2017-09-13 / Entertainment

Show sparks interest

By BEN GISH


Jamie Kelley of Asheville, North Carolina, wowed a large crowd in downtown Whitesburg Saturday night with explosions from his customized truck, “Schizophrenia,” which he has been developing for 24 years. Kelley says the Heritage 2K show is one that he won’t miss. (Photo by Lee Caudill) Jamie Kelley of Asheville, North Carolina, wowed a large crowd in downtown Whitesburg Saturday night with explosions from his customized truck, “Schizophrenia,” which he has been developing for 24 years. Kelley says the Heritage 2K show is one that he won’t miss. (Photo by Lee Caudill) While the organizers of the Heritage 2K truck and car show billed this year’s version as “Heritage 2K Lite,” it was anything but that as nearly every inch of land on the old campus of Whitesburg High School was occupied Saturday afternoon by vehicles being shown and an unusually large crowd of spectators gathered downtown later that night to watch the vehicles parade on Main Street, including at least one customized truck that spit fire.

“Were you downtown Saturday night?” asked Mayor James Wiley Craft. “It was packed with people shoulder-to-shoulder.”


The old Whitesburg High campus was filling up with cars and trucks for show and with onlookers early Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Ben Gish) The old Whitesburg High campus was filling up with cars and trucks for show and with onlookers early Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Ben Gish) How popular is the Heritage 2K show to its many participants?

“I only missed one year, and that’s because I had a heart attack,” said Brad Hibbs, the vice-president of a mini-truck club called “Twizted Intentions,” which was represented at this year’s show members by vehicles belonging to members from five states — Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Hibbs, 50, made the trip from his home in Parkersburg, West Virginia this year even though he was recently placed on a heart transplant list.

“I come because of the hospitality,” Gibbs explained. “They treat us like family here.”

“They” are the show’s organizers, father and son duo Mike and Lee Caudill, who have put on a Heritage 2K event every year but one — and that was last year — since 2000.

The first 15 shows were held in a parking lot near the Food City grocery store in West Whitesburg, but last year’s event was cancelled because of a large construction project that resulted in a greatly expanded Food City and a new home for the East Kentucky Physical Therapy Sports Clinic.

This year, the Caudills moved the show to School Hill in downtown Whitesburg and renamed it Heritage 2K Lite because of the smaller staging area.

“The show went well,” Mike Caudill said, understatedly, Monday morning.

Among the highlights of the Saturday night’s portion of the show was Whitesburg City Police Chief Tyrone Fields helping one of the show’s participants “set up” a marriage proposal to his girlfriend.

As the large crowd of onlookers awaited the beginning of the parade of trucks and cars, Chief Fields pulled up in his cruiser and announced over its loudspeaker that he needed to talk with a “young man” he had spoken with earlier in the day.


At left, Brad Hibbs brought his rig from West Virginia despite being on a heart transplant list. Above is a 1978 Kentucky State Police cruiser. At right is a Studebaker truck that uses saw blades as a fender extender from one wheel to two. At left, Brad Hibbs brought his rig from West Virginia despite being on a heart transplant list. Above is a 1978 Kentucky State Police cruiser. At right is a Studebaker truck that uses saw blades as a fender extender from one wheel to two. As the man approached the police cruiser, Fields began to pat him down for weapons and eventually placed him in handcuffs as many in the crowd began to voice their displeasure at what they were seeing. Fields eventually indicated to the man’s girlfriend that he would allow her to speak with her boyfriend before he was placed in the cruiser and taken to jail.

Fields then removed the handcuffs and allowed his “prisoner” to hug the girlfriend. At that point, the man got down on his knees and proposed to the woman, who accepted his proposal as the crowd began to cheer wildly.

Another Saturday night favorite was the return of the mini-truck “Schizophrenia,” whose owner, Jamie Kelley, says it can be placed in the “wild category” of car and mini-truck shows.

Kelley, a 43-year-old plastics industry worker from Asheville, North Carolina, has been improving the truck for each of the 24 years he has owned it. The vehicle has a bed that not only lifts and spins, but also serves as a flame-thrower guaranteed to thrill nighttime audiences. The spectacle is made even better when Kelley and his truck are accompanied by a team he calls the “Flame Dancers,” who performed to the music of the rock band Tool on Saturday night.

“It’s all about trial and error,” Kelley said about “Schizophrenia’s” development. “It’s an evolution of knowledge.”

Like Hibbs, the Caudill-produced Heritage 2K show is his favorite to attend.

“What sets it apart is that it’s family,” Kelley said. “It’s the people. Lee and his family do a wonderful job to bring this to us and I’m very appreciative of it. This is one I wouldn’t miss. I’ve been coming since 2003.”

While walking around the old high school campus and looking at the vehicles on display Saturday afternoon, Mike Caudill remarked that for the truck and car owners who customize and show their vehicles, “It’s what your imagination is.”

As an example, Caudill pointed to an old Studebaker truck that has been transformed into an inviting dual rearwheeled camper that features rear fenders extended from one to two wheels with the use of old saw blades.

“It’s just the imagination of the person,” Caudill said, before guiding a visitor to a Kentucky State Trooper cruiser that was manufactured as a 1978 Ford LTD. Caudill said the car is just like the one he wrecked while serving as a state trooper for three years in the late 70’s before leaving the force to enter law school.

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