Classic cars return as Drivin’ the Dixie marks highway’s centennial

Several drivers make a pitstop in Homewood during the 
2014 Drivin' the Dixie event. 

(Photo by Eric Crump/HF Chronicle)

What’s your car story?

“Everyone has one,” said Bill Sampognaro, owner of Flossmoor Family Auto. “People say, ‘Let me tell you about my first car,’ or ‘My family used to have a car like that.’”

And that’s why Drivin’ the Dixie will bring out hundreds of local residents on June 20. The annual event, now in its 18th year, will bring nearly 200 antique, classic and muscle cars through Homewood and Flossmoor. But anyone is welcome to join in, Sampognaro said.

Bill Sampognaro

The ride will begin at 10 a.m. in Blue Island and finish in Momence, traversing about 40 miles along one of America’s first national routes. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Dixie Highway. Locally, it’s a single, well-known street. But when it was created in 1915, the highway was actually a network of paved roads leading from the Chicago area to Florida, all of them marked with a distinctive red, white and blue sign that showed drivers the way — a novel approach in the early days of traveling by car.

“This is a ‘take your time, travel and explore at your leisure’ event,” according to the website of A’s R Us, the Model A Ford Club of America, which helps organize it. “We would like everyone to get to know the Historic Dixie Highway and the interesting places along the route.”

Among them will be Flossmoor Family Auto. Located a mile east of the historic highway, participants will be directed there by the “passport” they receive when they register. Sampognaro will have 20 to 30 classic cars on display. This will be his fourth year as a featured stop, and he’s expecting a crowd. “People love to come by and see these cars. We have three or four inside on a hoist, which is unusual on the route.

“They take pictures of them, and I let them sit in them,” he said. “I let them make their own memories.”

Sampognaro is past president of the Illinois Viper Club, which draws Dodge Viper enthusiasts. “We say, ‘You come for the club, but you stay for the people.’ Cars pull us all together. No matter what your age or where you come from, everybody has a car story.”

In Homewood, cars participating in the event should be in the village between 10 a.m. and noon. The route will take drivers off of Dixie into the Ravisloe neighborhood west of the Metra station, to show them the variety of housing in the neighborhood. The meeting place in Homewood will be Independence Park on Dixie Highway, and the members of St. Paul Community Church on Dixie Highway will open the church to guests as part of the church’s 150th anniversary celebration. 

To learn more about this year’s event, visit www.drivingthedixie.com.

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A great community deserves a great newspaper. The HF Chronicle was created in June 2014 as an online publication. In December 2015 we began monthly print publication, too. Our mission is to chronicle the life of our community — news by, for, and about the people of Homewood and Flossmoor, Illinois.

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