The Hot Nights and Hot Cars summer cruise-in series will head into its homestretch on Saturday, as the sponsoring Mount Pilot NOW group hosts the first of three major events to be held in the coming weeks.
According to Mount Pilot NOW representative Jerry Venable, expectations are high for Saturday afternoon.
“We’re expecting a really good crowd,” Venable said. “The weather should be nice for our last holiday weekend of the summer and we’ll have the 2014 Beach Music Band of the Year, The Entertainers, performing on the Depot Street stage.”
Formed in 1980, the band has developed a reputation for R&B and beach music while also showing their diversity by playing current top 40, classic rock and country music. Lawn chairs are encouraged for listening comfort while the checkerboard dance floor will also be available for dancing.
As always, owners of antique, classic, street rod, pro-street and muscle cars are invited to bring their vehicles downtown to either cruise Main Street or park in designated display areas. While official hours for the cruise-in are from 3-9:30 pm, the event’s popularity generally causes the downtown streets to fill early as car owners claim prime parking spaces. By midday, the town is usually beginning to fill with classic vehicles and a festive atmosphere.
To ease parking congestion for spectators, a courtesy “park and ride” shuttle bus service will again be offered with stops at specified downtown locations every 20-25 minutes from 3-10 p.m. A bus will be carrying attendees from the two Key Street PART park-and-ride lots to the downtown area and returning them to their cars. The #1 lot is located behind RBC Centura Bank while the #2 lot is beside Surrey Bank & Trust.
Other features will include a display from the Petty Museum and one classic vehicle will be featured as the September Advance Auto Parts Classic Ride of the Month.
Also returning will be the popular 50/50 cash prize drawing as well as a diamond dinner ring, courtesy of Gilley’s Jewelry of Pilot Mountain.
“And we have a good stock of our 2016 cruise-in t-shirts on hand,” Venable said, “with three new colors for this month.”
Organizers will be making a quick return this month, with the third annual “Race Car Friday Night on Main” event scheduled for Sept. 30.
Main Street will close to traffic at 5 p.m., allowing spectators the opportunity to admire a wide assortment of race cars to be displayed beginning at 5:30.
The show is open to all types of cars from dirt, drag and stadium racing, including drag cars, open wheel modifieds, old and new stadium modifieds, street legal, pro street, road course, pro-mod and gassers.
Past events have featured cars driven by racing legends, including the late Ronnie “The Boss” Sox and Don Miller, the former president of Penske Racing and author of the autobiographical book, “Miller’s Time.” Venable hinted at a return of some legendary vehicles for this year’s event.
“We’ve already gotten a lot of commitments,” Venable noted, “and we’ll be working throughout the month to get the word out. We’re expecting a big show.”
The evening will begin the final weekend of the series with a last cruise-in scheduled for Oct. 1.
Along with its regular features, the Saturday event will feature a Depot Street performance by North Tower.
Among those performing in the Raleigh band’s legendary line-up is trumpet player Johnny Hopkins. Over his four decades of entertaining, Hopkins has been a founding member of The Villagers, played with the Embers and is a member of the Beach Music Hall of Fame.
“It should be a great way to close out the year,” Venable noted, “But before that, we’re looking forward to Saturday and a great Labor Day weekend of cars, music and cruising.”