Car enthusiasts cruised into Natchitoches July 5 as part of its Louisiana Tour 2017. The tour provides classic car owners the opportunity to visit the back roads of Louisiana. The cars range from classic autos, to muscle cars, hot rods and anything in between.
Tripp Rabalais, with Harvey based Vicari Auction, organizes an annual car auction in New Orleans. Beyond the company, the nonprofit “Louisiana Cruisin” was formed. Clubs from across the nation can sign up for the charity’s annual event, the Louisiana Tour. Drivers come into Louisiana and the 5-day trip begins. The classic car caravan explores a route featuring the beautiful scenery the state has to offer. But it all ends up in New Orleans with a seafood boil hosted by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board.
While this organization is only operating in its second year, it has big goals. Money raised will be dedicated to supporting automotive programming for students. With 100 cars attending this year’s tour, Rabalais said he hopes it continues to grow.
“The whole idea of this is to move,” he said. “It’s about the camaraderie of old cars and seeing the state if Louisiana.”
Tourist Office Director Arlene Gould, City Councilman-at-Large Don Mims and Natchitoches Classic Car Show organizer Brad Ferguson welcomed the club members of Ford Performance from Jefferson Parish, the St. Bernard Rod Knockers, the Northshore Mustang Club, the British Motoring Club in New Orleans and others to a cocktail hour at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
In an interesting coincidence, Charles Lulei of New Orleans said he had a hand in building one of the engines for the Hel’s Angel race car on display at the museum. He was working for an auto shop in the early 60s. LW “Knott” Harrington had a 1959 Thunderbird modified and set speed records as its driver.
Natchitoches resident and Tourist Commission Board Member Joe Darby owns a 1939 Chrysler Imperial in sea foam green. He was contacted by Rabalais about bringing the tour to the northern part of Louisiana for its second year.