A line of Trans Am's head out from Texarkansas to Lafeyette. Image: Bandit Run
2012 marks the year of the Mayan, where the world is apparently supposed to end and the human race is doomed to live out the rest of its days living in huts, resorting to eating wildlife and Twinkies for nourishment. Until that actually happens, we couldn’t care less.
More importantly, 2012 celebrates the 35th anniversary of the film, Smokey and the Bandit’s release in the theaters. It might not mean much to the average person, but to the Trans Am fanatic and general gearhead alike, it’s quite a milestone.
The film centered on a ’77 Trans Am SE (frequently mistakenly referred to as a “Bandit Edition”), and starred Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jerry Reed, and last but not least, Jackie Gleason. It was Gleason’s ability to improv comically and Reynolds’ sense of charm and coolness that made the film what it was –an instant hit with endless entertainment. It went on to become the second highest-grossing film of 1977, only behind that of Star Wars.
The owner of this late second-generation Trans Am applies the ever important Bandit Run windshield banner. Image: texarkansasgazette.com
In fact the movie was so big and made such an impact on so many of the people who’ve seen it, that on its thirtieth anniversary in 2007, two automotive restoration companies (Year One and Restore a Muscle Car, respectively) came together for the ultimate cross-country adventure, The Bandit Run.
The original ‘Run reenacted the same steps as the storyline of the film, starting in Texarkana, Texas, and ending in Braselton, Georgia. The event organizers, Kevin King and Dave hall, had carried on the same principal every year since, the only difference being the routes and destinations had changed, just to keep things interesting.
At a glance, this apparent fan of the film looks identical to Gleason's "Buford T. Justice" character. Cloned examples of the Lemans police cruiser and Reed's Kenworth rig also made an appearance. Image: texarkansasgazette.com
However, since it’s the fifth anniversary of the Bandit Run itself, they’re celebrating by taking the event back to its roots. The show kicked off on the fourteenth of May in Texarkana to much fanfare; well over 100 Firebirds and assorted muscle cars turned up along with the local area news teams.
The stops include Lafayette, LA (16th), Biloxi, MS (17th), Birmingham, AL (18th), and ultimately Braselton, GA (19th). So if you’re in the area of those cities on the dates of the show, you should check it out. There’s already been talk of bringing it back to Texarkana for its 40th anniversary. Are these guys dedicated or what?