The Midnight Rodders 2010 Spring Road Trip

The Midnight Rodders 2010 Spring Road Trip - Article and Photos by Mike Marrs

         Having traveled all over the Southeast in past twenty years, everyone thought it should be time we paid a tribute to the folks that started it all. Back in 1965 Tom Sanborn, Larry Smith, Edward Woodard and the members of the Nashville Street Rod Association put together the very first Rod Run. After having met with some of the members of the Creepers car club from Atlanta at Honest Charlie’s Speed Shop in Chattanooga earlier that year. The first rod run could have been that meeting in Chattanooga if the folks from Atlanta had only believed that the Nashville bunch were actually going to drive their rods that far.

         When they arrived in their regular rides and having to take a little friendly riding from the Nashville bunch, the members of the Creepers dropped the gauntlet by say, Ok, pick a place and a time and we’ll be there!

         Tom Sanborn having had a love for the mountains and the Gatlinburg area since he was a child didn’t have to think long. September was the date, Mountain View Motor Lodge in Pigeon Forge, Tn. was the destination and a cruise up to New Found Gap was set for the rod run route. You see, in those days a rod run meant running your rod, not sitting around in a parking lot or wondering through vendors booths. As Tommy Sanborn has always said, “the fun is in the run” and they didn’t have any vendors back then to speak of other than Edward Woodard in his Rayco van.

         Nine vehicles arrived on that cool Fall morning and made a day of cruising up through Gatlinburg to the mountain top. As word spread of the fun these pioneers had that weekend it was on. For the next twelve years the Nashville Street Rod Association would host the Mid Tenn. Street Rod Round Up in Gatlinburg, the show would latter move down to Pigeon Forge and become what we enjoy today as the Shades of the Past and the Grand Runs.

         We decided to meet at the Nats South in Knoxville and retrace those historic tire tracks that were forever etched in the history of street rodding 45 years ago. As luck or street rod fate would have it, we pulled out of Knoxville with exactly nine street rods! We stayed on two lane back roads as much as possible until we came back onto the original route just south of Gatlinburg at the Sugarland welcoming center and headed up the mountain. Once we arrived at New Found Gap we had out run Spring weather and had to roll up the windows (for those that had-em). I was able to call Tom Sanborn via cell phones soon as we arrived at the mountain top and at least share this historic moment with him. I could tell he was proud to know there were those that remember and share his love for the open road and still believe in those now famous word, “The Fun Is In The Run”!

         Tom, Larry and Edward couldn’t be with us in person but you can just bet I could see the little gold Model-T roadster, red Chevy coupe and Corvair van faintly riding just about a hundred yards ahead of me at all times!

We all had a large time and hope all that were on that original run read this article and know how much we today appreciate the many miles of rough roads in real hot rods you drove in order to pave a path for us all to enjoy today.

Special thanks to Edward Woodard for the historic photos used with this Spring Road Trip article.




Photo sheet


Newfound Gap on the Tennessee, North Carolina border.

True Street Rodding at it’s best

Rolling in unaware of the history that was being made this day.

The Honey B ’32 Ford coupe and Larry Smith’s ’34 Chevy.

Tom Sanborm heading home from Pigeon Forge in Wild Honey.

The Midnight Rodders lining up in Knoxville, all listening to a CD with Rock & Roll hit’s from 1965.

We left Spring weather down below, you have to be tough!

Standing here while talking to Tom Sanborn on the phone was a real treat.

Da-gang, oh yea, we were having a large time.

Lining up and taking just a moment to appreciate what those pioneers did 45 years ago.

With visions had and this in the rearview mirror, what a great drive.












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