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Cruise in and enjoy Kentucky motor attractions 

From classic cars and hot rods to modern sports cars and vintage trucks, car cruise-ins and shows across the commonwealth bring back memories of times gone by, while continuing to captivate our present-day imagination. 

 “Stepped-up” car show 

On the first Saturday of each month, April to October, classic cars and new and import vehicles cruise into town for Cave City Cars and Coffee. “It’s a morning, three-hour, drink-coffee and look-at-cars event,” explains Leticia Cline, an event organizer and Farmers RECC consumer-member. 

Though the event is a global phenomenon, taking place in locations worldwide, Cave City has “stepped it up,” with its version, she says. Not only do visitors see 250–400 cars lining the streets, but downtown stores also open up for early-bird shoppers. Plus, there’s live music, vendors, a kids zone, farmers market and award shows—all free to attend. 

“You start your weekend off right, and you have the entire rest of the day to do even more great things,” Cline says. 

Each month highlights a different vehicle, such as Camaros, hot rods or trucks, though all makes and models are welcome. Some months include a cruise-in, extending it to a two-day event. 

This year marks four years since Cars and Coffee first cruised into Cave City, giving local residents something unique to do, while encouraging out-of-towners to soak in all the area has to offer. Cline says, “In the last three years, we’ve had so much investment and things are starting to grow because of Cars and Coffee.” 

Hot Rod MotorTel includes a vintage Shell gas station replica. Photo: Bailey Photography
Hot Rod MoterTel is a unique event where car lovers can gather. Photo: Bailey Photography
Cave City Cars and Coffee brings 250–400 cars to downtown streets. Photo: Natasha Wilson
Glasgow’s Hot Rods and Hamburgers Cruise-In meets the first Friday of each month, March–October. Photo: Wade Harris

Hot Rod MotorTel 

Nestled on 220 acres in the Little Muddy community between Morgantown and Bowling Green is Hot Rod MotorTel—a venue boasting a 10,000-square-foot, climate-controlled event space, complete with a car showroom featuring classic automobiles, vintage memorabilia, and a lounge. The idea was to create a space where people who have a passion for cars can gather, and it became reality following the retirement of Warren RECC consumer-members Dennis and Diane Ingram.  

“We were looking for a hobby, and we found a family, actually, of car enthusiasts,” says Dennis, who also serves as a Warren RECC director. “After a year or two of buying cars and going to events, we decided to build a shop.” 

That shop eventually became Hot Rod MotorTel, offering visitors a one-of-a-kind experience not only for car shows or meetups, but also a unique space for receptions, parties and more. A complete vintage Shell gas station replica provides fun, strike-a-pose photo ops. There’s also the annual cruise-in held each May honoring someone who contributes in a meaningful way to the car community. This year’s honoree is Dickie Ogles, whose drag racing career spanned 50 years, and who is described by Dennis as “probably the most famous drag racing guy in our part of Kentucky.” And in a few months, onsite overnight lodging will be available, hence the name “mo(tor)tel.” 

At Hot Rod MotorTel, the Ingrams’ goal is to give back to the community that’s been their life-long home, while also attracting folks to Butler County. “If it’s one or a hundred cars, it doesn’t matter,” says Dennis. “We just want to be a cruise-in spot for car enthusiasts.” 

Couple shares love of old cars  

Billy Cruse, Goodtime Cruisers Car Cruise president and Farmers RECC consumer-member, has always had a passion for vintage cars. “I just really enjoy it,” he says. “I’m interested in old cars and interested in seeing people come out and enjoy looking at old cars.” 

Plenty of folks turn out to do just that on the third Saturday of each month, April to October, when 80–100 classic cars cruise into Hodgenville’s downtown square. Visitors might see one of Billy’s own cars on display—he owns two 1955 Chevrolets—or one owned by his wife, Debbie. “She’s as much into this as I am,” says Billy. 

Debbie loves her unrestored 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass: “It has 78,000 miles on it. It’s in real good shape. It’s a good old cruisin’ car.” 

The couple likes to support other nearby car cruises, often traveling to Glasgow, Cave City, Bardstown and Elizabethtown. They recognize that such events boost local downtown economies, while promoting a hobby that families and couples of all ages can participate in. 

“It’s a good hobby,” Debbie says, adding with a laugh, “It’s an expensive hobby, but you know, you can’t take it with you.” 

The free event, she adds, offers new memory-making opportunities, as well as a time to reflect on the past. “It helps to bring back memories of times gone by,” she says. 

A vehicle for community involvement 

“I’ve loved old cars ever since I was a kid playing with Hot Wheels,” says Lester York, Farmers RECC consumer-member. Today, he proudly displays his 1976 GMC Suburban at car shows and is co-organizer of Glasgow’s Hotrods and Hamburgers Cruise-In, along with his friend Sherman Shirley. 

