of me. These slightly modernized versions of the homebuilt contraptions that duked it out at Riverside or the Lakeland Speedbowl were kind of a rolling museum for the eyes. The red 32b sedan was also for sale in case you need to sling one through the gumbo.

Part of the reason I like this show is the diverse range of cars that are drawn to it. There are rods, customs, restorations, and muscle cars galore. From rat rods to the slickest cars you'll see anywhere. A real mixed bag. The wicked truck above is a prefect example. I'm not quite sure what to call it, but I know I dig it. Part rat rod ethic with the black primer, it also embodies 60's show rod touches throughout. The metalflaked and severely chopped top, chrome reverse wheels with bullets and wide whites, and the judicious use of chrome plating are hallmarks of a 1960's show winner.

Of course, the more simplified 'as found' patina of many so-called 'rat rods' is a trend that is pretty hard to ignore. Sometimes these back to basics rods draw more attention than the high dollar cars simply because they exhibit innovation out of necessity and help to draw new blood into the hot rodding community.

Unfortunately, the weather turned weird (again) while I was prowling the cars and many of the more faint hearted rodders jumped into their cars and ran for cover in the garage or at area hotel rooms. But feel free to click on any of the photos in this post to hop on over to the web gallery I put on the
Memphis Classic Chevys web site. You'll get a better idea of what was going on, and you might want to consider making a visit to the Mississippi Delta next year to see what's up first hand.