40th Daytona Turkey Run
By Fred “Buzz” Quillen
As the sun reluctantly came up on another cold and windy day on Thanksgiving back home the annual event, the 40th Daytona Turkey Run began. Down in the Daytona International Speedway, busloads and carloads of people gathered for the beginning of an exciting four-day car show extravaganza.
There were literally over 6,000 old cars on display and for sale at this year’s 40th Daytona Turkey Run and hundreds of food, memorabilia, and car part vendors. There were also many special events, raffles, and live entertainment areas for all of the attendees to enjoy. It was no surprise that the show this year attracted well over 125,000 people with ticket prices as low as $15 per day and $50 for a four-day pass.
In addition to the regular car show, the event also celebrated the 40th anniversary of American Graffiti and hosted celebrities such as Cindy Williams and Bo Hopkins. This was great for all of us fans. I managed to find and buy a couple American Graffiti memorabilia items from some of the vendors, and was able to get them autographed at the show for my collection.
In addition to the thousands of hot rods and classic cars, there were countless numbers of vendors and events. There was live music and food from across the country and all over the world. People ranging from infants to elderly couples were out enjoying the sights and listening to the live music at the 40th Daytona Turkey Run. Walking through the show, I loved the feeling of community and nostalgia in the air with people haggling over prices and others enjoying a great plate of barbequed ribs with their families and friends.
At night they had trike shows and events like the “Teeter Totter” where contestants had to drive their car onto a platform and balance the platform in the shortest time possible. It was very entertaining and quite impressive to see the way that people controlled and maneuvered their vehicles. It was truly a test of both skill and finesse.
Although the weather was touch and go for a while, no one was deterred and the event was a great success. I remember waking up on Thursday morning and heading down to the Speedway to pick up some dashboard gauge dials and a carburetor (for my Barracuda and Impala projects I’m working on this winter) and check out the vendors’ wares.
I got there bright and early to pick up my parts and spend the rest of the day seeing everything, but by closing time, I had completely forgotten to pick up what I originally went for and had to go back on Friday. I think I actually may have forgotten on purpose, just so I had an excuse to go back for the next couple days.
I cannot continue any longer without talking about some of the amazing cars I saw at the DTRR this year. In addition to the classic American muscle cars and antique collectors, model Studebakers, and Oxford Morris’, the highlight of my adventure was one street rod in particular. As I was walking down one of the main areas, I heard a thunderous roar and I saw a breath-taking, sunset orange, T-Bucket. For those of you that do not know, the T-Bucket is a hot rod with a very highly customized engine that looks like an old T-Model Ford.
The orange beast had silver accents and dog dish hubcaps. From what I could see, the vehicle had side pipes, a custom built frame and a V8 Hemi engine that roared like a lion in the jungle. I am not sure of all of the specs on the engine and never got a chance to talk to the owner of the vehicle because the throngs of people admiring his machine were enormous. I saw children and their fathers just staring in amazement and almost drooling over this testament to the Street Rod family of cars.
After walking around for a while longer, I found out that there was a beautiful car up for raffle. It was a red, 1977 Pontiac Trans Am with the Pontiac eagle emblazoned on the hood. The tickets were only two bucks a piece and the proceeds all went to charity. I bought a ton of tickets with the hopes of winning the classic street car, but luck was not on my side. In spite of this, I will always remember this year’s 40th Daytona Turkey Run because of the great food, good times, and enough fun to hold me over till the 41st Turkey Run, which will begin on Thanksgiving Day next year.