Bandit RunEvent marks 35th anniversary of iconic 1977 cult classic

Published 11:34 am Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Participants in the 2012 Bandit Run are making a stop in Vicksburg Thursday in a preview of the event that starts Saturday when they will all be “eastbound and down, loaded up and trucking.”

Participants in the annual event that celebrates all things Smokey and the Bandit will stop from 5 to 9 p.m. at Riverwalk Casino for a car show while on their way to Texarkana, Texas, to re-create Burt Reynold’s and Jerry Reed’s epic beer run to Atlanta. Mike Hudgins, a Madison Alderman, is helping organize the show.

“That’s going to be a combination of probably 15 bandit-runners and the Vicksburg Cruisers Car Club and the Mississippi Classic Cruisers,” Hudgins said.

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The highlight of the show will be a replica of Reed’s Snowman 18-wheeler, which in the 1977 movie hauled an illegal load of 400 cases of Coors beer from Texarkana to Atlanta.

“It’s an exact replica down to the CB radio and calculator mounted inside the cab,” Hudgins said.

The back of the truck even features a false display of Coors, giving the impression that the truck is loaded for the trip.

In the movie, the run is made over the course of 28 hours. Last year, the replica Snowman and a Burt Reynolds Edition Trans-Am drove from Atlanta to Texarkana and hauled a case of beer back to Atlanta in 18 hours using the interstate system that was not complete when the movie was filmed.

The original Snowman truck had been painted with water colors, and when filming finished it was washed and returned to hauling freight. The iconic original has been lost over time, Hudgins said.

The film — the fourth highest grossing of 1977 — was never expected to succeed and producers didn’t care to keep track of many of the vehicles after filming, Hudgins said.

“This movie was never supposed to do what it did. It was just a B-rated film. They didn’t have any expectations,” Hudgins said.

The truck will be set up at the north end of the Riverwalk parking lot and will be available for photos, Hudgins said.

Bandit Run memorabilia is for sale out of the Snowman and all proceeds above the cost of operating the truck are donated to Reed’s favorite charity, the Wounded Warrior Project.

American Legion Riders and members of the Patriot Guard Riders will escort the truck to the show, Hudgins said.

The Bandit Run, sponsored by Restore A Muscle Car’s Dave Hall and Dave Hershey began in 2007 for the 30th anniversary of the film.

Originally, the route followed the same one as the movie, but the trip changes every year, Hudgins said.

“The Bandit Run has almost become a vacation destination,” he said.

This year, the run will cross southern Louisiana and stop in Biloxi on the way to Atlanta.

Hudgins said he wasn’t a fan of the movie growing up because his parents wouldn’t let him see it. He saw Smokey in the Bandit twice before 1999, he said.

“Since then I’ve seen it dozens of times,” he said.