By CHRIS HARRIS
Recent Somernites Cruise events have brought big-time celebrities to Somerset. The stars of classics like “The Andy Griffith Show” and “American Graffiti” have captured the interest of cruisegoers.
This month, however, it’s all about the cars. Pure and simple.
August brings “Mustang Alley” to downtown Somerset, held this weekend. Of the absolute iconic American automobiles, and the one that brought the “pony car” into the collective consciousness of enthusiasts, the Mustang is annually one of the Cruise events that is looked forward to most.
“We’re going to be stampeded by Mustangs this month,” said Cruise team member Mark Hansford. “We had approximately 650 here last year. We’re anticipating that record will fall. We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from folks who weren’t there last year and heard about it, and want to be here this year.”
Indeed, organizers are hoping for a turnout of more than 700 Mustangs, making Somernites Cruise “the place to be for Mustang shows in Kentucky,” said Hansford.
Cooperative weather, as is expected, should help the cause, but the biggest draw will be the Mustangs themselves. Introduced in 1964, the Ford Mustang has proven greatly influential in the design of so many cars to come after it.
“Their popularity has never waned,” said Hansford. “People love them now as much as back in the day. It’s a never-ending love affair with the Mustang. America’s sports car may be the Corvette, but I’m almost convinced that America’s multi-purpose enthusiast car is the Mustang.”
Hansford noted the great variety in Mustangs available, “something for everybody” — from the more familiar six-cylinder models to the specialty souped-up Saleen and Roush editions, there’s a lot to choose from.
Of course, Mustangs won’t be the only kind of car in the show — no matter what kind of classic car you own, it’s welcome at the Cruise — but it’s definitely the star of the show. And one lucky winner will get to take one home with him.
The “ultimate door prize,” as it’s known at Somernites Cruise, will be raffled off Saturday on the Fountain Square. A red 1989 Mustang GT convertible with a V8 engine is the “star attraction,” noted Hansford. The drawing will be held at 6:30 p.m. You must be present to win. Everyone who brings in a show car receives one free chance to win.
“That’s attractive,” said Hansford. “You can show up, cruise through the gate, and be driving that thing home.”
The drawing is open to both car owners and spectators. Every $5 of Cruise merchandise purchased earns you one additional chance to win (for instance, buy $100 worth of merchandise, get 20 additional chances). Keep one half and drop the other into either of the blue prize barrels located next to the Mustang. Promotional bonus ticket program ends at 6 p.m. before the drawing.
The monthly “Fun Run” begins as usual at the South Hardee’s location for a free breakfast at 8 a.m. Participants will leave at 9 a.m. for the London Dragway in London, Ky. Cost is $10 to drag race or just to watch. All cars or trucks must be licensed and insured, and no race cars are allowed. Helmets are mandatory. The Cruise will have the track until about noon.
“It’s a good way to challenge your buddies and have a good time,” said Hansford.
As always, things kick off today with the Early Bird Meet and Greet at Danny’s Rod Shop on North U.S. 27 at noon and the Rock and Roll Block Party sponsored by Walmart tonight at 6 p.m. in downtown Somerset on the judicial center plaza.