Hemmings Motor News Blog Blog

Hemmings Motor News Blog

Hemmings Motor News has been around since 1954. We're proud of our heritage, but we're also more than the Hemmings full of classifieds that your father subscribed to. Aside from new editorial content every month in Hemmings, we have three monthly magazines: Hemmings Muscle Machines, Hemmings Classic Car and Hemmings Sports and Exotic Car.

While our editors traverse the country to find the best content for those magazines, we find other oddities related to the old-car hobby that we really had no place for - until now. With this blog, we're giving you a behind-the-scenes look at what we see and what we do during the course of putting out some of the finest automotive magazines you'll ever read.

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In Search of Moonshine Tales and the Ghosts of Copperhead Road Across the American South

Posted February 14, 2023 5:00 AM by dstrohl
Pathfinder Tags: car culture

The truck stop on the Kentucky border was in bluegrass country, but I couldn’t find any on the radio. The old guy drinking coffee next to me was a regular. He liked to tell stories, though I struggled to understand his accent, just as he did mine. He came from the land between two rivers, and was raised in a shotgun shack shared with five siblings who grew up wearing recycled hand me downs. There were days when their bellies were tight and daddy drank too much whiskey. His tale was a dozen country songs rolled into one. It was my first day in the South. It was a fitting prologue to my adventure.

I was out to scratch an itch I’ve endured for years: to travel the back country, the woods and mountains of the ridge runners, ‘shine haulers and whiskey mechanics. I had hoped to hear the stories and to find the cars that have enthralled me since the first time I heard the opening seconds of Steve Earle’s vibrant hillbilly rock anthem, Copperhead Road. Earle’s song is four minutes and 21 seconds long. It is possibly the most vivid and succinct portrayal of moonshine lore ever achieved. Earl himself was inspired by real life events and the history that is melded and merged by films such as "Thunder Road" to become a swirling, defiant mosaic incorporating life, legend, and myth.

First though, a little automotive recreation. Bowling Green was too close to pass by. The National Corvette Museum left me staring long enough at its ‘63 split window to make security nervous. A lottery win would see that car next to an XK roadster in my pipedream garage. That infamous sinkhole incident is now a feature attraction that both fascinates and educates. Just 18 miles from the museum lies Mammoth Cave, created - like the museum sinkhole - by the erosion of limestone. Calcium in the limestone is washed into the water supply, feeding the bones of Kentucky horses, making them into race winners.

The Beech Bend Park Raceway was the venue for Ford Fest. I met up with Junkyarddigs and his High School Mustang, freshly renovated and converted to run a Coyote motor. I soaked up the drag racing and the show and shine before catching the autocross and a little sunburn in glorious Kentucky sunshine. Now all I needed was the mountains.

Read on and travel into moonshine country...

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Re: In Search of Moonshine Tales and the Ghosts of Copperhead Road Across the American South

02/14/2023 5:59 AM
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Re: In Search of Moonshine Tales and the Ghosts of Copperhead Road Across the American South

02/15/2023 9:06 AM

How NASCAR was born

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