Annual ‘Bandit Run’ celebrates 45th anniversary of ‘Smokey and the Bandit’

May 25, 2022

Ryan Witkowski


Classic car enthusiasts from across the country gathered on May 22 in Texarkana, Texas, for the start of the annual Bandit Run. The weeklong event will travel the same route made famous by Bo “Bandit” Darville and Cledus “Snowman” Snow in the 1977 classic movie “Smokey and the Bandit.”

It doesn’t take a black-and-gold Trans Am to get in on the fun. The yearly trip is open to all participants. According to the group’s Facebook page, the mission of the Bandit Run is, “to get classic cars out of the garage and onto the road.”

In an effort to get more people and cars involved – and to see more of the country – the group changes the route for the Bandit Run each year. However, every fifth-year anniversary of the movie, the group makes the journey from Texarkana to Atlanta, Ga., re-enacting the film’s famous beer-run route. This year’s event celebrates the 45th anniversary of “Smokey and the Bandit.”

As part of the 45th anniversary, Turner Classic Movies is bringing the film back to the big screen. For three days – May, 29 and June 1-2 – theaters across the country will be showing the movie. The anniversary showing will include exclusive insights from TCM.

Funds raised by the Bandit Run benefit the Four States Auto Museum. Victor McLaughlin, a board member with the museum, said the popularity of “Smokey and the Bandit” has had an impact on classic car aficionados.

“I always tell people there’s more Trans Ams on the road now, than ever left the factory,” McLaughlin told KTBS news. “Everyone who has one now is painting it black because of the movie.”

Started in 2007, the annual event has grown from about 30 Trans Ams to now over 150 muscle cars joining the ride. David Hershey, one of the event’s co-founders, said that Texarkana has welcomed them with open arms.

“We love coming to the town, eating in the restaurants and meeting the people. Everyone has been very wonderful,” Hershey told KTBS news. “Texarkana is a very special place for us. We love that they embrace their role in motion picture lore. We think it’s a lot of fun.”

The Bandit Run rolled out of Texarkana on May 23. The group is expected to arrive May 28 outside of Atlanta – assuming Sherriff Justice doesn’t catch up with them first. LL

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