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Hot-rod magazine executive makes second pitch in city

[4/22/04]A hot-rod magazine executive who came to Vicksburg two years ago trying to put together a car show has returned to make a pitch for this fall.

Homer Jennings is chief executive officer and vice president of marketing for ProMotion Publications, which publishes Southern Rodder and Northern Rodder magazines. The car shows are staged through a sister organization, HDR Productions. He and Ron Zuetlau, ProMotion president, came to Vicksburg in February 2002 seeking a $100,000 pledge of local support for a show. They said they could bring as many as 2,500 cars and their owners plus at least 100 vendors to the community for a three-day weekend. In addition, they said, there would be thousands of people from surrounding communities coming to see the custom-built and restored vintage cars.

At Tuesday’s meeting, hosted by the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, Jennings made a pitch for a less-costly show, but also in the fall.

Year One, an Atlanta-based company specializing in parts and information for people interested in the muscle cars of the 1960s and 1970s, signed on as a potential financial sponsor of the Vicksburg event if it happens. That would leave locals responsible for $50,000 to $60,000 in cash and in-kind work.

In order to advertise the show, Jennings said he needed an answer in about 30 days. He also planned to meet with others, including casino managers, before leaving town.

Jennings told the group the last car show his company put on in Cherokee, N.C., attracted more than 2,500 registered cars and 185 vendors of parts and supplies.

“The typical show is three days,” he said.

The setup crew usually arrives Tuesday before the show, the vendors begin arriving Wednesday and set up their displays on Thursday. Cars begin registration on Thursday, and on Friday the show officially starts. There are displays and activities all day and into the evenings Friday and Saturday, and the show wraps up shortly after noon Sunday.

“The major advantage of having a car show is demographics,” Jennings said.

The typical hot-rod enthusiast is 50 to 55 years old, a retired or semi-retired professional and has spendable income. Those attending normally account for 1,000 to 1,500 hotel and motel rooms for 2 1/2 nights.

Jennings said the Vicksburg area offers considerable possibilities for events and activities during a hot-rod show.

“The Civil War is always a real good draw,” he said, adding that one of the events during a Vicksburg show could be an organized cruise through the 16 miles of the Vicksburg National Military Park.

South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman said city officials supported the idea.

Words of support also came from the private sector. “I think it would be a great thing to have,” said J.E. “Brother” Blackburn Jr. of Blackburn Motor Co. “It sounds to me the key to this is to get the four casinos to come together as a group and back it.”