A drive down memory lane: N.C. Transportation Museum puts on film and T.V. car show

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 1, 2023

SPENCER — For the past several years, the North Carolina Transportation Museum has been helping people of all ages rekindle pieces of their past. This Saturday, the museum organized a Celebrity Car & Truck Show where car owners came and showed off their replicas of classic, memorable cars from movies and television both old and new. Kids, parents and grandparents all walked around in awe checking out all of the wonderful vehicles.

There was the Trans Am from the 1970s blockbuster, “Smokey and the Bandit,” the van from the hit 1980s television show “The A-Team, a real life Tonka truck and so many more.

June Hall, a museum employee who helps with their events, says they plan for the show a year out in advance to make sure everything is prepared. “We have a really good group of participants that are always willing to come out and showcase their vehicles that they’ve restored,” Hall said. “It showcases some of the more unique vehicles from people’s childhoods. It’s a fun event to put on since there’s the celebrity aspect of it.”

For those who entered replicas, it’s an opportunity for them to share with others the result of all the time and money they have invested in them. Chris Barnard has been a fan of Tonka Trucks his whole life. He has such an admiration for them that he turned a Ford F-150 into a yellow behemoth. The museum had invited Barnard to the show before, but this was the first time he could come due to his truck previously being in the shop.

“I’m just pleased as could be to be here,” Barnard said. “All of the questions, the wide eyes, and people taking pictures and having a great time. I’ve been connecting with people I’ve shown my truck with at other car shows. It’s a really close-knit family.”

At the end of the day, visitors got to vote for a people’s choice award for their pick for best car. Frank Defeo won third prize for his “Smokey and the Bandit” Trans Am, Mitch Williams won second prize for his Pizza Planet delivery truck from the movie, “Toy Story,” and the grand prize went to Rick Policastro for his Chevy Camaro Bumblebee from the “Transformers” franchise. Policastro started working on the car 10 years ago with his son and they have been adding on to it so they can make it more of their own. For him, the trophy “is a long time coming.”

“It felt absolutely awesome,” Policastro said. “We put a lot of hard work into it and I’m glad to have.”

Heather Shell brought her family to the car show because she describes herself as “a big time movie buff.” She thinks it’s exciting to look at so many iconic vehicles in person that she’s only gotten to see on screen. When asked for her favorite car, Shell was quick to answer.

“My favorite car is the Bumblebee car hands down. It’s just the coolest looking thing in here to me. Just look at it! Maybe it’s a superficial reason, but that’s an awesome looking car! Plus, I love the movie franchise,” Shell said.