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‘I love this little town’: Downtown cruise-ins become weekend staple, social event among car lovers

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — With North Carolina known as the home of NASCAR, it’s no surprise downtown cruise-ins have become a weekend staple among local car lovers.

“When I think of North Carolina, this is what I think of,” said Connie Campbell, a Lincoln County resident.

Campbell was among the people in downtown Salisbury Saturday for another edition of downtown cruise-ins that have organically become a weekly occurrence. Salisbury’s North Main Street has become a place for car aficionados to parade or park their prized vintage cars while enjoying the company of fellow car lovers.

Campbell and her partner, Monty Utz, cruised into downtown Salisbury for the first time in their ’65 Chevy Corvette. Campbell said the event is a fun opportunity to meet and network with other car lovers, learn new things and have fun.

“It’s definitely a social event for car fanatics,” she said. “I love this little town.”

And what makes it a cruise-in, she said, is that some people show up and prompt others to join whether they know the other car owners or not.

Campbell said some men were looking under the hood of her Corvette as they were discussing remodeling a similar car. She added that the event provides an opportunity for car lovers to mingle and learn things from one another.

She was particularly nostalgic about one local’s ’61 AMC Rambler 400 Convertible. Though that one was orange, she recalls her grandmother owning a baby blue Rambler, which was rare at a time when most cars were black or white, Campbell said.

The orange Rambler is owned by Salisbury resident Harry Mayors, who said his is one of six others owned in the country. It moved from Kenosha, Wisconsin, to Texas, to Florida and then to New York before Mayors bought the car online.

Mayors, who’s also a U.S. Army veteran, said cruise-ins were popular in the area in the ’70s. But only a couple months ago did the cruise-ins make their way back to downtown Salisbury, with most taking place on Friday and Saturday nights.

The cruise-ins provide an opportunity to socialize and share stories, Mayors said.

“It’s all about cars,” he added.

Both Campbell and Utz said they see the cruise-ins are good for business, especially amidst the pandemic.

While a public Facebook page called “Salisbury Downtown Draggers & Cruise In Info” keeps locals up to date with future cruise-ins, locals said cruisincarolinamagazine.com displays a calendar of where cruise-ins are taking place all over the state. Other local places include Concord, Mooresville and Monroe.

Other cars at Saturday’s cruise-in included a ’74 Oldsmobile, owned by local resident Eddie Meacham, and a ’35 Ford, owned by local resident Joe Powlas. Powlas also owns a ’31 Ford Coupe and ’53 Ford Victoria.

Powlas said he wants to see Salisbury get more behind the cruise-ins and that they should begin earlier in the summer. He floated around the idea of a food vendor, portable toilets and perhaps some more lights in the area.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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