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Eastbound and Down: Trans-Ams hit the road as 2017 Bandit Run rolls

Eastbound and Down: Trans-Ams hit the road as 2017 Bandit Run rolls

June 19th, 2017 by Greg Bischof in Texarkana News

A man in a Trans-Am reaches for a Coors beer that Rickey Richardson moves just out of his reach Sunday on Broad Street in Texarkana, Ark. Board members of the Four States Auto Museum gave drivers in the Bandit Run 2017 a symbolic Coors before they started off to Atlanta, echoing the plot of the 1977 film "Smokey and Bandit" which centers on bootlegging 400 cases of Coors from Texarkana to Georgia.

Photo by Joshua Boucher /Texarkana Gazette.

Both "Smokey and the Bandit" movie fans and Pontiac Trans-Am enthusiasts took county and western singer and songwriter Jerry Reed's "Eastbound and Down," bandit theme literally Sunday and headed for Atlanta, Ga.

More than 200 Trans-Am owners warmed up their engines for the 700 to 800-mile trek to Atlanta as a symbolic completion of the Bandit Run route that traversed the Deep South as mapped out in the 40-year-old popular film.

The large number of participants makes an impressive sight as the convoy leaves Texarkana.

The large number of participants makes an impressive...

Photo by Joshua Boucher /Texarkana Gazette.

However, as the bandit runners bid a fond farewell to Texarkana, many offered thanks for the Twin-Cities' hospitality.

"I can't believe how great the people here have been to all of us," said Jeff Isabell of Cedar Falls, Iowa, as he check the vital signs aboard his 1981 Trans-Am. "Everyone here as been very accommodating."

For both David Czentner, a 1979 Trans-Am owner, and Jason Joel, a 1977 Trans-Am owner, the Atlanta destination meant a convenient trip back home since both are residents of that fast-growing southern city.

"We collectively spent $90,000 buying our two Trans-Ams just for this occasion," said Czentner, who also happens to be an exceedingly avid "Smokey and the Bandit" movie fan. "I have watched that film (on DVD) in slow motion, as well as backwards, forwards, sideways and even frame by frame. I've also watched the movie in French and Spanish. We have had a blast here and we've met the coolest people."

David Parrish, a Joshua, Texas, resident, said he as always wanted to participate in a Bandit run and finally got the chance to do it this year with a 2012 Camaro he was able to convert into a Trans-Am.

"It took about a month to do this," he said.

Lori Hershey of Keller, Texas, said she actually got her 1979 Trans-Am back in 1984 while she as going to college and her daughter, Hannah, now a 17-year-old high school senior and Bandit Run participant herself, has a rare 1978 yellow Trans-Am.

"My dad was both an antique car collector and dealer, so I got my college Trans-Am from him," Lori Hershey said. "I was familiar with the movie while I was growing up, but my husband (David Hershey) is a big fan of the show so I've seen it about a dozen times now. This whole event has been like one great big family reunion of car lovers and Texarkana really rolled out the red carpet for us."

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