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Roanoke's Star City Motor Madness gears up for what's expected to be record breaking weekend

Weekend kicked off with Cruise Night on Williamson Road

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ROANOKE, Va. – Friday night was a great night for cruising down Roanoke's Williamson Road and kicking off the 18th annual Star City Motor Madness weekend.

This year they had more pre-registrations than ever before, after attendance had been down in past years following the 2012 Derecho. Some special visitors even came in from across the country to take it all in.

It's hard to think of summer in Roanoke without thinking Star City Motor Madness. This year's weather was great for a cruising night on Williamson Road, and organizers are hoping to blow by their $25,000 goal of raising money for the Virginia Museum of Transportation.

Burning rubber, hot weather and hot cars underscored Friday night's Cruise In and thousands of people like James Walker had a prime seat for it all. Behind his camp chair was his '66 Chevelle he saved from the backwoods of Botetourt County a few years ago. Now it's completely restored and a thing of beauty.

"It's right here, the people (that come) and you get to be with your friends, you get to socialize," Walker said. "There trees growing around it, me and my buddy Roman here we had to cut trees to get it out and I just couldn't see the car rotting and going to waste."

Friday night was for cruising up and down the main drag, Williamson Road, just like they did 50 years ago. Cars from back then and today going nice and slow on purpose, so everyone sees and hears their ride.

Cruising was long out of favor by the time Tom Cox and others including Grand Furniture Owner Robert Bennett came up with the idea. But it came back as a way to fund a new idea at the Virginia Museum of Transportation, an auto gallery to showcase museum worthy cars. The gallery is now a reality and thriving and the tradition of rolling the windows down and canking the music up continues on.

"It's a great time for a everybody, a lot of nostalgia," Cox said. "Frankly when the museum had fianncial issues about 15 years ago, this was an integral part of getting it through all of those issues."

Cruise Night is now a Roanoke staple, this year the BMW Z Series Car Club of America made it a stop on their tour, 174 convertibles, most from out of town, getting a slice of Roanoke charm.

"We've had a great time, it's beautiful down here, we love the mountains and of course our BMWs are really bred for driving on twisty roads," Randy Mason of Michigan said.

So whether it was modern, classic, muscle or just straight up out there, it all came together on one strip, and it's something they don't plan on stopping.

"Keep the muscle car going, and people just getting out and socializing that's the biggest thing we have to keep going," Walker said.

Star City Motor Madness continues with a car show in downtown Roanoke Saturday on Jefferson Street and then an after party at the Virginia Museum of Transportation.



About the Author:

Shayne Dwyer is an award-winning journalist and a member of the 10 News team since May 2018.