Cars and trucks of all shapes and sizes will roll in to Jay this weekend, as the 20th Annual Jay Cruise Night gets underway.
The event, set for Saturday, Aug. 11, could go down as the largest cruise night in history, according to Dustin Holland with the Jay Chamber of Commerce.
Holland said because a cruise typical held on the same night in Branson, Missouri, was canceled, requests for registration from that area of the country are up.
As of presstime, Holland said chamber officials had received more than 75 entries - which he said, is a little more than average.
Behind the scenes
One person planning to attend the annual cruise night is Homer Mulanax of Pensacola.
Mulanax is no stranger to Jay car shows, in fact he won second place in Classic Modified with his 1932 Studebaker sedan at the 2018 Jay Huckleberry Festival.
He has been to numerous cruise nights, as has his friend Delmer Blalock who is entering his Willys truck, and they don’t plan to miss this year.
Both have an obvious love for classic cars. In fact, Blalock is Chief Safety Inspector and Mulanax is Chief Deputy Safety Inspector for the National Street Rod Association (NSRA) for Oklahoma.
Mulanax proudly points out that every one of his cars pass the NSRA 27-point safety inspection.
Mulanax’s biggest challenge is deciding which of his classics to bring to Jay.
His vehicles range from the aforementioned 1932 Studebaker, to a 1932 street rod, a 1929 rat rod, a 1938 Chevy pickup, a 1939 rat rod or the 1934 Auburn sedan, all of which he re-built.
His wife will enter her 1965 Ford Mustang.
The 1934 Auburn was the favorite of movie stars at its heyday. Everybody who was somebody wanted an Auburn; they then moved on to Cords, then Dusenburgs.
It was the first car ever to be offered in a three-color paint scheme. At the time, a two-color paint scheme the best to be had, with the body was one color and the fenders a second color. Mulanax's Auburn has been painted in a three-color palette.
Interestingly, Mulanax isn't able to appreciate the colors, as he is totally color blind. He sees only black, white and gray. His family chooses the colors for each of his vehicles when they're ready to be painted.
He bought his first car at age 8, with his sister. He learned to drive the 1949 Chevy pickup “by continuously driving around the block in Ketchum.”
“There was hardly anyone in town back then and no one really cared ‘cause we couldn’t hurt anything!'" he said, adding he never lost his love for those early cars and trucks.
Today he really has a soft spot in his heart for those models from the 1920’s and 1930’s, especially “orphans”, those one of a kind models.
He describes himself as “a flat glasser," enamored by the cars and trucks with flat glass windows and windshields.
Each of his cars had a story and a history to go with it.
The 1932 Studebaker was acquired in two pieces, the body had been cut in half with a hacksaw, while the rear portion was cut off and replaced by a box to create a pickup.
He explains the modifications go back to World War II, because farm trucks received more rationed gasoline than cars.
Mulanax found the rear half sitting in weeds, retrieved it and welded it back in place.
One of his rat rods was built in memory of his dad.
His dad owned a bait shop that was also the local general store, bar, gas station. In the store, he fixed flats provided hunting and fishing supplies. For years, every boy in town learned to work by having their first job at “Max’s”. The foot rail from the bar now serves as the rear bumper on his rat rod.
Currently, Mulanax is working on a 1919 Oakland, the precursor to the Oldsmobile, which itself is no longer in production.
This vehicle was modified with a different engine. The original engine had external rockers that needed to be oiled every 40 miles, so a more modern engine became practical.
Mulanax teaches high school math, English and science at William Bradford Christian School in Pryor.
“I’m there to make a difference,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting back to school, I’m already prepared. I love those kids and would take a bullet for any of them.”
He often looks for ways to combine his passion for teaching with his passion for cars and engines.
A few years ago, a student was struggling, having a hard time understanding polyatomic ions.
They were able to get a special license to make five gallons of moonshine to power a lawnmower.
Through that hands-on project of learning how to make moonshine, Mulanax said his student “got it."
She went on to become a physician’s assistant and recently stopped by the school to thank Mulanax for helping her to understand polyatomic ions, which helped propel her into her career.
He taught another lesson in math by having students figure out how to ensure right angles on a building they were assembling, were true.
Mulanax said he showed them that the 6-8-10 rule (one side 6 foot, one side 8 foot connect the ends with a 10 foot diagonal) gives you a right angle, a practical illustration of the algebraic Pythagorean Theorem.
Mulanax has been a mentor to many students, just like he was mentored growing up.
His best friend’s dad taught him how to weld and to build boat docks - many are still in use today.
Mulanax worked with him on three lake barges named African Queen 1, 2 and 3. In honor of that time, he named his car business “A-freakin’ Queen Rod and Custom”.
If You Go
So many stories surrounded the cars brought to Jay for the Chamber of Commerce's annual cruise night.
Just like Homer Mulanax, the owners love to regale each other with those stories.
Day of event registration is $10 and will take place from 3 to 7 p.m., at Grand Savings Bank on the north side of Jay. Pre-registration of $5 continues through Friday, Aug. 9.
The official cruise staging area takes place beginning at 6 p.m. at the Sam Heider Health Clinic. With the cruise beginning at 7 p.m.
The awards ceremony is set for 9 p.m., Saturday on the courthouse square.
Different high school groups will offer concessions such as grilled chicken, funnel cakes, walking tacos, hot dogs, hamburgers and plenty of beverage choices.
For more information, persons interested may visit www.jaychamber.org/EventsSpotlight/20th-Annual-Cruise-Night, or call 918-253-8698.
Did you know?
Members of the Jay Chamber of Commerce will sell tickets for a grand prize set to be drawn at the conclusion of the cruise night.
It include either the person's choice: airfare and two nights stay for someone to attend the Daytona Beach Car Show, or $1,500.
Tickets are $5 each, or five tickets for $20. TIckets are available in advance at the Mariee Wallace Museum or on the night of the cruise, at the chamber's tent on the square.