The biggest Somernites Cruise ever.
It remains to be seen.
That's the dream for this weekend's edition of Somerset's popular classic and custom car show, which is being dubbed the "Super Cruise."
It's also the month for "Mustang Alley," the annual Ford Mustang showcase which is always among Somernites' biggest events of the season.
"It's always a huge turnout of Mustangs; it's kind of taken on a life of its own with the number of Mustangs," said Mark Hansford, Somernites Cruise Team member and the "Voice of the Cruise" heard all around downtown Somerset every fourth Saturday April through October. "Last year, we had 800 Mustangs and 800 non-mustangs."
Even for a Cruise Saturday, that's a huge number of cars. Hansford is hoping to do even better in 2019.
"Maybe if the weather holds up for us, this will have a chance to be our biggest show ever," he said. "I'm not saying it's going to be, but we've got a chance."
Especially since forecasts have temperatures settling into a more reasonable 80 degrees or so after the previous oppressively hot August weekend. There will be plenty of hot rods, however, including one driven by maybe the hottest action hero film star of the late '60s and early '70s: Steve McQueen.
The original 1968 Ford Mustang GT McQueen drove in the '68 blockbuster hit "Bullitt," known for featuring one of the most iconic, thrilling chase scenes ever on film, will be on hand for Saturday's Show-and-Shine downtown.
"It's a real feather in our cap to get the car here," said Hansford. "It was one of two cars actually used in the film. Two cars were purchased from Ford for use in the film; one was completely totaled, and the other is known as the 'Hero Car,' used for close-ups of Steve McQueen's face. Well, this is that car."
Sean Kiernan, who Hansford said lives in Tennessee, owns the car now after his father bought it in New Jersey back in 1974. The car has a fascinating history behind it -- those wishing to do a deep-dive into the car's road from "Bullitt" to where it is now can do a Google search and spend hours reading material, too much to be done justice here -- but it will soon be entering the next chapter of its more than 50-year-old life, as Kiernan recently announced that the car would be offered for auction in 2020.
"All anyone has been talking about is the car being available for purchase if your pockets are deep enough," said Hansford. "It was appraised before the sale was announced at $3 million to $5 million, now that it's being offered for sale, that price may go up, who knows. ... If the car sells to a museum or private owner, it may never be seen in public again so it's a rare opportunity.
"Before he decided to sell it, (Kiernan) arranged to come to Somernites with the car," added Hansford. "He remained loyal to us even after the announcement. He has four or five shows he's taking it to, pretty major shows, and Somernites is the first stop. It's one of the four or five shows where you can actually see the car in person. We're in pretty good company."
There's plenty else to see and do, however, starting today (Thursday), with the Backroads, Battlefield and Bouborn Tour, which is being held after having been postponed from an earlier date. The all-day road trip will take participants to the Wilderness Trail Distillery in Danville, the Perryville Battlefield, the Mill Springs Battlefield Museum, Haney's Appledale Farm, and local Amish country. The trip itself is free, though there may be other fees along the way. Participants leave at 9 a.m. from Danny's Rod Shop on North U.S. 27 and are expected to get back around 5 p.m.
That night, the Tune-Up Cruise-In will be held as always at the U.S. 27 Dairy Queen in Somerset at 7 p.m., with a chance to hang out and enjoy the even with food and treats. Things pick back up at Danny's Rod Shop Friday Morning at 10 a.m. for the Cruiser Meet & Greet, with a chance to get a goodie bag and and early look at the hot rods in town, as well as 50 t-shirts to give away to the first 50 classic car owners registered.
Another scenic cruise opportunity starts at 2 p.m. at the Somerset Mall to drive "The Rattlesnake," a winding section of rural Ky. 192 that's a favorite for leisure cruisers. It's about a three-hour ride and will end up back at the mall. Maps may be given out for those unfamiliar with the route, noted Hansford. After getting back, stay for the Friday Night Thunder Block Party at the Somerset Mall, presented by the mall and the Don Franklin Family of Dealerships, beginning at 5 p.m.
One of the largest horse shows in town will be at Somerset Mall Friday night. Fast, strong ponies with shiny coats will be rounded up for Mustang month, plus hundreds of other classics, customs, hot rods, muscle cars - all in Somerset for another popular Somernites Cruise weekend. It's part of the activities at the free Friday Night Thunder block party, 5 to 9 pm on the mall's rear parking lot.
Block Party activities include:
• Nashville-based rock band Sweet Fever is the featured band. The only American finalist of 2019 Hard Rock Café Battle of the Bands and one of three internationally, Sweet Fever is one of the most rapidly growing Nashville bands, delivering arena-worthy riffs and powerful rock 'n roll vocals. Their debut EP 'Heat Wave' is available on all major streaming platforms and their upcoming single "As Long as the Sun Shines" will be released on August 30.
• First-time exhibitor Cruisers Diecast will bring over 500 Hot Wheels and diecast models inside their walk-in trailer near the mall's rear main entrance.
• Somerset Community College will have an exhibit of program-related restored classic cars, "Big Red" diesel engine, a fuel-injection training board, 3D printer and helicopter. At their hospitality tent, the crowd can pick up free sunscreen, lip balm and other summer essentials.
• Inflatables, food ranging from BBQ to deep-fried Oreos, the Ford Performance Team trailer, and more.
And if you're downtown, hit the Judicial Center Plaza at 8 p.m. for a free outdoor showing of the movie "Bullitt" as part of the popular Lawnchair Theater series. The viewing is free to the public. Hansford did advise that it is an "R"-rated movie.
Saturday will start with a Fun Run to the London Dragway in Laurel County. Meet at the South Hardee's location on South U.S. 27 for a free breakfast at 8 a.m., then head out at 9 a.m. It costs $10 to take unlimited passes down the drag strip, or to just sit and watch. Save your time slips and take them to the Cruise show on Saturday. Gift cards will be awarded in the mid-afternoon for categories like Best Lap Time, Highest Miles Per Hour, and Best Reaction Time.
The show begins Saturday at 1 p.m. Special Mustang Alley shorts are available featuring the "Bullitt" car in the design.
"We only bought 500, so if you want one, you might want to plan to get it early," said Hansford.
Cars coming through any gate will receive one free chance to win a 2004 convertible Mustang GT, an "Ultimate Door Prize" to be given away that same day. The winning ticket will be drawn at 6:30 p.m. You do have to be present to win. Additional chances can be obtained with every $5 of Somernites merchandise purchased.
"Buy a $20 shirt, that's four more chances," said Hansford.
As if all that wasn't enough for one weekend, special displays will be set up at the show Saturday for Shelby American, Ford Performance and the Mustang Owners Museum.
Hansford said a lot of people are expected to come in from out of town -- the three Somernites sponsor hotels, Holiday in Express, Courtyard by Marriott, and Hampton Inn, are essentially all booked, he noted -- and the Cruise has already heard from people intending to travel from places like Florida, Alabama, and Wisconsin. So between film history in the form of the "Bullitt" car and the big-time numbers, it has the potential to be a historic day in Somerset.
"The Super Cruise is our biggest show of the year, literally double the size of a normal Somernites show," said Hansford. "... We encourage all locals to welcome these folks to our community, and thank them for coming. Be as nice to them as possible and maybe they will come back. ... If you're a local and you've got a classic car, you need to be at this show."