BANDIT RUN TAKES ANNUAL ‘SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT’ PILGRIMAGE

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Forty years ago, when Bo “Bandit” Darville’s Trans Am roared through Alabama, it was doing its best to dodge everyone, especially the law. But for this trip, the Trans Am — and about 250 of its friends — is in the spotlight.

It’s the 40th anniversary of the release of the No. 2 movie of 1977, “Smokey and the Bandit,” starring Burt Reynolds, Jerry Reed, Sally Field and Jackie Gleason. And in celebration, more than 250 cars, drivers and fans took part in the annual Bandit Run.

“It was a fun movie, and of course everybody loved Burt Reynolds,” said Trans Am owner Nancy Collins.

The movie was centered on the Bandit, Reynolds and Reed, bootlegging Coors beer from Texas to Georgia. At the time, Coors couldn’t legally be sold east of the Rockies.

“To say that we’re not smuggling some Coors beer ourselves,” driver Dave Hall said. “Coors actually met up with us in Texarkana, Texas, and handed everybody a can of beer as we headed out of town.”

The Bandit Run is a re-enactment of the journey portrayed in “Smokey and the Bandit.”

In its 11th year, the Bandit Run originated in 2007 when Restore a Muscle Car owner Dave Hall and Trans Am enthusiast David Hershey decided to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the film by re-enacting the journey.

(HALL) “We decided what fun it would be to drive from Texarkana to Atlanta in a Trans Am and maybe we can get some buddies to come along with us,” Hall said. “So that’s what started the idea. We created the event, we called it the Bandit Run.”

While Reynolds and Reed were the human stars in the movie, playing just as important a role was the 1977 Special Edition Black and Gold Pontiac Trans Am.

(COLLINS) “You see the car, and it takes you back to when the movie came out,” Collins said. “And I think that’s what a lot of people my age see, as in, ‘Man, I remember seeing that movie.’ ”

After lunch in Jasper, the tour continued to Birmingham, stopping by the Barber Motorsports Museum and ending the night at the Coyote Drive-In, where they watched — you guessed it — “Smokey and the Bandit.”

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