When York and Shirley hosted the first Hotrods and Hamburgers event three years ago, they thought a few cars, maybe 15 or 20, might show up. That wasn’t the case. York recalls: “The first night, it was like 70. Then three months later, we had a hundred. We were not prepared for that many.” 

Held March to October on the first Friday of each month, the cruise-in’s backdrop is the Cowboy’s Country Cookin’ parking lot. There you’ll see  old classics, new rides and even motorcycles. “You name it, it’s there,” York says. And while there, it’s easy to grab a hamburger or choose from plenty of other menu items as the restaurant’s owner, Janet Lee, extends business hours to serve cruise-in goers. 

York and Sherman find ways for Hotrods and Hamburgers to be involved in their local community. For example, the pair have partnered with civic leaders the past two years for a Halloween event. Last fall, 120 cars were on display as they handed out candy to around 1,200 trick-or-treaters. They hope to have a Christmas event for area children this December. 

“For us, it’s more about the fellowship than anything,” York shares. “We’re trying to get more involved with the community.” 

The granddaddy of car shows 

If car shows had a familial lineage, then Somernites Cruise would be the grandfather. Now celebrating its 24th year, the event, on the fourth Saturday of each month, April to October, transforms Somerset into a giant block party, encompassing 20 to 25 blocks in the historic downtown area. Approximately 1,000–1,500 vintage, classic and collector automobiles line the streets—plus food and craft vendors, a kids zone with inflatables, raffles, special guests and a swap meet for used auto parts. 

“We are quite possibly the largest monthly organized collector car event in the country,” says Keith Floyd, Somernites Cruise executive director and a South Kentucky RECC consumer-member. 

In fact, Somernites Cruise is more than a car show: it’s an entire cruise weekend. The 2024 season kicks off on Friday morning April 27 with a “Burnside Meet & Greet” in the nearby town of Burnside, followed by Friday Night Thunder at the Somerset Mall. A fun run Saturday morning precedes the main event—the Somernites Cruise—in the afternoon. This month features a luxury sport (LS) showcase, and displays of vintage tractors, Jeeps and 4x4s. 

The weekend wraps up Saturday at 6 p.m., when thousands of people, on blankets and in lawn chairs, converge alongside U.S. Highway 27 to watch the cars cruise in and out of town. 

Participants come from across the nation, including 49 states. (The only hold-out is…surprise, North Dakota.) International entries have come from Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and Australia. The yearly economic impact amounts to an astounding $8 million–$12 million,  
Floyd says. 

Over the years, kids who grew up attending Somernites Cruise are now bringing their own families to the show. “Somernites Cruise is more than just a car show,” says Floyd. “It’s a family-friendly event that’s transcended the generations.” 

Lone Wolf Cruisers roars into Henderson 

Kenergy consumer-members Brian and Janet O’Nan share a passion for vintage vehicles. As an 8-year-old growing up in the 1970s, Brian would often head over to his neighbor’s house to watch him build old cars and to learn about the hobby from him. Janet says she liked the look of certain cars as a teenager, but her interest in the hobby grew when she and Brian got married, over 25 years ago, and they began going to car shows together. 

Today, this husband-and-wife duo have taken their love for classic cars a bit further and teamed up to create Lone Wolf Cruisers, a new monthly cruise-in (April to September) making its debut in Henderson on the first Saturday of this month. “I’d like to see everybody come out,” says Brian. “It’s our first year, first show, first everything.” 

The couple, who have been involved with other car clubs and shows throughout the years, were inspired to form Lone Wolf Cruisers last October when they began getting calls and messages from folks, hoping the O’Nans would be up to organizing a local cruise-in. Turns out, they were. Brian, who devotes much of his time to car club activities and building cars, began the two-month-long process to register Lone Wolf Cruisers as a nonprofit organization. 

Brian says all cars are welcome at their family-friendly event—old and new, brand-new paint or no paint or even rust coat. “If you’re proud of it, that’s all that matters,” he adds. 

Participation is free, but donations are accepted, as Lone Wolf Cruisers will be giving back to the local community. “We do it for everybody that’s got old cars and likes showing them,” explains Brian, “but we like raising money for other things that mean a lot to this county.” In the past, the O’Nans have supported food drives and school backpack programs, and donated toys to children in Dawson Springs impacted by the tornado that tore through the region in December 2021. 

When it comes to car shows, Brian and Janet like to display their own vehicles: a 1948 Ford F-1 pickup, a 1960 Chevy Impala Biscayne, a 2009 Chrysler 300 Heritage Edition, and a 2014 Jeep Wrangler Sahara. And Lone Wolf Cruisers gives the O’Nans a way to connect with other car enthusiasts who share their passion. 

“We’re both excited to get started and see everyone come out and have fun and enjoy themselves with their friends and family,” says Janet. 

See and hear the action 

Experience the fun and excitement—and see many, many cars and other vehicles—in videos of Cave City Cars and Coffee and check out Somernites Cruise’s YouTube channel.

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