By Michele Dotson
Michael and Becky Smith displayed their 1960 Ford Starling at the October 4 Cruise-in in Mint Hill. The Smith’s are pictured here with their grandson Jacob Tucker. PHOTOS BY MICHELE DOTSON
The weather was beautiful, the cars streamed in and the last Cruise-in of 2013 was held on Friday, October 4 in the Monroe Hardware parking lot in Mint Hill. The monthly event, which is held the first Friday night from April through October from 6-9 pm, helps to raise money for Special Olympics.
“We have done real well this year,” says organizer Ronnie Theroux. “We’ve had a real good turn out and have seem some new cars.”
Ronnie and wife Vicenta work with the Special Olympics where they are coaches for softball. They work with adults and their season begins in February, with Regionals beginning in June in Cabarrus County.
If you’re not a car aficionado, though, you might think that this event is not for you, but you would be surprised what great fun it really is.
Surprisingly, looking at the cars is only part of the attraction. If you stick around long enough, or ask the right questions, you’ll find a really great story, like the one behind Michael and Becky Smith’s 1960 Ford Starling.
It’s aquamarine with white interior, white wall tires and chrome everywhere. It even has textured chrome panels that you can also replace with smooth and shiny ones in case you’d like a different look. Smith keeps the extras in the trunk on display. That’s pretty neat.
But the real story is how Smith came to own this particular car.
“Oh, I owned one back in the 60’s,” begins Smith.
“It’s why I flirted with him,” says wife Becky.
“We put 340,000 miles on that car,” he continued, “but in 1977, I got cancer, and I didn’t know if I was going to make it. I gave it to Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) for them to fix up and sell to someone who couldn’t afford a new car.”
Thankfully, Mr. Smith won his battle with cancer and continued to thrive as a husband and father, but you know how life gets in the way of getting back to some things, so he never got around to replacing that Ford Starling they both loved.
That just didn’t seem right to his daughters and sons-in-law.
So on their 50th Wedding Anniversary, the Smiths were presented with a newly restored, 1960 Ford Starling.
Son-in-law Joe Drury found the car at the Auto Fair at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, and son-in-law Mark Tucker scoured about the countryside for a new chrome front fender and other necessary parts to complete the restoration.
And there at the last Cruise-in of the season were the Smiths, with their story to tell. They were relaxing in their lounge chairs next to the Starling, enjoying some family time, answering questions and sharing their story with passersby.
As the sun sank low in the sky, it sparkled off of all of that chrome like a beacon.
What a way to end the season.