Get ready to shake, rattle and roll

Published 9:58 pm Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Downtown Suffolk will rock and roll with good times on May 15, as the second annual “Shake, Rattle & Roll” car show cruises into town.

The show will feature between 200 and 300 classic cars lining the streets of downtown Suffolk. The event is a tribute to the former Suffolk Raceway, which operated on an unused runway at the Suffolk Airport from 1964 to 1991.

“It’s fun for the whole family,” city Tourism Director Lynette White said.

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Last year’s inaugural event drew about 1,800 spectators to see the 109 cars on display.

“We anticipate to double the number of show cars this year, based on the interest level,” White said. “Car shows tend to draw a big crowd.”

In addition to the pre-1975 cars on show and awards for the top 15 best in show and three people’s choice awards, the event will feature exhibits from the former raceway in a “Bill Gwyn Tribute Tent;” special guest Brian Hankins, the son of Hank Hankins, who ran the track from 1967 to 1972; live music by The Rhondels and local Elvis impersonator Ernie Hefferon; children’s activities, food vendors, sidewalk service at local eateries and more.

The event is free and open to the public. Children’s activities will include pedal-car races and hula-hoop contests.

Bill Gwyn was a well-known mechanic in Suffolk who died about two years ago, White said.

“Anyone who raced at the Suffolk Raceway knew Bill Gwyn,” White said. “It was an honor to have Bill tinker under your hood.”

Hankins will be able to answer people’s questions firsthand, White said.

“We get a number of telephone calls from sons and daughters [of people who used to race at the track] asking whether we have any information or photographs,” White said. “There’s still a large following of people who enjoyed decades of racing out at the airport.”

The event begins at 8 a.m. and lasts to 3 p.m. Awards will be presented at 2 p.m. on the main stage at the intersection of Main and Market streets. Main Street will be closed between Washington Street and Finney Avenue. In addition, one block each of Market Street and Bank Street will be closed near Main Street. The event will conclude at 3 p.m.

The car show is sponsored in part by the Suffolk Rods and Muscle Car Club, Beamon & Johnson NAPA, Blanchard’s Suffolk Tire and Auto, Matco Tools, Bronco Federal Credit Union, Suffolk Automotive Service and photography by A Twisted Lens.