Downtown to rev its engines with Cruise-In

Published 9:24 am Wednesday, May 6, 2015

People, hot rods and antique cars line the streets of downtown Franklin during the finale of the Franklin Cruise-In. The event brought in 100 cars, and this evening organizers hope to have 30-40. -- SUBMITTED

People, hot rods and antique cars line the streets of downtown Franklin during the finale of the Franklin Cruise-In. The event brought in 100 cars, and this evening organizers hope to have 30-40. — SUBMITTED

Organizers for the Franklin Cruise-In are set to welcome 30 to 40 antique car enthusiasts and their automobiles today for the first Wednesday of the summer-long event.

It’s a far cry from the second-annual event’s beginning this past May of just three vehicles. But as word spread throughout the community and on social media, the Cruise-In ended last year with more than 100 vehicles at the grand finale.

“Based on the response from car guys and experts, we expect to get well over 250 for the finale this year,” said Mike Smith, one of the event’s organizers. “That’s one reason why we are moving it to Saturday, Sept. 12 — we expect there to be 500 to 600 people on the streets of downtown Franklin.”

“It came from just a small idea to well over 100 cars,” said Veterans of Foreign Wars Vice Commander Scott Seddon, another organizer. “Listening to the people that came multiple times for different weeks, or first time ever at the very end, it was nice to hear they had a good time.”

The family-friendly event is open to antique cars and trucks, street rods and motorcycles. It starts today and will go every Wednesday, weather permitting, to Sept. 12, which is on Saturday. Cars line up at the Main Street parking lot between the Franklin Fire Department and Fred’s Restaurant.

This past year, the Cruise-In attracted people from Virginia Beach and as far away as South Hill and northern Richmond.

“It was a good family event,” said Seddon. “Everyone had a good time, and there were also educational opportunities for kids, as far as how an engine works to all the different kinds of classic cars out there.”

He said that each week, he’d see parents out there taking their children to get an up close and personal look at each car.

“Everyone who brings their car are usually good at describing what they did, how they restored it and the history of the car,” he said. “That’s probably my favorite part of the whole thing, learning about the cars.”

“It’s something that can really get people excited about restoring an old car themselves,” Smith added.

The street rods also offer children a chance to connect with TV and movies.

“The kids are really into ‘Tokyo Drift’ and ‘The Fast and the Furious,’” Seddon said. “They would talk about how they tuned their engines to a computer, so kids got to learn a lot.”

Smith said he and his father would be there with their antique cars. He will have a ‘67 Chevrolet Camaro, and Ray Smith will bring a ‘33 Dodge Delivery.

“I would encourage people to come check it out,” he said. “If you’ve got a car, bring it. If you don’t, just come out and enjoy the evening. It’s completely free.”

Smith, who owns property in downtown Franklin, said this was all started to increase traffic downtown and to give people something to do on Wednesday nights.

“We encourage local businesses to stay open later,” he said. “And this year, we’ve got several taking advantage of it.”

City Manager Randy Martin said he applauded the sponsors, and he said the role the city plays is minor compared to the volunteers.

“It’s another positive event that brings people to downtown Franklin,” he said. “It’s the kind of creativity that we want to see more of.

“Franklin has a lot of history and nostalgia for many things, but older cars really tend to bring folks out.”

The boost in business is nice, but Martin said he also was happy to just see people have fun.

“I know the restaurants had a positive bump last year downtown, and a lot of the spouses come down with the car owners, and they want somewhere to shop,” he said. “I applaud the efforts of the citizens involved. Events like this are only possible with volunteers stepping up and making it possible.”

Seddon and Smith said they are car guys, and it’s exciting to be able to share their passion for cars. It’s a plus the event helps the city.

“Anytime you hear people saying good things about City of Franklin, that’s a good thing for every single person,” Seddon said. “Be it an event, restaurant or business — it’s always a good thing.”

The event will have weekly give aways for participants and spectators alike, including a hot dog for each car participating, as well as a grand prize of $1,000 at the season finale. Each car owner receives one ticket per attendance to enter into the raffle.

A DJ will play music from the ‘50s and ‘60s. The event begins around 5 p.m. and ends at dusk.

For more information, contact Smith at 757-438-2981; Seddon at 757-348-1341; or Ray Smith at 757-621-8956. You can like them on Facebook at Franklin Cruise-In or email them at